In the Studio #37

So, I’m finally getting excited about doing artwork again after a depressing a sobering post-election week. I figured that the best way to combat the unthinkable turn for the worst that the nation took on Election Day for me is to make art and so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been working on a new series of mixed media encaustic paintings inspired by the print that I completed at the Vermont Studio Center last May. I started this new series right after the election and it was pretty slow going in the beginning, my mood was dark and I felt the work in the at the early stage reflected that, but now that its close to complete I feel that the piece is brightening up and developing that rich deep complex and luscious texture that encaustic can bring to paintings.

This piece I’m working on now began its life as a block plate – one of three – that I used to make my print Johnson Family Values. Here’s a reminder of that piece:

anthony-smith-jr-johnson-family-values-16-x-18-inches-woodblock-print-2016

The colors of the print were a basic blue yellow and white that were layered on top of each other so for this encaustic series I began the series with the blue plate. To make these pieces I turn the block plates into a cradles with about a quarter inch lip around the block into which I pour the encaustic paint. The encaustic I use is a homemade recipe of paraffin wax, stand oil and crayons mixed to make a nearly translucent batter. Once poured into its cradle I let the wax harden then cover it with acrylic gel medium and then proceed to paint on top of the wax with acrylics and oils and wax until the work tells me its done.

I’ve been working on the piece for about a week now and its nearly ready, maybe one more sessions worth of work and then its done. I’m surprised at how calming working on this piece has been, its truly been cathartic. Its an effect that my therapist says I should relish in – the way making art helps you forget about your problems. This piece has had the unusual task of needing to help me forget about the world and fortunately for me its mostly succeeded. Here are some process shots of the piece so far:


Music is something that for me helps to set a mood, but when your feeling gloomy where do you go. Most people have go to cheer-me-up selections ready to go or dark dirges full of antipathy and melancholy at their finger tips. I tend to shut down and crave silence, but I’ve worked past those initial feelings to offer up some bluster and soulful solemnity. Here’s Jay-Z’s “Tom Ford” at a concert in Paris and Alabama Shakes “Over my Head”

 

Okay that it for today. I’m looking forward to a reassessment of my creative process in the next few weeks to coincide with the formal start of my completing the Pilot Set. I feel ready to finally further-professionalize my practice. Until next time, do be well.

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