Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Family By The Numbers

Last week and this week, I've been working on a bunch of 12"x12" cradled panels.

When my father died, I inherited some documentation that my grandmother saved- a bunch of deeds and old hand-written letters, tax records, and accounting books she kept when she was a grocer back in the 40's-50's-60's.

I began collaging bits and pieces of the financial documents into clear encaustic medium, building up layers and letting the old paper become transparent with the application of heated wax. I spent a lot of time thinking about these documents as I worked with them, wondering why my grandmother had kept them for so many decades. Was it pride? A sense of the need to preserve family history? Was it simply that she believed they may be important to some government agency in the future? And why give them to my father, the one son she raised who couldn't hold onto a dime long enough to put it in the bank? Was she sending a message to him or was it mere coincidence that he wound up with them and not one of his brothers?

I'll never know the answer to any of these questions, but building work around them was fascinating and something I will continue to do.

This is the first piece in what will probably become a small series. In it, I finished off the work with a hand-written letter from to my daughter, as well as a replica of schematics from my husband's profession. This is meant to be a present for our daughter and her husband to hang in their new home.


Truthfully, though, I'm not crazy about the composition or the color, which masks too much of the lovely patina of the original documents.

So I tightened up the composition on the next piece, cutting the accounting pages into narrow strips and adhering them to a piece of painted printmaker's paper. I then adhered the collage to a cradled birch board, and began applying layers of encaustic medium (clear). I'm much happier with this piece.


I love that the collage has so much of my grandmother's handwriting captured in it.

I also played some with trying to create imagery with alcohol inks buried inside of, and laying on top of, encaustic paintings.


Ever critical of my own work (and no, I don't think that's a bad thing- I give myself constructive criticism, something I feel is important), this piece is a little busy... while I love the top motif, the encaustic wax didn't bury the background imagery nearly as deeply as I'd hoped. Something to work on in the future!

Lastly, an experiment in a new (for me) medium, called Crack!

This is a super-hard encaustic medium by Evans Encaustics that will form cracks and crevasses on the surface of an encaustic painting.  It is meant to be the last layer of wax applied to a given piece of art. In this piece, I used rusted tissue and glazes of encaustic paint to create my substrate, and then applied a lightly colored layer of Crack! before fusing the whole thing and letting it cool to allow the cracks to form. Then I buffed phthalo turquoise pigment stick into the surface to make the cracks pop.


(detail)

I'm pleased with the result. 

Hopefully, I'll have more completed work to show you next week! In the meantime, paint your history! 
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