Thursday, February 4, 2010

Deeper into the World of Encaustic Sculpture

Let me take a minute to introduce myself. I am Jaime Lyerly, an encaustic and mixed media artist who works in two dimensional and three-dimensional forms and attempting to bridge the gap between personal narrative and art made for the public eye. My work speaks of the ambiguity of our future and our connection to the natural world. As a mother and a student at San Diego State University, I try to make the best out of what has been given to me and my art reflects that never-ending effort. It is messy, layered, personal and uncertain – just like everyday living. Found objects, discarded materials and natural objects blend together with beeswax and hand-knitted yarn to create art that is familiar yet hauntingly distant from its original function.

My current work is in exploring the limits and versatility of encaustic painting (molten beeswax applied hot, resin and pigments) in two dimensional and three-dimensional forms. My explorations include traditional encaustic paneling on panel, but I also working three dimensionally with the wax to find out how far it can be removed from its' support. I manipulate the wax using heat, and combine it materials that are not used in traditional encaustic painting. I then examine how it is affected by light, motion, and heat. This work is about process and experimentation, and is a rejection of art as surface design only.

What is encaustic?

Encaustic is molten beeswax, resin and pigment applied to a rigid surface and fused using heat. It is an ancient process, which is becoming increasingly popular because of modern equipment such as griddles, heat guns, crock-pots and the availability of pre-made encaustic paint (R & F Paints will become your Mecca when you experience their encaustic paints). Encaustic paint has a luminosity that rivals oil painting, and is unique in its ability to be at smooth or textural with little effort. Check out the Encaustic Resources on my blog for more information.

Although there are lots of sites dedicated to Encaustic painting, I have found little describing the challenges and experimentation of bring wax into the round. I have decided it was time to delve deeper into the world of Encaustic sculpture.

My blog "Art Making is a Journey by Jaime Lyerly" is where I talk about art techniques, art marketing, life of an art student, my successes (and failures) and most importantly, the process and experimentation of making art.

Here is a hint of what I doing from my blog post "Unique Encaustic Sculptures" in May 2009. This is a conceptual work, which is why words are needed to describe the process and reason for existence. I will be posting more about my own work and the work of others working in Encaustic Sculpture. I have other encaustic writing projects that I will share with you as the site is set up. It will be very exciting!

Encaustic/Beeswax and Mixed Media Sculptures by Jaime Lyerly, May 2009

3-D encaustic sculptures, detail view, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Installation: set of five, set of three

Materials: Encaustic/Beeswax, yarn, wire and spotlight

The concept behind these sculptures were to free encaustic from its role of surface design only. Usually, encaustic is applied to a rigid and porous surface which makes the wax unnecessary. I wanted these to need the beeswax to exist.

3-D encaustic sculptures, detail view, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Process: In these sculptures, I built an open wire frame and wrapped very soft yarn around the wire intuitively. Then I dipped them repeatably in a large pan full of hot white and yellow beeswax. I hung them to dry and added more and more wax.

The sculptures started off as a set of three and moved to five. The pieces hang from the same yarn from which they are made. The wire and yarn need the wax now to exist, for without the wax they could not be the same.

3-D encaustic sculptures, installation view, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

The spot light that is cast from the ceiling creates pockets of shadow inside each piece and illuminates it. It casts shadows on the ground, which dance as the pieces move and spin. The light also heats the pieces which makes the beeswax smell stronger and threatens to destroy the piece.

3-D encaustic sculptures, cast shadows view, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

3-D encaustic sculptures, detail view, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

These sculptures are so much fun to make that I want to make a hundred of them to fill a gallery. I have been thinking and planning for encaustic sculptures that destroy themselves and ones which are created from the melted wreckage.

Wax on! ~ Jaime Lyerly