|My first encaustic piece. 9x12" incorporates hand laid paper.|
Encaustic is a wax mix that is used as the binder to carry the pigment. At the same time it creates the surface of the painting it resurfaces the painting and creates new layers. The layers can be opaque or translucent. The layers can be clear, white or tinted. Dozens of basic techniques can be used to create different effects from pouring a marbled surface to catching the entire painting on fire with varnish to create filigreed patterns.
The process of creating is entirely flexible, can be meticulously controlled, or it can be pretty automatic - where the techniques create the art, not a specific plan. The medium has no clean up requirements, so I can't "ruin" brushes by leaving them untouched for days or weeks at a time.
Most importantly - because the painting creates itself through process I will not become immobilized with fear, which is what happens when I try to paint. I start the painting - in fear - get to a point where I can start to see a result - that is inadequate - then I obsess over both the inadequacy of the result and the fear of moving forward. This brings the entire process to a grinding halt.
Below are the last two art pieces I attempted. I was halted in both by the combination of fear and inadequacy.
Artwork that is not finished does not EXIST. Art is PROCESS. If I can't find a PROCESS for FINISHING art then I am not an artist. I did have a process that finished art with pottery.
All I had to do with my pottery is go out to my studio and start interacting with the materials. Once I started touching materials the results occurred. Glazes got mixed, clay got wedged, cups were thrown, the kiln was loaded, etc. The material PUSHED the process, and at no point did I have insecurity or fear. That is not happening with painting at this point.
Insecurity and fear are not the same as obstacles and frustrations. Obstacles and frustrations are normal and they engage the part of the brain that wants to overcome or solve issues. Insecurity and fear are paralyzing. They stop forward movement and activate the part of the brain that wants to avoid and justify not doing anything.
Why don't I just go back to doing pottery? Because I need something with a higher sales value and I need to create a wider variety of sellable product. The cups sold for $15 each, and there is a limited audience because only a certain design actually SOLD in a predictable way.
HERE IS A REAL PROBLEM WITH ART: VALUE
Most art is unsellable because people don't buy "ART" generally. They buy "MIRRORS" that reflect their own ideas back at them. In order to make art an income producing career one can't just make ANYTHING and think it will sell. People are drawn to SPECIFIC ideas, SPECIFIC tastes, SPECIFIC patterns. In a world where those things are provided by Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and Facebook Memes it is VERY DIFFICULT to actually SELL art.
It is very easy to make art that people "LIKE." That's easy. The hard part is to make art that people "have to have" at the moment they see it and are willing to trade Dollars for it. That's the true test of being a working artist. Can you make something that becomes more valuable and desired to a person than MONEY. If you can then they will happily trade their money for your art. If not then they will "LIKE" it and move on with their life.
If I create art that doesn't sell then it will only pile up on my homestead and become a cost. Plus I have no interest in producing art that no one will appreciate or buy. I would rather make art that reflects OTHER PEOPLES' IDEAS and sells than art that reflects only my OWN IDEAS and does not sell.
THE OTHER REAL PROBLEM WITH ART: VOLUME
I don't have access to high end art buyers and my art isn't worthy to be purchased for large amounts of money, so art must be sold in higher volume at lower costs. My art will never be "in a gallery." Also, what people don't realize about high end contemporary art is that it requires that the artist have a process that can create a steady volume of art. A writer doesn't live on one article or one book. They have to write constantly. Occasionally, there is a "best selling" author. Just like occasionally there is a "famous artist." But those are the tip of the iceburg. For every best selling writer there are tens of thousands of writers who "make a living." Making a living involves volume.
You can't product one piece per month, generally, and accomplish anything as an artist. Even highly regarded pieces only sell for so much; then more pieces need to be created. For me that means I need a PROCESS that creates art on a consistent basis.
ART IS PROCESS. All the talk of creativity, genius, etc is meaningless because art is PROCESS not genius. IF an artist creates good processes to create good results then creativity and genius SOMETIMES MIGHT reflect in the work. Without PROCESS there is no work. Art is learned by creating art... no other way.
PROCESS IS EVERYTHING IN ART!!!
SO... THE ANSWER IS ENCAUSTIC.
The following works are not mine. They are examples of encaustic art, both simple and complex - but all are created with process and technique.
(Case in point below: Even though most people may really "like" the blue ball piece, they will "buy" the dragonfly or the horse, because those things more directly reflect the person's own ideas. The ball is too foreign a concept to sell easily. Plus the smaller pieces would be cheaper at $30 each instead of $100+ for the blue ball.
I can make small pieces or large. Most importantly, however, is that I can integrate words, print and images into any piece at any time. So, if I have an "art" concept go sideways on me I can always convert it to just an abstract color field and superimpose some meme onto it that will make it sellable.
People buy things that reflect their own ideas back at them. That's why people love Memes on Facebook, the meme reflects the person's idea. I can "memeify" any piece of art and make is sellable. Is that art? HELL YES!
In Greek times people wanted to see their heroes and gods in images, so potters put them on pots for sale, and temples and shops put them on the walls to draw patrons. In Medieval Europe people wanted to see the face of God so great cathedrals were built all over Europe to draw people to travel to them. We see cathedrals as monuments. Cathedrals were the medieval version of Disneyland or a Carnival Cruse Ship. They were tourist destinations that separated people from their money.
Pop art, decor, this is what people buy. PEOPLE buy accessible affordable "art." Whatever that may be.
Encaustic is my medium because:
1. It's Process Art - that is to say the art is made whether I have a particular plan or not.
2. The techniques applied create organic results that humans are drawn to, so it's Automatic Art.
3. There is no penalty for delayed clean up. I can't ruin pieces, materials or tools by leaving them out.
4. The art is created by techniques that are quantified and easily executed, so there is little frustration and no art stopping insecurity.
5. I can use printing, embedding and transfer techniques to overcome formal art shortcomings.
6. Any piece can be converted into a meme for easy sale.
7. Pieces can be produced in as little as 30 minutes or can be created over multiple multi-hour sessions. But mostly I can produce 2-4 pieces in a day of working in the studio - even large pieces, so I can make volume.
8. Size often equals value, so I can make large pieces that have a high perceived value without having to spend weeks creating one piece.
9. I can incorporate client dog photo images for "dog portraits" that I can sell for a premium of $150 - $250 each. It's a market to which I already have access.
If I can turn encaustic into a $1,000+ per month medium then I have truly accomplished soemthing that most artists never do. I will be a 1%er artist. That is my goal.