A pigment is just a chemical that, due to its chemistry, absorbs certain wavelengths of light and reflects those wavelengths it doesn’t absorb. What it reflects is its color. Sounds simple enough. But when you think about it, it’s almost surreal that the chemicals that compose a color in no way look like it. (more…)
Check out this great video showing some of Laura’s encaustic process:
You can see more of her work at lauramoriarty.com
More Sense Data, a solo exhibit by Kingston-based artist, Stephen Niccolls opened this past Saturday at The Gallery at R&F. It was well attended and included a Q&A session with Niccolls being interviewed by our very own Richard Frumess.
Stephen Niccolls was born in Texas in 1949, to a family of ranchers. He studied and practiced visual art early in life, but began formal training in the 1970’s, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1997 he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Since that time he has exhibited his paintings in a variety of settings around the United States. He has taught art courses and lectured in Massachusetts, France, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York. Mr. Niccolls currently lives in Kingston, New York and teaches at Marist College in nearby Poughkeepsie. Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, New York represents him.
I recently spent some time visiting with Rachel Friedberg in her studio. Friedberg is one of the pioneers of modern encaustic painting. I met her in the early 1980s when I was the encaustic paint maker for Torch Art Supplies in New York. Friedberg had already begun using encaustic in the previous decade, combining it with both photocollage and steel-and-wood constructions. During that time she also formed a close friendship with Kay WalkingStick, whose own works employ a variety of wax emulsion combinations.
Around the period when I met her, Friedberg was beginning to use encaustic almost exclusively. Encaustic appealed to her because of its ability to manifest, in her words, both depth and surface. Yet for all the richness of the medium, the pictorial concept is spare, reduced to only the necessary information.
Friedberg works in thematic series, each series distinguished by specific stylistic approaches.The work is casually gestural, geometric or iconic or any combination of the three. It is developed by loose brushiness over rough surfaces, scribed line work, or stencilled images. But always there is a carefully controlled mastery of the medium that allows her to create the same imagery in formats that range from 12 inches to 8 feet in length.
Friedberg’s groups of thematic series are closely related to the way she handles the encaustic. This is especially true when she is talking about vulnerability. The frailty of her figures is set in counterpoint to backgrounds that overwhelm them in both scale and rough matte texture. The background paint is applied opaquely, giving it a sense of heaviness that emphasizes the delicacy of the line work. The drawing in those cases often seems merely scumbled or sketched onto or into the coarse surface with brush or oil stick.
A continuous sense of play mixes with the serious in her work. In her “She” series of stencilled aprons, there are several paintings in which the image looks as if it is taped onto the painting. This developed from Friedberg’s habit of taping the stencil onto the background with Scotch tape. She liked the look of the tape, however, and wanted it to remain part of the picture. So masking off the outlines of the tape, she painted semi-transparent layers of medium over the image and, with skillful manipulation of her heating tool, duplicated the look of tape that has been stuck and rubbed onto the surface. Voilà! Trompe l’oeil in encaustic.
Friedberg has recently moved into a new studio, and it still has a sparse, unused look. But I suspect that a stripped down economy, like that of her work, is the nature of her studio. Her tools include brushes, knives, a heat gun, an oddly shaped iron, and pots and pans full of encaustic – straightforward tools with which she enters the ambiguous world of thoughts and dreams to produce her unadorned, thought-provoking, deeply moving works.