Friday, May 27, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Vicky Hoffman On the Perils of Encaustics

Encaustics is a mixture of resin, beeswax and colored pigments heated on a pancake griddle. Wax is immediate. It is a deliberate medium. Its workability is dependent on conditions – weather and a few seconds once lifted from the hot palette. 
Each layer must be fused with either a heat gun or a propane torch. After each application of a color or material, it must be fused to the layer below. 
Some pigments are more obedient than others. Depending how close the heat source is to the material can alter the “movement” of the materials and pigment. Zinc White has a mind of its own. It can be difficult to get a very thin, straight line and fuse it without it moving or blurring. If a propane torch is used too close to the material, it can spark or catch on fire.
Vicky Hoffman, Redlined: 8.55, 115.2E, Encaustic, 18 x 24"
True stories:

• Not long ago, I had a show in January. With the installation deadline quickly approaching, I was working in one of the coldest December months in history. The wax mixture would not melt on the pancake griddle and increasing the temperature of the griddle is not an option as the material can be flammable. It was crazy and I will never do a show in January again unless all of my work is complete by October or November.

• For one piece, I intentionally wanted burnt edges. Obviously, I did not want to burn down my studio either. An artist friend and I concocted a fusing station that was free and clear of the studio. As I fused the layer(s), she stood by with a hose to extinguish any flames if necessary. Although nothing happened, this was NOT one of my smart moments and I would not do this again nor should the reader of this blog try something as stupid as that.

• Scale. Oftentimes, I hear collectors are interested in large works. Large is defined as greater than 4 feet. Working large is physically taxing – maneuvering the panel board and fusing each layer. In addition, the panel board has to support the weight of the wax. The largest I have worked is 4 ft. x 3 ft. and there’s approximately 15 lbs of wax on that piece. Sadly, I don’t have an assistant to support with the fusing and over time, my shoulder was bearing the brunt of my fusing posture. 
Vicky Hoffman, Energized: 41.2N, 124W, Encaustic, 36 x 48"
I love the magic of this medium. I enjoy the depth and dimension I can achieve by playing around with materials. 
Vicky Hoffman, Shaken & Slipped: 35.8, 114.9W, Encaustic, 18 x 24"
Vicky's current show, Latitude & Longitude, will be at TAG through June 11.
Come meet Vicky at an Artist Panel Discussion on Saturday, June 4, 3pm.

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