A Combination of Abstract and Fantasy

Earlier this month I took part in the Gargrave Arts Exhibition in North Yorkshire and was delighted to have my encaustic artwork on display for the first time.  It can now be seen at my own JOT’S Gallery in Pateley Bridge.

Taken from my sketch book

I first heard about the term “Encaustic” when I visited the Elsecar Heritage Centre near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.   I was very interested in this exciting form of art that allowed me to get lost in colours and shapes!  By using molten wax, I was able to add even more texture and detail to my collages.  The tutor, Brian Nelson showed me how rich wax effects for unusual patterns and fantasy art could be produced by using a special iron.

By melting combinations of different coloured wax onto the surface of the iron, I learned how to produce patterns by smoothing, then dabbing and also working with the sides and edges of the iron.

I soon became hooked as I explored my imagination through encaustic art.  At the time I was a student of Bradford School of Art and it began to take up much of my time in project work.  I was the only student in my class using this form of art.  As shown in my college sketch book, I liked to combine certain colours to make random patterns, or create either woodland or fantasy landscapes.  The opportunities seemed endless.

I now use encaustic wax on recycled card and sometimes tear the waxed patterns for my form of mosaic style collage.   “A Changing World” shows the effects of climate change.  In this scene the warming has melted the ice into the ocean and sea levels are rising.  We will all have to live with the consequences of changing weather patterns.

Here are examples of the various fantasy landscapes I achieved and also how I added trees by the use of a stylus.

The photograph from my sketch book below shows a winter scene where I then added dots of encaustic wax to create summer leaves.  The overall effect is very surreal.  Surrealist art appeals to me as I enjoy the element of fantasy and creating dreamlike, mysterious landscapes.

Adding Encaustic wax leaves

Also on display at my gallery and forming part of many of my workshops are photo collages where I add recycled materials to photographs to create a 3D effect.  Torn pieces of encaustic wax on recycled paper and card can be added to photography.   With these bluebells I used a stylus again to colour over a black and white version of the original photograph with different shades of melted wax.

The combination of coloured wax produces texture which is something I also achieve with layers of paper in my collages.

“A Changing World” joined a display in Gargrave of hundreds of other pieces of artwork by amateur and professional artists.  The children’s art display was wonderful and it also reminded me of how my interest in art all started by exploring different textures and colours.  I used to attend courses at Project Art Works in Hastings from the age of five when pictures were a means of communication and expressing myself. Even at pre-school age I found art galleries very calming!

These photographs show work in progress of my swan collage. The materials I am using include encaustic wax for the fantasy sky and a range of international used scratch cards for the swans. My aim is to show swans from different parts of the world taking flight in unison.  There is a white American Tundra swan alongside a British Bewick’s swan, together with Black Swans found throughout Australia and introduced to New Zealand and other parts of Europe.  I am working with English and overseas scratch cards to depict wings as flying banknotes.  My feelings are that if we do nothing to tackle climate change, the cost to our planet and to nature is huge.  My artwork is symbolic through its use of recycled single-use products such as scratch cards.  Extreme weather and climate change is costing us all so much and requires more urgent action to be taken.

Connecting with nature improves our mental health and we need to consider more carefully nature and conservation.

My latest project is an A to Z of collaged birds all set against encaustic wax backgrounds.  They will be displayed on small canvases with easels in my gallery and the next exhibition at the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard.  I am framing the canvases along the sides and edges by collaging strips of recycled scratch cards.  I have now completed all the backgrounds but there is still much work to be done in the detail of the birds.

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