Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post:
Rebecca Shapiro paints in a medium that may be unfamiliar to some, but is far from unfamiliar to history- the 3,000 year old art of encaustics. Derived from the Greek enkaustikos, meaning “to heat” or “to burn”, encaustics is the manipulation of beeswax to create paintings that can capture light beautifully. The beeswax gives the medium a surprisingly wide range in terms of approach. One minute Rebecca was painting in a vibrant cadmium red onto her piece, and the next she was carving into it with a sculpture tool, treating it almost as if it were a linoleum block. Temperature is key. You have to move slowly, and be mindful of how the heat is going to affect what you’re going to do. Paint too quickly, and the colors will run together. Carve too soon, and you’ll drag the wax around instead of getting a clean line. The beeswax itself is colorless; you control the vibrance and opacity of your palette with pigments that you mix in.
It’s this closeness with beeswax that drew Rebecca to start painting encaustic over two years ago. Her focus on plants for the inspiration of her abstract paintings is another aspect of her connection to nature. It’s a process of investigating the connection between method, material, form, and content. Put another way, she paints nature with nature. It’s fitting: her paintings all come from a deep appreciation of nature and its medium.
Such a relationship with fields and flowers invites visions of Rebecca in quiet contemplation in a forest, or sitting in solitude on a hillside. She quickly dispels the notion of a hermit by the articulation of her conversation, and her willingness to talk with everyone who stops inside to watch her paint. “We get so used to being alone with our work that we forget to talk to about it,” she says. “I think it’s important that artists share their creativity with everyone else.”
In this spirit, she encourages artists to join the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Not only will they help with grants and grant writing, but it’s also a great community with workshops and peer reviews. “It really helps to have a peer group, and you need other artists to share thoughts with and bounce ideas off of.”
The last picture shows Rebecca’s piece at the end of the afternoon. We will post an update with a picture of her finished piece.