Wednesday, 4/21/10: Bridget Benton

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s post

Bridget Benton started today with an image that was floating around in one of her many sketchbooks. This image was a pen and ink drawing of a heart superimposed with a beehive. Bridget also came armed with at least 2 dozen brushes of all sizes and a new caddy/holster torch system attached to her hip which was quite impressive to a number of passers-by. This new system allowed her to move freely, lay down between 20 and 30 layers of wax and sketches, and talk articulately about her craft.

The first few layers of her encaustic assemblage work, she explains, need to be very smooth, and she will add in texture later. When I mentioned her rib-cage torso encaustic piece with bone (pictured on Bridget’s artist page at AnArtistADay.com), she said she liked incorporating 3D elements in her work (one of her influences is shadow box pioneer Joseph Cornell), and in this case was a weasel bone.

In 1992 Bridget moved to Portland after completing her undergrad at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, home to where she draws her inspiration of color. The natural orange or clay color of the famed Garden of the Gods, frozen lava that juts 10 stories in the foothills of the Rockies and Pikes Peak have a disctinct lichen upon them. The lichen is often a spring green, and this color scheme of bright green and orange is often repeated in her works.

Bridget began working with encaustics in 2003 after she took a beeswax collage class in Portland. While she enjoyed it, the practice really took hold while taking an encaustics class with Linda Womack. For Bridget, doing encaustics is combining many of her loves. She says, “I can still do assemblage work but get the subtleties and luminosity qualities that traditionally are only found in working with acrylics.”

Bridget is a self-described process girl and she finds fusing the many layers of wax to be meditative, similar to her work with fibers in batik. She says she likes the surprises that the process of both methods present, as well as the effects that happen as she creates dialog with each piece. She loves watching the effects unfold as they form the next step. “I love not being completely in control,” she says.

As she layers today’s pieces in wax and paints the oranges and greens ,small pops of red also begin to peek through. She loves to see the orange and the green interact with each other. After a solid base of wax, then paints, she lays down sewing patterns. Oddly enough, the word BODICE shows under her piece, which she then covers with a sketch of arteries and the heart on rice paper.

Bridget teaches mixed media art classes, encaustics and she works in the small business development center at PCC. She attained her Masters in Creative Studies from SUNY which she harkens on a regular basis in helping entrepreneurs with creative problem solving.

A number of people come in as she works, fellow encaustics rock stars, former and future students as well as fellow board members of Portland Open Studios. One comments that she loves her website name: EyesAflame.com, which Bridget explains captures that glow students get when they see their finished artwork and their eyes light up.

The last image shows Bridget’s piece at the end of the day Wednesday.  We will post an update with a picture of the finished piece.

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