Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s posting
Watching an encaustic artist work is almost like viewing a performance; there are all sorts of layers and vignettes that keep the process moving in bite-sized episodes. A few minutes of drying here, some scraping there, and you’ve got great entertainment. Watching someone as talented and patient as Amy Stoner is no exception. It’s easy to spot her predilection for teaching, too. On her afternoon of working the wax, she had a nice steady stream of spectators both inside and out. Each one who ventured inside asked questions, many jotted notes, and Amy answered with enthusiastic and articulate explanations.
Amy began her encaustic adventure 4 years ago. A printmaker with plentiful woodblock printmaking experience, she became tired of the regimentation of the process and editions. One day she took one of her woodblock prints and covered it with a clear wax. She immediately liked the effects the wax had over her acrylic paintings and woodblocks and began using pigmented waxes. Today, encaustic is her favorite medium because she can still make use of her first love: drawing, painting and prints. “I love working with all the art supplies,” she says while scraping away shapes with her ceramic carving tools. “Plus there’s so much you can do with wax.”
Amy moved to Oregon with her family at the age of 12. Now with a small family of her own that includes a toddler, finding time to work with wax is a juggling act. Mid afternoon while her little one is napping is often her best time to make art. She finds it easiest to turn on the wax to let it melt, put her daughter down and then go paint. Evenings are also a good time to find Amy working. She spends anywhere from 2 to 3 hours working on her encaustic projects and is largely self-taught. She gained her BFA in art from U of O in 1998 and has since taken courses from artist such as Jef Gunn at PNCA. She also teaches introductory and advanced encaustic courses in textures, patterns, painting and collaging with beeswax.
Today’s artwork began with a 12 x 16 panel. The first layer was pen and ink drawing. Then a clear coat of wax, then blocks of colored wax. Then she adhered her woodblock print with a small bit of glue. Then clear wax, then watercolors and gouache. She fuses the layers together with a torch to remove brushstrokes and air bubbles. She then scrapes back the wax to expose the vibrant orange hues, blacks and greens.
Amy’s artwork is largely influenced by propaganda prints from the 1920’s and 30’s. Her favorite artists include Frida Kahlo and art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha as well as art, architecture and design from the Bauhaus and Arts and Crafts Movements.