I was super excited to be able to introduce you to one of my dearest friends, Jessie Fritsch, www.jessiefritsch.com. Her artwork is absolutely amazing. It is so impressive to know that she paints her creations with beeswax. Think about it. Beeswax melts, but then cools and hardens rather quickly. Each daub of pigment, each line, each shadow is entirely made up of drops of pigmented beeswax with an open work time of about 4 seconds!
I have been taking some time to do art play dates with Miss Jessie. I highly recommend taking art classes that are outside your chosen medium. You gain a great deal of perspective and a deeper appreciation of the talent of that artist. Plus you soak up all their energy and glean some incredible insights into your own artistic journey. I promised I would share details of my encaustic play date that we had on Friday, March 30th so read on.
We gathered at Jessie’s sunny art studio for a four-hour workshop. I have played around in her studio once before, and that was helpful because this time the information sank in a bit deeper! I learn best by doing, and sometimes I need more time to make it stick. The first time back in December we just played with the medium. I didn’t finish anything and what I did make was more of a mess than anything. I also brought along some mixed media supplies, like gold leaf and mica powders, which was a lot of fun to see if anything would work, but was, of course, a bit of a distraction!
This time, I came prepared to actually work on a painting. Jessie is so willing to share her knowledge and is such a great teacher. There are a lot of safety precautions to take with making encaustic art, because fumes from beeswax that is overheated can be toxic. Her studio is well-equipped to handle this. This makes me appreciate even more what she does because it is not something that everyone would be able to do.
We started by selecting from pictures that we sent her ahead of time. These are all pictures that I took. I decided on the sunset picture in the bottom right. I took this off the deck of the Bead Cruise in 2018 so it holds special memories for me.
Next we prepped our board with several layers of untinted beeswax. Encaustic needs a hard stable surface to adhere to, so prepping was key. And then we paint!
We laid down some base layers of color first that we would build up with successive layers. Jessie convinced me that she saw a strip of a periwinkle purply-blue color all along the horizon. I didn’t see it then but I was so glad she insisted!
Then she covered the back of the image with charcoal in order for me to draw the details onto the surface.
These chips are leftovers that she scrapes off the griddles. I love this because it is essentially custom blended colors from the larger pucks of color and doesn’t go to waste. Reminds me of my scrap clay bins!
The clouds were the main thing and I really wanted to get them right. I blended colors to match my photo right there on the griddle and found that a sort of stippling technique worked best for applying the color and making texture.
We use special irons and heat guns to fuse each layer of wax to the next. Encaustic comes from the Greek ENCAUSTIKOS which means “to burn in” and is a very important step to the process.
Here is where I left my painting at the end of the 4+ hours. It is not complete. I still have to fuse the top with the clouds and I plan to add mica powder to the pigmented beeswax to make the waves shimmer in the sunlight. I will go back soon to finish (and truly because I love being around Jessie!), but I think that this is looking pretty good! I am amazed at myself and now I want to go back and paint my other photos!
For my Simple Truths Sampler Club, I always come up with something based on our challenge. I am inspired by all of Jesse’s intense colors, but I really liked this particular picture of the white flower with the contrasting bee. So that is what I created: white blooms (pansies and peonies are my favorites!) with just a hint of gold dust along the edges and sweet teeny-tiny bees made from sparking golden hematite and steel wire (I left them blackened, so they can take a bit of steel wool or a nail file block and remove some of that for more of an antiqued silver).
I am working toward a new exhibit at a prestigious regional art gallery in Wausau, WI called the Center for Visual Arts. They have larger exhibits but throughout the year they also do small two-person exhibits in the Vault (I think it was a former bank building). I was invited to participate in a tandem exhibit in late October through December with a watercolor artist who paints close-ups of blooms, like tulips and lilies and roses. So I decided that I will concentrate on making my 5-9 statement necklaces focusing on the shapes of flowers, instead of the colors. I plan to make these a fusion of steel wire, metal and clay and focus on the forms. I am doing a lot of research on what type of clay to use, as well as buying books about flowers and their parts, so this Art Journey challenge was a good first step. I’m going to need a lot of luck to get this done on time for the deadlines this summer!
Thanks for following along with me on my Art Bead Evolutions for Art Journey #3! You have until May 4th to get your entries into our Gallery for a chance to win a prize from Terri Del Signore that will be perfect for Art Journey #4!