Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Permission to Experiment...........

Things seem a little crazy right now. I am in the middle of preparing for my first art festival since 2011 (more on that later....), my team is in the World Series and I have become obsessed with mastering this latest experiment of mine...... photo encaustics (you can read more about that here: "I Am Back!").

This "obsession" is kicking my butt. I am learning so much, but of course I want to be pass the "learning stage". The biggest problem right now is thinking I have to have a cohesive body of new photo encaustic work to show at this art festival..... which is only two weeks away!

It's the "cohesive" part of that challenge that is messing with my head the most. For the last month I have been experimenting with different papers, techniques, paints and tools. I have been all over the place and am stressed out because I think I "need" to settle down and choose a direction.

I keep asking myself "why am doing this?". "Why can't I be happy just making images with my digital camera and Photoshop? (which I do love, by the way...). "Why have I picked such an unpredictable medium?"

I have discussed at length my desire to create "original art" from my photographs, but I have also realized that I haven't changed all that much in the last twenty years. When I started photography, instead of shooting color film and sending it off to be processed and printed, I used black and white film and made my own prints in the darkroom. One of my favorite black and white films was infrared, which also happens to be extremely unpredictable. I also enjoyed making Polaroid transfers and emulsion "lifts".......again, unpredictable and very frustrating at times.

So back to my preparation for the art festival.......I may have finally accepted that it's silly to think I should expect myself to have all my new encaustic pieces look like a series or even be the same technique. This is the time for playing, for experimenting, for having fun!

Something happened yesterday that proved just how much I am holding back and not letting go. I picked up the wrong brush! A mistake was made! And I liked it!!

My husband went to Korea on a business trip last month and brought back a stamp that he had made of my name in Korean characters. I had this idea of stamping it on a piece of tissue paper to add to an encaustic piece. Almost like a signature.

I had this one piece that I wasn't happy with. I used tissue paper to make the print and the fact that it wasn't inkjet paper, meant the image was more than a little rough. I used a file from my 20/20 project to make the print with a border of white around the image. It didn't take long to realize that white shows every single piece of lint or dust that has lodged itself firmly on the wax covered paper. 

close up

This piece had these two strikes against it when I decided to try adding the "signature". I placed the small piece of tissue paper on the corner of the image then grabbed a brush that I thought only had clear encaustic medium on it........but I was wrong! It had blue pigment on it. A quick swipe of the brush and my first thought was "at least this was a practice board". A little fusing and then I stepped back and began liking what I saw.

wish that had been green pigment on the brush instead of blue.....

It was a little bit of a "happy accident", but it was also more than that. I realized that I need to view all the pieces I am working on now and for the next few months, as "practice boards". My desire to make work today that I deem "perfect" with an imperfect and unpredictable medium is sure to make my life (and the lives of those around me) pretty miserable.

So with that.... I give myself permission to experiment, make mistakes, embrace imperfection, loosen up, and stop trying so hard to "get this". Who knows what could happen??


  1. That is so true Dianne. I'm picking up a thread from a series I left a couple months ago. keep reminding myself that I'm in an experimental phase --and then just as quickly, I forget. I want to be further along than I am. Your point about making mistakes and the discoveries we make is excellent and back to the studio I go:-)

  2. I keep on reminding myself why they have erasers on pencils. It usually seems that one thing leads to another, and on I go. I sit back a little more these days and just see what happens.