6th of January - 5th of February 2020
Click on the picture to see the exhibited artworks in magazine format
I am a classically trained artist based in San Miguel de Allende. Mexico.I have been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions since 1981 and my work is in numerous private and public collections. I embrace materials, touch, and their interplay as driving forces" to product paintings that embody a visual synthesis of stored memory.My artistic interests move from abstract to figurative, oil, mixed media and encaustic. Here most people think of me as “the encaustic artist”, I think of myself as an artist using different techniques.
THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
I have been been painting almost all my life and would become intensely bored if I painted the same subjects the same way year after year. My focus in any of my different series is to make art that will uplift and inspire the viewer. I strive to make art that touches the hearts the viewer, whether it is figurative or abstract. I hope to connect with others with beauty, harmony, color, form and energy. Painting will always be my passion. I work in series and continue until I feel I have no more to express and usually take time off to contemplate the net series, while waiting for my muse to excite and inspire me.
How long have you been creating both abstract and figurative art? Which piece(s)/collection has been your most successful works of art?
When I was a child, drawing was the major interest in my life. I have been fascinated by faces for as long as I can remember. In grade school my academic work suffered because I preferred to sketch my fellow classmates . With the help of a supportive fifth grade teacher I managed to get to sixth grade.I feel fortunate that I received a classical art education that emphasized the importance of accurate drawing. In my art school years I learned anatomy, abstraction, composition and color, and of course many different techniques and mediums.
My major was painting and my minor was advertising design. All of that is still valuable to this day.After leaving school, I was hired by a book publishing company in Chicago to work in the art department. Eventually, I felt my creativity was limited and moved on to another book publishing company where I was free to make original illustrations.Some years elapsed; I had three daughters. I always painted and participated in various exhibitions . My passion pushed me to study sculpture; wood, stone, bronze and my favorite, welded steel. I sculpted for several years, but missed color and the smell of the paint. I have been a working artist for 60 years. My CV is long and includes co-owning three art galleries; one in Scottsdale Arizona and two in Ashland Oregon. While being art director for the first big gallery, our artists created commissioned works for corporations and restaurants. Almost all of that was abstract art.
When we didn’t have the right painting for the client, I made a painting to fit their specifications. This brought me back to working in the abstract. Because of my training, I comfortably move from abstract to figurative. I don’t have a favorite. When I am painting people, my heart is filled with the connection to the person or persons and I notice that I am smiling as if I am sharing their feelings. When I am painting abstracts, I am totally absorbed in the exciting process of watching the negative space dance with the positive space of forms and color.Fifteen years ago I left the United States and moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico .This town attracts and supports a large colony of artists, galleries, and museums. I was well received had many solo shows of my art in various cities in Mexico.In 2005 I began teaching the encaustic technique. I have had hundreds students from Mexico, United States and Canada. I continue offering encaustic workshops. It encourages me to explore and push my experiences in encaustic so I can answer any technical question for my students, and keep me excited about the process.
Could you tell us more about the "Lightness of Being" in particular the application of many layers of watercolor, ink, molten beeswax, resin and rice paper; each layer heat fused into the existing surface", who (or what) inspires you the most in the art of using the encaustic painting process?
I haven’t made a count of which style of my paintings, abstract or figurative have sold the most. I think it is about equal, but my latest series, “ The Lightness of Being” is popular with collectors and is selling well. I started this series in August 2018 when I was helping out an artist friend by taking charge of his gallery for 3 months. I had half the gallery for my art and I was able to work in the space. It did not have enough ventilation to work in encaustic, so I chose to work in cold wax and oil, inks, watercolor and ink transfers. This led to my original, new technique that I use In “The Lightness of Being.” While creating some smaller pieces, I listened to music, especially Yo Yo Ma. I experienced the flow of the music into the paintings and I discovered a freedom of movement while painting. The series progressed in my home studio where I could incorporate encaustic.
I start with a couple of layers of white milk paint on a cradled plywood board. After the milk paint has dried, I add watercolor and diluted inks. I am building a soft pattern of abstract forms against the white negative space. I sometimes work on this underpainting for several days. It softens as it dries. I work on a wall and continually move the board in every direction to make sure the composition is perfect. Then comes the application of clear encaustic medium. It pushes back the colors even more. I paint a very thin rice paper with watercolor; sometimes using stencil patterns. When the encaustic is still a bit warm, I start placing the dried, torn rice paper shapes. Nothing is permanent until I am satisfied with the placement. Then another layer of clear encaustic goes on top of the rice paper. The process continues also incorporating wax pencil mark making, ink transfers and some colored encaustic paint to emphasis areas. After a day or two, I move on, if I am satisfied, if not, I heat and scrape and add more encaustic layers. It is an intuitive process.
For people who are interested to learn about Figurative Encaustic painting, which are the ways do you recommend someone who already knew how to draw faces/figures? What is included in your Online courses that differentiates yours?
I have been working in encaustic for 20 years and this mixed media process seems ever new to me.I also work figuratively in encaustic and have done a series of Mexican women’s faces in encaustic . I taught myself to layout the hot palette differently for painting portraits and people and have written a small book on how to do it, “Painting Portraits in Encaustic” and have an online video class where students can follow allong while I layout the palette, mix the hot paints and make a portrait.
If someone is already accomplished in painting portraits in oil or acrylic and want to try encaustic, I think the secret is palette layout. It is similar to a palette in oil. I first experienced encaustic painting in a gallery in Portland Oregon about 21 years ago. I was captivated. At that time I could not find any technical information on the formula to make encaustic. I tell my students that I did everything wrong, so now they do not have to make any mistakes. Now, of course there are several good books on painting in encaustic, so no one has to make the dangerous mistakes that I did a lot of years ago. I think it is always best to find an accomplished teacher to explain the process, the history (it is thousands of years old) safety precautions, the application, fusing , (every layer must be fused into the underlaying layers) and much more.
INTO THE SILENCE
What do you like to paint the most?
Besides teaching encaustic, I am now teaching portrait painting in oils. I still love painting in oils.
What will be the upcoming events/exhibitions, or courses? Where can our readers find this information?
My work can be seen at the Manuk Galeria in San Miguel de Allende, and in my home/studio/ gallery.I encourage studio visits by appointment, and/or Art Tours SMA https://www.arttoursma.com When I receive visitors, I am happy to explain the encaustic process and give a short demonstration. My art can be viewed and purchased on my website. http://www.ezshwan.com