Someone long ago had painted “ONLY DEAD FISH GO WITH THE FLOW” on a sidewalk at the University of Michigan. I don’t know if it was something I walked over once or everyday while I was there, but it was forever etched into my memory.
Struggle against the flow. Go with the flow. Fight. Surrender. I don’t have the answers. Some days it’s one. Some days the other.
Making art is a struggle. Sometime you find that flow and go with it. The painting comes easy. Some days not.
But I understand the game. “Don’t fall in love with the background!” The “ugly teenager” phase. It’s temporary! The “click” when it starts to come together. And I know the materials. I feel competent that I can make them do my bidding. No big surprises. And then I started painting with encaustics, and the unknown is as vast as an ocean. I am a beginner here. Any sense of control that I may feel is false. With heat the wax becomes fluid and unpredictable. The lines move. Too much heat and you melt through to the wood panel underneath all those layers. You blow a hole into the painting. And you have to remember what you learned in printmaking – “you can’t go back, you just have to roll with it”. Go with the flow. damn.
I really struggle when I work on an abstract piece. I need the painting to “be” something. I like a narrative. Even if no one else sees it. I started this painting 4 months ago. People who saw it said it was great, but I knew it wasn’t finished. And I was stuck. Didn’t know where to take it next. So I would walk by and doodle on it out of frustration. Carve into it, or draw more lines on it as I explained encaustic painting to visitors. It sat on the workbench and I would glare at it. And then a couple weeks ago I started working on it again, found the story and was able to finish it. finally!
Of course I have started another encaustic painting. Another struggle. I am letting it sit. Giving it the stink-eye as I pass. In the meantime I’ve been making encaustic monotypes. A printmaking technique that allow me to make quick and easy prints with wax on paper. I had been using thick printmaking paper, but picked up some rice paper after attending the last Sierra Wax Artist meeting and seeing a monotype demo by Barbara Nilsson. I must say I am really loving the results I get with this thinner paper! These are all 6″x9″ encaustic and graphite.