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Carole Schrading

Booth 314
Encaustic | 2D Mixed Media

Birmingham, AL
cottonwoodartsstudio.com

I’ve been creating art in one form or another my entire life: pastels, oils, acrylics. For the past seven years, I have focused my creative energy on encaustic painting, a 2,000-year-old process that involves beeswax, resin and pigment, and I have never been more challenged or had more fun! I am drawn to wax because of its versatility, its ability to morph and evolve as I apply layers of color and medium, fusing each with heat. Encaustic painting excites me because of the depth and range of color I can achieve  within each piece and the surprises that can happen as I heat the wax. I like the fact that I can only control so much of the process as each pigment reacts uniquely to heat and substrate. I may have a vision for my piece but I am often the victim of a happy accident – a surprise that surfaces from the wax as colors blend, shapes form and patterns emerge, telling me where to go next in the development of that particular work.

Each piece grows over time as the wax layers must be carefully built on the canvas. I initially mix the pigmented waxes with medium, a blend of damar resin and beeswax, apply the colors to the surface (I use cradled birch wood), heat the entire piece to fuse layers and then wait for it all to cool. This process forces me to focus intensely, work rather quickly and then be patient. I usually make my art standing up, active and moving about the piece, and then, as it cools, I sit and reflect. Working with wax allows me to remove layers, carve into the canvas to create textures to reveal what is underneath, and easily cover areas that don’t feel right to me. This mercurial, adaptive nature is what pleases me most about encaustic painting.

I draw most of my inspiration from nature: trees and fields; discoveries made on hiking trails or walking with my dogs; patterns found within bark, leaves or grasses; and, of course, living entities. I enjoy creating both objective and non-objective works and also playing with surface techniques, such as shellac and alcohol burns. The possibilities seem endless, and I am enjoying my journey with wax as I continue to grow as an artist in this wonderfully complex medium.