In my work, I build layers blending four distinct techniques.
First invented by Sir John Herschel, it was popularized as a low cost method of printing, commonly known as blue prints. Artistically, Anna Atkins, the first female photographer, used Cyanotypes to print flowering plants and ferns.
The process I use consists of alchemy, nature, technology, artistic license, and timing. Beginning with a notion, or idea of subject, I will sensitize paper with the elements, ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferric cyanide. This paper will be set to dry in a dark room. Upon being dried, it is then contact-printed or placed in direct contact with a positive/negative transparency and exposed to sunlight until an image appears. Once the image is as desired, the paper is washed in water to oxidize iron salts and draw out the Prussian Blue color.
These contact images produce the ground for the paintings. The main imagery is produced using an iPad to photograph vignettes staged in the studio. Once printed as cyanotypes, the images are glued to a wood panel. I then alter them, painting over the print with encaustics and other mediums.
Distemper is a paint made from rabbit skin glue (warmed gelatin) diluted with water. Dry pigments are added for color. The solution has a limited shelf life and must be refrigerated.
I paint layers of distemper to create beautiful wallpaper glazes for my gesso panels. Utilizing distemper layered with my altered and deconstructed papers allows me to add depth before painting the encaustic.
Encaustic is a technique that is attributed to Ancient Greece, meaning to burn in (to fuse). Purified beeswax and damar resin are combined, heated and filtered to create a liquid clear wax medium. Concentrated pigmented wax or dry pigments are added to the medium creating a pallet of colors from translucent to opaque. Each painted layer must be fused to the layer below creating a cohesive bonded surface. Finally, I use a propane torch to fuse my paintings and to build my vessels one layer at a time.
Traditional gesso also known as “glue gesso” or “Italian gesso” is a mix of rabbit skin glue, calcium carbonate, and white pigment. Warmed to liquid form, it is applied with a brush in several layers over a wood panel. Once sanded, smooth gesso becomes a luminous surface to paint on.