Like most of you I love to browse around on Etsy and look with amazement at all of the incredible talent that the community has to offer. One of my favorite categories to explore is Art. I am often so very jealous of the way some people can render such beautiful representations of the world around us. One of the things that I love about the Art category is the way so many of the pieces I come across can evoke a particular feeling or emotion. It was this ability to evoke feeling that drew me to the work of Pat O’Neill and her shop at www.onawhimsey.etsy.com.
Pat produces wonderful Encaustic paintings. If you are like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear painting is probably your favorite piece done in the traditional mediums of acrylics or oil based paints. After reading Pat’s profile and seeing her beautiful pieces I was very intrigued and decided to invite her to share more about her work with us during the Friday Featured Artist segment. So please take a moment to read more about Pat and the interesting technique that she uses to produce her beautiful art. She was gracious enough to answer my questions and provide an excellent explanation and introduction into the medium of Encaustics. So please take a moment to learn a bit more about the artist and definitely stop by her shop and check out the great work that she has there.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. (Please include your location)
My name is Pat and I live in the south east of England. I have always dabbled, being the operative word, in various crafts, mainly quilting and crochet.
Tell us about your art/craft. What is it that you create?
Last year I came across the word encaustic. Didn't have a clue what it meant but felt drawn to finding out the meaning.
What is it?
The name encaustic derives from the Greek for" burnt in".
It is claimed that the art of encaustic wax painting is at least over 2000 years old and that it was practiced by the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Since it has lasted, in some cases, over 2000 years it is considered a very durable form of Art. Around the world there are ancient examples of portraits which have been painted on wood often depicting iconic images from the Church.
Examples of encaustic tomb portraits from Roman Egypt bear witness to the durability of the medium, which is thought to have been widely used in ancient times. Pliny describes the process in which hot liquid colors were applied to the wall by means of heated irons. It is believed that the waxes used to be heated in containers over a charcoal fire until molten and then applied to the wood with brushes or perhaps heated spatulas.
Nowadays, artists have the use of modern technology and thus are able to produce beautiful works of art with electric tools.
True encaustic painting is produced through a process in which the coloured wax is permanently 'burned' into an absorbent backing such as plaster, canvas or some woods. However, today, the technique of laying wax on a non absorbent support is generally regarded as encaustic art.
The amazing attribute of using the molten wax is that whenever the hot implement such as a hot iron touches it, the wax will melt and thus can be re-worked. So, you can alter the image until you are satisfied.
The waxes can be of many types. However, they are usually specially formulated to provide art quality colours in a safe non toxic form which is designed to be used when melted. This wax melts at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or just over 60 degrees Centigrade. The most popular for the beginner is wax made into manageable blocks or sticks. Otherwise, wax can be melted, different pigments added according to requirements etc.
The main tool is the painting or encaustic iron. The base plate is used to smooth and texture the wax whilst the edge can be used to scrape or to slide through the medium. Again, the tip of the iron can be used to draw in details. Encaustic art painting card is specially impregnated and enables the wax to slide around the surface without allowing too much absorption. The card resists heat damage and is tough and flexible.
How long have you been doing this? What led you to start creating your art/craft?
I have only been using encaustics for just over a year. I had heard the word and really didn't know that it meant. On doing some research I discovered a fascinating world! From then on, I was hooked.
Are you the only artist/crafter in your family or does it run in the genes?
As far as I know, there are no other painting artists in the family although both my parents were involved in the world of music. They used to sing in German operettas whilst my father did a lot of music compositions. They did try to teach me to learn to play the piano but it was just not meant to be!
Who or what inspires or influences your work?
I belong to a wonderfully talented group on Etsy.com called Boomer and Beyond Etsy Street Team or BBEST for short. These members have become firm friends and given me so much encouragement. Talking to other artists and likeminded folk gives me great inspiration. If you look at my work you will note water plays an enormous part. Maybe because I spent much of my childhood by the sea?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I should say, paint with waxes! However, I love going to walks with my husband in our local parks where, again, I draw inspiration from nature itself.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for being your biggest fan/supporter/cheerleader?
My husband and family!
How did you learn your art/craft?
I am completely self taught.
On average how long would you say it takes you to complete a piece?
This so depends on the size of the painting. I create anything from ACEOs (3.5" x 2.5") to paintings that are 24" or bigger. Once I start, I really just go with the flow and find I can 'lose' myself for hours at a time.
What is your favorite item from your shop? Why?
'Cascades of Water' http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=9452
This is for sale in my Artfire shop. I love the way the waxes flow to give the impression of cool flowing water!
Can you describe for us your creative process and or what a typical day is like in your studio.
No day is typical. I have creative droughts like other artists but then once the mood takes me, there is not stopping me! I prefer to paint in the morning because the light is better and less harsh. The sun shines directly into my room in the afternoon.
My waxes are always ready for action so when the mood takes me, off I go! I simply plug in my trusty iron, stylus or whatever tool I require, collect the colours of waxes I feel I would like to work with and voila, another encaustic is created, hopefully!
What motivates you to create?
When I am at peace with myself and can hear myself think. Life does have a habit of intruding and making chaos that we have to sort. So, when there is a quiet moment for me.... then I am motivated to create.
What craft or art form do you wish you could do or learn?
At the moment I would like to concentrate more on learning extra techniques in the use of tools and waxes.
Etsy related questions
How did you discover etsy?
A few years ago by browsing the internet.
Prior to opening your etsy shop did you have any knowledge of running a small business? If not what were your most helpful resources in learning to manage a small business?
I sold items on Ebay but really had no particular knowledge about running a small business. Again, I have to say there is not a lot you can't find on the internet!
How do you promote your business?
Promoting through forums on Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, taking part in interviews :)
Do you have any advice for other artists?
Somewhere along the lines that I have already mentioned. Be original, go with YOUR ideas, don't copy, by all means be inspired but stick to your own style and let your imagination work for you!
Where else can we find you online and/or locally (i.e galleries, boutiques, etc.)?
Who are some of your favorite Etsy sellers or indie artists?
I love these artists on Etsy
Yankee Girl http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5453185
Heron Kate http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5508394
Thank you very much Pat for taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed learning about the process of Encaustic painting as I am sure the readers will as well. Best of luck to you and I wish you much success with all of your artistic endeavors.