Happy Friday! Today’s guest is Jane Small. I love the beautiful things she does with color! Jane has shared some thoughts about techniques and her unique perspective on art.
Why are you passionate about art?
I have to be very honest here and say that it isn’t actually “art” that I’m passionate about. What I am passionate about is the mystery that makes art possible. Many years ago, I suffered from acute anxiety and depression. I had felt that way for 16 years. Without going into too much detail, one day, I had an experience of healing that affected my perception so instantly and profoundly that my life totally changed. I still experienced to some degree, some of the original anxiety, but it was no longer a problem! It just felt like a small thing in a much greater perspective. The greater perspective showed me that life was in fact an awesome mystery, full of hope and beauty. I started to really “see”. I noticed everything in much more detail; spiders webs, ants, a drop of rain water, shadows cast by the light on a plain wall. All these things now seemed beautiful and the stiller I became and the more I looked, the more I noticed. Colours in particular now had a particular impact. I was especially in awe of the colour “mauve”. When I was very young, I had worn a mauve dress once and my mother had told me I looked very sickly in it! She didn’t like that colour and it was one of those little things that get lodged in the mind. I had disliked mauve ever since. Now, it was like I was making up for having missed out on “seeing” that colour, and wherever I saw it, whether as a flower, or lampshade, or whatever, it would stop me in my tracks and I would look and look. My life now became focused on exploring the mystery behind what had happened. My husband Simon had been so astonished by the transformation, that he too was drawn to seek with me. It became a wonderful journey of discovery and ever more questions. For him, the journey came together in a creative sense, via the beautiful and mysterious mystical novel that he wrote, “Star Pilgrim.”
What got you started with art and being creative as a hobby/business?
As a bi product of this quest, I found myself drawn to express the enchantment and beauty that I was noticing, through art. For years I painted in soft pastel and sold my work as originals, prints and cards. My pictures always had a meditative or mystical quality to them. I also worked in water colour, sometimes on silk, and in acrylic. I also experimented with batik. Then, I found a book one day about encaustic art. I was interested to try it. This involves painting in coloured beeswax and using a variety of heated tools for melting and working with the wax. The American way and the European way of encaustic are different. In America it is popular to use heat guns and more powerful tools,and to paint on absorbant panels. In Europe,it is more common to use a small iron, heated stylus, hot plate and hog hair brushes, and to paint on a clay coated encaustic non absorbant card. This is a big generalization as of course individuals everywhere are using different approaches. For some years now I have focused on painting with beeswax, because it makes an interesting change. I love the way the colours merge and blend and its slightly quirky, unpredictable nature.
Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?
I noticed on the internet that the European way is often derided as “not the real thing”! This might be in part because a lot of people who do encaustic over here, make no claim to be artists. They just love messing around with beeswax and enjoy the special effects you can make.They paint numerous fairy castles, dragons, fox gloves and dragonflies! And I think thats great. However, I felt from the beginning that a lot more could be achieved with these simple tools for anyone who was a natural artist and who wanted to do more specific and detailed work. So really, I just went ahead and did my own thing! And basically that involves an enormous amount of practise and experimentation to find your own style. Maybe a class for beginners could be useful but then just experiment! You can use other media with the wax too such as oil pastels and its common to add wax to photographs. A word of caution about oil pastel. It never completely dries so the finished work would have to be framed behind glass. This is not necessary if you stick to pure beeswax. Quite a lot of detail can be achieved in wax by using an encaustic stylus. And the finished work can be buffed up so it really shines.
Do you have a favourite piece you have created?
My favorite piece is always my current one! Because it is such a joy in the moment to produce something totally unique and new. However people who like my work do have favorites. This varies enormously, but without doubt, my top, best selling print and card is “Inner Peace.” This was painted years ago, shortly after my healing experience. It is executed in acrylic, using a water colour method.
What exciting future plans do you have for your work?
Well, the exciting thing is that I don’t plan! And that’s when the best things seem to happen. I’m an absolute menace with any kind of technology which of course includes computers. I have never had much to do with them. I had an offer of help to set up my enchantment fine art blog. And it has been amazing, the interest I have had from people all over the world who are interested in encaustic art. Or people who just like meditative, calming images, something a bit mystical. This is already opening new doors. And I have started writing Haiku to resonate with the images as they seem to really suit that style of verse. I can’t write them “cold”. They come to mind when I look into each painting after it is completed.
Thank you Jane! I would love to try working with beeswax someday, I think it would be a lot of fun. You do beautiful and inspirational work!