Guest Post By Lisa Bick
And now I find myself living in Northern New Mexico. I left Indiana six months ago after 35 years planted in peony springs and cornfield summers. It came about due to a powerful need for a new life that does not exorcise old demons but builds on the past - a past which I tend to view slightly too romantically. I’ve learned from grief because I have been to the dark side of the moon of solitude, anxiety and isolation. And I’ve learned from love and life that there is always fire in the snow. I decided that for me, an artist and a writer, to change something as fundamental as the raw landscape outside my window that perhaps inspirations and fresh perspectives and ideas would flow. Not quite so simple.
I grew up in Washington, D.C. where my first love was the National Gallery. My mother would drop me off for long afternoons there when I was young. The Textile Museum, the Renwick, the Corcoran and the Phillips Collection feature prominently in my mind’s catalog of impressions. It was inconceivable to me, even as a child, that my world would not include art and creating with my hands. I didn’t realize then that my heart and personal maps were just as important in the making of that art.
I was also deeply impacted by the unrest that simmered throughout DC at the time. I was swept into the protests against the Vietnam War, the indignities of racial riots, and the changing tides of culture in the late 60s and early 70s. And then, when I was 18, my oldest brother took his life and I learned about personal wounds. All of my youth and all of my coming of age during this time is carved into my psyche and all find ways to infiltrate my paintings and writing.
Printed and Dyed Textiles were my Fine Arts concentration in college guided by the tutorage of Joan Sterrenburg who also was the founder of the Handmade Paper Facility at Indiana University. Her unwavering connection with nature and her own personal handmade life sent me on a path to weaving and photo silkscreening and textile dyes and stitched fabrics as well as the incorporation of natural objects into my fledgling artistic efforts. She taught me the means to heal grief and to express it all at once. It would, however, be years before my hands were plunged into buckets of beeswax.
As I moved into an unwanted phase of my life after a marriage of 27 years and the demanding thrill of creatively raising three children, I found myself wanting a new focus. On a trip to Santa Fe I was awe-struck while standing in front of a painting by Shawna Moore. I knew encaustic from days of Art History classes but in the antiquities sense only. I felt my old primal need to learn a new skill. I immediately scheduled a workshop with her. Shawna’s calm approach to teaching and her resolute support without judgment resonated with me. What I found that I loved the most about encaustic was my ability to “weave” by layering the wax. It felt like textiles because images or scrims of color could layer on top of each other like veils of sheer silk. I loved the idea that I could encrypt poetry (I keep Pablo Neruda at hand) and maps and hidden meanings and threads and leaves and all those expressive things that I was used to incorporating into my work-into wax. The luminosity is what other artists rave about and it is so true. I would be remiss not to mention that the old hippie in me who was already on a rampage to save the bees connected to the organic nature of wax.
Through my paintings, I trace my travels-from the cisterns of Istanbul to the frescoes of Florence to the tragic beauty that is India. There are turning points and mournings and moments of my own illumination as well as disappointments and dead ends and a deep fear of being a failure or a phony. My paintings depict the aura of life and art -of loss, desire, longing and death, memory and fragments of information. I have always been a journal keeper and suddenly I find that my paintings are journals, too.
Tutti Frutti, Encaustic and mixed media on panel, 20 Inches x 20 Inches, 2013
I was in Torino, Italy, sifting through books and maps and postcards at a flea market. I found a little school workbook from 1920. When I took it to my studio later, I randomly chose a page to print onto silk. That was laid into the wax along with assorted items from that trip like a candy wrapper and a lovely museum entrance ticket. I worked and worked and it never said what I was trying to make it say. So I took white wax and blocked out almost the entire thing. As I scraped away little windows on the trip, the first thing exposed were two words from two separate lines in the school boy’s workbook. “Tutti” on one line and “Frutti” from the line beneath. My daughter translated the page for me. Incredibly, the random page I had chosen for my wax discussed the benefits of bees in Italy. “They bring us honey and wax and all the fruits through pollination.” So, “Tutti Frutti” was born and I scrawled, “il miele and la cera” meaning, “the honey and the wax” in Italian on top of it all.
“There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. This kind of silence can speak. It is a soundless echo.” And one I seek to capture. — Lisa Bick
"This guest post is an excerpt of a longer writing by my friend and fellow artist, Lisa. I hope you enjoyed learning about Encaustic and about Lisa. I encourage you to read the full 14 pages!" — Sandra Ziebold
Larger Expanded Version of this Article: View Full Feature In Encaustic Arts Magazine Spring 2015
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Facebook page: Lisa Bick | Artist
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Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston, TX
EAI, Santa Fe
About this blog
This blog is about art, creativity, outdoor living, positivity, marketing, philanthropy and reflections of nature.
I am an artist, business owner and philanthropist that strives in the everyday to keep things simple and spread positivity. I look for the peace and zen in the hustle and bustle, excitement and wonders of life and nature around us.