Spring time is here and what better way to ring in this lovely season and shake off the winter cold than with some beautiful floral encaustic works!?!? Think resin, beeswax, hiking and being out in nature collecting inspiration…Maybe getting a little ahead of myself? Let me explain: When I first came across the work Caro was busy with, I had to actually do a bit of research on encaustic works and what it means. A few minutes later (and some cool videos) I was so intrigued and couldn’t wait to meet this artist!
But I will let Caro explain the process and why this is such an amazing and unique way of creating art…so let’s get right into it.
Where are you based? Why there?
I grew up in the Free State, studied in Pretoria, and lived there for three years. Currently, my husband and I reside in Roodepoort in the West Rand.
What started you in your career of art? What sparked your interest in creating art?
Children are born creative, but as we grow up we tend to lose this creativity (or some of it) to rules, compliance and regulations. Some people learn to cope and adapt, and some don’t and it’s those who don’t adapt who lose their creative spark. For me, that creativity never died.
I remember creating at the kitchen table with my mom from an early age, and I took art as a subject during high school. I always enjoyed it, it was part of me. During school holidays, I would get together with a few friends and we would spend our time creating and having fun.
My soul is nourished when I can make something beautiful. I have always been happy when I could use my hands to create something and to be free of the limitations of being put in any kind of box. Perhaps it is an escape; my way of understanding and discovering the world around me.
What inspires you to create art?
Passion, curiosity, and my heart’s calling. My surroundings also inspire a lot of my art. By traveling and hiking, I take in nature’s forms and shapes. By being quiet and observing, I see new kinds of beauty.
How would you describe your art?
It belongs to the viewer to create their own story when they look at art. The artist cannot tell the story for them. As the artist, I myself am constantly evolving; whether it’s my mood, my inspiration or my state of mind. I feel a little different every day, and so do most people. This results in works of art that do not always “stick to the rules” and usually never means the same thing to two different people.
I make use of a mixed media layered effect to convey my experiences and adventures throughout life.
Usually art is a great escape for most artists, do you feel the same way about your work? What topics do you explore?
I grew up in the Free State where a conservative approach to life is the norm. Questioning the standard set of beliefs isn’t usually encouraged. Creating was my way of coping and exploring the things I did not fully understand yet. With time, I learned to respect others and their opinions, especially when moving to Gauteng. This is when I realised that the “box” is much bigger – there is much more out there and we are all different.
By creating, I focus my attention on the positive and forget about the rules and expectations of what we should or shouldn’t do. I sometimes struggle to let go and to explore without worrying. I am still growing and learning to tell the truth and to be honest with myself. I let my artwork do the talking.
What has been your best memory/experience related to your art?
Visiting art galleries in Australia and Europe has been a major highlight.
In November of 2017 I was part of my first group exhibition. I sold a few pieces of my encaustic art and got a lot of positive feedback, which was very encouraging and inspiring.
One think that will always stand out for me, was when I completed sculpture classes with Mike Edwards a few years ago. I learned so much and managed to work through the whole process – from building an armature, to making the sculpture, creating moulds, and even melting and pouring the molten bronze sculpture!
Who are some of your favorite artists (local and/or international)?
Alicia Tormey from Seattle, USA. She’s an encaustic artist and uses a special technique called shellac burn. I really enjoy watching her videos for inspiration. Martin Kline from New York, USA. He creates sculptural encaustic art.
Stanislaw Trzebinski from our very own South African shores. When I walked into Melrose Art Gallery, I saw his beautiful, big sculptures and thought, “Wow! This is a magnificent and different take on the relationship between humans and the natural world.”
Stephens Tapestry Studio from South Africa. I met the owner, Marguerite Stephens, while in the kitchen design industry seven years ago. I was so inspired by her work and her studio that I started painting again.
What is your favorite medium/art form both to create and view/collect?
My mixed-media approach includes an encaustic medium, drawing, collage, my own photographs, and objects I’ve found. Because it is organic, the molten wax behaves differently each day, and offers a sense of dynamic movement. Its luminosity also enhances the inherent characteristics of the subject. Wax has an entirely different set of parameters to paint or pastels. There are fewer restrictions and I am free to infuse my work with my own thoughts and emotions using the unique combination of tools at my fingertips. Temperature control, color-mixing, painting, pouring, etching, photo-embedding, fusing and layering are all part of my artistic adventure.
In terms of work that I enjoy collecting, I would say etched printing and I greatly admire sculptures and the work that goes into bringing them to life.
So, I need you to boil this whole process down to a few simple steps – what is encaustic art and how is it created?
The word encaustic comes from the Greek word ‘Enkaustikos’ meaning to “heat or burn in”. Encaustic medium consists of a mix of beeswax and a special Damar resin which is first heated to a safe working temperature and then needs to be kept molten on a heated palette.
The first layer of wax is applied by painting or pouring it onto the substrate. One can then start adding in or collaging items – and literally the possibilities are just about endless! You can add photographs, small prints, dried flowers, string – just about anything – you can even scrape or inscribe into the wax. After every layer of paper or item or inscribing into the wax, lay down another layer of warm wax and be sure to fuse the various layers together with a heat gun to make sure it all sits nicely together. Once you have done a few layers, lay one more layer of wax over the top and then you can finish it off by cleaning up the wax a little to bring out your overall image and even framing it – as I like to do!
You make it sound so awesome and so easy!!! I would love to give it a go, but I am sure this takes quite a bit of practice and to be honest, I think you have got this down pretty good so I will leave all these creative things to you creatives!
What other interests/hobbies do you have?
Hiking lifts my spirit. I love the idea of surviving with the bare minimum, especially when doing a hike for longer than a week. It creates an appreciation of daily items that we tend to take for granted, such as running water from the tap, ablutions, a warm plate of food, and a comfy bed. I am passionate about traveling, meeting new people and discovering new cultures.
Also, learning and exploring new methods to create and express myself intrigue and inspire me.
What do you do in your spare time to relax and unwind?
I read travel books, love good coffee from freshly ground beans, listen to music, or indulge in some family time, which usually includes a good braai and a glass of wine.
In case you missed it you can find some of Caro’s amazing encaustic art on her profile by clicking here. She has recently restocked us as her previous set of works just about sold out.
Taking care of the works is quite simple, but the main thing to keep in mind is to keep it out of direct sunlight or an area that gets quite warm as this could melt the wax and completely change the piece.
We love these and we are sure you do too! Keep an eye out for some more new works to hit the online profile soon and if you would love to see these in person, they are on display at the Shift Espresso Bar in Green Point and Waterway house for the month of September.