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Wax and Sculpture since earlier times!

Ever since I discovered Encaustic I got hooked, and have been using this “new” medium every time I can, even in my sculpture work.

I say “new” because it’s “new to me”, but it’s really an old media that is making a strong comeback.

It was actually the Greeks three thousand years ago who started it all, when their shipbuilders decided to mix beeswax with Damar resin to caulk and waterproof hulls. In fact, Encaustic, comes from the Greek word Enkaustikos, that means, “to burn in”. As Greeks found that by heating beeswax and adding Damar resin to it, the mixture would raise the wax melting point and hardness. It was then, only a matter of time for people to start adding pigments to the mix and create a painting medium with great luminosity and depth, which has been used as far back as the Greco-Roman Egypt era.

NOTE: Evidence of this ancient medium can be found in museums all over the world. If you're ever in New York City, visit the Metropolitan Museum and take a look at the Fayum Mommy Portraits from the Greco-Roman Egypt era in their collection. It’s amazing to see how wax has preserved the vivid colors of the pigments for so many years.

Consequently, “…the curved hulls of seagoing barques led Greek artists to take encaustic in two directions: flat for easel painting and fully dimensional for the polychroming of clay and marble sculptures… [Evidence of earlier sculptors using wax can be found in] a krater [large vase used in ancient Greece to mix wine and water] from the fourth century B.C., now in the Metropolitan museum of Art, [that] depicts a sculptor applying wax to a marble figure,” Joanne Mattera, The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax, Watson-Guptill Publications (2001).

Recently, during a trip to Madrid, Spain, I got the chance to visit the modern, contemporary Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. It was such a treat!

Amongst all the wonderful art I got to see, experience, and enjoy, I came across a couple of wax sculptures that inspired me to write this post, they were both made by Post-Impressionist Italian sculptor, Medardo Rosso (Turin 1858-Milan 1928), and the best thing is that they allowed me photograph them.

Both sculptures were made using Wax on "Escayola," (which is a very high quality plaster use for construction in Spain). Here are the images, enjoy!

"Banbina Che Ride" (Laughing Girl)
Ca. 1902
Medardo Rosso

"Bambino Malato" (Sick Boy)
Medardo Rosso

In my opinion, here the wax brings to the pieces a sense of exquisite delicacy!

As we can see, wax and sculpture have had successful marriages all throughout history,  as a coating for  marble, clay, plaster, wood, fabric, and other porous surfaces, as well as in the "Lost-Wax" technique used to cast metal sculptures.

Of course, my work could never compared to Rosso's works, but since I'm sure you're curious to see what I have done with this "new" found medium, here are some of my sculptures where I have used Encaustic.

"Rhino", 2009
Stoneware, beeswax, resin, pigments
©Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

"Dwelling" 2011
Abaca, beeswax, resin, twigs, nest
©Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

"Hatched!", 2011 (Relief, front view)
handmade paper, shredded recycled paper, beeswax, resin, pigments
©Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

"Hatched!", 2011 (Relief, side view)
handmade paper, shredded recycled paper, beeswax, resin, pigments
©Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

I have a stoneware and wax sculpture I recently finished, but don't have a good picture of it yet, so I'll try to post it tomorrow after I photograph it under good lighting... and since I can get enough of this medium, I'm currently working on a "book art" sculpture, using paper and wax. I'll post pictures on another post when I'm done!!


Learning about Solarplate printing

Amongst the art workshops I took last year, Solarplate was one of them. For this, I traveled last March to New York City to take this workshop with the internationally recognized painter and printmaker, Julio Valdez.

You may be asking yourselves what is Solarplate? It is a revolutionary and versatile method of printmaking created by master printmaker, Dan Welden in 1972, to create an etching or photo-etching plate using solar energy, developing the image with water. Solarplate is a non-acid, non-toxic method that produces extraordinary results.

This technique claimed to be a wonderful process for painters, mixed-media, and photo-based artists to create fine art limited edition prints and installations. So I had to give it a try!!!

For this workshop I had to prepare in advance the images I wanted to experiment with in the class. I had to create positive images (5 X 7 inches each), either hand-drawn or photo based, on a translucent or transparent material, such as clear/frosted Mylar or acetate.

Here are some of the images
I hand-drew for the class

For the hand-drawn images I had to use opaque materials, like pencils, inks, gouache, acrylics, oils, litho crayons, etc. For my drawings I chose to work with pencils and ink.

Working to create more depth
and line definition to get a nicer print
Some people in the class, brought printed photographs on prepared "clear" mylar/acetate, and then reworked the images by hand, like you would with the hand-drawn pieces. Since the quality of the positive image created is going to determine the quality of the plate and therefor the prints, they had to make sure to get their photographs printed at a good printing place, like Kinkos or any other professional printing place. It was also recommended to try the same image printed in two variations of contrast/tones.

The drawings are placed
under glass...
...and covered with the Solarplate Box
We turned the UV light on
for a few minutes...
After the plate had been exposed to the light,
we brushed the emulsion off with water, to get the image
imprinted on the plate...
...but we need to expose it to the sun light,
once again, so the emulsion hardens.

Here's a little video I took from Julio Valdez explaining the process...

Now we are ready to start printing!!!

Julio Valdez is explaining
how to ink the plates

Here are my inked plate and the original
drawing next to it.

..and voilà! The first print comes out!

We also did a reverse method to etch the plate (Embossing). By inking the plate, before exposing it to the light, my daughter (who took the weekend workshop with me) and I did a collaborative plate...

Using wooden sticks, cotton swabs...
I started taking some of the ink away
to make my drawing...

Here's my basic drawing

My daughter adding her magic touch!
a sneak peak to her wonderful mark making!!

The finished drawing was exposed to the UV light
and the whole process described above is repeated
until we got the finished embossed plate.

The plate was placed on the press bed...

...and here's our little collaborative project result!!

We made a few more plates and prints, from the different drawings we brought during that wonderful weekend for both, my daughter and I. Back into my studio, I have been using some of my prints for my mixed media artworks, and here's one of them...

encaustic mixed media
(c) Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

NOTE: The bees in "El Panal" are Solarplate prints.

NEW!!! Want to learn this technique but using the sun instead of the UV-light Solarplate box? Join the Dorothy Cochran's workshop at my studio. She'll be coming all the way from New Jersey to teach us the technique she uses for her fabulous Solarplate prints!! For information about her workshop click HERE!


My Monthly e-Newsletter for January 2012

My January Art Newsletter is can read it following the link below:

January Art News from Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

Want to have the next issue delivered directly to your Inbox? Just click on the "Join Our Mailing list" label, at the bottom left margin in the newsletter. Your information is safe and never shared and you can easily unsubscribe at any time if you ever wish to. Thank you for your interest.



Happy New Year 2012 and Overview of 2011

Happy New Year to all my readers!

As it is already customary for me to write in January an overview of the year that has just ended, here it’s my 2011 overview. Enjoy!

Last year, the weather was a little crazy around here; we were hit hard with unprecedented amounts of snow, cool temperatures, ice and slush everywhere, roofs collapsed... it was total chaos, since we are not use to having such a harsh winter.

Awareness (c)

So I took this time to read more (added a few more books to my art library), expanding my knowledge in Social Media, and ...remember the donation I've been working on since last year? Well, I decided to create a non-for-profit blog and Facebook page to raise Awareness on Dense Breast Tissue and the current screening methods that cannot detect cancer well on this type of tissue. My dream is to make this a blog for all women to share their stories, so the world realizes that we are many affected with the issue and that we all deserve to be screened early if we have cancer cells growing on our breasts. I was very excited when Dr. Nancy Cappella, from Are you Dense, Inc, kindly wrote her story to share it on the Awareness blog. But we need more!! Please, visit the Awareness Blog, read about this issue, learn about it and be proactive!

Then, in September, we were under the eye of hurricane “Irene”, which was very stressful. Thank goodness it changed into a tropical storm when it reached our coastline. However, our state had extensive damage all around, and some people had no power for about a week or so, with no water, no stove... God willing, we won't get another one like it for many years to come!!

We finished the year, weather wise, with an early snowstorm in late October. Can you believe it? There were still leaves on the trees, which complicated things a bit, many trees fell down on homes, electrical wires, roads… hence most of the state lost power once again, and unfortunately many people were without power for over a week.

We ended the year with a warmer winter. Let’s see what this year will bring. I hope the weather behaves better this time around!

As you may know, I'm always looking for ways to expand my creative possibilities. So, since construction of my new Studio/Gallery continue through most of last year, and my old studio was too cramped to work on, I took the opportunity to take some new art classes, to learn new approaches and techniques that I could later apply to my works and pass along to my students.

In this note, here are the workshops I took during 2011:

One of my Solarplate prints
During March, I travel to New York City to take a SOLARPLATE WORKSHOP with the internationally recognized painter and printmaker, Julio Valdez, which I enjoyed greatly. Not only because of all the new knowledge learned, but it was also the perfect mother/daughter weekend. You see, my college daughter joined me in the class, so it was fun to make art with her and get to bond with her.

You may be asking yourselves what is Solarplate? It is a revolutionary and versatile method of printmaking created by master printmaker, Dan Welden in 1972, to create an etching or photo-etching plate using solar energy, developing the image with water.

Michelle Belto, me and Bonny Leibowitz,
from the Encaustic Center in Dallas
Last April, and thanks to the donations that many of you, my readers, made here on my blog, I was able to travel to Dallas, Texas to take Michelle Belto's workshop: FROM PULP TO PAINTING: EXPLORATIONS IN PAPER AND WAX, at the Encaustic Center. It was one of the most enriching experience I’ve ever had, besides being the first time in my life that I would get on a plane by myself and go to an unknown place, and meet people I’ve never seeing before. Awesome!

Encaustic Conference
Founder/Director Joanne Mattera
addressing the crowd
In June, I was so fortunate to be one of the participants to the 5th International Encautic Conference at Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA. Those were three full days of lectures and demonstrations on everything to do with this wonderful media of Encaustic and the business of art. Got the chance to meet artists from all over the world and learned so much from them, and the place, PTown is so beautiful, it was so worth the drive!!

While there, I had the opportunity to take some wonderful workshops at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill; CASTING WITH WAX with the multi-talented Kim Bernard, and a very different workshop, VISUAL JOURNALING, a workshop that focuses on the visual expression instead of a written language diary, with Nancy Azara.

During the summer time, I joined Binnie Birstein’s encaustic class at the Creative Arts Workshop to better my skills in the media.

I participated in fewer exhibitions than usual last year, for the same reason that I didn’t have a space to work. Nonetheless, here’s the list of the few I entered:

The year began with my participation in [UN+ART]-4; a salon style art exhibition at the Hartford's ArtSpace Gallery, which benefited the South Park Inn homeless Center.

February started with my participation in the Annual Members Exhibition of the Madison Art Society, and was invited to partake in The First Mixed Media Exhibition at the new Six Summit Gallery, in Ivoryton, CT, where I sold one of the mixed media paintings I brought in. I sold another painting in March at Expressiones Cultural Center in New London, CT

During April, I was invited to take part in Time In, a collaborative project involving Expressiones Cultural Center, Mitchell College, and the Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP) at Expressiones Cultural Center, New London, CT. It was such a heartening experience to learn about the penitentiary system in the US and in particular about the York Women Penitentiary in Connecticut. I had to take their experiences, read their poems, songs… and create two artworks inspired from the experience. At the end, I was very happy when the own Judy Dworin wrote to me:
Uncomfortable Minutes (c)

“Wonderful Work! I loved your two pieces in the show at Expressiones. And the woman who wrote the text that you incorporated would be so thrilled to see them! Might you have photos of the two pieces that I might bring to York [women prison in Niantic, CT] to show her and the other women?” 2011 -Judy Dworin, author of TIME IN, reflections of women in Jail.

Also in April, I was invited by Arte, Inc Gallery to curate an exhibition for them. So I invited a group of talented artists with Latin roots from all over Connecticut, and named the exhibition Perspectives/Perspectivas. Because, even though they all have common roots, each one brings their own particular view to their artistic works.

Sponsored by the Downtown Milford Business Association, I was invited again, along with other artists, to create an artwork on a recycled door. In the summer, completed works were displayed at the sponsoring businesses throughout downtown Milford, and in September the transformed "doors and windows" were auctioned off and a percentage of the sales was donated to this year's charity,
Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.

On a different note, my work, “Medallion,” made using Encaustic was featured at the 5th Encaustic International Conference's home page.

I was honored with an invitation to join the 6th Annual In The Pink Art Stroll for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, at Expressiones Cultural Center, New London, CT, where my sculpture, Awareness had center stage on their gallery window. At the same center, but in a different gallery, my sculpture “As One” was juried in to LOVE, Juried by Jeffrey W. Cooley, Director of the Cooley Gallery, in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

At the same time, I participated in The New Haven Paint & Clay Club active members exhibit at the John Slade Ely House, New Haven; and was invited by artists Julio Valdez, who curated a small group of artists (from Washington DC, New York and Connecticut) to showcase our works at The Affordable Art Fair, Fall Edition New York, NY. I’m happy to report that six of my paintings were sold during the fair.

During the month of October, I participated in All About Water VII presented by GalleryOne and the Tracy Art Center at GalleryOne at the Clayhouse, Old Saybrook, CT.

November came with good news, my artwork “Undinde, the Water Nymph” had been accepted in to the Connecticut Women Artists Juried Exhibition. Gallery, Meriden, CT, juried by Melanie Anderson Bourbeau, Curator for Collections at Hill Stead Museum, Farmington CT

The Grand Opening!
Once my new studio was finally finished and I had moved in, I started working and working, days and nights, until the anticipated grand opening of my new studio, the weekend before Thanksgiving. The opening was a great success, good friends and new ones came along, many people showed interested in joining my classes and ten of my artworks were sold, along with prints, my mixed media book, cards… Thank you everyone who stopped by and to those that couldn't come but sent me their good wishes, you all made this grand opening perfect and I'll treasure it in my heart forever!!

Finished my exhibition calendar with my participation in Winter Lights, invitational exhibition at Expressiones Cultural Center, New London, CT

FOREVER, piece donated to FOCUS
Also in 2011, I created a especial painting that was donated to FOCUS’ fundraising, a non-profit organization in the town of Farmington, CT to keep school children safe and away from drugs and alcohol.

I continue donating 50% of the sales of the pocket mirrors with the printed image of my sculpture "Awareness", to the Downey Sisters' Fund FOR BRCA MUTATION AWARENESS AND EDUCATION, to educate the public and the medical community about the genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

During my lecture -ArtSmart
I was also invited to come to an Elementary school in Westport, CT to talk to a group of 11 year-old children about the art/technique involved in my sculpture work, and we all had a blast! After my talk and demo, the children had to make their own sculptures following my idea of creating “round” sculptures. Their works were showcased and auctioned off during the school's MUSEUM NIGHT. It is all part of a local program call ArtSmart, a parent run, in class program designed to stimulate student appreciation for art. Isn't that great?

Well, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be more constant with my writing here. So, I will be making an effort to write at least once a week to keep you all updated with my works, my exhibitions and even tell you more about what I have learn in the arts and my art classes. So stay tune, and remind me if I get behind… Thank you!

Wishing you all a new year filled with blessings of good health, love, and a steady job, peace, happiness and… lots of creativity!!!


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