Bruce Tyner

Pat Whittle

October 26 - November 16
Public Reception: Saturday, October 26, 1pm-3pm

What attracts artists to the encaustic medium? Working with encaustic offers a whole array of opportunities as it lends itself to all styles of genre. Encaustic is a tremendously versatile medium and can be partnered with many mixed media applications such as photography, paper arts and digital art. Mix your own colours, create dimensional textures or surfaces smooth as glass, work in thin transparent glazes or heavy impasto.  

For their two-person exhibition, Pat Whittle and Bruce Tyner are using one of the oldest art forms in contemporary applications.  

Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C. Encaustic had a variety of applications: for the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, for the coloring of marble and terra cotta, and for work on ivory (probably the tinting of incised lines).  

Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to use. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer.  

The roots of modern encaustic painting go back to the 18th century when antiquarians, excited by the archeological discovery of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, strove to rediscover the techniques of the ancient painters. Encaustic was further explored in the 19th century as a way to solve the problem of dampness faced by mural painters in northern climates, however, the practice did not become widespread.  

Pat began painting in 1991 when she was working in the financial field. She attended night classes at Durham College, joined art groups and purchased books in order to learn all she could about painting. A few years into painting, Pat discovered the brilliant colour of encaustic. It’s a medium that allows Pat to express her love for colour and texture.   

Always adventurous and curious, Pat enjoys experimenting with different techniques. “I tried a new method of encaustic painting in which white fluid varnish is poured on the almost finished work, then lit with a blow torch,” explains Pat. “Thankful I was outside as the flames lept four feet into the air.”  

Pat also explores a diverse range of subject matter. In recent years, she has tried to be more realistic in her imagery, but she finds that she is continuously pulled back to abstraction.  

Encaustic has now become Bruce’s favourite painting medium. “I enjoy working with the medium because it can be so flexible,” says Bruce who has been using encaustic for the past six years and credits Pat for sparking his interest in the medium. “Often I will have a concept in mind but with the nature of working with a medium that actually melts when it is heated, the piece could go in a completely different direction and I just go in the direction it takes me.”

All that surrounds him inspire Bruce. “By looking at one of my pieces, you are looking at a piece of me, my passions, my experiences, my thoughts,” remarks Bruce who is currently renovating and old church in Muskoka Falls to be used as his studio. “I believe we were all created to create. I find that I am always creating wherever I am or whatever I am doing,” reflects Bruce. “That being said, my studio is a special place, when I enter my studio I have entered my sanctuary. I have entered into my sacred place to do a specific creation. I can relax and creative juices are free to flow.”  

Both Pat and Bruce hope that visitors to their exhibition will learn about the versatility of the medium and a newfound appreciation for this ancient art. “The medium is also so multi-sensual,” adds Bruce. “From the moment that the viewer comes into the gallery, not only do they have a visual experience, they also catch the sweet aroma of the beeswax that is so much a part of the encaustic medium.  

Meltdown opens with a public reception on Saturday, October 26 from 1pm until 3pm.

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please send an e-mail with your request including your full name and e-mail address.

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