By Corrie DiManno
CANMORE - "I wanted to know, am I doing everything right, because it's very difficult. It turns out yes; I'm doing it right, but my way. And there's the other way which I've learned this weekend."
This is what encaustic artist Pascale Ouellet (Bigoudi) got out of the weekend's workshop hosted by Seattle-based artist Debra Van Tuinen as a part of Elevation Gallery's latest exhibition called Hot Flash: A survey of encaustics.
Ouellet, who has four new pieces in the show, attended the workshop to see how her way of using wax matches up with the way other artists in the medium use it.
"This is new versus old," she said describing the way she and Calgary-based Teresa Posyniak use wax. And ironically enough, it was Posyniak who opened up Ouellet to encaustics about five years ago. "We use a new technique and a different kind of wax, this is a more traditional way."
But even though it's two different worlds of wax, Ouellet took away a lot from the workshop, even a few techniques she might try in the future, like working with heat guns and irons to fuse the wax, a process she doesn't do. But as she said earlier, she's made the medium her own.
"I work really fast and this is really fast, so if it gets too finicky, it doesn't work for me. It's just good to learn and see what you do right and what you do wrong." However, it's safe to say Ouellet is doing it right with the digital printing she had done for the first time as the backgrounds on her new paintings. The backgrounds serve as the types of wallpapers that Ouellet is drawn to, because although ideally it's wallpaper she really wants on the canvas, wallpaper itself is not archival quality, so she used digital printing in its place.
"I've always been fascinated with the patterns, especially the ones from the 50s," she said. "I wanted to do something special for this series."
An addition to Hot Flash was the inclusion of several pieces made from Van Tuinen's two-day workshop before the opening reception on Sunday, Oct. 16. Mixed media artist Tiffany Teske was one of the nine participants in the workshop and had two encaustic artworks placed in Hot Flash. Teske said the workshop was a huge departure from what she normally does, which is using beeswax without pigment and creating smooth, glasslike surfaces.
Both of these techniques Teske sticks to were unglued, as both of her finished products, one called Rivers and Roads and the other Forever Thine, incorporated lessons Van Tuinen taught.
"She'd show us the technique and we'd get to work and really make something," Teske said.
Following the instructions, Teske left a lot of texture in her work and used reds and blues in her waxes, rather than leaving them clear like she usually does.
"I think it's important to constantly be learning, for me anyways, I'm so curious about everything."