This weeks posts are from Shary Bartlett! This is the fifth week in our collaborative exhibit share; in case you have missed  the previous I encourage you to take a look! Begin with Michelle Belto, follow on to Amanda JolleyCrystal Neubauer and Erin Keane. Enjoy!


My next phase of Seven Degrees involves several exciting and frequently frustrating months of experimentation, failure, success and feeling decidedly on uncertain ground. I’ve chosen media I’ve never worked with before, so I try dying, burning, rusting, wiring and painting the bones to see what best features their shape and character. Encausticbord is relatively unfamiliar to me, so I practice on small panels so as not to mar “my beauties”. I stain the bords with a variety of pigments, trying to match the paint chip tones I’ve chosen, feel out which colours fit which stories. I’m surprised to realize that if I want the bords to work as a series, the colours, forms and treatment need to partner with each other. I’d not thought of that when choosing the chips!


I’ve set myself the challenge of creating smooth large wax surfaces. This is expertise I don’t possess but have always wanted to learn. This period is all about experimentation and developing technical skills – key features of working with encaustic. I explore carving and scratching the wax, colouring it and making marks with oils, pastels, metallic and carbon paper until I discover what works.

sh2Practice Boards

I keep returning again and again to the temptation to create panels using my old, familiar techniques — so much easier and safer! Why take the risk?  But something propels me – pushing me to wade into unsafe territory. Perhaps my awareness that in this eighth phase of my life – my “middle age” – taking risks is the only way to learn and change.   I push on.


I muster the courage to move from my numerous practice bords to the final substrates. After even more learning, I finally complete this series of seven works — entirely new territory for me. I step back to look at them.

Something’s not working? Why did I choose to tackle smooth wax, and work with bones? Should I scrape the wax off and start over?


What to do?