June 2014:Paula Blackwell & Esteban Hermida-Espada

Paula Blackwell is an encaustic artist creating dreamlike and mysterious atmospheric encaustic paintings, heavy with wax, pigment and texturing. To quote Paula, “Each layer of my encaustic paintings is a visual record of my process and life; and how, despite our best efforts, it is sometimes subject to forces beyond our control. My attraction and love of encaustics comes from its ability to illuminate and obscure, while creating mystery and depth, thereby allowing the viewer to linger and reflect.” To begin her process, she first paints on several layers of hot liquified beeswax combined with damar resin. She then lightly fuses the wax to the ground (usually a wood panel with a cradle frame) between each layer with a torch. Her goal is to emulate an aged or rustic appearance in her art. She then uses an iron to smooth and flatten the uneven surface while also leaving behind peeks and valleys that she can back fill with water mixable oil paint. This technique of layering, melting and scraping creates a radiant and complex terrain of light, color and texture. Her work exudes an undeniable ethereal quality; compelling landscapes that capture an air of mystery and timelessness.

Esteban Hermida-Espada is a ceramist currently working on stoneware sculptural forms. His primary technique is utilizing slabs of clay that are formed in a variety of hump molds and joined together to create hollow forms. These are then altered by adding other slab-formed and modeled elements to the initial shape. He focuses on evoking the organic essence of the natural world and at the same time creating forms that are drawn directly from his subconscious. The objective is to create sculptures that do not directly reference specific elements from nature but rather to introduce a degree of ambiguity that will allow many different interpretations from the viewer. In his own words, “I allow my inspiration to run unhindered. My creative process is a search for a fluid melding between the intuitive and the mechanical. Many times I take inspiration from nature, but other times the inspiration will come from some seemingly nonsensical image that becomes ingrained in my consciousness. My subconscious dictates the forms I will ultimately create, but how this process actually unfolds is the mystery that fuels my passion.”