By Its Cover (No. 1)

November 26 th 2010

Encaustic, book cover, pages
2009

Encaustics, or working with beeswax, has actually been around for thousands of years. From what we know, people were using beeswax for art purposes as early on as 50 A.D. But only since the late 1960s did encaustic painting become more readily accepted in contemporary art circles.

Encaustic painting uses filtered beeswax as a base "medium." Since this is an oil-based process, you may add oil paint, oil sticks, etc into the wax to create pigment. To paint, you quickly apply a layer (the wax dries fast!) and fuse with a heat tool. Encaustic painting requires a process of heating and cooling and building layers onto your substrate.

With the invention of the printing press, knowledge became widespread and people became literate. To purchase a book was a symbol of wealth and a commitment to literacy. With the invention of the internet, gratification became instant, and libraries began to be forgotten. Information is now at our fingertips and our relationships are maintained through Facebook, Twitter and emails.

In the midst of an increasingly computer-driven society, I have become more fascinated by old things and their inherent stories. Dusty books found in an attic, a vintage stamp on an old postcard, a tea-stained lace doily, a grandfather's face dented with smile wrinkles—all inspire and fuel my creativity.

In this new series I am calling "By Its Cover," I have attempted to deconstruct old books to push boundaries, explore stereotypes and give antiquated objects new life. What was once a book shelved neatly in a library and flipped through for knowledge, can now be seen as a purely aesthetic element. It is an exploration in dismantling the familiar, and a social commentary on the postmodern world we find ourselves in.

Topics: Arts Literature
 

Shannon Newby is an artist working with beeswax in a process called encaustic painting. She, along with her husband Erik, will be heading to Germany in 2011 to work in full time arts ministry. Shannon graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Studio Art and Education from Taylor University, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her work can be found in public and private collections in 21 US states, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy.

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