Encaustic Enlightenment

I was born when TV’s were black and white, music was on vinyl and art in my house only existed in my step-father’s dreams.  We moved with his job every year, and my Mother’s creativity was demanded to quickly make each house a home. Actually I had three parents: a musician, a singer aka creative Mother, and then the strict German engineer step-father, who appreciated art. The contrast of the three has fueled a conflicting stream of discipline and desires.

The many moves with the family ended in Atlanta, and the ultimate career with The Coca-Cola Company.  The last half of my long tenure was in advertising, working with creatives and production – the perfect stepping stone to my career as an artist. Art was always this unknown and forbidden realm that lured.  I played with art as a child – making the discarded into what I thought was beautiful.  My step-father was always telling me to “sign that!”  Funny, I had no idea what he meant.

The Bill Lowe Gallery has always been where I go to see, and buy, great contemporary art. But attending Michael David’s opening at The Gallery in 2007 was a huge turning point. Seeing his encaustic creations made an incredible impact on me.  His pieces were exhilarating – and I was instantly fascinated with the visceral qualities of wax.

Image

The Sea – Barbara Brenner, Encaustic on Birch 42×42″
#LoweLook

Fast forward to 2010; researching encaustics for years, I had learned some of the mystery of this medium, but then I discovered Michael was planning an encaustics workshop in Atlanta.  I was amazed and excited – nothing could stop me from taking that workshop! Life after that was never the same. Michael encouraged me to take chances; scaling up, loosen up, but stay safe.  Encaustic is a dangerous medium, and physically challenging to work with on a large scale.  You must have respect for this almost 200 degree medium, for much of the creation is a fusion of the wax and I.  My goal is to create imagery that invokes a peaceful pause for the viewer.  I want to feel like I’ve been pulled into a place to float, be soothed, and refreshed.  It is ironic that it takes a fiery blow-torch, sharp scrapping instruments, loud exhaust fans, and heavy panels to achieve this peacefulness.

Many of my pieces contain a circle or oval.  This imagery is comforting, and says there is ease in our movement through time.  Knowing we really can’t control either, they just happen.  My career as an artist has happened in a way that can be illustrated with the oval: a continual, yet slow movement towards being an artist.

An early fascination with creating objects, a career that eventually focused in the creative process of advertising, building admiration of contemporary art, becoming a collector, and then having the time to study and create encaustic art, eventually with the artist I long admired, to selling my art with The Bill Lowe Gallery, one that I have always savored.

So, it’s easy to understand why being in my studio, listening to music, and immersing myself in the exploration of my own creativity is so satisfying. All my parents would understand. And I get great pleasure in signing my work.

Barbara Brenner

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