Artist Statement

Artist Statement

"Early on I worked primarily on what I call 'interiors,' which were literally the interior spaces where I lived and felt emotionally attached. During my pregnancy, my paintings tended towards the theme of childbirth. I began doing landscapes after a trip many years ago to Newfoundland, when I fell in love with the beauty, loneliness, and most of all, the mystery of those landscapes. I continued doing landscapes from trips to Egypt, Scotland, Alaska, Cape Cod, and Mexico.

"While I often use photographs that I’ve taken for the purpose of composition, I usually add or subtract and even move around components. I am more interested in getting the emotion of the landscape, the sensations, its smells, the feel of the wind, or again the sense of loneliness, rather than what it may actually look like. So while in some cases the paintings may look almost identical to the photos, in others the photo would be unrecognizable. I pick and choose the elements and colors in the painting for how they fit into my sensory experience of the subject I’m painting. I am interested in figurative, but not necessarily realistic portrayals. I do almost always have a human presence or the suggestion of human presence in my work.

"I have also intermittently done more abstract work, and this introduced me to encaustics. I have always been interested in the 'mystery,' the 'hidden' in a painting. Encaustics, with its many layers and luminosity, pulled me in immediately. I was initially introduced to the media in a collage class that used only non-pigmented wax below and above acrylic paint. The effects were haunting. I pursued my interest by going to a week intensive encaustic workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and it was after that experience that I began intermittently doing encaustics more seriously. I continue to work in oils and acrylics and also with found objects, often combining encaustics with these materials, helping to give my work the luminosity and sense of mystery that I’m seeking.

"More recently, I have been exploring landscapes from the amazing canyons of Utah and northern Arizona, using combinations of oils, collage, and encaustics in an attempt to approach the beauty and depth of those landscapes. On the opposite end of this spectrum, I am coming to terms with entering the third and final stage of life, both by exploring how time passes, the randomness that life deals us, and a deeper understanding of my sexuality and my relationships.

"I use encaustics in many different ways, often starting with multiple layers of un-pigmented wax over which I use combinations of collage, oil paint, oil sticks, and/ or pigmented wax. I have also been exploring pouring wax into shallow small squares or oblongs, with objects inserted into the wax.

"This medium seems to offer unlimited possibilities. Enjoy!"

Pictured above: Silent Land, Scotland, ©Phyllis Bluhm