About the Art

Pye Pond I - Like a Still River (Pye Pond, Lee County, GA) 5"x7" Photo and encaustic on board - This is the original piece in the Still Time on Pye Pond narrative by encaustics artist Danielle Fontaine.

Artist Statement

 

My encaustic work considers the enduring question of what we elect to keep or preserve and the reasons why, and invites reflection on what, or whom, we discard along the way.

 

Still Time on Pye Pond, my original encaustic narrative, dwells in a family farm in South Georgia, where an odd collection of potentially fixable or reusable items await their fate in a randomly ordered fashion. I find much poetry, at once beautiful and sad, in their uncertain future. It is this conflicted beauty, this southern family portrait that I seek to recreate in my studio.

 

Objects stand in for people, for kinships tangled like Spanish moss, for ideas as deeply anchored as the roots that drain the soil, for time as still as the water on the sheltered pond. For things that could be fixed.

 

Pye Pond used to be home to all of us; not anymore. There is waywardness. Unspoken absences. When I visit occasionally – these are our roots, this is family – I escape the silence and find solace in the fields and barns around the pond, in patient mounds of old familiar things. I collect images.

 

Things change ever so slowly on Pye Pond, but there is still time…

In my Greenville work, I shift my focus to the built environment of my adopted hometown, with an eye on renewal and its sad corollary, gentrification. The ancient process of encaustic painting, long forgotten until it was revived by Jasper Johns in the 1950s, seems a perfect medium to explore these ideas of renewal.

My Process

 

My encaustic work originated in a series of photographs I took over the years to deal with personal grief. Expressing the photos in a different medium became a way to process this grief, and the process continues to evolve in time and scale. 

The Photo Transfer Works - 2015

Small works started with a black and white photograph reverse-printed onto parchment paper. I burnished the toner from the image onto a board primed with multiple layers of clear encaustic medium. After fusing the transfer, I protected it with more layers of encaustic medium before adding pigmented wax colors, fusing after each layer and carving out details.

The Grisaille Works - 2105-2016

As the scale of my work grew, I used my photographs as grisaille onto which I built encaustic paintings. Black and white photographic images are primed with multiple layers of encaustic medium before encaustic colors are applied.

The Paintings - 2016-present

My larger works are still inspired by my photography but now interpreted freehand, or in the case of buildings, drafted the old fashion way with my trusted old mechanical pencil from my architecture school days.

 

With its essential process of fusing after application, encaustic painting does not lend itself easily to straight line work. Learning to control this process in my unconventional encaustic work is a challenge I relish. It is a conscious attempt at harnessing wandering thoughts and reframing unspoken absences. 

Encaustic Photographs

Some of my photos like to tell their story in a more subtle manner. I simply preserve them under layers of clear encaustic medium.

 

Tessellations

If a message bears repeating, I create large tessellations from a single photo or series of photos to tell a deeper story.

 

© 2020 by Danielle Fontaine