cleaning the studio...

...and other adventures in art

Some of you saw this piece at Open Studios in October, still in need of a frame.  Finally!  It’s finished!

original artwork by Barbara Downs, Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame, 56″ x 81″ x 3″, 2016

Making My Own Paradise started several years ago, during a summer trip to Iceland. I saw this barn regularly on a trail, perched slightly above my eye level as I walked uphill towards it. From this spot, it has no visible doors or windows, and it perfectly touches the triad of earth and horizon and sky.

I photographed it over several years, in all seasons and weather, and then I started drawing and painting it back home in my studio. I became a bit obsessed with The Barn.

It took on a personal meaning to me, reminding me of things incomprehensible and unknowable. Its physical form seems to exist only to illustrate this abstract concept. What is inside? From my view on the trail it is impossible to know. I can guess, I can believe, but I cannot be certain. I’m not allowed to enter it, or at least not yet.

Of course I know I can walk around to the other side and peer in, but that isn’t the point. I’m viewing it and painting it from my spot on the trail, where it is impenetrable.

What. Is. Behind. That. Wall.

That’s the genesis of the piece, but the process of making it was lengthy; it turned out to be a large and complex project. The wax part—the painting—caused the least struggle. But there was also interminable prep and finishing work.  At one point my studio neighbor pointed out to me that I had taken a natural process (rust, for the steel frame) and turned it into a laborious multi-week process. But it had to be right!

It has given to me as much as I’ve given to it though. There were some surprising discoveries in the making of it that spur me to some future work. And I like seeing it in my studio for now, awaiting a trip to stARTup LA in a few weeks.

 

original artwork by Barbara Downs, detail of Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

from the side

original artwork by Barbara Downs, detail of Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

view showing frame

original artwork by Barbara Downs, detail of Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

closeup of top panel

original artwork by Barbara Downs, detail of Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

closeup of center panel

original artwork by Barbara Downs, detail of Making My Own Paradise, Encaustic/Oil/Mixed-Media on Panel with Rust-Patina Steel Frame

closeup of bottom panel