Vicki’s black and white images are printed in her wet darkroom on fiber based paper and are selenium toned for archival preservation.
One of the most ancient painting mediums in the world, encaustic dates back 5,000 years to the Greeks. They applied a layer of wax to their ships to make them weatherproof and when they discovered that they could add pigment to the wax they began creating paintings on the hulls. “Encaustic” comes from the Greek word, encaustikos, meaning “to burn in”, referring to the use of heat to fuse the layers of wax together.
Modern encaustic paint is made from beeswax, damar resin, and pigment. Beeswax, being both a sealant and a preservative, allows for various materials such as paper to be embedded into the work. As long as the paper is completely covered by the paint it will not degrade because the wax seals it off from oxygen.
Most of my encaustic work begins with coating a substrate (wood or hardboard) with encaustic gesso and then adding three layers of wax, each layer fused to the previous one by using a heat gun. Mpst of my encaustic images are from scanned silver gelatin prints produced in my wet darkroom using traditional and alternative methods. Images are transferred to handmade Japanese rice paper, silk or cotton rag paper using a digital printer with pigmented inks or by making alcohol transfers. Depending on the effect I want, an image is added early or late in the process of applying wax. I sometimes work the surface of the piece with tools and oil sticks or pastels to add texture and color to the work.
Hand Coloring Process
When hand coloring, a palette of colors is created using Marshall Photographic Oils and applied to the photograph with cotton balls and Q-tips. Fine detail is accomplished with oil pencils. Every photograph in the limited edition series is a unique hand colored image. No two are exactly alike.
With the advances in technology it is possible to digitally hand color images today. However, Vicki is drawn to the old techniques that have been used for over a hundred years. Her husband’s great grandfather was a photographer at the turn of the century and his softly hand colored work hangs in their home. After a hundred years it still is beautiful. Vicki uses the same photographic oils that were available to him and the same basic technique. With the move toward easier and faster she finds pleasure in perpetuating the slower ‘hands on’ methods. She has developed her own style and techniques over the 25 years that she has been working in oils.
Lith printing is a time intensive, sometimes frustrating but potentially addictive alternative printing process. This technique that involves greatly overexposing a photographic print and then only partially developing it in Lith developer is widely known in Europe and is gaining popularity in the US. It results in prints that often have soft warm highlights adjacent to cool, dark, gritty tones. Photographs can range from soft, smooth, warm-toned images to very cool, textured images. The varied results (color and texture) are determined by the initial exposure, the temperature, dilution and maturity of the chemicals, and the characteristics of the paper used. The process is known for creating images that are very difficult to duplicate. However, with practice and meticulous note taking it is possible to produce similar but not identical prints.