About the Artist’s Process
& Her Art
Victoria Foster Harrison -
Standing at the last bit of drywall to be painted in her new studio.
Printmaker, Encaustic Painter & TeacheR
As an artist, imperfection is appealing to me…the perfectly imperfect. I fully embrace the Japanese “wabi-sabi” theory of finding the “beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”—the natural by-product of wrinkles, spots and blobs by working with melted wax are welcomed elements in my work and you will find plenty of imperfections in the subject matter that I photograph and incorporate into my collages.
“Right brain–left brain” describes my personality perfectly; intuitive and analytical, thoughtful and logical, feminine and masculine in artistic taste. Leaving my “left brain” qualities to organize my tools, and using my “right brain” at the work table makes an effective mix for me.
For years I have been fiddling—constantly trying out new techniques and experimenting with meditative gestures, imagery, textures, patterns and atmospheric landscapes, along with testing out a huge variety of tools and mediums. I will always fiddle. But I knew that amongst that tornado, I would settle back on the ground. Sure enough, I feel my focus is coming into the comfortable nest of creating what I love most—contemporary collage using encaustic printmaking, urban photography, abstract calligraphy—with wax, ink, paper and fabric. Interestingly enough, I was specifically focused on all of those artistic elements during my college studies.
I was introduced to encaustics in 2011 by Richard Nelson, art supply store owner on Bainbridge Island, WA. From there, I attended several local classes and eventually landed in Santa Fe, NM at one of Paula Roland’s Encaustic Printmaking workshops in 2012. VOILA! LOVE with waxy artwork was born.
I began teaching in 2013 and have been a practicing artist since the late 1990’s. Prior to encaustics, I was an acrylic contemporary landscape painter and watercolor painter; Landscape with its “grounding” horizon line, will never leave my repertoire, especially with encaustics.
The most common encaustic paintings today are created with melted wax applied with a brush to a firm substrate such as a cradled panel; I also work with this type of artwork by combining layers of beeswax with her encaustic prints and incorporating hand-dyed silk, impressions of rusty objects, paper ephemera, text pages, hand-made papers, tea bags and torn book spines.
A collector once described my expressionistic art work by saying “Admiring your artwork is like seeing shapes in the clouds”.
ABOUT THE PRINTMAKING PROCESS
Encaustic printmaking is a process of creating original one-of-a-kind prints on paper with a warm aluminum palette. Touching the warmed plate with lusciously colored beeswax and manipulating the creamy flowing strokes with tools naturally result in exploration at deep levels. A sheet of paper is then laid on the melted wax and by making contact, using the pressure of one’s own hand (without a printing press), the image is embedded into the paper. The direct result of the lifted paper is an original, one-of-a-kind print. This free-flowing process lends itself to the abstract but can easily include figures, landscapes, plant and tree forms as well. Letting go of “rules and shoulds” and treasuring the medium’s unique characteristics, this unusual art medium bubbles up the meditative and intuitive aspects of those interested in exploring. Unknown to many in the art world, this process is rapidly becoming a beloved art medium.
Vicky at her favorite local spot…
on the beach in Port Townsend, WA.
WHY DO I CREATE?
I have been on a quest in 2018 to find out WHY I create what I create. I have the HOW & WHAT down. In my studies, I have discovered a lot about myself and what makes me tick in the creative side of my life. If you are up for a longer read, here goes:
I believe the “mud-pie-time” qualities of Encaustic Printmaking facilitate creative thought, a perfect safe space allowing personal ideas to come to the fore-front, where inspiration is born.
Encaustic Printmaking is a unique medium for digging in, stirring up the pot, fiddling, exploring, constructing, discovering. The freedom to make mistakes and the joy of discovering treasures allows the participant to explore without rules and being free from technical “shoulds”. I am thrilled when I watch my students, many of whom have never previously created art, come to a place of meditation and relaxation while they print.
As an artist in her sixties, I crave “mud-pie-time”. Even though I love getting my hands dirty with different art supplies—and in the garden—I am metaphorically immersing my hands in the mud. For me, mud-pie-time is all about plunging into new ideas.
Is creative thought all about art? I believe creative thought is IDEA IN ACTION. Ideas about gardening, factory design, interior design, emerging views of the law, medical research, designing furniture, learning languages, studying computer science, all have a creative element. Action is demonstrated by giving it a fresh try each day, searching, resting, discovering, going on an adventure.
My personal goal is to start each day with a spirit of adventure to encourage discovery. I treasure exploring new ideas and tackling fears with bravery. Through my workshops in Port Townsend, my soul is filled by encouraging Sparkology in others (based on Bill Nye’s explanation “sparks are the things in your life that get you the most excited, the things that make your brain so hyper it starts bouncing around inside your head.”) I embrace the perfectly imperfect. I celebrate my “right Brain / left Brain” personality, wholly accepting the combination of intuition and logical order—my tools are organized amongst the joyful mess of a creative whirlwind. Creating mixed-media collages with rustic texture and atmospheric fields which compositionally entail regions of active detail and spaces of quiet calm. All full of mystery and complexities. ADVENTURE in the form of thought and action—defining the Curly Girl Art Studio.