Enkaustikos Proudly Spotlights Our Featured Artist:
David A. Clark
Meet the Artist
David A. Clark originally began his career as an artist working as an actor. During that time David worked with many cutting edge directors including the visionaries Robert Wilson and Peter Sellars. In his thirties David transitioned into television production and worked on the production staff of the hit show “Sex & the City” for six years. After “Sex” David returned to painting full time.
David's encaustic print work has drawn attention for it's graphic style and fineness of execution. David has exhibited nationally showing his work in numerous shows in the last year including the 33rd Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition and ACE at the Palm Springs Art Museum. David also presented Monoprinting with Stencils as part of the Monotype Marathon this year at the 5th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Massachusetts. David is currently preparing for an upcoming solo show of his prints at the Process Museum in Tucson, Arizona. That show will be devoted to a single encaustic print of David's and the more than 100 process pieces that went into it's creation.
David lives and works in Palm Springs, California. His use of encaustic monoprinting on unique surfaces attracted our attention, and his bright, bold work encapsulates the versitility of encaustic painting. We're excited to have David A. Clark as our Featured Artist!
"There are things you can achieve with wax that you cannot achieve with any other medium. So, collectors are fascinated by it, and it’s our job to wow them."
Q: How did you first learn about encaustic painting and how long have you been working with this medium?
I was first exposed to encaustic through the work of Jasper Johns and Lynda Benglis in the 1970’s but I was too young to really know what I was looking at. Then about 4 years ago I was exposed to the work of Miranda Lake. Her work started me investigating encaustic. I found Joanne Mattera’s book and that became an enormous resource for my more concrete investigation into the medium. Not long after I got Joanne’s book I saw the Jasper Johns Grey show at the Met in New York which had a lot of Johns encaustic work in it side by side with his works in other mediums. Seeing that show blew the top of my head wide open. There was no going back for me after that.
Q: What do you enjoy most about this medium?
Well, I do a lot of printing with encaustic, and there are things that specifically happen while printing that send me into a kind of trance of materials: the way the wax moves and shifts, the vibrant color, the crazy visual accidents that happen, and the tactile qualities of the wax really feed my love of the medium. It’s very much an “in the moment” practice. I’m constantly asking myself, “what do you see?” or “how does it feel?” while working. Those tactile intangibles in the moment are where the gold comes from. And the materials fuel that “in this moment” need. You have to be really present while working with encaustic which is a challenge, but when it flows it flows and there’s nothing like it. But, the bottom line is how the medium supports the intention of my work. There is some special magic that occurs when I am working with wax, and I feel that what I make is more directly connected to my intention, like I am somehow fusing my impulses into the work. It’s hard to articulate, but very tangible.
Q: What do you like least about this medium?
That’s like asking me to reveal a pet peeve about a trusted friend. I’m not sure there is anything I don’t like. I guess if I were hard pressed I would say that I don’t like tracking wax all over my house. But that’s my fault, not the medium’s.
Q: How would you describe your encaustic artwork?
I’m not in love with the term “encaustic artwork”. The materials I work with happen to be wax and resin and pigment, but the work that results from the collision of those materials is just the work. It’s the inevitable conclusion of an idea that was translated into a physical form with wax and pigment and paper or whatever it is I’m working with. My work in general is inspired by the idea of the impulse and the movement, both physical and mental, that results from putting ideas and thoughts into motion.
Q: Where do your ideas come from for your pieces? Do you have a vision before you start painting or does it develop as you work?
Depending on what I’m working on, I almost always have a specific idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going when I work. I think one of the unique things about working with encaustic is that you have to be prepared when working. By that I mean that you have to have everything at hand. If you are painting you need to have all of your paints heating and the tools and materials you think you might need available because a lot of the flow of the process is about keeping things at the right temperature for what you are doing technically. When I am printing I lay everything out in advance on tables so that I have absolutely everything I might need at hands reach. Because the materials are fluid and change from moment to moment you need to be prepared to print what you see as it is happening. You need to be reaching for the paper while you are thinking, “gee I should print that.” Because if you wait and have to search for the right paper or tool or whatever the moment will be gone and you will have missed the opportunity to print something extraordinary. You have to be right on top of it and moving with the materials, so it’s crucial to be prepared, unless of course you like cursing in your studio at all of the missed opportunities.
Q: Is there one specific tool or brush that you use in encaustic that you feel is a must-have for all encaustic artists?
I have a Duratrax Flashpoint thermometer that I use all the time. Paula Roland recommended it and I can’t work without it.
Q: Do you have a favorite encaustic technique that you find yourself doing often in your pieces?
I’m not technique specific in my work. What I do like doing is seeing how far I can push something. I’m always looking for a new way to do something. Many of the technical things I do in my work now have come from the colossal mistakes I have made in my studio. I’ll make what I think is a horrible error and then I’ll look at it and think,”Wow, how could I replicate that.” Most of the technical things I do now are onetime disasters that I managed to control and replicate. I think it’s important to have solid technical skills, but to break the rules as well. The only hard and fast rules are rules of safety. Beyond that, anything goes. For me it’s always about how what you do with your hands serves the ideas that are in your head. It is never the other way around.
Q: What other mediums do you work in and how does it influence your encaustic art?
Currently I do not use any other mediums in my work, but I have worked in many other disciplines as an artist, and all of those skills have filtered down into the work I am doing now. I was an actor for most of my life up until my early thirties, so I use all of the skills I Iearned doing that, building sets, painting, building costumes and all of the presentation that goes into being a successful actor. All of that feeds my work now. I have always said that my work whether it be as an actor or as a visual artist originates with the same impulses. It’s how the impulses are expressed that’s changed.
Q: What do you want people to walk away with when they see your pieces?
I hope people feel the impulse in the work. That they somehow feel the movement in it, and that they feel a sense of fun. They are thoughtful pieces, but I think they have a sense of fun as well.
Q: In your opinion, how do you think galleries are responding to encaustic work?
I see a lot of encaustic in galleries, so there must be an interest in the medium. I travel a lot and I see encaustic all over the place. I think there is still among some a fear of the strangeness of the materials, but the growing number of works in the galleries is a testament that there are things you can achieve with wax that you cannot achieve with any other medium. So, collectors are fascinated by it, and it’s our job to wow them.
Q: Can you think of a favorite encaustic show or exhibit that you may have enjoyed and why?
Hands down it would be Jasper Johns Grey show at the Met. What he does with the materials is beyond exceptional and it’s so un-self-conscious, and the way he explores the tactile qualities of surface, color and content are quietly stunning . I think a close second would be Paula Roland’s recent work “Beauty’s Language” at William Siegal in Santa Fe. Paula can do the most extraordinary things with a simple sheet of paper and some wax and pigment. The work in that show blew me wide open. Amazing.
Q: Do you personally teach any encaustic workshops or lectures? If so, are there any coming up soon that artists can sign up for?
I don’t teach much, but I will be teaching four encaustic monoprinting classes both on the east and west coasts in 2012. Anyone interested in the classes can find more information under links on my website at www.davidaclark.com
Q: Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire or that may have influenced you in some way as an artist?
I think I’m probably more influenced by my family. My Mother is a wonderful artist and my step mother was also, and my father and sister are extremely creative, process oriented people. So, I pull inspiration from all of them. And I have many writer friends and I am inspired by them and their work ethic.
Q: If you were encouraging someone to try encaustic painting, what would you say to attract them to the medium?
I would say that there’s a reason it is one of the oldest painting mediums in existence. It never gets boring because there is always some extraordinary moment of “Wow” right around the corner when you are working.
Q: With that in mind, do you also have any advice for artists who are just starting in encaustic?
Learn as much as you can from the best possible teachers you can find. Learn the rules of safety and adhere to them and then go into your studio and play. The greatest gift you can give yourself as an artist is to ask yourself “What if?” “What would happen if?”Ask the questions and let the flow of the materials guide your ideas into existence.
View the Artist's Website Here