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ArtTalk Lydia Bishop - September 2020
Encaustic - It's a Fabulous Medium

Deserted, Encaustic on Cradled Board TO BURN…..That is the meaning of the Greco-Roman word ENCAUSTIC. This ancient process using hot bee’s wax, actually dates back 2000 plus years to the Egyptians. It was used to coat ships and paint portraits. One of the most famous is one of the Fayum mummy portraits, and can be found today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Contemporary artists, such as abstract expressionist Jasper Johns, used the technique in the 70’s and 80’s. He is famous for his flag, target and number paintings. During the 90’s, I visited a lot of art galleries in various cities, becoming fascinated with the process.

After moving to Savannah in 2011, I was fortunate to find an encaustic workshop, presented by a SCAD graduate, in her Savannah garage studio. The process is complicated, requiring really good ventilation and access to electricity. I was hooked. Pigment is added to bee’s wax, it is melted on a hot plate to about 180 degrees and applied in layers to a rigid surface. Each layer is fused to the last one with either a heat gun or torch. Thus the BURN.

Most pieces that I have done have at least 30 layers of wax. I can draw, transfer, manipulate, embed, scrape, texture, or anything I can think of. Such fun. There are two things about encaustic paintings that I find very appealing. It is TACTILE. You will want to touch it. It can be TRANSLUCENT. You can see different shapes in the underlying layers of the wax. It is a fabulous medium for spontaneous creation.

ArtTalk Lydia Bishop - July 2020
Creating Art is a Privilege

Lydia Bishop Art is the most thought-provoking and challenging of any of the endeavors she’s undertaken, Lydia Bishop says frankly, and the most gratifying. Hers is a life well lived, focused throughout on family, friends and career, but always as a backdrop she managed to dabble in art. It wasn’t until 2011 when she retired and moved to Savannah that her priorities shifted and she brought art to the forefront of her pursuits.

Lydia had always shown a creative bent, encouraged by her mother who gave her a set of oil paints at age 16. In her junior year of high school she began taking art classes, and the creative drive she had shown since childhood flourished. The questions soon became more pointed: after graduation, should she attend art school and focus on a career in art? It was the 1960s when career paths were narrowed less by ambition than locale. She grew up a native of western Pennsylvania in an industrial town where if you opted out of higher education, would often go to work in an office or a mine. If your goal was a professional career, there were few fields related to art where one could earn a living. Her available career choices seemed to be teaching, or going into a medical field. She knew she didn’t want to teach, even if she could be an art teacher. Her mother was a nurse, so Lydia entered a four-year nursing program, receiving her degree from the University of Michigan.

Fast forward 20 years wherein Lydia married and became a stay-at-home Mom of three who explored art in what little spare time she had. Still, it took another 20 years during which Lydia obtained a real estate license and nourished her creative side by rehabbing, decorating, and selling homes. During those intervening years, she took art classes at night and “finally got serious about art” about age 60. She steeped herself in art studies, enriching her art education through workshops and art centered travel to New York, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. She became enamored, as she put it, with real artists. It took some time before the realization struck that one could be an authentic artist without being a Picasso. With that awareness came freedom in the creative process.

As Lydia continued to explore mediums, she found clarity in idea art rather than representational subjects. She strives in her works to establish a connection with the audience. “Art is so much more than decoration,” she says, adding, “Creating art is a privilege. There really isn’t anything other than art.” Lydia Bishop has found her calling.

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