Kari Serrao – Friday Night Guest – May 14, 2021
(Submitted by Marilyn Walsh) Kari Serrao shared her love of encaustic art through a review of artists who influenced her, her progression in her technical skill in this medium and an instructive demonstration. The artists she follows: Tony Scherman, Liz Priestley, Kelly Sheppard Murray and Sara Treanor use a variety of artistic practices such as using photo transfer and creating three dimensional sculpture.
Her method is to research and create a set of photo references for each piece. She usually creates artwork in pairs. Next she will draw her portrait with graphite pencil with a great deal of detail. Kari then paints in the dark background on the raw baltic birch panel. To avoid drips, she paints on a panel which is flat on the table.
She starts painting her portrait with the eyes and scrapes back to eliminate any texture and then paints one section at a time. The detailed costumes, she draws on paper and then transfers the information with chalk.
Unlike many encaustic artists she does not use separate brushes for each colour. She blends colour on her panel since the wax cools immediately when it is off the heater. She keeps her brushes on the hot plate to keep them pliable which also shortens their lifespan.
To increase the longevity of the art, she fuses the layers of wax with a heat gun just until the wax becomes shiny not runny. Serrao feels that encaustic is a very forgiving medium since you can scrape off any mistakes.
In her studio she emphasizes safety by using multiple fans and a respirator mask. Her tools are heat gun, stylus, heating pad, cheap brushes and pottery scrapers.
Her palette consists of white, black, yellow ochre, raw and burnt umber, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and sap green. For more saturated colour she will melt crayons on the hot plate. She mixes her colours by using a baby fingernail size of oil paint in a tuna can, adding a small amount of melted wax and then gradually adding more and more wax to reach the level of transparency she desires.
Serrao loved the challenge of learning a new medium and finds that encaustic for her is soulful.
She was an excellent presenter responding to diverse questions from DVAC members.