“Every painting starts with a grid. The vertical and horizontal lines calm my active brain and provide a structure on which to work.
I often paint within the cells of the grid before tying everything together. Because I use encaustic, I work slowly and deliberately. Building up sticky, fragrant layers of wax forces me to be present. This meditative process is as important as the end result.
Autobiographical stories on paper are encased inside the waxy pigment. The layers of narrative and paint parallel the layers of energy from daily life. Abstract shapes, patterns, and vivid color recall cherished memories of my native Argentina.” – Dora Ficher artist statement
Bluestone Fine Art Gallery is located at 142 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106 on Gallery Row with a lovely storefront and a gallery for group shows on the lower level. The current show in the main gallery is a one-person show of encaustics by artist Dora Ficher.
Encaustics is an ancient form of painting dating back from around 100 – 300 AD using bees wax and pigment to create layers of color that literally endures for centuries. Encaustic art has seen a resurgence in popularity since the 1990s with people using electric irons, hotplates and heated stylus on different surfaces including card, paper and even pottery. The iron makes producing a variety of artistic patterns easier. The medium is not limited to just simple designs; it can be used to create complex paintings, just as in other media such as oil and acrylic. – Wikipedia
“It depends if you use if safely. I have my whole studio set up with a window fan and I have ventilation. You have to be safe with it. I use bees wax and pigment, I warm them up and I even use a torch to fuse it. My studio is at 915 Spring Garden Street.”
I know that place! There are so many great artists there, it must be inspiring?
“Oh, yeah!. We had a bunch of the artists come by today, they’re very supportive.”
I asked Dora Ficher to explain her inspiration for the colorful artworks.
“My inspiration is mostly from growing up in Argentina. The colors, the people there. of Buenos Aires, are so inspiring. I love color, I get inspired by color, by houses, by doors…and when I travel I love looking at what goes on behind those doors. Some of my paintings have doors and there are things collaged into the background.”
Dora’s father was a musician and if you look closely you can see bits of his music scores embedded in the layers of wax. The poetry of the line, color and context is very invigorating and is a bold blast of brightness to lighten our shortened wintery days.
I told Dora that a bunch of Philadelphians, including Charles Cushing, are visiting Buenos Aires ostensibly to paint but were mostly partying every night at the Tango Malongas.
“Of course! When you’re there you don’t have dinner until 11:00 at night and go dancing at midnight, if you go at nine or ten o’clock there’s no one. It is a wonderful place. It’s a lot of fun and the city is very colorful. And I think that’s where I get all my color. I tried to do things that were a little lighter but I always go back and use the same colors.”
Dora Ficher showed me her iPhone case with one of her designs on it, bright and colorful like her paintings.
“I have a company that licenses my work now, Dianoche Designs, and they are licensing my images and making them into pillows and other products. It’s fun! I do all the encaustics in my studio, at home I do a lot of watercolor and pen and ink. They’re small and that’s what they’re using, mostly. I can go more into detail with that.”
How did you meet Pam Regan of Bluestone Fine Art Gallery?
“I met Pam through Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. She’s unbelievable, I just got back from Colorado for a conference with her. I taught for about thirty years, I taught art in an elementary school and about four or five years ago I decided to leave teaching and I started doing this full time.And I didn’t know where to start. I found the book, I went to a lot of her live workshops and on-line classes and I met Pam when Alyson came here to Philadelphia. She was here exactly two years ago. She’s unbelievable!”
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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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