Anne Hoerber’s new exhibition, Waking Dreams, shows at Arts Underground this month
Different artists are often drawn to different media in part because of what they are able to express with their chosen supplies. For Anne Hoerber, this chosen media is encaustic (working with melted wax), which allows her to bring the feelings and impressions she is trying to express to her work.
“I want to capture the moments when light and water combine to create impressions of promise and mystery. A feeling that something special is happening just out of sight. There are secrets in the mist, and for me, the unpredictable nature of encaustics is a great way to evoke a sense of wonder. I love that both mist and wax reveal and conceal in unexpected ways. When you aren’t quite sure what’s going on, and the familiar becomes slightly strange, that’s the sweet spot where the magic is,” said Hoerber.
Encaustic is an unpredictable medium, so Hoerber finds that even when she tries to plan, her paintings evolve throughout the creation process.
“I create with layers of clear beeswax and pigment sticks. Pigment sticks are like if oil paints came in a lipstick,” she explained, “Three or four layers of wax are fused on to my board before I even start to paint. All of my colour comes from pigments sticks that are fused into the wax, and are then covered by another layer of wax. Each layer of pigment is influenced by the surface of the wax layer underneath, as well as the wax layer on top. Every layer needs to be melted to adhere to the previous layer, and the amount of heat that I use to melt those layers affects the way the pigment moves between them. Each of these paintings has typically eight or nine layers of wax, and eight to nine layers of pigment sticks. Painting with melted wax and fire means the process is pretty organic and fluid, and I can’t be too attached to any one thing because it might not be there two or three layers later. It forces me to give up control.”
When speaking about her process Hoerber spoke about being fascinated by the moments when nature fuses light and air to create works of art.
“I try to evoke the feelings of wonder inspired by those moments, when the quality of light amplifies the beauty of nature. As I work with the wax, often an image or a feeling will begin to form, sometimes surprising me. I am drawn to the beauty and richness of the surface and the way the wax reveals and conceals. The movement possible with hot wax and pigment is seductive and satisfying. I often incorporate found objects to create my mixed media pieces. I have an emotional connection to objects that have seen the passage of time. My art reflects places I love, and objects that intrigue me, the search for stillness and balance. I love rich colors, and sculptural textures.”
Hoerber finds that her practice has a seasonal nature to it.
“Encaustic is my favourite medium, but I don’t do it when it’s cold out. I paint with fire and I don’t want to do that in the house! My studio is not insulated and it’s just too hard to keep it warm enough to keep the wax melted once it gets below zero,” she explained.
She added, “I create mostly because of the buzz I get when a piece comes together. Of course, the flip side of that, is when a piece is in the ‘ugly’ stage it can be really hard to push through and actually finish, which means I usually have a stack of unfinished work! And when it comes to my mixed media pieces, if I’m using my stash of found objects to create with, that gives me the excuse to collect more stuff.”
The exhibit Waking Dreams is inspired by the Yukon. “This place that we live in is beautiful, and the quality of light up here is amazing! I will never get tired of the way that water, air and light combine and make these moments that are almost magic,” Hoerber said. The exhibit features a series of abstract landscapes that fall on a spectrum from representational to strongly abstract. Hoerber’s hope for the show involves sparking wonder and interest from her audience. “If I can expose somebody to an art form they haven’t seen before (even though encaustic art has been around for thousands of years) that’s a win. And if I see somebody looking at one of my paintings and saying how did she do that? That’s another win!”