Phyllis Bluhm

I am interested in painting what I call the overriding  “emotional gestalt” of my life at the time I am painting.   Early on I worked primarily on what I call “interiors” which were literally the interior spaces where I lived and felt emotionally attached.    I began doing landscapes after a trip many years ago to Newfoundland,  when I fell in love with the beauty , loneliness , and most of all, the mystery of those landscapes.  I continued doing landscapes from  trips  to Egypt,  Scotland,  Alaska,  Cape Cod, and Mexico.  While I often use photographs that I’d taken for the purpose of composition,  I usually add or subtract, and even move around components.   I am more interested in getting the emotion of the landscape,  the sensations,  its smells,  the feel of the wind, or again the sense of loneliness, rather than what it may actually look like,  so while in some cases the paintings  may look almost identical to the photos, in others  the photo  would be unrecognizable.  I pick and choose the elements and colors in the painting for how they fit into my sensory experience of the subject  I’m painting.  I am interested in figurative, but not necessarily realistic portrayals.

I have also intermittently done more abstract works, and this introduced me to Encaustic.  I have always been interested in the “mystery,”  “the hidden” in a painting.   Encaustic with it’s many layers, and luminosity pulled me in immediately.  I was initially introduced to the media in a collage class that used only non-pigmented wax below and above acrylic paint.  The effects were haunting.  I continue to work in oils, acrylics, and also with found objects, often combining encaustic with these materials,  which help to give my work  the luminosity and sense of mystery that I’m seeking.

I use  encaustic in many different ways ,  often starting with multiple layers of unpigmented wax, over which  I use combinations of  collage,oil  paint, oil sticks and/ or pigmented wax.  I have also been exploring pouring wax into shallow small squares or oblongs, with objects inserted into the wax.