On a Thursday evening Janice Hofman steps into Artzi Stuff with a bag full of paintings on small wooden blocks. The sounds of the downtown street market fade away as she crosses the art gallery and store to a back wall where some of her works are already on display.
She said her paintings tend to have a mind of their own.
“The medium has its own kind of way that it wants to go. So what you plan doesn’t always happen, which I like – the surprises,” she said.
“It’s a matter of practice, like anything, just trying it and not [being] afraid of making a mistake, because, again, you get lots of interesting results sometimes when you do that.”
Hofman is an encaustic artist. She paints her pieces with a heated substance made from beeswax, tree resin crystals and coloured pigments. She said it’s not the kind of art to have on display in a hot car on a summer’s day.
“It was probably in my teens that I first learned about it but up until a few years ago I never actually tried it and now it’s all that I want to play in,” she said.
“I do do acrylics and abstract mixed-media as well, but the wax, there’s just something that’s comforting about it for me, and a bit experimental.”
She said there’s a meditative quality to the technique. She finds it comforting to work with small surfaces, like the four-by-four-inch wooden cradles hanging in the art store.
Each piece requires multiple layers of the encaustic wax paint and each layer is fused to the block using a blowtorch. Once the base is complete Hofman can then carve into the paint or embed mixed-media, like handmade papers, gold leaf, stamps or drawings, directly into the wax.
It takes a day or two for the work to cool.
“It was intimidating at first because there’s the element of the heat and the wax … but it’s actually a lot simpler than you would think,” she said.
Starting on July 20, Hofman is presenting an exhibit of her encaustic work at Artzi Stuff. While she’s had work on display during markets and art walks in the past, this is Hofman’s first solo show.
“It is an accomplishment, I would say,” she said of being invited to have a month-long exhibition.
“Makes me feel like I’m doing something that not just I appreciate, but other people as well.”
WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Janice Hofman’s Encaustic Collage is at Artzi Stuff, 2 Church St., on Friday, July 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. Show runs until Aug. 20.