Artist in Focus: Anne Berendt
Hi Anne, how did you start out in your career?
I was passionate about art from a young age.
My dream had always been to draw and paint. I remember as a young child, when all my friends were asking for toys at Christmas, I asked my dad for a Caran d’Ache watercolour pencils set … 40 different colours, I was over the moon!
Although always complimenting me on my drawings, my dad strongly objected when I declared wanting to study at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, but I swore that one day, I would dedicate myself to art.
So I really focused on it as an adult. I attended art classes in France, then did a Foundation Course at the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design after moving to England. Since discovering encaustic wax, I have also attended the International Encaustic Conference which take place annually in Provincetown, Rhode Island in the U.S.
Can you describe a typical working day for you?
A typical working day for me starts with a morning coffee in the morning and a look at what I was doing previously – before I know it, it is the afternoon and I have missed lunch!
What music do you usually listen to and what impact does it have on the finished work?
I find inspiration listening to music of different styles according to my mood or emotions at the time. I experience synaesthesia and the music sparks colours and shapes, which I use in my abstract work.
How do you go about making a painting?
I am lucky enough to travel a fair amount and am always looking for shapes and patterns that inspire me and snapping them on my iPhone, or making quick sketches.
I build these into my vision of abstract and the human form.
For me, art is not just visual, but also tactile. I design some of my work to have texture, so it can be touched and not just looked at!
Which other artists do you like to look at?
Having studied history of art during my Foundation Course, I have learnt to appreciate the works of the classical artists, but my personal choices go to modern artists. I particularly love the works of sculptors such as Henry Moore or Modigliani. One of my favourite places to visit is the Cass Foundation with its amazing outdoor pieces. Amongst many others, I love the works of painters such as Picasso, Miro, Rothko, Chagall, Francis Bacon, Dali, and Matisse and for my personal pleasure I have even made my own copies of a couple of the works of Picasso, Gauguin and Bacon.
How has your style changed over the years?
Although I specialised in textiles and did a lot of printmaking. I now work in various art forms, but most of the time in encaustic wax and cold wax.
I love to build up my pictures in layers and encaustic wax or cold wax are perfect mediums to do that with. It’s a pity but the use of wax as a medium is really limited in the UK and I’d love to see it appreciated by a wider audience.
When working with encaustic wax, I normally make my own medium from beeswax and damar resin. I can then make my own encaustic paints, mixing the encaustic medium with dry coloured pigments or with oil bars.
I like to layer the paint one colour on top of another and then scrape through them to reveal the colours underneath. Sometimes I fuse these with a blow torch or a hot air gun. I may also incorporate other materials – the whole process is fascinating. The hardest part is deciding when to stop!
Can you tell me more about encaustic wax and how you discovered and use it?
Encaustic wax is an ancient technique which originated in Egypt on icons such as the Fayum mummy portraits, between 100-300 AD. It was also used for mural paintings by the Ancient Greeks but then seems to have been more or less abandoned until a brief revival in the 18th and 19 th centuries. More recently a re-emergence took place in the 20th century when it was used by artists such as Jasper Johns in his famous painting of the American Flag.
The word encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos, which means “burnt in”.
Encaustic wax is a mixture of melted beeswax, damar resin or linseed oil and coloured pigments. Beeswax is impermeable, it will not deteriorate, or darken or turn yellow, and encaustic paintings do not have to be protected under glass, unless the artist wishes it.
Whilst studying for my Foundation Course, I discovered a set for encaustic paint, in the vendor room. Intrigued by the patterns shown on the box, I bought it, but it was never taught at college.
I am self-taught, starting with the help of books and videos. For more inspiration, I attended the 8th International Encaustic Conference in the U.S. and hope to go back next year.
The hot wax can be used in different ways. For example, with a small iron, a stylus with various attachments, brushes or a hot plate. I make the wax flow, using a hot air gun or a blow torch.
As I mentioned in my previous statement, I love to create 3D paintings and will impregnate materials such as paper or fabric or natural materials to create depth.
Encaustic wax is not usually a quick process, requiring me to come back to each work several times to build it up to my satisfaction.