Wax art isn’t just for kids anymore.
Photo supplied by Sarah Priestley
We’ve all seen the frantic wax scribbles of an enthusiastic young artist, doodling on construction paper. They hang on our fridges and stay in our memories. But most of us don’t see wax as a tool used by adult artists.
Matt Boisvert is proving us wrong.
He creates colourful works of art using the encaustic painting method, which involves applying heated wax to a surface and using metal tools or special brushes to shape it. The end result is surreal, textured paintings with vivid colours exploring subjects such as the male and female form.
He wasn’t always an artist – he worked as a dinner theatre and Fringe festival actor and a musician prior to discovering art. Originally from just outside of Morinville, he moved to Edmonton about 15 years ago. Boisvert learned the encaustic method during classes at The Paint Spot. He picked it up quickly, and has started showing his work. Boisvert had an exhibit in June at The Varscona Theatre running at the same time as the theatre’s production of Lucy and Mr. Plate.
Boisvert learned to put his own preferences into his art, choosing to work with a chunkier wax. “Encaustic art lends itself to my obsession with layers, textures and mixed media, also, my impatience,” he says.
With encaustic painting, one’s choice of paper can affect the finished product. “Some of the thinner, more tissue-based paper will become almost translucent,” says Boisvert, who likes to use chiyogami rice paper imported from Japan. “I buy mixed packs of paper. I sift through them to vibe out what’s going to work best for the piece that I’m working on.”
The time an artist puts into an encaustic painting can vary from minutes to years. “There are a lot of beautiful techniques that you can do with oil or glazing that take years. With encaustics, it’s not drying time, it’s cooling,” says Boisvert. “You can start to do a lot of those glazing techniques within a couple of minutes. Even a few weeks on a single piece can create this amazing depth and intricacy. For a creative mind, encaustic has no limitations.”