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Encaustic Magazine Print Seaside Garden_
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Craighead Green Gallery
New Texas Talent Exhibit
August - September 2023

Artifkt Dallas Design District
Solo Show
October 2022

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BLOOM! 
Group Exhibit
April 2024

Award-Winning Work

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"Director's Choice" Award 3D Floral Encaustic
R.W. Norton Museum and Gallery
Shreveport, LA. 

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"First Place" Award 3D Floral Encaustic
d'Arts Center 
Norfolk, Va. 

"People's Choice Award"
Shanley House Gallery
Granbury, TX 

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In the Studio

While earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of North Texas, my work focused on the intricate and delicate relationships that bind people to one another and to nature.  Following graduation, life’s obligations forced me to put my creative journey on hold and embark on a different path that I followed for over two decades.  During those years, I carved out precious time to create and momentarily reconnect with my passion before diving back into a demanding career.  

 

However, the unprecedented challenges brought on by a global pandemic served as a catalyst for introspection and change.  It became a clear to me that my current situation was no longer fulfilling or personally rewarding.  I yearned for something meaningful, and the pandemic provided me with the opportunity to leave a demanding corporate job and reconnect with my passion for art that had been relegated to the sidelines far too long. This period became a personal evolution, redefining success and what truly mattered to me.

 

During a boating trip through the beautiful San Juan islands, I was introduced to encaustic painting through an incredibly gifted and talented friend who shared what she learned during a recent workshop. I was intrigued and began to educate myself on the history of creating art with wax.

 

My preferred medium had always been oil on canvas, so the transition was neither straightforward nor easy, as I simultaneously navigated the shifting tides of my own mindset and the demands of an entirely new way of working. The key challenge lay in redirecting my focus from the outcome-driven mentality of the business world to the more fluid and exploratory nature of my new endeavor. Following years of relentless hustle and unrelenting deadlines, the process of encaustic art encouraged me to slow down and embrace the journey without fixating on the destination.  I found working with beeswax demanded my full and undivided attention which eventually began to reshape my attitude as a whole.  The ability to immerse myself in the artistic process was liberating and I finally began to enjoy each moment.

 

This new creative endeavor required a substantial investment of time, effort and resources that included buying an entirely new set of supplies, reorganizing my studio to accommodate new tools and taking into consideration the ventilation needed when heating wax.  That is when I decided an outdoor workspace was my best option.  My husband reluctantly agreed to convert our guest bedroom so I could use the attached patio as an extended studio.  Once we covered the area and set up a table, it became the perfect indoor/outdoor environment I needed to nurture experimentation and hone my skills.  

 

Switching from very large oil on canvas paintings to applying beeswax to small woden boards was a monumental shift in my artistic process that came with a learning curve. 

 

My first few months were spent absorbing the basics including how to mix the wax, adding pigments, along with different techniques for layering, blending and texture.  I was almost overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and spent hours upon hours watching videos and reading books written by experienced encaustic artists.

 

Obviously, there was a significant amount of trial and error leaving stacks of boards littering my studio that needed to be recycled. I began reheating and scraping the wax to mix with black or brown pigment for potential projects.  It was during this exercise that I ultimately stumbled on to the process of creating 3D wax forms which quickly became an obsession. 

 

I found sculpting 3D forms to be a deeply relaxing and immersive experience requiring a state of singular focus, as timing and temperature play a critical role. Granted, the inherent unpredictability of warm wax can sometimes be incredibly frustrating requiring the ability to pivot quickly in response to the material’s reaction. Many times, pieces I thought were a complete disaster and was tempted to cast aside turned into my favorite finished projects. Those “happy accidents” have completely transformed the direction of numerous creations and inspired entirely new and fresh ideas for future works. 

 

My recent collection of 3D paintings showcases meticulously hand formed floral and organic forms that emerge from a solid white or colored background.  The delicate organic flowers juxtapose intricate shapes with vibrant bursts of color layered throughout the composition. I especially enjoy the rich texture, depth, and vivid hues I can achieve by incorporating pan pastels, shellac and alcohol ink into the wax before sculpting the forms.  The combination allows me to mimic the complexity of color and variety found in nature while creating a multi-dimensional effect.

 

In a society that often rushes past the wonders of the natural world, art acts as a powerful reminder of the beauty that surrounds us.  My work has always focused on capturing the delicate relationship that binds me to nature and my past growing up in the Piney Woods of Southeast Texas.  My sisters and I spent our days immersed in the outdoors, exploring vast acres of heavily wooded land and crafting fascinating worlds using only found objects and our imaginations.

By embracing natural beeswax and resin in my practice, I find myself drawn to a responsible and eco-friendly way of creating art that helps to reduce my environmental footprint.  It also serves as an homage to the vital role bees and pollination have in maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystem.  For me, the ancient art of encaustic painting has become more than just a medium; it’s a means to honor and respect the planet in my daily art practice. 

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Contact

(972) 773-9981
tonyatrest@tonyatrest.info

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