LOCAL ARTIST SHOWCASE: CORRIE LAVELLE
We love the diverse and creative community we live in. And to support it, we are starting a series of blog posts featuring local artists and makers that we like and hope you will as well! The first feature in this series is an interview with Corrie LaVelle-Ebel, a Seattle-based artist and creator of modern encaustic art.
The first time I touched encaustic paint was probably in 2011. My best friend was teaching art classes and I would accompany her as her lackey…simultaneously soaking up all that she had to teach her students. In all the years of our friendship, I never took a keen interest in creating art myself. I have always thoroughly enjoyed art, but didn’t realize that I was capable of creating it on my own. What I didn’t understand was that my entire life I was creating art unintentionally. I would decorate my room by painting directly on my walls images. I spent every penny I had on paint. Yet, I never once thought about the fact that I was a painter. I would dance, cook, sing, act, but never consider myself a dancer, chef, singer or actor.
It wasn’t until about 2013, when I emotionally hit the roughest patch of my life, did I realize that I NEEDED art. It was an emotional reprieve from the trials of my life. I bought brushes in every size, an easel, and acrylics of all colors and started to paint. I learned the basics of pouring resin, painting in encaustic, mounting art, color theory, and much more. After every lesson I would run to the art supply store and buy out that medium. Soon my supplies overtook my kitchen, and I moved to the basement. I would find myself toiling away for hours.
In the beginning most of my projects were utter failures. In fact, that’s how I found my current style. My sister and her boyfriend sent me a picture from a trip they had taken. I was experimenting with fusing photography on rice paper and layering encaustic on top. I didn’t care for how it was turning out. In an effort to salvage the picture I was delicately melting the wax off with a heat gun. As the wax pigments started to blend and move, I started seeing colors and patterns that were breathtaking. I couldn’t paint fast enough. One by one beautiful abstract imagery evolved. I remember taking photos and sending them to my friend and typing, “I found my art! I found my art!”.
The epicenter and birthplace of all my art comes from my original encaustic paintings (encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, is a process that involves using heated wax to which colored pigments are added). It is original encaustic art that pushes, drives, inspires and compels me. These paintings are the birthplace of all other Corrie LaVelle art series.
When creating an original encaustic piece, I become inspired and moved by the composure of the pigments, the fluidity of the wet wax, and the peacefulness of the process. I identify with wax as an expression of who I am: fluid, constant, temporary, and pliable.
The process of encaustic painting to me is a lesson in harmony. Starting with a wooden board I slowly add a mixture of pigmented beeswax and dammar resin, while keeping the encaustic wax wet using a combination of a blowtorch, and heat gun. Each piece created has layers and layers of wax that eventually fuse together to tell a complete story.
In my other series, I seek to capture the beauty and fluidity of wet wax and convey to the audience the movement in process. However, in the Encaustic Series I stop that movement by allowing the wax to harden into a permanent state that I find both visually stunning and emotionally evoking.
I have changed dramatically as a human and an artist the last few years. I have been humbled and try to mature through that process. I try to go to every show I can. Absorb every page in a book that I read. Walk through all the museums that I can. Stop and appreciate the art of life. Look at strangers in the eye. Be a better friend. Grow as a mother. Reevaluate who I am every day, and seize it.
I consider myself lucky to be able to pursue my passion daily and be surrounded by people of extreme talent, knowledge and grace. I have been working from Gray Sky Studio and Gallery in Seattle for two years. This February I will be moving my space to the International District. I am enthusiastic about the new studio and working closely and developing new series with Plank and Grain Furniture, and working as an artist in residence with Seattle Art Source.