Friday, September 14, 2012

And then there were two...

Forbidden Fruit
Panel 4 of 4
My new definition of Artistic Bliss is when the ideas are coming so fast that you have to make notes on the back of your grocery list and junk mail envelopes.  : )  I will never understand why sometimes the ideas just flow out of the ether faster than I can capture them on paper and then other times I am convinced that the creative well is permanently dry.  I'm sure all creative types experience this problem. 

This past month, the saying "Creativity does not happen in a vacuum" has been proven to me many times over.  Opportunities for shooting, location hunting, prop shopping, and collaboration have come my way from many good friends.  Each meeting has sparked so may new ideas, that I've had to go buy a new notebook to contain them all.  It's purple - the color my 6th grade teacher assured me was a favorite only of insane people.  Ah Mrs. Bachtel - what odd memories you have left in my brain...

I have completed my first collaborative art experience with fellow photographer, Rene Hales!  The entire experience went really well.  My cynical side thinks that this has to be unusual.  Our only hiccup was caused by the company we used to obtain the metal that is backing our prints.  They graciously corrected their error in time for us to finish by our deadline.

We spaced out the work and met regularly making what Rene pegged as "baby steps" each time we got together.  Even with our deadline approaching, I never felt rushed or stressed out.  There was a lot of testing involved because we both went out on a limb and tried some new things.

We used Yes paste as the glue.

This was my first time mounting a print to dibond metal.  Dibond is a lightweight aluminum composite panel that has a different metal finish on each side and a tiny layer of thermoplastic core sandwiched between.  I was a little skeptical at first but the bonus to using the metal was that we could get it cut to odd sizes and it weighs a lot less versus having a wood board.  It turned out much easier to glue the print to metal than to wood.  I had no air bubble issues and it was easy to smoosh around on the metal to find the perfect placement while the glue was still wet.   

The brayer was useful to make  sure the print made
full contact with the metal after we applied the glue.
We applied painter's tape to 1/4 inch border around the print where the metal was showing so we would not get wax on the metal.  There were two reasons for this.  1) I didn't want to have to worry about the wax not sticking to the metal, and 2) we deckled the edges of the prints before we glued them down and I wanted to make sure they still stood out once waxed.

After all the prep-work, the real fun began.  We applied several coats of encaustic medium - fusing between each layer.  Then we used oil sticks to add color, deepen contrast, and highlight areas of each image.

I was having so much fun that I hated to see it end.  But there is new work on the horizon!  Next, Rene and I will be working along the same vein to complete an entirely new body of work for a two person show coming in Spring 2013.  I am extremely grateful to Rene for asking me to collaborate with her.  The experience has caused me to take a step back and reassess how and what I shoot.  Rene's invitation to collaborate came at the perfect time to allow me to test new skills and reconnect with photography in a more traditional way.  Instead of covering figures in collaged photographs, I am capturing an entire image in just one frame and completing the narrative with beeswax, paint, and texture.  

Rene and I will each have one of our regular pieces and also the 4 panel collaborative piece Forbidden Fruit on display starting September 21, 2012, at the M.S. Rezny Gallery & Studio in an exhibit called "Collaborate!".
Forbidden Fruit by Rene Hales & Melissa Hall


  1. Congratulations on a successful collaboration! Looks great. Want to talk to you about mounting on metal when I see you (soon!) Thanks for sharing your process!

    1. Thanks Bridgette! I'm looking forward to seeing you on Friday!

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    1. Thanks Patra! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    2. Great work you have done, every new creation in fully depend on unique creativity, you have performed unique creativity and made a nice print. Want to say thanks for sharing the process, it is a tutorial for me.

  3. good post and inspiring! i'm considering attending a 3-day workshop in the Spring of 2013 to learn about encaustic for photographers. i'm excited about the creative possibilities it will add to my photography. your blog post is very helpful in reinforcing the desire to go to the workshop.

    1. Hello Gerry - I can't say enough about the workshops I have attended this past year. They have allowed me to assimilate so many new skills but have been instrumental in growing as an artist in ways that really can't be measured. If you don't mind me asking, what workshop will you be attending?

  4. Melissa,

    The one that I am most interested in attending is "Intensive: Encaustic for Photographers" (

    The other one that I'd also like to attend is "Intensive: Authenticity—The Process of Photographic Creativity " (

    I attended a week-long workshop "The Natural Eye" taught by Eddie Soloway ( in February of 2009 at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. It was categorized as being for landscape photography but it was a great experience and was helpful to every area of my photography.

    If you've never attended a workshop there, I'd be happy to share my thoughts with you about the facilities and the workshops they offer.

    1. Wow! Both of those workshops look wonderful. I have not yet had the pleasure of attending a workshop at the Santa Fe facility but I have several friends who have and loved it. Thanks for sharing the info!

  5. Great post! It is very interesting and i really like it. Thank you so much for sharing.
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