Water’s Edge : Abstract paintings by Jane Michalski
When I considered sources of content for my abstract paintings, I turned to photographs of a place familiar to me; North Point along the shores of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
North Point is an outcropping of very old limestone, located close to my parent’s home in a neighborhood where my father grew up. There, conditions change over the seasons and as the lake water rises and falls. I have returned to it many time taking photographs along the shoreline, often aiming the camera down to photograph algae covered pools of water among the bedrock and places where the limestone drops off into the lake. The organic nature of the algae and lake debris contrasts with the hard surface of the limestone.
My observations provide a means of structuring my paintings, taking into consideration formal elements and the expressive characteristics of the medium of encaustic which can be both fluid and solid. Transparent layers of wax are scraped, smoothed, and incised. The process of layering, scraping and scoring reflects time and memory within each piece. My art contains basic structures, layers, fragments and edges and I work to build complexity and nuances of color and texture.
My initial intent was to use my photographs for structure, color, texture, and atmosphere in the paintings. As I became involved with the images, I discovered a more personal connection. The water’s edge became a powerful metaphor for the many journeys taken through life, and following the death of my father in 2015, a metaphor for the final journey into the unknown. Looking down at the ancient surface of the bedrock and the water of Lake Michigan, I contemplate both the past and the future.