Pin It

Bacon #1 

click to enlarge _Bacon #1_, Thomas Grady, encaustic on plaster panel, 2007.
  • _Bacon #1_, Thomas Grady, encaustic on plaster panel, 2007.

“I chose to study printmaking and sculpture because everyone did painting,” artist Thomas Grady says of his college curriculum. “I wanted to try different things.” Eventually, he would turn to painting but employ an unusual medium—encaustic.

An ancient material notably used in Egyptian mummy portraits, encaustic is pigmented beeswax that can create a multitude of results—a matte or glossy finish, thin glaze or thick impasto. Grady says the paint is also one of the most permanent; the wax repels moisture and helps maintain the integrity of the piece. Grady’s initial attempts with encaustic were discouraging. “It can be a clumsy technique to get detail,” he explains, “and I was trying to paint with some detail because I was trying to paint figures—heads—so I wasn’t satisfied with the results.” Grady turned to oil and watercolor for some paintings in his series of conductor and composer portraits before being drawn back to encaustic. “Maybe it was because I was older or more patient,” he says, “but I was able to get better results with the encaustic. I’m very satisfied with it now and I’ve given up oils totally.”

Still, Grady has only deemed three of these works suitable for public display, and he makes his encaustic debut at Kingston’s Gallery at R&F with his depiction of painter Francis Bacon. Bacon #1 is part of his series of closely cropped head shots of artists, which also include Picasso, Lucian Freud, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol.  “In different ways, they each opened certain doors to artists by showing that anything was possible—that you could do abstract expressionism and throw paint around and it was acceptable. And those are important things, even if I don’t particularly like their aesthetic.” His choice to represent Bacon was based on an admiration of his style, not direct influence. “Bacon’s paintings tend to be very psychologically charged; he’s able to get a good overview of the sitter with a minimal amount of exact representation,” Grady explains. “But he still gets their essence, and I like that, even though it’s not particularly how I work.”

Grady prefers to call these pieces “big heads” rather than portraits, explaining that a portrait often involves defining a psychological aspect of a person and conveying that through the painting. “Because I don’t know them,” he says, “I’m just using their image as a point of departure in painting. I want to have a certain resemblance to them, but I also want to paint and move paint around; that’s important to me.”

Thomas Grady’s Bacon #1 is part of the exhibition “Encaustic Works 2007,” on view through September 29 at two Kingston locations: Gallery at R&F, (845) 331-3112, www.rfpaints.com; and Watermark/Cargo Gallery,
(866) 405-8076, www.watermarkcargogallery.com.

Speaking of...

  • Beer, Bourbon, and Bacon 2015
  • Beer, Bourbon, and Bacon 2015

    The event, presented by the Hudson Valley Craft Brew Fest, offers samples of the finest brews and whiskeys, complementary tasting glass, and all-day live music and entertainment from 2 to 6pm.
    • Jun 1, 2015
  • Beer, Bourbon, Bacon
  • Beer, Bourbon, Bacon

    • Jun 18, 2014
  • On the Cover: Kevin Frank
  • On the Cover: Kevin Frank

    Kevin Frank's encaustic painting Museum Café is on the cover this month.
    • May 1, 2013
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Field and Dream: Collaborative Concepts at Saunders Farm

    Over 70 artists from the Hudson Valley and beyond have assembled animal-friendly sculptures to complement the surrounding landscapes—grazing cows and horses are imagined to admire the pieces while they dine.
    • Sep 1, 2015
  • Dale Chihuly: Ulysses Cylinders

    An exhibition of early glass work by Dale Chihuly at Vassar College's Thompson Memorial Library.
    • Nov 1, 2015

Hudson Valley Events

submit event

Holiday Book Signing Event

Fri., Dec. 9, 5-7 p.m. — Join Lu Ann Kaldor, Eve Gendron and Anthony Santa Teresa for a...
Cajun Dance with the C'Est Bon Cajun Dance Band @ White Eagle Hall

Cajun Dance with the C'Est Bon Cajun Dance Band

Fri., Dec. 9, 7-11 p.m. — Free lesson at 7pm, dance 8pm-11pm All are welcome. No partner necessary....

View all of today's events

Latest in Visual Art

More by Kelley Granger

  • Urban Proximity, Rural Escape

    Kelley Granger profiles the communities of Northern Westchester.
    • Oct 26, 2010
  • Tradition and Change

    Major changes in progress at New York Military Academy.
    • Sep 28, 2010
  • In Season

    Kelly Granger on this season's fashions.
    • Jul 28, 2010
  • More »

Hudson Valley Tweets