MEET LAURA MCELFRESH
CONNECT WITH LAURA
I love creating. I have always been focused on growth, change and creation. As a child I loved to garden and carefully observing the changes of the seasons. I loved the brisk fall air and the change of colors as green turned into vibrant yellows and found beauty in the shapes and shadows created by the winter trees and snow drifts. As the seasons changed I knew that there was always a next incarnation around the corner. Just like in life- a new stage awaits!
I began painting at an early age in my Grandmothers studio while visiting during summer break. In grade school I took an after-school Batik class. Through Junior High and High School, I took every available art class and particularly loved the chaotic medium of watercolor. In a watercolor class I learned that it was possible to do the Batik Process on rice paper. The Batik process is centuries old and traditionally done on fabric with dyes and hot wax. This was a pivotal moment for me.
The Batik process includes several key steps: I begin with a beautiful piece of handmade rice paper; vibrant pigment is painted onto the fine paper. I alternate applying layers of paint and hot melted opaque wax to the paper. The hot wax is unforgiving, and resists the paint.
My painting evolves with many layers of melted wax and paint until the final steps when the I crumple and mash the wax coated paper to create fissures and cracks. There is a lack of control, but I’ve learned to trust the process. I coat the surface with inky black watercolor paint. The black paint seeps into the wax fissures creating interesting texture and wrinkles unlike any other method. I see this as a perfect metaphor for the hardships we all endure, the broken places in our lives make us who we are. Finally, a hot iron melts away the wax, revealing the brilliant colors and imagery.
Looking forward, I will continue to use this timeless technique to further explore my favorite subjects and themes of change, and connection.