Sunday, June 13, 2010

Laura Tyler: Artist Interview — Flow and Control Show

This is a trailer for Laura's video, Sister Bee. You can learn more about this video at

Lynette (LH): Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Laura: I live in Boulder, Colorado with my husband, Andy Schwarz and our fluttery dog, Hazel.  Andy  works as a web developer and I'm a painter who uses encaustic to make elemental, abstract images of plants.  I also make films including the 2006 beekeeping documentary, "Sister Bee."  Together Andy and I manage between 15 and 20 colonies of honeybees.  We sell raw honey and candles at our local farmer's market each fall.
5" x 4"
encaustic and ink on panel

Old Fashioned Rocketry
5" x 4"
encaustic and ink on panel

5" x 4"
encaustic and ink on panel

LH: Please describe bit about your work in general-what is it about, your process etc.

Laura: I am a materialist.  I believe the physical properties of the materials I use are part of the viewer's experience of the artwork. Gesture is also important to me.  Since I find it difficult draw expressively in wax I use multiple processes including editing to make gestural pieces that capitalize on the physical properties of wax, specifically its lively surface and ability to carry light and pigment. Puddles of wax equal emotion to me.  Line equals story.

I start by doing large scale drawings of plants from life using black ink. I then use a cropping tool to zero on on small areas of each drawing that are exciting.  I cut the exciting bits out, shuffle them and then spend a long time looking.  I choose just a few to make into paintings.  Those get applied to panels and coated with four to eight layers of clear and pigmented encaustic.  They are distillations of the plants that inspired them.  No longer plants per se, but holding a plant-like quality and serving as objects of reverie, much as clouds do for the cloud-watcher.

My work is about transformation.  One of the things that fascinates me about working with honeybees is watching them transform the energy of the sun into beeswax.  It's a beautiful and evident process. Plants use sunlight to produce nectar and pollen.  The bees collect these things and turn them into food which gives them the energy they need to extrude wax flakes from abdominal glands.  They then use their jaws to mash and shape the wax into comb which we collect and render into candles and paintings and other useful things.  I like to think of beeswax as stored sunlight.

Laura: This will be my second time attending the conference.  My first time was in 2008.
LH: Did you create this work specifically for this juried show? Please explain.
No, I didn't, though it wasn't for lack of trying!  Painting goes best for me when it comes from a place of experimentation with no agenda.  Though I'd wanted to create a new series of big pieces to enter into the show they didn't flow the way I'd hoped so I abandoned them a few days before the entry deadline and looked to earlier work.

The pieces I submitted, "Old Fashioned Rocketry," "Castle" and 'Rainforesty" are made of wax puddles curtailed by black ink.

I rent a small studio in downtown Boulder.  It's spare and quiet which is exactly what I need for painting.  It has a cool, hobbity vibe and is just friendly enough for me to feel comfortable but not TOO comfortable.

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art? (If so, please give us some details).
Laura: Yes, I teach painting workshops.  I travel and speak about honeybees, sell DVD's  and produce film screenings.  Sometimes I do contract work in video production.  My husband and I sell honey and other bee products each fall.

See more about Laura's work at these sites:
My art blog:
Sister Bee:
Backyard Bees:

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