Karl Kaiser’s mom was a teacher and so he was always doing art projects growing up. “But it wasn’t until I was older and on my first trip to Europe that I became interested in photography, specifically black and white photography.” During that visit he spent time with his Aunt Wanda, a working artist living in Germany. “On that first trip to Europe many years ago, I visited her and we spent many, many hours in her studio talking about art. From that moment on, she has been an inspiration. She still paints today at 87 and I still visit her as often as I can.” Karl’s training since then has been in the form of observation and from taking classes from talented artists. He continues learning still.
He eventually migrated to acrylic painting in an effort to explore a deeper connection to what he was finding through the lens. “I was exposed to Encaustic in 2005 and now consider it my primary medium because of the unique depth and texture it brings to my subjects. I manipulate the wax through scraping, using impressions and smoothing techniques to evoke the complicated but perfect natural world around me.”
“For the last few years I have been developing a technique that creates an illusion of depth with the wax. It transforms the artwork into a three-dimensional space. This technique consists of layers of color applied one on top of another and then scraping back the sides to reveal lines of color. Typically this means 50 to 100 layers of color. This piece is then embedded on its side into a wax platform of any number of color themes, overlaid with clear wax and then heated with a torch to bring out specific qualities that sometimes take shape as clouds, waves, trees or other nature inspired concepts. I try to capture the play of light and motion I see while I work with the wax. I do not fight against the hot wax; I let it find its own path. My intent is to create landscapes with differing vitalities, vibrancies and mood. My goal for the viewer is to evoke a time in place that is familiar but not easily identified or a memory that sits just outside of the periphery. To transport the viewer away from the distracted present and draw their focus inward to a place of peace and reflection.
As might be expected, Karl’s Aunt Wanda, a working artist living in Germany, is his biggest inspiration. “My Aunt Wanda continues to paint, draw or do something creative every day. She hasn’t told me in so many words, but has shown me by her example that doing something every day is the best thing an artist can do.” He gets his inspiration in part from “daily walks where I see nature, let my mind rest and wander and bring back images of things that catch my eye that inform my work.”
To see Karl in action, visit his studio during Portland Open Studios On October 14-15 or 21-22.