Shannon Passon: Encaustic art exploring the exchange of energy

Portland Open Studios’ artist Anne Mavor (Artist #60) had a chance to sit down and talk with fellow encaustic artist Shannon Passon (Artist #71)  last month. Here is her interview.

Working primarily in encaustic, but also in acrylic and mixed media, Shannon’s vibrant and layered paintings explore what is elemental and lies at the core of life: exchange of energy. Though her paintings all have a landscape feel, they are overlaid with images of wind turbines, molecular diagrams and water to evoke scientific meaning.

Shannon’s favorite part of being an artist is the doing, when she becomes lost in the process, free of overthinking, worry or distractions. This is not surprising, since she describes herself as a hands-on, even messy process painter, which means she does not plan out what the finished painting will look like. She paints until it is done and she has a painting. Over the years she has discovered it is the best way for her to work because she needs to respond to what is actually happening. Even if she does make a plan, at some point she will find herself going elsewhere. Mistakes are a chance for a different response.

Since her painting process is all about freedom, Shannon hopes people can perceive that spirit of freedom in the work. The images are not contained or boxed in, but pour over the edges. She also hopes people get something positive, but knows she can’t control how people how they might react. However people respond, positive or negative, she is ok.  Engagement is the most important thing.

In 2010, after moving back to Portland, she started going on the Portland Open Studios Tour and was in heaven. This is her second year as a participating artist. She loves going into studios and seeing work. She is always impressed by the quality of work and the warm welcome at each studio. She also likes that the visitors are such an enthusiastic and open group of people. It is a rare opportunity for her to share her work and interact with people differently than she might while at a gallery opening.

During Portland Open Studios Shannon will be demonstrating the hot wax process of creating encaustic art but also wants to show the wide range of other materials she uses in combination with pigmented wax.  Like so many artists who use encaustic paint, Shannon appreciates the versatility of the medium and endless possibilities. Her current SE Portland studio is in a large building filled with a variety of small businesses, including many artists.