Melissa Schneider, Artist, Savannah, Georgia
My fascination with photography began with a high school graduation gift, a Canon 35mm SLR camera, and has continued throughout my life. After majoring in art and architecture at Eastern Michigan University, the learned principles and elements of design strengthened my skills across many artistic aspects - from jewelry making to watercolors - before I picked up my camera again.
While working as the Homes Editor for Savannah magazine I served as photo stylist and assistant to well-known architectural photographer Richard Leo Johnson. I consider that four-year experience to be my photography master class, a time of growth and development as an observer of my surroundings, and as an artist capturing composition and light within a camera frame.
Moved by the delicate beauty of coastal Georgia and South Carolina, intrigued by the mystery of the off-beaten path of Savannah's Historic District, these luminescent, moody subjects were perfect for a new-found medium, photo encaustics. In 2008, I began experimenting with pairing the contemporary art of digital photography with the ancient medium of encaustic painting. I was attracted to the transformation that the encaustic wax medium allows - soft edges and a cloudy, romantic feeling - particularly since this is accomplished with a natural substance, beeswax, instead of digital manipulation to the photograph.
The methodical steps of creating a photo encaustic piece provide great satisfaction. From selecting special photographic papers, toning and printing the Images individually, and adhering them to a handcrafted board; to carefully layering the melted encaustic medium and removing the bubbles with a hot palette knife; to finally applying the glazes. Each step demands a keen eye, careful attention to detail and, of course, love of creating art.
The greatest exhilaration still comes from the simple act of walking quiet streets or sunny beaches with my camera In hand, racing home to download my images and view my days work, and finding the little bits magic.
Melissa Schneider <email me>