Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thinking about the subliminal

Allow me to present the latest two pieces in my rubber+encaustic series. They are "Subliminal" and "More Subliminal." The first piece has things (my secrets) embedded in poured encaustic, then painted with oil paint and oil stick.

Subliminal, encaustic, rubber, tacks, patinated copper, oilstick, mixed media, 20" x 16".

More Subliminal, encaustic, rubber, tacks, patinated copper, oilstick, mixed media, 20" x 16".

The second piece has a more shallow center section because the embedded objects are smaller (beads - thanks to Binnie Birstein's donation).

Both pieces are covered with rubber on the sides, the same way I have treated most of the work in this series.

You can also see that the rubber protrudes and forms a channel for the encaustic section in the center.

As far as the title(s) go, I had been considering calling these pieces "Underfoot", but I think "Subliminal" is more to the point. I didn't want to refer to the literal landscape although this work (especially the first piece) looks like rocks or pebbles. "Subliminal" means:

"existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness; being or employing stimuli insufficiently intense to produce a discrete sensation but often being or designed to be intense enough to influence the mental processes or the behavior of the individual: a subliminal stimulus; subliminal advertising."

(according to So you could understand this work to refer to those things that we don't really observe but just feel the effects of. I guess this would be comparable to those things in the physical landscape that we take for granted and don't look at closely, such as rocks or pebbles underfoot.

I have made a conscious effort in the rubber+encaustic series to give the work a vertical orientation, meaning that they refer to the body (versus a horizontal orientation referring to the landscape). My focus is on the body these days as I am paying closer attention to the way it breaks down and changes with age. Such changes are usually subliminal until one day we wake up and realize that old age is upon us. But at least we're waking up.


layers said...

Your use of rubber and encaustic is a very interesting combination of materials--- and the 'secrets' layered there makes them very intriguing.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

You make me laugh Nancy "at least we are waking up!" I am enjoying your series and I appreciate all the art books you list as well. I'm reading Conversations with Antoni Tapies now.

Anonymous said...

These are amazing - I am fascinated by the rubber round the sides and can (sort of) imagine the changes that will occur over time. I love the variety of colours achieved within a resonably limited palette.
Your comment about age creeping up on us interests me; my husband turned 63 at the weekend. I'm only in my mid 40s and watching him get older makes me more aware of my own aging - some days I look at my hands and think "wow, when did this fine lines start to appear...".

Nancy Natale said...

Thank you, Donna. I like the combo, too, although it seems like it wouldn't work, but I think it does.

Leslie, as long as we're laughing, we're living. I'll have to look up the Tapies book because I do like his work.

Catsheard - thanks. Yes, I'm interested in seeing what will happen to these pieces over time. I don't think the rubber will deteriorate - especially since I haven't stretched it. But maybe it will fade - at least on the edges.

On aging, the changes are subtle up to a point and then they seem to gang up on you. I think that after 50 things start to really go downhill. But aging is better than the alternative.

M said...

I am hugely attracted to these pieces because of the high texture and the odd mixture of materials used. They work together. I am just getting back to blogging regularly and feel I missed so much of the art adventures of my blog friends. Of course the up side is all the work I created at my summer studio.
Aging- I can't go there today. It seems to be my constant preoccupation of late. Too much contemplation time! I will be more positive in a couple of days once I get back on a schedule. Thanks for the comment on my gum arabic transfers.

Unknown said...

Nancy, Enjoyed seeing and reading about these new panels. Having embedded thoughts and conversations into several of my previous bodies of work I'm drawn to the "secrets" concept. These will be good for my foundations classes to see the use of pattern, materials, relief, craftsmanship and your overall concept.
Thanks !

Nancy Natale said...

Margaret, thanks for your comment. Sorry I mentioned the "A" word. I try not to think about it either.

Hi Jane, thanks for your comment, too. I would be very pleased to have you show my work to your foundations classes. One note is that I hadn't thought of "my secrets" in a metaphorical way, but rather meant that I wanted to keep the actual materials I used a secret so that people wouldn't be distracted by trying to see them as they were prior to their inclusion. I'm not a big keeper of secrets, but perhaps these things represent repressed or subconscious ideas and feelings that show up in dreams or lurk around unnoticed but somehow felt.

Joanne Mattera said...


I enjoyed your studio visit with yourself. DIY allows you to control what you show and say. No misquotes here! I liked the interweaing of images and text.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks, Joanne. I appreciate your comment. You have led my blogging progress by your masterful example.

Alicia Tormey said...

What an inspiring studio space - So light-filled and organized. I am suffering from studio lust – Mine is in such a state of chaos right now that I don’t dare expose it to the world. Love your colorful work but I am more drawn to your black/brown/rubber /texture works. Fantastic! I am experimenting with encaustic and tar right now. Great post – you’ve inspired me to reorganize.

Gina said...

These Subliminal works are very powerful. I adore the textures and subtle colors in each piece. Wonderful, wonderful!

Gina said...

These Subliminal works are very powerful. I adore the textures and subtle colors in each piece. Wonderful, wonderful!