About Mike Giannella - Encaustic Artist
Embracing the freedom of my own creativity, I translate the experiences of our world into textured and vivid encaustic paintings. My practice was built on a lifelong passion for artistic creation. As a self-taught artist, I developed the foundational skills of painting through still lifes and landscapes and went on to establish a practice in ceramics and sculpture. However, my practice has evolved in recent years. I have discovered my fondness for encaustics and the new subtleties it can bring to a seemingly two-dimensional work. My work, today, combines my foundational skills in ceramics and painting with the realm of encaustics creating stories that form connections with my viewers.
In my process, I work with three electric griddles to melt various blocks of pigmented beeswax at a single time. I pour, paint, and mix the molten wax onto wooden panels, building notions of dimension and negative space. I complement the encaustic with the incorporation of other mediums. Integrating photography, collage, pastels, watercolor, oil, and even fragments of ceramics into my creative process, I add new textures and complexities to each composition. While an extensive and often meticulous process, I incorporate an element of spontaneity. I delicately apply the flame to the surface intuitively manipulating the wax to realize my exquisite images.
My process embraces experimentation. My use of shellac with a kaleidoscopic array of pigments creates intricate webs that accentuate shapes through darkened lines. The layers of wax come together in beautiful and bold saturations of color alongside the nature of the encaustic adding patches of translucency, coalesced together through the flame into a singular form. I scratch at the surface. In an act of mark making, I employ forks, dental tools, and woodburning tools to scrape away until new visual and physical effects are revealed. With my hands and brushes, I massage oil paints to the newly unearthed crevices, orchestrating distinctive highlights of color that accent each piece. The work becomes a process of layering and excavating, introducing a visible component of temporality, until finally the narrative of my piece is uncovered.
The aesthetics of the encaustic add a visceral element to each work of art as if the subjects I paint begin to spill off the surface and take a tangible form. My representations of people, flora, fauna, and landscapes become intense dreamlike realms that encourage you to reach out and touch them. These are contrasted by more conceptual and abstract works that not only layer material but layer subjects and meanings. I depict the microscopic features of life, meditative scenes, the experience of music, and sheer embodiments of abstraction are amalgamations of pure color, gestural movement, text, and objects that impart deeper sensations and evoke personal experiences distinguishable to each viewer. Through the materiality of the encaustics and mixed media elements, with its sculptural and textured appearance, the emotions of the piece transcend the surface and take on a powerful physical presence.
In the end, each work becomes a collaboration between myself and the viewer. While every piece I create is an extension of myself, through the solace and balance it instills in me, my practice creates experiences that allow each individual to take away their own unique interpretation that resonate with them and open their minds to new perspectives on the world around us.
"I didn't choose art, it's more in my DNA."
Mike Giannella fell in love with art back when he was just a kid, growing up in northen New Jersey. Watching a school presentation on pottery and watching the ceramic artist shape beautiful ceramic pieces from nothing drew him in. The way art gives a person the ability to create anything they can imagine; this feeling of liberation was addicting.
Mike started to take art classes with a focus on oil painting still life’s and landscapes. He learned to use the medium to make very detailed artwork. After awhile Mike was drawn into other mediums such as encaustic and ceramics.
Michael went on to study to get a degree in computer technology and has a successful career as an IT Project Manager. However, art was always still there for him. While he was climbing the corporate ladder, he was taking weekly ceramic classes to practice and learn to make pottery on the wheel. Mike fell in love with ceramics. He studied it for more than 15years
More recently over the last couple years Mike has expanded into a new medium called encaustic. Mike loved the idea of using beeswax and pigments to paint.
"The ability to play with colors and create a unique piece of art always drew me in."
Mike is a self-taught artist, and not classically trained. Instead, Mike has taken many workshops and conferences with professional artists and learned from them and others. He learned to create his own style and has grown and learned so much over the years. He is always wanting to learn more.
"I'm always trying to convey a story in my artwork."
Currently living in Pine Beach, New Jersey, with his cat Tigger, Mike loves exploring the area. He likes taking peaceful walks along the shore to get inspiration. When not busy with his art or his daytime job, Mike can be found enjoying life with his friends and family.