Hope Arts Gallery hosts encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk on Feb. 1

Chilliwack encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk will make her Hope exhibition debut with Earth Song on Feb. 1. (Michelle Vandyk)Chilliwack encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk will make her Hope exhibition debut with Earth Song on Feb. 1. (Michelle Vandyk)
Encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk in her painting attire. (Michelle Vandyk)Encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk in her painting attire. (Michelle Vandyk)

Chilliwack encaustic artist Michelle Vandyk is making her Hope debut with Earth Song, a solo exhibition running from Feb. 1 to Feb. 27.

Hosted by the Hope Arts Gallery in their Back Room, the show focuses on the various connections — physical, emotional, and spiritual — that people make throughout their lives. A series of paintings, all a mix of beeswax and pigment, will display the artist’s different interpretations through metaphors and spiritual motifs.

“There’s several theories in the show,” says Vandyk. “One series is called ‘Steadfast.’ I work a lot with metaphors. And [‘Steadfast’ is] like a self portrait as a tree. Yeah, and so I’ve got the same tree and all different backgrounds. So just repeating the image to kind of get home the whole meaning of [being steadfast].”

An artist since childhood, Vandyk credits growing up with an adventurous family for her exploratory nature in art. Her trek into the encaustic medium began many years ago by chance when she first came across an encaustic painting. Vandyk says she couldn’t stop marvelling at the painting’s depth and luminosity, prompting her to buy a book about the ancient medium. Her desire to learn everything she could about encaustic art resulted in her starting to experiment with it about six years ago.

Encaustic art, which is also known as hot wax painting, is a form of painting that involves using heated wax with coloured pigments mixed in. While still hot, the mixture is applied to a surface such as wood or canvas. For Vandyk this means using both a paintbrush and a blowtorch to apply layer upon layer of wax onto her canvas. In fact, because of the flame component to her work, Vandyk jokes that she paints water by fire.

“Metaphor is really important to me,” says Vandyk. “I started thinking more about the materials that I was working with at the time and what it said about me, and about my work. And I realized that really, it had its purpose, but it just wasn’t a medium that I wanted to connect in terms of the decision.

“Everything about it was manufactured. I just really am drawn to the naturalness of the beeswax and the tree resin.”

Aside from painting, Vandyk is an art teacher and art therapist, which she practises through her business Abide Art & Therapy. She received her BFA in photography and graphic design from Calvin University, earned a MA diploma in art therapy from the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute, and has been teaching high school and middle school art for over 16 years.

She is a member of the BC Teacher’s Federation, BC Art Therapy Association, the Federation of Canadian Artists, and Christians in the Visual Arts.

This is her first art show in Hope.

After opening day, the exhibition will be available to see Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is staffed by volunteers of the gallery. Admission is free and everyone is encouraged to visit. A reception to meet Vandyk will also be hosted on Feb. 18, at the gallery, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

READ MORE: Hope Arts Gallery’s exhibition ‘Watercolour Unlimited’ explores different relationships


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