Banker Alicia Nathahi-Achong gives up finance for blowtorch art

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Alicia Nathai-Achong gave up banking to teach herself how to make Encaustic paintings. -Photo by Marvin Hamilton

After spending 20 years as a banker, Alicia Nathai-Achong decided that she was devoted to the pursuit of art and was ready to quit her job. So instead of putting down a pen and picking up a pencil or paintbrush, she grabbed a torch lamp and jumped into the Encaustic painting from her head.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Encaustic is a painting method that uses beeswax and resin dissolved in a pigment, applied, and then heat-fixed. Encaustic is also called “paint”.

The word Encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos, which means “heat or burn”, so heat is used instead of a paintbrush. Practiced by Greek artists in the 5th century BC, the most famous Encaustic work is a portrait of Faiyum painted by an Egyptian Greek painter in the 1st to 3rd centuries AD.

Natai Achon explains: “Paintings are an art form of archiving because they last for thousands of years. Beeswax is a natural preservative of pigments that retains its vibrant properties, so it’s something you pass on from generation to generation. . “

She drops the melted encaustic on top of the painting and uses a torch lamp to move the wax to create the painting layer by layer. Wax is too heavy for canvas, so she paints on wooden boards or, if the work is small enough, on watercolor paper. Some of the big parts are about 20 pounds with about 30 layers of colored wax.

Natai Achon’s passion for Encaustic began entirely by chance.

Alicia Nathai-Achong learned how to use a torch lamp to heat the paint resin. -Photo by Marvin Hamilton

“About two years ago, I saw a picture of an Encaustic painting online. I don’t know what happened in my brain. I was fascinated by it. That’s what I’ve ever seen. It was like there was no photo.

“I started reading too much (about Encaustic). I wanted to know more about it, so I read about history, how to make my own paints, and whatever I found.”

She wanted to give it a try when she thought she had done enough research. Since Encaustic is not available at TT, she continues to create her own paints using beeswax, crystallized sap, and pigments containing many natural pigments such as Luke and saffron root.

She contacted a local beekeeper for beeswax and persuaded her husband, Richard Achon, to buy a torch. She made her first work and was absorbed in it. She continued to practice and experiment, and when the family saw her work, they were amazed at the beauty of this style of painting that they had never seen before.

Painting by Alicia Nathai-Achong. –Photo by MARVIN HAMILTON wra

“I said to my husband,’I want to do this every day for the rest of my life,'” he said, “You are very good. This is great. I should you. I think. Just leave the bank and you can do what you want. “So I did, and I’ve literally painted with Encaustic every day since then. “

Nathai-Achong told WMN that he felt like he had never expressed himself before, so he had to do it every day. She wakes up early and can’t wait to go to the studio and start working. And there, time goes by without her noticing.

She said her plan was to work hard, hone her skills, and be the best she could be at Encaustic. However, TT didn’t have anyone to help her learn, so she experimented and eventually contacted other artists around the world online to share tips and help each other. ..

In less than two years, she will be hosting her first art exhibition, Discover Beauty in Simple Things: A Synthesis of Wax and Fire, at Arnim’s Art Galleria in Laromaine. All done within the last year, 75 works will be available until December 18th.

As a weekend hobby, I have no formal training or experience, except for watercolors and acrylics, which I haven’t touched since I picked up a blowtorch with my two sons.

“This is my first exhibition and I wanted TT to see the beauty of this art form, so I slept for a couple of hours. It’s lost to me. It’s so sad. So I really put my heart and soul, everything I have into it. “

Her paintings are based on nature and include sky, sea and river scenes, landscapes and leaves.

Alicia Nathai-Achong’s exhibition “Discover Beauty in Simple Things: A Synthesis of Wax and Fire” was held at Art Galleria in Arnim, Laromaine. All have been done within the last year and 75 pieces are on display until December 18th. -PHOTOBY MARVIN HAMILTON

“I’m essentially a country girl, so I think it’s coming to my job.”

Another source of inspiration is her home in Malabella, on the top of the hill, with a studio on the back porch overlooking the Gulf of Paria.

Natai Achon said she got a love for art from her mother Robinia Lara Natai and a love for nature from her late father Harold Natai.

She grew up in Rio Claro and said her father had land and took children to plant and pick fruits, groceries and other produce. He also took them to the beach where she fostered a love for the waves.

“There are a lot of waves in my work. When we were small, we couldn’t swim, so Dad hugged us and took us out. And he took us out. I turned to each coming wave. I love the waves now. “

Her artistic sparks were developed by her mother, who works with her children on creative projects such as going to the river to collect paints and making Christmas tree decorations.

“Even to cover our textbooks, some people will just put brown paper, labels and stickers or something. No. It was a production in my house. Dyeing paper or food coloring I used to make patterns and make various fun things. “

Inspired by her life, many of her works have stories.

Painting by Alicia Nathai-Achong. -Photo by Marvin Hamilton

For example, Small Mercies shows a stormy sky over a large field with a one-carat hut in the frame.

“I remember growing up looking at these carat huts, and when the storm came, the farmers rushed to these little huts and carat huts. For them, they had them on a rainy day. Was a very small mercy. “

Her encaustic work also contains other elements.

Nathai-Achong explained that he sometimes carves the surface of Encaustic using what he finds to produce the effect he is looking for. She also uses shellac, a resin made from the secretions of lac insects. Shellac dissolves in alcohol to make paint and is used between the Encaustic layers.

Recently, I discovered eco-print, a technique for transferring the color and shape of plants to cloth.

“My mother is an avid gardener. She cut from a yellow bell tree, and I found it so beautiful, but she just intended to throw it away. I told her no. I wanted to experiment.

“I wrapped it in watercolor paper and boiled it. I put the natural pigments embedded in the paper in an uncolored Encaustic medium. There is a picture on the exhibit. It’s very nice.”

She is still experimenting with eco-prints, so there is only one exhibit.

But Nathai-Achong has already planned another show next year, and perhaps her visitors will be able to see more.

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