Artist Interview: Misako Oba

Misako Oba creates encaustic collages. Encaustic is created by adding pigments hot beeswax. Find out more about Misako on her bio page. In this interview, Misako talks about her theme and hidden text in her work.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette?
My signature color is blue and blue shade (and brown). However, I almost used green colors for the first time as the dominant color in the work that you will see at the exhibition. Yet, you may still see the trace of blue.

Is there a book or a film that influenced you?
For this particular works and the series, yes. The series title and pieces “L.I.P.Y.L‘essentiel est Invisible pour les Yeux” (=what is essential is invisible to the eye) were inspired by the book The Little Prince (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). The verses in the Bible also provided a vision (for example, The Book of 2 Corinthians 4:18 and others). For other series, current events and social issues sometimes influence my work.

However, the biggest influence regarding imagery has been my personal experience and deep thoughts in life.

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
The body of my work reflects my interest in human life as a journey. It examines our soul and explores universal experiences, such as emotions. It also depicts its transient nature, sadness, hope, and perspective. 

Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
I have been developing and working on the series related to stars, desert, and our lives for quite some time. Although scientists and professionals continually research the details, patterns and more, there is still something beyond human knowledge or understanding. I have been exploring the mystery with a conceptual and psychological approach.      

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
I remind myself of the following “7 Creative Affirmations”* that are on the wall in my studio and pray to God. I then draw for five minutes (circle, oval, straight lines) to relax my muscles before starting each session.

◆ As I create and listen, I will be lead.
◆ Creativity is the Creator’s Will for me.
◆ I am willing to be of service through my creativity.
◆ My creativity heals others.
◆ There is a divine plan of goodness for my work.
◆ Through the use of my creativities, I serve God.
◆ My creativity leads me to truth and love.

(* I selected seven of the original 20 sentences from the Creative Affirmations in The Artist’s Way, and a couple are customized for myself.)

Do you do any research and what kind if you do?
I do a tremendous amount of research and preparation, which ultimately translates to the physical artwork. Or it becomes reference material with no use. For this series, I researched stars, constellations, maps, and charts. My art includes layers of memories, thoughts, dreams, paths, imaginations, illusions, and disillusions. I recollect my thoughts and sometimes past photographs and ponder the concepts to create my vision.

I also research words, Bible verses, other materials, and modern computer-programming languages (codes: Python, C-language). With the help of an assistant who is a software engineer, I finally found the available codes that are astronomical calculation algorithms, which correlate with the stars, universe/planets for this series. I try not to illustrate my findings in a literal sense. I probably use more of my emotions or right brain than left brain once I start creating. Subsequently, you can see the results of my research in an abstract way in my artwork.

What do you like about this medium and what are its challenges?
It is challenging to apply this medium (encaustic) during the hot summer and cold winter months while using a heating palette, heat gun and torch with ventilation. Therefore, the working location matters. Temperature control is critical with encaustic. When using pigment ink transfer technique onto encaustic, I try not to melt or blow away the image.

Another challenge is that encaustic and its overall value are not yet well known unlike oil paint or watercolor, especially in Japan.

Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
Yes. I get so many ideas flowing, but organizing, combining and executing those ideas is a different story. 🙂  

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details?
Yes. I am describing in the artist page here. Stars in the sky: Some stars are possible to see and others cannot be seen by our eyes…..(continue reading)

What would you like people to know about your work?
There is a solid concept behind the series, which you (audience) can discover by visiting my blog Behind the Scene. However, when visiting the gallery and viewing the works, I recommend viewing without logic or theory. It’s okay if you don’t “understand” the work. Focus on them with your heart, go closer to the work, or take one step back. You can just stand and feel it with your heart instead of your head.If you look closely, in art and life, the details and patterns may emerge.  However, sometimes, “L‘essentiel est Invisible pour les Yeux” (= What is essential is invisible to the eye).

My work is ‘semi-abstract.’ In the last eight years, I have used encaustic as a primary medium to create mixed-media work…often by incorporating text. I also do image transfer onto encaustic work because I feel applying real contemporary elements from our time provides meaning.

(Encaustic is made of beeswax, damar resin, and pigment. I started to make my own medium since 2013. The work you see is encaustic mixed media using oil, water color, Japanese paper, gold and pure silver flecks simultaneously.)