Alanna Sparanese tapped into her creative calling at a young age. As a child, she felt a deep sense of connection to nature and most alive when expressing this kinship through art. With nature her muse, Alanna’s current encaustic work blend beeswax, damar tree resin and rich pigments to visually communicate the west coast’s expansive skies, tranquil waters and abundant birdlife. Each layer of wax is carefully fused onto a substrate with heat to create a luminous landscape that explores the connection between the human spirit and the natural world. Often embedded with photographic materials, drawings or writing, the translucent depths of ethereal earth tones pull the viewer in to tell a poetic story. Alanna’s pieces explore the concept of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and beautifully capture her sense of wonder and the infinite possibilities she experiences in her daily walks in nature.
Her work has been shown at The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Eclectic Gallery and the Butchart Gardens Gallery. She has been commissioned by both private and corporate clients and is a member of the CACGV (Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria). In July 2018, Alanna’s work will be featured in a group show called “Molten” at The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm.
Briefly describe your upbringing. Were you a creative child?I grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. As a child, I was expressive and fueled by creativity.I was strongly influenced by my surroundings of the natural world and the big open sky above me. I was on my own a lot in my younger years and became very independent early on. It was during this time that I began to tap into my creative self and find that deeper connection with what really made me feel alive. I was always attracted to the arts throughout school and realized that being artistic is who I was, the skin I felt most comfortable in. I’ve explored a variety mediums over the years and determined that painting, drawing and writing are at the core of my calling.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a fine artist. And how did you become interested in encaustics? I am largely a self-taught artist. I’ve always been drawn to the experimental process of creating art through intuition and exploration.It wasn’t until I saw a piece of encaustic artwork almost a decade ago that everything changed for me and my artist path. I literally felt something stir deep inside of me followed by an overwhelming sense of emotion. I knew nothing about it, only how I felt upon viewing it. It had a visceral quality to it, unlike other mediums. I immediately went out and obtained a whole new set of art supplies and electrical gadgets to get me started.
What types of materials and tools did you need to get started? Crock pots, hot plates, heat gun, blow torch, beeswax, resin, pigments and oil paints/bars.I spent almost the entirety of the following year experimenting and exploring with this versatile medium. I was determined to divine my own techniques and more importantly, my own style through experimentation. It’s luminous layers and fluid nature had me enthralled. I felt more like an alchemist than an artist at times. I was relentless in my commitment to painting in this medium and due to ventilation requirements, I set up a makeshift studio on our deck so I could paint year round. This went on for about four years.
How did you find your direction as a fine artist in Victoria?At this point, I had enough artwork and was encouraged to show. My first show was a success and that gave me the motivation and confidence to reach a larger audience. Then I participated in the Moss Street Paint-In where I was approached by my first gallery representation.
Without giving away all your trade secrets, describe your process. My encaustic artwork has anywhere from 12 to 25 layers, each fused with a blow torch. I mix my colours directly on my hot plate using powder pigments or my self-made colour blocks.My artwork is quite abstract for much of the process until I include my representational subject, photography, drawings or paint, directly onto the waxy surface.
Horizons and the expansive sky seem a regular subject in your work. Can you speak to the significance? I have always been deeply moved by the sky. The sheer expanse of it is somewhat humbling to me and I use it in my art as negative space. Calming and uncomplicated, the sky expanses are an opportunity to let the eye rest. I vividly remember as a child feeling enveloped by the sky, getting lost in it and comforted by it all at once. I feel a sense of spirituality regarding the sky and all of nature for that matter. As part of my creative process, I walk my two dogs daily; we explore, the muse takes hold, andI come home to paint.
How did you connect with The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm?I was approached by the owner, Dawn who kindly asked if I would show my works at her gallery. I am honoured to be at this gem of a gallery and look forward to a longstanding relationship with Dawn, she is a gracious soul. It is a fine gallery with an amazing collection of artwork in an array of mediums.
What are you currently working on?I’ve recently finished my largest commission totalling 6×6 feet. A lovely couple from California contacted me after seeing my work and wanted to commission pieces on a grander scale. After working on them for two and a half months, I am shipping them off to Laguna Beach.My next focus is creating a body of work for a group encaustic show at The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm this July 2018 and for Butchart’s Gallery re-opening this spring.
If you had to pick one quote or passage to live by what would it be? The Rumi quote: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love…it will not lead you astray.”