Shima Shanti makes art with fire. But there is a delicate touch to her medium, built gradually and peeled away until the finished piece remains.
This is encaustic, an ancient art form where layers of beeswax are fused with heat, each with its own pigment.
“The word itself means ‘to burn in’,” Shima says. “The Greek sailors would waterproof their ships with beeswax, and they discovered by putting pigment in the wax, they could decorate their ships.”
The encaustic technique Shima uses involves approximately fifty layers of beeswax, each individually fused.
“Once you put down a layer of wax, then I take the blowtorch and I fuse it,” she says. “And I keep building up layer after layer after layer. Typically, I only use three to five colours in my palate to a painting. But when they start melting and merging together, it creates all those secondary and tertiary colours.”
The decision to become an artist was not one Shima ever expected. She worked many years as an executive in corporate America before deciding in 2008 that something was missing in her life.
She ended up travelling, exploring a spiritual path, and writing several books on her journeys. But during a break from writing, Shima took several all-day workshops from an encaustic artist in San Diego and quickly fell in love with the medium so much, she turned
part of her home into a studio.
Soon enough, she had so many finished works that she was unable to park her car in her garage. It was her husband who suggested she try to sell her art.
“It prompted me to apply to juried shows. And I applied, and I got accepted. And I thought, ‘Maybe there’s something to this’,” she says. “So, I took it serious.”
Today, Shima has been a full-time professional artist for a few years. She gets up a 4 o’clock in the morning and starts her day in the studio.
“I love that time because the world is still asleep, and it’s quiet. I go into my studio, I don’t have any distractions, no phones, no clocks, nothing. And I just, truly just let spirit flow through. I’m always in a space in there of total peace and harmony”
By Nathan Durec