John Swincinski grew up in a rural coal mining community in Pennsylvania. Beginning at the age of 8, he was encouraged and tutored by Emmy Malloy, an established artist and designer from the 50s and 60s. For years, she instructed him on a wide array of drawing and painting techniques. Additionally, he studied commercial art and graphic design at a vocational technical school. Later, while earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, he also developed a passion for photography. While continuing to paint and create works all through high school and college, he took on the occasional commission and displayed work at small galleries and shops in Vermont where he attended college.
Despite his success during his early art career, John had a higher calling - joining the military and serving his country as a career officer in the United States Marine Corps. During that 20-year period, John continued to paint and photograph, but mostly just for himself as a creative outlet. Towards the end of his military career, he decided that he needed to return to his original passion. Since that revelation, he has been working hard on developing his unique style, while planning to transition this passion into a new career.
John’s work is generally considered contemporary abstract. He is a mixed media artist who works primarily in encaustic medium, with his compositions relying on a mixture of 3d texture, carefully scripted color, translucency and luminosity, in order to incite the imagination of the viewer. While many collectors see surreal landscapes and symbolic gestures, John’s ultimate goal is to invoke a specific emotion.
John was recently a featured artist for the 2016 New Orleans White Linen Night and is currently represented by the Dee Dee Martin Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana.
John Swincinski’s mixed media work is created using encaustic medium. The word encaustic originates from the Greek word ‘enkaustikos’ which means to burn in. His encaustic medium is made from a mixture of all natural beeswax and damar resin, which is an East Asian tree sap.
The encaustic medium is applied in molten form to birch panels. Colors are applied using dry pigments, wax based oil pigment sticks, and pan pastels. For each piece, as many as 30 to 40 layers of wax are fused together with a butane torch or a heat gun. The result is a striking display of dimension, depth, and translucency.
Encaustic paints are perhaps the most durable and archival form of painting. This is evidenced by the Faiyûm mummy portraits in Egypt, painted in encaustic, which have survived over 2000 years without cracking, flaking, or fading. Wax has several inherent qualities that allow it to withstand the test of time: it is a natural adhesive and preservative; it is moisture resistant; mildew and fungus resistant; and unappetizing to insects. Also, encaustic medium does not contain solvents or oils so it will not darken or yellow with age, leaving the painting as fresh as the day it was painted.
Encaustic paintings must be cared for just like any other fine art. They can be scratched or damaged if mishandled, especially the delicate edges. The wax will not soften unless it is exposed to temperatures above 140 degrees. During the first 12-24 months after they are painted, encaustics have a tendency to bloom, whereby the surface occasionally appears hazy. However, this is a natural part of the curing process, with many collectors preferring this matte look. It can easily be returned to a high shine with gentle buffing using a soft lint-free microfiber cloth.