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Playing with Fire: Meet Encaustic Artist Shelley Helms Fleishman

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Atlanta-based artist Shelley Helms Fleishman was my first interview for the "Cocktails" series. Even though I've known Shelley for a while, I was actually nervous leading into it. But, she immediately put me at ease with her "we're just gonna roll with it" attitude - well, that and her fabulous Wise Beekeeper cocktail...Speaking of which...

If you want a cocktail that's tangy and not too sweet (and you're feeling a little fancy), the Wise Beekeeper is definitely a refreshing option. A honey-infused gin gives it just a hint of sweetness and elderflower liquor adds a nice floral aroma. Check out this cocktail recipe from Idealist Foods if you want to try it yourself, however, Shelley likes to add her own spin. You'll have to watch the interview to find out what it is (Pssssst! It involves a craft soda.)

Artist interview - encaustic demo with Shelley Helms Fleishman

Shelley is a collected artist who likes to focus on encaustic painting. Encaustic has both intrigued and intimidated me - it produces work with an ethereal softness, yet there's also an element of danger since the artist must work with high heat and be cautious of fumes. I'd never seen encaustic in action before so she was kind enough to give me a quick demo. And folks, this lady knows her way around a blow torch.

She starts by making her own medium where she combines tree resin with wax that she sources from a local beekeeper, and then adds pigment to it. Next comes the layering process that she describes as meditative, using her blow torch to manipulate the wax on her substrate. It's quite mesmerizing to watch.

Artist interview with Shelley Helms Fleishman

We also discussed how she became a full-time artist, some of the misconceptions we hear about artists, and the struggles we've faced during 2020. However, we also spoke about new strategies we've learned to reach art collectors, such as growing our online presence. And finally, I asked (what's become one of my favorite questions), "If you could invite anyone living or dead over for a cocktail, who would it be?" Let's just say for Shelley, the weirder the better.

You don't want to miss this interview with Shelley Helms Fleishman. Catch the full conversation here. You can also visit her website to learn more or follow her on these social channels to get a behind-the-scenes peek at her work: Instagram and Facebook.

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