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December 18 • 10:02 AM
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Robert H. Draffen "A Life in Art" Wax Encaustic Paintings and Retrospective at The Arts Upstairs


12/06/2012 - Born in Gloversville, Robert Draffen graduated from Mt. Pleasant Technical High School in 1953. After college, he went on to become a Design Draftsman at G.E. He was successful in advertising and various commercial markets becoming a Senior Tool Designer for various major worldwide companies. He also studied under Ilya Bolotowsky at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he also taught sculpture, painting and drawing. A gifted artist and teacher, painting and sculpting in all media, he showed his kinetic wood sculptures in NYC. Wax encaustic painting became his favorite medium in the 1960s and became his primary medium for the rest of his life, resulting in a one man show at the Queens Museum. His inventive and creative mind knew no limits. His work has been shown in numerous galleries and museums through the country and has been purchased by museums and private collectors in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

That is the abridged version. Draffen's artwork was covered in so many newspaper articles, shown and sold in so many locations, but in the end about the only thing that he didn't get to do but greatly wanted to, was have a show which included all the type of artwork he did in one show.

Of the few wax encaustic paintings they showed at the Arts Upstairs in October, one was sold even before the opening, to be whisked away to Massachusetts the next day. The process of wax encaustic painting, originally done by the Greeks 2000 years ago, involves a special mixing of pigments into the medium of hot melted wax, and a complex process of painting the hot wax in a few spots of color, (most often on to an original "cartoon" that he has sketched on to the canvas), melt them together with a tacking iron to form a single stroke, or pile it up to get varied textures and thicknesses, with temperature constantly being key to the desired result. Draffen's subject matter included portraits, of both real and imagined sitters, Shawangunk or imaginary landscapes inspired by the locale of his Roundout studio, or Time glyphs, works that included found objects, evolving with rust over time. When not painting or sculpting in wax, Draffen worked on kinetic sculptures, and other experimental and abstract art, not to mention all the teaching, technical consulting, engineering, and tool designing he did. He and his wife Antoinette even had a gallery in Woodstock in the mid-70s.

He was written about as far back as 1957, In the Schenectady Union Star, "Self-taught Painter has Effective Technique"; 1969, in The Citizen Herald "An Artist in Waxes"; 1987, in The Kingston Freeman by Richard Corozine "For Draffen, the 'golden age' goes on"; 1988, in The Times Herald-Record "Ulster County artist 'waxes' anachronistic"; in 1991, in The New York Times "Encaustic Paintings By Robert Draffen"; 1995, in The Vermont News Guide, "Encaustic Art At So. VT. College"… and so on.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn even more about this fascinating lifelong Hudson Valley artist, to see and be inspired by a retrospective of a stunning and amazing life's work in art. The show has been extended until Feb. 10. The Arts Upstairs is located at 60 Main St. in Phoenicia.

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