“What is your inspiration?”
These are the questions most people ask when they first see my encaustic paintings at an art exhibit. As the saying goes, “a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words”, so I created a short video of my encaustic painting process as a way to visually answer these commonly asked questions.
Here I will address these questions as if we were meeting at an art show and I was able to explain in more detail about my work and passion for encaustic.
“What is encaustic?”
Encaustic is simply paint made from a combination of white purified beeswax, natural damar tree sap resin, and pigment powder. It is kept molten on a heated palette and applied to a surface and reheated to fuse the paint into a uniform enamel-like finish. You will see in the video that I prepare my own encaustic paint by first melting the beeswax in an electric pan and then adding the ground demar resin crystals and pigment powder. I am able to control the amount of opacity in the paint by making my own formula. If you would like to see my video on how to make encaustic medium, click HERE.
The ancient Greeks developed encaustic over 2,000 years ago as a medium used for painting burial portraits on sarcophagus, architectural design, and decorative paintings on wooden ships. The word encaustic derives from the Greek word “enkaustikos”, meaning “to heat” or “to burn” to emphasis the heating process necessary to work with the medium. Encaustic paints are perhaps the most durable form of painting and keep a permanent lustrous enamel appearance when cared for properly. The medium has gained a resurgence in popularity and is considered the fastest growing art medium today.
“How do you paint with wax?”
As you see in the video, the encaustic paint is poured into tin containers and placed on a hot pancake griddle (under 200 degrees) to keep it molten. I am then able to use stiff-haired brushes to paint on a hard wooden surface; however, the paint quickly returns to its solid form on the cool surface, and it is necessary to reheat it with a blowtorch or hotgun. Over and over, I lay down the paint and fuse it with heat, creating the beautiful enamel-like finish.
By combining oils with encaustic medium, I am able to add a luminous and sensual quality to my work. Wielding a blowtorch and letting my creative intuition lead the way; I gouge, scrape, burn, and drip the wax into impressionistic images of landscapes, waterways, and other natural scenes. I incorporate mixed media such as oils, pastels, china marker, pigmented shellac and found objects into my paintings to add texture and unique design.
“Why did you choose encaustic?”
Encaustic allows me to express the intensity, fluidity, and varied textures found in nature more realistically than any other medium. There is something exciting about working with a medium invented over 2,000 years ago, witnessing how the painting mysteriously takes shape through the creative dance of layering, reheating, and further manipulating the wax with mixed media. It is the unpredictable qualities of the encaustic process and of nature itself that really inspires me to push the limits of the mediium and bring my subjects to life.
“What is your inspiration?”
My artwork expresses the celebration of nature and the renewal of life and hope. It captures beautiful images in nature that are fleeting and can not be postponed. Through my chosen imagery, I hope to create an “heart connection” between the viewer and the natural world, bringing joy and a sense of peace. Primarily, I look for imagery that invokes an emotional response to a scene. If I do not feel something from what I am painting, my process becomes nothing more than moving color around on a board.
See a YouTube video of my process HERE.
If you would like to learn more about me, click my BIO link for CV and artist statement.
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