Encaustic is the term used for a natural medium created out of beeswax and resin. I use it because I still can. Right now. Like life, it is fragile, yet resilient. It is my canary in this world where our environment is being destroyed daily.
With encaustic, I celebrate nature, in all it’s madness, and in all it’s joy. Because I still can.
The term encaustic derives from the greek word enkaustikos, or “to burn in.” The ancient artists perfected the use of beeswax and pigment to paint highly detailed encaustic artwork. Most famous are the Fayun portraits found in caves in Greece that date to the first century BC. They can now be viewed in many museums around the world. In recent years, this ancient medium has experienced a revival with artists not only learning from the artwork styles of their predecessors, but utilizing the medium in new and exciting ways.
I make my own personalized encaustic mixture of purified beeswax and crushed damar tree resin. I then layer the clear encaustic with ink, pastel pigments, or oil paint to create color, searing each layer into the previous with a propane torch. Encaustic has a life of it’s own. I can exert my will on it only so far, however it does what it pleases like a willful child. Working with encaustic is a collaboration with nature–one that follows it’s own creative rules. I have to listen and react to what the encaustic chooses to do. I begin with birch panel and lay down my first lines and pigment. From there I layer on the encaustic, letting it soak into the wood. I fuse each subsequent layer of wax and color with a torch until I feel the story of that painting is finally complete.
Life is made up of so many layers of experiences, relationships, love, joy, heartbreak. By employing the medium of encaustic, I am able to fuse layer upon layer of color, expressive marks, and full drawings, mimicking our lives, built day upon day. Sometimes a drawing or color might be completely obscured by a subsequent layer, yet, like life, it still exists, yielding the artwork it’s energy, it’s story to the final painting.