Encaustic painting is an ancient art form dating back at least to the Egyptian dynasties circa 60 to 150 A.D. Beautiful extant examples can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection of Egyptian portraits painted on wood. The beauty of encaustic painting is in the vibrancy and luminosity of color, which is practically permanent unlike oil, acrylic, and watercolor; the lasting durability of the medium; and the ability to achieve a sense of action to one’s painting style.
In order to paint with encaustic, wax melted to a molten state is my medium; a heated, metal plate becomes my palette; and wood panels are my canvas. Once an encaustic color is melted, the transfer of the wax is to a solid, substrate such as a wood panel. As I lift a brush of color, the encaustic already begins to harden. This requires fast brush work. Then I can manipulate the surface of a painting by adding or subtracting encaustic using a variety of brushes, various sculpting tools, torches, heat guns, and fire. I often experiment with creating different surfaces from rough and textural to flat and polished. Many paintings may have strata of 5 to 15 layers fused together by heat. And I have found encaustic is a fascinating medium that allows my love of abstraction and my studies in color theory to create amazingly beautiful surfaces of texture, depth and expression.
For me a major aspect of painting is the need of a strong element of the physical both in technique and expression. And encaustic provides this sturdy sense of physicality as I manipulate the repeated layering of surfaces. My inspiration comes from many sources — memories of travels, topography, major global events, artistic masterpieces, and my process tends toward the organic being emotionally driven and often serendipitous. When approaching the substrata, my focus turns to the core elements of line, shape, color, space, and composition, all working together as I build or raise the painting’s surface. And quite different from other media, encaustic has an inherent refractive quality and a possibility of creating a visual depth in a relatively shallow surface. These qualities of encaustic and the physical action of painting provide a means of expression rooted in my inner, life core.