The encaustic medium has all the elements that inspire me and push my boundaries. It leads me and I follow, knowing that although I may start with an intention, the wax, as a teacher, will inevitably present me with challenges that suggest an alternative course. I am in awe of it. Because of its process driven characteristics, the medium offers me the time and space to let air in between me and what I am doing, giving me time to breath through the creative journey.
Each square below is a series of work.
The water lily grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk. The mud is a reminder of where we’ve been, guiding us to choose the right path over the easy one. It symbolizes rebirth – a letting go of old patterns that no longer benefit the soul – a change of ideas and an acceptance that there is a dawn after one’s darkest day.
Change happens, regardless. It is universal – everything is in constant metamorphoses. Sometimes fast like a growing baby, other times so slow you can’t see it happening like the pressing down of rock or the crushing down and pushing up of mountains.
Knowing this – accepting that we are not in control of change – gives us the power to direct it.
We are diggers for remnants of who we were – for trinkets to validate who we are. These are the jewels of our spirit. We think they’re deeper then they are. Sometimes we mine for years when the precious totem may be right there glittering on the ground before us.
I love bamboo. One of the most versatile plants on our earth. It has been used for over 7000 years – a staple product in China and Japan – from making paper, building materials, musical instruments, utilitarian needs, clothes, and fine art, to medicine and food. Its is beautiful and extremely strong.
It is a life lesson plant: bend without breaking, establish strong and reliable roots, embrace the constant potential for growth, learn and improve, slow down, and watch the bamboo sway in the wind, take in its harmonic sounds, and keep the mind calm so the eyes can open wider.
At the top of the Chinese character, or Kanji, for smile or laugh are two small symbols for bamboo. How wonderful!
An ancient symbol of the goddess, the womb, fertility, feminine, serpent force, continual change, and eternity. Infinity.
Symbolic of balance, progress, initiation, centering, awareness, journeying development. It is found everywhere: shells, tornadoes, the twisting growth of plants and trees, whirlpools of water, animal horns. It is the universe and everything in it.
We grow, learn and revisit, each time with more wisdom. It is what was, what is, and what will become again and again and again.
Encaustic paint is a mixture of beeswax, damar crystals and pigment which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to a prepared wooden surface or “substraight” then reheated to fuse each layer of paint after every application. It is impervious to moisture, doesn’t deteriorate, yellow or darken and has a flash point of 200 degrees fahrenheit. It can be polished to a high gloss, molded, sculpted, textured and can be combined with collage materials. It cools immediately, so there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked. I work with a variety of tools and materials such as razor blades, sand paper, etching and carving tools, oil sticks and oil paints, heat guns, torches and anything I can find that will create a mark on the wax.
A Little History
Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C.. Because of its ability to preserve, it was originally used to weatherproof ships. Once pigment was introduced to the wax it became a means for decorating warships and later refined for painting on panels. The most famous encaustic works are the funeral portraits painted on linen in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt. A portrait of the deceased was placed over the person’s mummy as a memorial. Many of these pieces still exists today with colors as clear and vivid as when they were first painted.