About the Artist
In the late 60’s, I studied art at San Jose State but ended up with a degree in English. After college, I pursued a career in graphics and writing in the tech industry. Consequently, I love the interplay of images, words, and titles.
Over the years, I have worked in many different media: oil and acrylic painting, found object and papier mâché sculpture, and mixed media collage. Ten years ago, I ventured into encaustic painting which just might be my all-time favorite medium with its vibrancy and versatility. I now consider myself almost exclusively an encaustic artist.
Among my favorite artists are Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marc Chagall, Claude Monet, René Magritte, David Hockney, David Cornell, Wayne Thiebaud, Maira Kalman, Joan Brown and Inez Storer.
I have a passion for cats and small dogs, 1920’s and ’30’s collectibles, and anything French. Much of this influence is evident in my art. When I am not creating, I love to scavenge through flea markets and second-hand shops. I reside in the San Francisco bay area with my husband (my fellow scavenger) and my chihuahua Honey Bee.
Narrative and voice are crucial to my work. The stories I create might take root in a cultural reference, a favorite phrase, or even a single word. My work remixes, assembles, and puns on these through the use of original characters and timeless fictional settings.
My encaustic process is one of assemblage and improvisation. After inspiration strikes, I develop my story by gathering images from many sources including fashion magazines, the web, and photographing objects and scenery. I often draw from my personal collection of vintage hats, tin toys, travel and carnival souvenirs, and old photographs. I then draw and modify these images with colored pencils and markers, cut, rearrange, and develop a narrative by composing these into new characters and scenes.
The fluid quality of encaustic wax enables my process and also inspires it. I can quickly go from hot molten wax to cooled solidified color. I fuse each layer with a butane torch, hot air gun or crafting iron depending on my desired effect, and then re-work it with my personal assortment of metal tools such as styluses, picks, and scrapers. I add layers of color and line work and then excavate, incise and scratch into these layers. I discover and shape the narrative throughout each creative and often magical voyage.
Once a painting is complete, I invite viewers to have a similar experience of discovery by examining the visual and title clues each painting provides. My hope is for viewers to ask and answer the question “What is going on here?” and come up with their own personal narrative.
About the Process
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks. Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax mixture to fusing each layer of wax. Encaustic medium consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. Pigments may be added to the medium, or purchased colored with traditional artist pigments. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated with a blow torch or heat gun to fuse it to the previous layer. Because of the versatility of the medium, there are numerous techniques including embedding various materials, scraping and inscribing which can be used to create a piece of art.
Care of Encaustic Paintings
Encaustic paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150°F. Leaving a painting in as car on a hot day or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun would not be advisable. Encaustic paintings are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.
Some encaustic colors tend to “bloom” or become cloudy over time. If a painting appears indistinct, the surface can simply be rubbed with a soft cloth or nylon stocking. Over time the surface retains its gloss as the wax medium continues to cure and harden for up to 1-3 years.