At age seventy two, I began this body of work to examine what advancing age meant in my life and in my work. As I worked, I began to reflect on the beauty and patina of old objects and the complexity of accumulated years.
I used encaustic with wire mesh armatures, plaster gauze, fabric, found material, and wax to represent the effects of time passing and a neutral palette to reflect the colors of all things old or worn; I wanted to show the richness time can render.
At first my series featured me - my scars, my years, my life now. But as I progressed, I realized I was also painting about family, especially the strong women who influenced me. I felt inspired by their determination to succeed in their careers or accomplish life goals as well as their appreciation of the arts. They valued accomplishments beyond life necessities, even when circumstances made providing necessities difficult.
To honor their influence, I was compelled to include fiber in the Bloodlines collection. For Saving Stories, I printed several of my family stories on paper, then sewed and knitted them into a wall hanging that I dipped in wax to preserve my memories. I also knitted in clothesline because I remembered chilly mornings when Mother washed clothes before school, and I helped hang them on the line to dry.
In Legacy 4, I have tucked into the stitches bits of my stories and some of my mother’s violin music. And once again, my family legacy will be preserved in wax. You will see that thread continues through the collection.
I usually use 10” x 10” cradled wood panels to demonstrate encaustic painting techniques for my students. In doing so, I use most of the materials in my teaching box and as many ways to work with wax as I can.
I incise, collage, build up texture with paper and other material, imbed objects, scrape, and fuse lightly or fuse a lot.
At the end of class, the pieces look terrible.
I remind my students that wax can be reworked, painted over or scraped away many times and let them know that I will take the panel back to the studio to rework and make it into something beautiful.
All of these panels began that way.
Back in the studio I painted them all red, but that was way too bright for the Bloodlines collection I was working on. So I painted them all white. I added to texture that was already there by building up areas with wax, mulberry paper, sewing pattern pieces and other found material.
As I worked I thought about influences of family, students I have taught, and the effects of time on my work. I learned from the history and the process.
I began working in encaustic in December of 2006. In the first few years with my new medium, I focused on experimenting and learning about painting with wax. After six years of “kindergarten,“ I felt I was ready to move beyond. I began to work larger and with more direction, I thought.
While viewing one of my exhibits in 2014, I was overwhelmed with what I saw in the art I had made over the previous two years. I realized I was doing much more than just painting wax on wood, making pleasing compositions. I saw secrets, scars, and events of my life before me. Even the titles I thought I had just pulled from a hat revealed their meaning.
I left that exhibit with more awareness and excitement to approach my art in a more mindful way. This gallery includes a selection of the pieces from that exhibit.