My work explores an inner wilderness by way of an outer one; I believe that the natural world is not only an inherent part of us as human beings (and we of it), but that it is the original, exquisitely sensitive mirror in which we find our own inner terrain and wildness reflected. My work has always been an act of reverence for the natural world. There is an element of science in it, in the desire to study and observe. But there is an element of spirit, too, in the continual reaching for something just beyond the visible.
Though the devoted naturalist in me is always present, these images come as often from within as without, informed as significantly by emotional texture as observation. I am interested in moments of elemental experience that feel resonant in this way, in the way of dreams. Sometimes the forces of our world seem to align, and the concentric motion of insects, the unique geometry of the land, or the slow-waning glow of green things at dusk lends a feeling of otherworldliness to something previously familiar. These are the times when the veil feels thin, when an omnipresent but unnoticed magic moves beneath the surface of the ordinary. We are finely tuned to these existential currents. In my work, I aim to cultivate a receptivity to them, to pair our desire for understanding with an equally honest experience of imagination.
A Bit About Encaustic
Traditional encaustic painting, sometimes called “hot wax” painting, uses a heated mixture of beeswax and damar resin as the binder and vehicle for pigment (in the same way oil paint uses oil as a binder). The mixture is predominantly beeswax with only a small portion of damar resin, but the resin helps the wax to cure and harden over time. In its molten form, the medium is applied to a rigid surface, often a panel, in layers which then solidify and cool and are afterward “fused” together with an additional heat source, usually a heat gun or blowtorch. Heated metal tools are often employed as well to manipulate the surface after cooling.
The encaustic drawing method I’ve developed, while certainly related to the traditional use of the medium, is somewhat different. Most encaustic artists use this medium in a more spontaneous way, allowing the organic textures to build up while mixing and layering with opaque pigments and often collage material. I approach it a bit differently. One of the properties of encaustic is its unique ability to pick up pigment from other surfaces, due to its sticky, porous nature. My pieces are actually created from layers of drawing transferred onto the wax and suspended at intervals between layers of beeswax. Though I do the initial drawings on paper, there is no paper involved in the final product, only the transferred charcoal pigment on the wax. It is a way of making drawings—with drawing tools, marks, and methodology—that, technically speaking, transform into paintings by the end of the process, if painting is defined as pigment suspended in a medium. This allows me to create an image composed of many layers of charcoal (black pigment) suspended between many more layers of translucent wax, characterized by a depth and luminosity far beyond that of traditional drawings on paper.