This “hot medium” causes a lot of creative sizzle in Kim’s studio! 

Kim discovered encaustics in 2001 and has never looked back! It was like coming home. She had worked with watercolours for years. At this point she was in an experimental stage combining acrylics with her work. She craved textures and wanted to return to her university roots with collage components. The discovery of the very versatile medium of encaustic provided an outlet that fulfilled all of her creative desires; the fluidity of colour, transparent or opaque layers, the options for collage and textures galore! 

The actual medium consists of oil pigments suspended in a base of beeswax and damar resin that are melted together on a heated palette at over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. A painting is literally built up in numerous layers on a wood panel. Each layer is fused with heat that Kim applies with either a heat gun or propane torch. At times she feels that she paints with the heat more than the brushes. It’s when it’s in that liquid state on the panel that her years of watercolour experience are beneficial. Incorporating found materials and drawings within the layers is all part of her process. Endless possibilities, tools and techniques are employed and keep the  unfolding of each work exciting, intuitive and creative.

The historical roots of the medium also resonate deeply with Kim. It’s origins date back to one of her favourite ancient civilizations, Greece. In fact, the word encaustic, comes from the Greek word, enkaustikos meaning “to heat or to burn”. Encaustics were used on the hulls of ships, paintings and sculptures dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. Perhaps some of the best known ancient encaustic works are the Fayum Portraits from the Greco-Roman Egyptian civilization that were set into mummy casings.

In contemporary times, one of the famous artists responsible for resurrecting this ancient medium in the 1950-1960’s, is the New York artist, Jasper Johns. Kim has enormous gratitude for this resurrection and the opportunity to be a part of the exciting, current art community who continue to explore the medium, push the boundaries and express themselves with encaustics. 

Recommended Books

Encaustic Art in the Twenty-First Century by Ashley Rooney & Anne Lee

The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax  by Joanne Mattera