I am a borderlander at heart. I live and work along the boundaries: visual, metaphorical, natural, and spiritual. But these boundaries, though they form the very structure of our society, are remarkably permeable; they have a habit of softening, of becoming tangled and overgrown. It is within this softening—an oscillation between familiar constraints and inexplicable presences—that I situate myself as an artist. It is a liminal place where our human impulse to judge and hierarchize is quieted, where a natural way of seeing floats quietly to the surface of our hyper-stimulated minds.
My work represents an exploration of an inner wilderness by way of an outer one; it hinges on my belief 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. The natural world possesses a magic for me, one which I attempt to elicit by working within the bounds of realism as one might work within a poetic form, utilizing the formal constraints to evoke something beyond the boundary of those very limitations. I strive to carve out a compelling space in which those peripheral presences can stand forth. A space of quiet, of conscious co-existence with both the seen and the unseen.
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.