MARGARET ADAMS BFA
I have been painting over 20 years and the wax medium is my primary way of painting. I find inspiration in the works of Jasper Johns and Otto Rogers. These artists have made works using encaustic wax lending great credibility to the medium.
Encaustic painting has had a varied history, starting with the ancient Greeks who used beeswax to caulk their boats to keep out the water. They later painted these hulls with great decorative patterns. Later in 100 BC in Greco-Roman Egypt head and shoulder wax portraits, Fayum Portraits, were done on mummy casings designed to send the dead person on to a spiritual afterlife. A revival of the art was made in 1888 with the excavation of Herculaneum and Pompeii where a large number of these portraits were discovered and artist of that day experimented with ground pigment and wax over fire to try to recreate these earlier works. In the early 1920’s Diego Rivera used encaustic for paintings and murals, but it wasn’t until 1950’s that modern painters began to rediscover the art of encaustic painting. With the help of electric heating elements, to melt the wax, Jasper Johns began the breakthrough by adding wax to his oils in an effort to make them dry faster and so began a movement aimed at rediscovering the beauty of encaustic painting.
The encaustic process, wax heated and mixed with pigments or oil paint, creates many layers and textures. Care must be taken to support the work as wax will crack if built with flimsy supports
In my work I make images that connect to myself, half remembered memories, dreams and images are revealed in the layering of the wax. Water, whether it is a lake, pond or ocean, reoccur constantly in my work as they do in my life. A flash of colour, a mark or horizontal line will reference a body of water. This mark, no matter how large or small, can become the portal to the image. The vibrancy of the colour shows through the layers conveying the many layers of meanings or ghosts of memories. The immediacy of the wax helps me work quickly covering and revealing layers as I go.