Anne Stine paints in a medium that has been used for more than 2,000 years. Encaustic “paint” is heated beeswax and resin to which colored pigments are added. It must be kept hot enough to flow or it quickly hardens and becomes unworkable,
So, Anne paints with a blow torch!
Ms. Stine recently said that she learned how to paint with encaustic “in the life of hard knocks and hours and hours of playing with the medium, reading everything I could, looking at video by very generous artists on YouTube showing how to work with the medium. Then it came down to determining how I was going to use it and how I was going to get the expression and my interpretation.”
The work can be described as “organic” and there is a noticeable absence of the normal clues that an artist’s hand was involved. No tiny peeks of a pencil under-drawing or brushed on dollops of paint, dripped bits or thin washes. It is also apparent that the material was applied to the board with an intense energy that remains in the finished painting. The energy of Anne’s blow torch is palpable. It reaches toward the viewer and I have several times seen someone uninhibitedly reach back to touch and acknowledge that energy like we would a handshake.
We asked how and why she decided to paint what is a otherwise a huge challenge for almost every medium in painting. She answered, “First of all, working with the medium itself, because of its molten properties it flows like water. And when you apply it to the board, heating it, it will drip and ooze and cascade down the panel, so that immediately was inspiration. I thought if this flows like water, let me see what I can do to really make it move like water. There’s a beautiful sheen to encaustic, especially working with the layers of wax. I work with it pigmented and also work with clear medium. When I lay multiple layers, and I put anywhere from 1o to 20 layers on a painting, I’m also applying that clear medium to show the depth. I then gouge into it or sculpt into it to produce ripples and reflections.”
Anne Stine’s art work is at once of this world and other worldly. Her “Living Water” show of 16 paintings in December at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg included small 8-inch square pieces of serenity and larger works that seemed to be a direct window onto a dark ocean tempest. The surface of her paintings can be a cotton soft matte that emits almost no reflection or buffed finishes that reflect light as if in a lifting fog. The light effects help Ms. Stine achieve her intended sense of water in motion. Sometimes the imagery is literal and directly representational; believable to the point that I became mindful of my balance. Other pieces are much more abstract but always read like excited fluid that unexpectedly stopped. The viewer anticipates it may start to move again, soon.
Our Featured Artist for December 2018 is Anne Stine. Anne kindly shared her frequently asked questions about encaustic painting with us. To watch a video of her speaking at Tryst and sharing more about her process, click here
What is encaustic? The paint is made with a combination of pigment, purified beeswax and damar resin. I incorporate other media like oils or pastel, in or over the encaustic in my paintings.
Will the painting melt? No! You would have to use a blow torch or hot gun to make it melt. The resin mixed in with the wax gives it a strong enamel-like finish.
How do I care for it? Like any other fine art painting. I don’t recommend putting it in a hot car over a period of time- just like you wouldn’t do this for any fine art painting. It will not melt but may slightly shift if in 160 degree heat. It can be hung in bathrooms. If the surface shine dulls, this is normal for “new” paintings. It can be buffed with a soft rag to bring out the shine.
Does it last as long as other media? Yes, even longer. The anti fungal, anti bacterial natural of beeswax make it an excellent preservative. There are encaustic paintings dating back to 1 AD in museums today still having brilliant color.
For more information on Encaustic painting, please visit this Wikipedia article.