Austill’s Beeswax Paintings
Encaustic painting is a technique in which hot beeswax, pigment, and tree sap (damar) are used as paint. I melt my colored wax in tins on a griddle and use the griddle as my palette for mixing colors. I then paint in thin layers, fusing one layer to the next with a propane torch.
Painting with beeswax, damar, and pigment was developed by ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Encaustic paintings from A.D. 100-125 survive today in the form of head and shoulder wax portraits set into mummy casings in Greco-Roman Egypt.
To care for an encaustic painting, handle gently and dust or buff lightly with a soft lint free cotton cloth. Refrain from storing in extreme heat (like a baking hot sun porch or car) or a freezing environment. Avoid direct sunlight. Most importantly, enjoy!!!!
Art is powerful. I have always had an insatiable thirst for making art. A world devoid of art is a world without life. I knew this as a child and was fortunate to have the ongoing love and encouragement of my parents. I also have a fabulously creative stepdaughter and husband who constantly inspire me. At the age of twelve I had the opportunity to study the craft of silversmithing with a master artisan from Hungary. His profound sense of integrity about himself as an artist and his art served as a catalyst for the vision of myself as a young artist.
At the age of thirteen I discovered the magical world of clay and proceeded to spend all of my spare
time during high school in the ceramics studio. For several summers I apprenticed a potter and studied drawing at Parsons School of Design and The New School in New York City.
In 1980 I enrolled at the Portland School of Art in Maine, known today as MECA. I went to art school planning to study ceramics but eventually fell in love with sculpture because of the possibility of being able to use a wider range of materials. Through the progression of my training I became enraptured with painting. I discovered the power of color. I learned that through the language of color I had a voice of my own. In 1984 I attended Yale University on a summer fellowship with 20 other junior year art majors from around the world. During my last year in art school my instructors told me that I liked paint too much. I would gob the paint on the canvas to create texture and form. Much to my delight in my last month of school I discovered that painting on plaster was a marvelous medium to combine my excitement for color and texture, and I now enjoy those similar qualities with my encaustic painting. Today my works can be found around the world and have been purchased by individuals, corporations, and educational institutions.
In 1996 I traveled to China where I attended the Fourth International Women’s Conference in order to connect and brainstorm with a vastly diverse group of artists. I took part in working with my colleagues in an effort to break our isolation as artists and collaborate on building ideas and communities in which artists can flourish. As a result of this phenomenal opportunity my dancing figures series was born.
I returned home with a rich awareness of how powerful people are as creative humans and just how crucial it is for us all to keep the fires of art and hope burning.