NEW ENCAUSTIC PAINTINGS
I want my paintings to convey a rich, vibrantly colored, visual and tactile experience connected to feelings evoked by the mystery and beauty of life and the passage of time. I paint intuitively, starting with color and texture.
Then memory, ideas and emotion emerge and become part of the process of building layers of color and texture into a harmonious whole. Sometimes my work is abstract and sometimes landscape based. I work in both, oil and cold wax medium, and encaustic, hot wax. Both involve building up many layers and subtracting from them until the painting feels complete. My process involves discovery: not knowing all that will emerge, I see painting as an act of faith.
For the past 12 years, I’ve been working with encaustic medium in which beeswax, resin, and pigment are heated to 200 degrees and then applied to a wood panel. Each layer of wax is heated with a propane torch or heat gun, fusing it to the previous layer. It’s possible to build up many layers of wax, oil paint, paper and other collage materials and also to scrape back and incise the surface. Colors, shapes, and lines from previous layers reappear when wax is scraped away, so the history of the piece can be rediscovered. The heat applied can cause surprising changes and merging of colors. This ancient and durable medium has a mystery, luminosity and organic quality that give the final pieces a spiritual feeling.
My recent encaustic paintings revisit some of the types of paintings I created in the past. I was interested in going back in time and recreating some subjects and ideas, as well as incorporating some of the skills I have gained over the years.
ABOUT PEG BACHENHEIMER
Peg grew up in Seattle and Cleveland. Her father was a museum director and so her family was immersed in the art world. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in English and Bank Street College of Education with a Masters in Elementary Education. She taught young children in public schools for 38 years.
In the 70’s, Peg wove tapestries and then began painting in 1998, when she began classes at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro and Penland School of Craft in the NC mountains. Discovering encaustic in 2006, Peg has been working with hot wax ever since. She now paints in her studio at her home in Carrboro, NC.
Peg lives with her husband, Steve, has 4 grown children and step-children and a growing number of grandchildren.She is inspired by her early years in the Pacific Northwest, the landscape of North Carolina, traveling, hiking, gardening, her yoga practice, reading, people and the work of other painters.
Peg has been painting for the last 20 years and her work has been featured in many regional solo and group shows. and has been collected nationally. Peg is a member of the Orange County Artists Guild, Durham Art Guild and Visual Art Exchange. She is a member of Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill and represented by Craven Allen Gallery in Durham.
- What it is:
Encaustic painting is an ancient method of painting with wax. Early encaustic paintings from Greco-Roman Egypt have survived in good condition. Jasper Johns used encaustic in his paintings from the 1950’s, most famously his flag and target paintings.
Modern encaustic painting is a process of heating wax mixed with a resin, and often pigment, to around 200 degrees, applying it to a rigid substrate such as wood, and then fusing with a heat source such as a heat gun, iron or propane torch. Many layers are built up, fused, scraped back, incised and built up again. Oil paint or dry pigment, fabric, organic material or papers can be added. The final painting is usually buffed with a soft cloth to bring out the shine of the wax. This ancient and durable medium has a mystery, a luminosity and an organic quality.
- How to care for an encaustic painting:
Though these pieces seem fragile and potentially temperamental, they are durable and archival. Joanne Mattera, author of “The Art of Encaustic Painting”, describes encaustic paint to be the most archival paint medium that exists. People often worry about the wax melting or becoming soft. Because encaustic paint’s melting temperature is 150 degrees, the works can be hung or stored in normal living conditions (not too much above 100 degrees and not below freezing), with no risk of any damage. A commonly asked question is whether it will be affected by direct sunlight through a window. The answer is no, in indoor living conditions.
- Good resources on encaustic painting:
The Art of Encaustic Painting, by Joanne Mattera
Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax, by Lissa Rankin
The Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed-Media Art, by Daniella Woolf