My mixed media work begins with research into late 19th and mid-20th century black and white photographs. I typically paint from those photographs using charcoal, oil, and encaustic, or alter them digitally before painting onto them with the same materials. This results in a body of work that is intricate and highly layered due to the multitude of steps and mediums I use. This process and mixture of mediums speak to the complexity of human nature and ontology as well as the many layers of the human story. I use symbolism in my work to tell stories or illustrate how connected we are to the lives of others or to show how little we know about the truth of others, particularly in the digital age.
I enjoy exploring the themes of humans and animals (and am currently embarking on a series of paintings of Betty White with her pet bear), unusual or unexplained images from the late 19th century (in my “No Plot Bob, Just Characters” series), or children and neighborhood groups (in my “Saints Wear Blue Shoes” series). This diversity of themes fulfills my desire to be closer to humanity and have a deeper understanding of history and human survival. Simultaneously, this empowers me to survey topics that illuminate my ability to see irony and wit that is ubiquitous throughout our shared mortal experience. I am interested in the story of human migration, perseverance and cultural preservation and adaptation, as it is relevant to our historical past as well as our present.
My work in art spans 19 years. In 2000, After 11 years working in high technology and marketing consulting, I began painting abstracts in acrylic while also exploring jewelry making using the lost wax process — thus began my love for the wax medium. In 2001, I began making jewelry full time and ran a line for approximately 12 years. My jewelry represented my interest in anthropology and tribal design as well as the natural surroundings of my home in Northern California. The lost wax process lent itself well to creating a body of work that took on an organic form.
While I enjoyed jewelry making, I longed to move into work that allowed me a more opportunity to speak about humanity and our historical past and find a deeper way to connect with my own story. So, I turned to encaustic painting in 2016. My work in encaustic began with encaustic portraits of Native Americans, a subject that helped me study specific figures and features as while allowing me to focus on the details of tribal dress and adornment. The process of this work also gave me an opportunity to experiment with the encaustic material and how to work with the behavior of specific pigments, tools and heating elements for an outcome I was trying to achieve. This particular study allowed me to connect my new work to my interest in jewelry as a vehicle for self-expression and individuality. My digital work has allowed me to play with imagery and figures in a new way while exploring mediums, palette and texture more deeply.
My deepest hope is that I take my work to a level that will reach viewers at their subliminal core, thereby bringing them into that innate place of understanding the whole of humanity without knowing exactly why the work creates that experience for them.
Note on encaustic painting: The ancient roots of encasustic and the earthly, tactile form it takes on, lends itself well to my subject matter and the purpose of my work. People are often struck by this when seeing the paintings live since the encaustic brings a sense of warmth and accessibility to the painting and its subject. Encaustic blends beeswax with a natural resin and wax pigment requiring it to be heated on a hot palette. The resin acts as a hardening agent giving longevity to the painting. Encaustic comes from the Greek work enkaustikos, which means to burn in and the technique was notably used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100–300 AD.