ProWax Journal 5: Featured Artworks

Naturally Occurring

“I’m enthralled by leaf edges, stem shapes, their reflection in my mark-making, rhythm, light, line, and form.” – Debra Claffey

Debra Claffey, Theory of Impermanence, 24″x24″, encaustic on panel.


“My intention for these works is to transport the viewer to a place of consciousness where beauty, peace, and tranquility exist in tandem.” – Charyl Weissbach

---Charyl Weissbach Encaustic, metal, metal leaf, and resin.

Charyl Weissbach, Arabesque, 12″x12″, encaustic, metal, metal leaf, and resin.


“While I am concerned with mark-making and calligraphy in this series, I am always highly influenced by nature, and particularly plant forms. #116 takes on a dance-like quality of falling leaves.” – Jane Allen Nodine

"While I am concerned with mark-making and calligraphy in this series, I am always highly influenced by nature, and particularly plant forms. #116 takes on a dance-like quality of falling leaves"--Jane Allen Nodine, Encaustic monotype

Jane Allen Nodine, Apparition #116, 24″x18”, wax and pigment on Japanese paper.


“We move in close to have the blossoms surround us.” – Marilyn Banner

Marilyn Banner, "Lavender", Encaustic on panel.

Marilyn Banner, Lavender, 12″x12″, encaustic on panel.


“Last night I dreamt in green and nature’s shapes and colors.” – Susan Delgavis

Susan Delgavis, Encaustic on panel

Susan Delgavis, Verdant Dreams, 24″x24″, encaustic on panel.


“Benthic Mapping references the bottom of a body of water and the plant and animal life that exist there.” – Tracey Adams

"Benthic Mapping references the bottom of a body of water and the plant and animal life that exist there."--Tracey Adams,

Tracey Adams, Benthic Benthic Mapping 1 and 2, encaustic and ink on Kozo paper, each scroll is 144″x18″.


“They are created by making collagraph plates from actual sections of trees, replicating bark patterns, imperfections, etc. I choose the color arbitrarily.” – Pamela Wallace

Pamela Wallace

Pamela Wallace, In the Woods XXXVII,  18″x36″, encaustic/collograph collage on panel.


“Trees hold the record of their lives in their rings. These inner marks remain hidden from view, the way that humans hold within the physical, mental and emotional marks of personal experience.” – Christine Shannon Aaron

Christine Shannon AaronEcho I, lithographic monoprint, asian paper, and encaustic on wood. Echo III and Echo II from left to right,

Christine Shannon Aaron, from left to right, Echo III, Echo II, and Echo I, lithographic monoprint, Asian paper, and encaustic on wood.


“There was a specific moment when my art started “sprouting”, when my sculptures “grew” foliage.” – Catherine Nash

Catherine Nash, Phases, mixed media assemblage in an antique sewing machine drawer, wood carving, encaustic branch, roots, paper “leaves”, seeds, mirror, nautilus shell. 31”h X 9”w X 6”d


“The beautiful and solitary nests of the Osmia avoseta bees are the inspiration for my brood chambers. My chambers are empty, signifying both the missing honey bees and hope that the O. avoseta bees will bring regeneration.” – Susanne Arnold

The beautiful and solitary nests of the Osmia avoseta bees are the inspiration for my brood chambers. My chambers are empty, signifying both the missing honey bees and hope that the O. avoseta bees will bring regeneration.--Susanne Arnold

Susanne Arnold, O. avosetta Brood Chamber – Autumnal, 6″x3″x 3″, encaustic, botanicals, beeswax .



“My work is inspired by the rhythms, patterns, light and colors in nature. These pieces contain images of wildflowers and grasses in the mountains of Colorado.” – Jane Goethel Guthridge


Jane Goethel Guthridge My work is inspired by the rhythms, patterns, light and colors in nature. These pieces "The Space Between 39 & 40" contain images of wildflowers and grasses in the mountains of Colorado.

Jane Goethel Guthridge, The Space Between, 19” x 36”, archival pigment print and encaustic on translucent Asian papers.


“The images are firmly grounded in the natural world, reflecting the geographic region, season and light in which they were captured.” – Jeri Eisenberg

Jeri Eisenberg

Jeri Eisenberg, Under the Norway Maple, No. 4, archival pigment ink on Kozo paper infused with encaustic, 36″x34″.


“Bizarre, spiky things sprout up through the brackish waters, bathed in luscious sun-soaked colors.” – Leslie Neuman

Bizarre, spiky things sprout up through the brackish waters, bathed in luscious sun-soaked colors.--Leslie Newmann

Leslie Neumann, Garden of Unearthly Delights, 48″x64″, encaustic.



This issue’s featured images have been guest curated by Debra Claffey, a visual artist who uses encaustic, oil, and mixed media in her work.  She holds a BFA in Painting from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University and an Associate’s Degree in Horticultural Technology from the University of New Hampshire. Claffey has exhibited across the country, especially here in New England, and has work in several private collections.  She is represented by the Hole in the Wall Gallery in Raymond, Maine. She is a juried member of the NH Art Association and the current President of New England Wax, a collective of artists who use encaustic. Additionally, Claffey writes a blog, Making Something Out of Nothing. In June 2013, she organized her first curated exhibition, Natura Viva: Flora, Fauna, and Us, at ArtCurrent Gallery in Provincetown in conjunction with The Seventh International Encaustic Conference.

ProWax Journal 5: Featured Article

Studio Practice: Working in Series

By Krista Svalbonas

This year I found myself blankly staring at the walls of my studio slightly unnerved and maybe even a little nervous. I had just completed a wonderful collaboration with Lisa Pressman, whose work you will find below, and moved from my urban home in Jersey City minutes away from New York to a very suburban home in rural Pennsylvania, hours away from New York. As I stared at my most recent body of work and looked out of the studio window to see rolling hills instead of rows of buildings, I knew that I needed to start anew. The question was how and where to begin? After a rocky start a new series began to emerge and I found myself asking how other artists start or finish a body of work. What leads them to new territory and to close the door on what is familiar?

Below are excerpts of quotes by various artists in the ProWax Facebook group, as we discussed ending and beginning a body of work.

Pam Farrell : My process is not very linear. I am often working on numerous processes concurrently–for better or for worse. As for the question of doneness, I prefer an ellipse to a period, and think more about pausing in a series than ending it. So much of my work is about ambiguity, and I suppose that extends to the process as well. I’ve become much more comfortable with this open-endedness, though I recognize the very idea could be anathema to some.

David A. Clark : For much of last year I felt that the impulse that had driven much of my previous work was spent and that I was clinging to elements that had passed their usefulness; I was working hard on other things: my health (I had several health challenges last year) and also my work with the museum. With each day that I didn’t fully engage in the studio, I felt like I was moving farther and farther away from the impulses that populated my thoughts until finally one day when I just went in and got to work. I’m glad I got to work. This new stuff I am working on feels like my most organic work. I’m trying to do as much of it as I can. I’m stockpiling supplies, paint and paper. I’m being selfish (the good kind where I take care of myself first) which means blocking out time that is inviolate. And I am working, working, working on recording the impulse that is very fully present now, because I know that it will, at some point in the future, fade. It’s a good impulse, so I want to record as much of it as I can before it goes. It feels greedy and wonderful. The moment when I start to look elsewhere and think, “What’s next?” is the moment when this series will be done, and then it will be time to move on.”


Clark_Ancient Histories68_Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight38.5x25

David A. Clark, Ancient Histories 68, Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight, 38.5″ x 25″

Clark_Meditation on Trajectory #6Pigment print on Encaustic on Panel28x40

David A. Clark, Meditation on Trajectory #6, Pigment print on Encaustic on Panel, 28″ x 40″

Milisa Galazzi: When I think I am at the end of a series because I have said everything that I thought needed to be said, I stop and step back metaphorically. I really study the work and what I really like about that series or what was particularly successful. Then I take one element from that body of work that I particularly liked or am presently drawn to. Once I sit with that element for a while, I think about a way to ramp up that element: make it bigger, more pronounced, make the work all about that particular element. Sometimes that’s an exciting jumping off point for a new body of work that is still in some ways connected to the last body of work but is new.

Heidi F Beal: I am usually working on a lot of different things at the same time so any of those pieces can take me down a new road. Often themes overlap. I find my themes tend to morph naturally so I don’t find myself planning them out that definitively. But I do know I’m done with a particular series because I just don’t find myself needing to “say it again.” In some cases, I’m so done with it that I’m tired of it. That pretty much lets me know. If I feel I’m in between stuff, I usually use the time to play, putz, putter, edit photography, read, and write. Out of that time, I find myself directed on a new path.

Debra Claffey: For me it’s done when I find myself procrastinating in the studio. If I have to muster up effort to work on the series, it tells me, usually belatedly, that I’m finished and should move on. Then I do as David said, just make something and find out where I’m headed next.

Graceann Warn: I’m in that position right now- ending one big group of works and starting another and this next group will be of a larger scale than usual. I find myself walking around my worktable, staring into space, watching tennis, cleaning and organizing, doing some conjuring. On Saturday, my Paula Roland HotBox arrived and I gave myself the day to play with it. I have no idea where I’m going with it but the surprise elements that came from experimenting somehow loosened my mind up so that now I’m working anew with vigor. I give people this advice (experiment, play) and finally I took it for myself and-wow! That’s been good advice!

Paula Roland: I try to allow myself a period of time to experiment and play without expectations–at least one to two months a year, usually in off-teaching seasons like winter. This time can build on previous series, as well as interests that emerge during the year but are not part of my focused work, or there can be completely new explorations. Most of my series morph one into the other, and the more uninterrupted time I have to work on art, the more the prints and paintings relate even though they are different processes. However, as some have said, when a series is done it is done.

Howard Hersh: I never know how long a series will last. For me, they’ve been anywhere between one and eight years. The current one is always a process of development. Hopefully, new ideas on the backburner will surface as the current series matures. I spend a lot of time staring too, but I do think it’s important to keep making something. In these two paintings, you can see how I’ve transitioned from one series to another.

Hersh_skin-deep-9_40x40x4 _acrylic:birch:basswoodb

Howard Hersh, skin deep 9, 40″ x 40″ x 4″, acrylic, birch, basswood

Howard Hersh, pulse 7, 15″ x 16″ x 2″, encaustic on panels

Cheryl D. McClure: I usually paint something I want to explore more of. It is rare that I plan a series. And when I do, it still evolves as it wishes. I may paint six to eight or into 30-something. I, also, will revisit at a later date.

Joanne Mattera: I like to work in series. My Uttar series lasted for seven years, 2000-2007. I quit at #301. During that period I began another series, Vicolo, which was suggested by the way I scraped the surface of some of the Uttars; it was a smaller series, 65 pieces, but had just as long a run: 2004-2012. About two-thirds of the paintings in both series are 12×12, while the others range from 18×18 to 48×48. Vicolo is finished unless there’s a commission. What kept me at them for so long? Uttar  was extremely successful commercially–it was the series that allowed me to give up freelance writing–but I loved making the paintings. Vicolo has a physicality; I responded to the act of digging into the surface. It was a workout.

Silk Road started in 2005 and is ongoing. All of the paintings are small (12×12, 16×16, with 18×18 the largest). They have to remain small because of the nature of the surface. The paint goes from edge to edge in one swipe. I love making them, and because they are commercially successful, particularly with one gallery, I will keep making them until they stop selling. (I make my living from art.)

The new geometric paintings are theoretically limitless in size, because of the way I make them. I am gearing up for big. And varied. I’m responding to the crispness of the taped line.

I think of my oeuvre as coming from a pool of ideas, and that pool is bottomless. The boundaries of what and when are fluid.

Mattera_Vicolo 47.12x12.2008

Joanne Mattera, Vicolo 47, 12″ x 12″, 2008

Mattera_Uttar 235. 24x24. 2004

Joanne Mattera, Uttar 235, 24″ x 24″, 2004

Karen Nielsen-Fried: I’m very process-oriented and often don’t know that I’m working on a series until I’m well into it and find that there is a strong impulse to continue the same thought process and work path, so a series comes. And then, one day, I will realize as I begin to work that the idea I’ve been exploring doesn’t intrigue me in the same way, and I know I’m done with it, at least for a while, because my ideas seem to circle around and return to me. If I’m lucky, I will get this ineffable feeling about the “what” that I want to start focusing on, and then my work will be about finding out exactly what it is that I’m trying to get to. It sounds murky, but for me it can be a wordless thought process through which I’m trying to get to my most authentic work; it is about feeling and energy and essence more than conceptual thought. Often it takes lots of bad studio days to figure out my next direction. I will have lots of bad starts and that feels pretty disheartening, but I just keep making things. And I can feel rather bereft when I put a series to rest, or if I’ve delivered new work for a show and am left to try to figure out the next big thing. Days of flipping through sketch journals and reading poems, writing, looking at colors (I have an enormous collection of color swatches from various sources), sitting quietly and staring (YES, I agree that staring into space is a VERY important part of studio practice); all of that helps move me forward. It’s not only about ending/beginning a series, but also about process and what moves process.

Lisa Pressman: I have always worked in a series. It dissolves the preciousness of each piece and always leads to growth and conversation between works. After working for so long now I am not sure a series can be called done. For myself, my vocabulary and imagery spirals around and appears years later, sometimes in surprising ways. That being said, I recently having focused my energy on a single image for two years and feel ready to move on or in through the image. In that sense the series may be on pause. However, I pulled out a selection of works that I thought I were finished and decided it might be interesting to make more work for that particular series. It begins again.

That single image that read as a vessel/bag has now become a Cairn (a pile of stones that marks a place, such as the place where someone is buried or a battle took place) I think of it as marking a place along the journey.

Pressman_Shifting Light_8x6_oil and mixed media

Lisa Pressman, Shifting Light, 8×6, oil and mixed media

Pressman_Cairn_38 x24_encaustic

Lisa Pressman, Cairn, 38 x24, encaustic

Tracey Adams: I’ve worked in series for many years, cycling through similar shapes (circles, ovoids, rectangles) finding permutations of each to develop and expand the motif. It’s not so much knowing I’m done with a series. I usually return some time later to do further work on that series. I like what Lisa said about putting it on “pause.” I have moments where I become restless and need to explore elsewhere, to deviate from the path. I don’t have an answer for how I start a new series. Last year, I was invited to be Visual Artist this summer at the Music at Menlo Chamber Music Festival.  My series, Revolution (2006-2008), was chosen for the poster, concert book, preview flyer, etc. I took that opportunity to return to working on that series. It has taken some interesting twists and turns since I began working on it in December. Red Tide is the latest in the series.

Adams_r(evolution) 7 (Red Tide), encaustic and collage on panel, 30x46, 2014

Tracey Adams, r(evolution) 7 (Red Tide), encaustic and collage on panel, 30″ x 46″, 2014

Adams_Revolution 34, encaustic and monoprint on 3 panels, 15x45, 2007

Tracey Adams, Revolution 34, encaustic and monoprint on 3 panels, 15″ x 45″, 2007

Marilyn Banner: I know when a series is done when I am bored or start to repeat myself or things start feeling stuck or stiff. Sometimes a series goes for two years, sometimes six months or so. To start something new I need to have an idea that excites me, makes me eager to get to work.

Deborah Martin: My work has always evolved around issues – and a series for me is the best way to explore. My last series “Save the Elephants” was prompted by what was happening to these beautiful, sensitive, intelligent creatures. I stopped investigating this when I really couldn’t progress any further. I then returned to my “Gulf of Mexico Series” which explores the continuing damage on the Gulf by the 2011 BP oil spill. Viewers still need to be reminded about the fragility of our environment.

Elise Wagner: My work is not always intended as a series but evolves into them as I work. I start with a loose framework, keeping past themes in mind that I reference in the present. In a way I have several series going on at once. I’m currently titling my new work for my July show and just yesterday saw a link between three of the pieces that will be titled “Astral Transits.”

Krista Svalbonas is a mixed-media artist based in Jersey City, NJ. Her studies include a BFA in photography and design from Syracuse University and an interdisciplinary MFA degree in photography, sculpture and design from SUNY New Paltz. Benefiting from her extensive training in a wide range of media, Krista experiments with traditional materials in unexpected ways. She is heavily influenced by her urban environment and focuses on color, composition and materiality when developing her abstract pieces. Currently, she is working with wax mixed media. Krista was recently awarded a New Arts Program Residency and solo exhibition. She has had numerous solo, two-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States. Recently, Krista has had solo exhibitions at the Dairy Center of the Arts in Boulder, Colorado and The Drawing Rooms in Jersey City, New Jersey. She has exhibited at venues including Pocket Utopia, The Painting Center, Trestle Gallery, and BWAC in New York; The Watchung Art Center in New Jersey; Monterey Peninsula Art Gallery in California; Tubac Center For The Arts, Arizona; George Segal Gallery, New Jersey. She was part of a two-year traveling group exhibition in Latvia, where her piece was acquired for the permanent collection at the Cesis Art Museum. She is a recipient of a Cooper Union and a Vermont Studio Center residency and has works in numerous private collections.

ProWax Journal 5: Op Ed

Sandbox Semantics

by Heidi F. Beal

When describing the combination of photography and encaustic painting, I dislike the term “encaustic photography” or “photo encaustic.” It just makes me cringe.  Because I’ve had such a visceral response to its use, I’ve had to give pause as to why.  I found myself considering the following three issues:
First, these terms overstate the importance of methods rather than content. Don’t get me wrong, I love to show processes.  However,  when processes become about the novelty of themselves, then they are distracting to the message of the art.  It’s like a beautiful woman wearing clothes that are so much about the clothes that you fail to see the beauty of the woman.
Second, these terms are too often being associated with undeveloped work and are usually examples of highly limited integration of the two mediums.  Anyone who knows my work knows that my photography is my primary image making process however it is only successfully used in my encaustic practice when it is authentically integrated.   I come from a fine art photography and interdisciplinary background, so I learned early on the importance of balancing my mediums. Folks who are just starting out are often so glamorized with the wax that they “call it art” by simply laying down an encaustic layer over the photograph (theirs or pitifully someone else’s).  By virtue of inexperience and lack of training, they fail to push the boundaries of the encaustic process beyond the starting gate.  I know because I also began at the starting gate.  However, I learned quickly that just the process of covering a photograph with wax is no different than putting it behind glass or mounting it onto a board with gel medium.  It may have its place in the world of photo finishing but I need more maturity from the work for it to be in the art playing field. The same can be said for photo transfers.  Although the photo transfer lends itself to being more integrated, the process must still have a purpose and reason for being used beyond the cool factor.
And lastly, making up a “new” micro term like this unnecessarily limits the scope of the “new” medium. I think folks often like to play in little sandboxes rather than big ones.  If they think their sandbox is too big and scary, they will make a smaller one with seemingly fewer rules, precedents, and judges.  They create a false sense of security for themselves that sadly does not serve them.  Such it is when some folks begin to bring work out of the studio and into the world at large for the first time.  Sometimes the world feels too large.  So, if a special term is made up to describe what they are doing, somehow the playing field is smaller and more comfortable. Unfortunately, not only are they undermining their work by giving it a confined description, they run the risk of undermining others’ work as well.
Words are powerful things! Words define our highest potential and how we state our Truth.  It is the language that we use that connects our souls with those of others.   What we call ourselves and our art defines who we are and what our art is.  For this reason, I say, if you are working in multiple mediums (like photography and wax, perhaps), think big and call it by its more universal name.  It’s okay to simply call it “mixed media.”
Heidi F Beal is an interdisciplinary artist. She is best known for her encaustic photographic paintings; applying layers of hot molten beeswax with her photographic images. Her work is narrative and often references nude studies, architecture, transparent forms, and found objects. Introspective issues are explored, encouraging the viewer to be transformed to another place and time. At times, her art becomes a personal religion, crossing lines between traditional art, other disciplines, and her connection to Spirit. Beal says, “my art feels as though it is channeled through my body. As a conduit, I often feel as if Spirit is directing my hands. My mind then follows, reading the story my hands tell.” Beal received her Bachelor of Arts from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (1985) with additional graduate studies at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California (1985-1987). From 1989 to 2001 she owned and operated Wind & Sea Studio, designing and wholesaling a collection of giftware. In 2001, she began to focus her efforts full time on her fine art practice. Beal is based in downtown Bakersfield, California where she and her husband are renovating a 108 year old home. She is fond of traveling the countryside on creative, eclectic adventures, showing her work regularly, and teaching encaustic painting.

ProWax Journal 5: Artists and Community

Artists & Community

By Milisa Galazzi

As a regular feature in ProWax Journal, this month’s Artists & Community is Milisa Galazzi’s (MG) interview with artist Kim Bernard (KB) about her residency experiences.

Kim Bernard with Hydrogen Atomin Orbitals

MG: Kim, there are many ways in which artists seek “community.” What are some of the ways in which you have created community for yourself as an artist? I am specifically thinking about the fact that you started New England Wax and the Encaustic Facebook page. Please talk a little bit about your motivation to create these two communities and what you have gained from starting these communities?

KB: I believe, for many artists, communities are vital in making connections with other creative people.  It’s the place we feel a sense of belonging, share ideas and build a supportive network which sustains us as we ‘go it alone’ back in the studio.  Without ever intentionally setting out to create community for myself, I recognize that I have several:  Boston Sculptors, New England Wax, the Facebook Encaustic Group and the yoga studio where I practice.  In each of these groups I feel like I’m with my tribe, so to speak.

New England Wax started after I had been teaching encaustic workshops for a number of years.  At the end of the workshop, students would always ask if I would share their emails so they could stay in touch.  They’d ask if there were any associations or guilds to continue to learn from and exhibit with.  The question came so often I gathered there was a need.  Since I maintain contact with many artists who work with encaustic and those who have studied with me, I decided, in 2006, to reach out and start a group since there wasn’t one already.  Boom!  Before you knew it, it took on a life of its own.  Exhibits were being organized, bi-monthly meetings were being held, committees being formed and projects were underway.  NEW is still thriving today with 40 active members.

The Encaustic group on Facebook happened in a very different way.  Frankly, I got on Facebook to spy on my kids, but then of course started connecting with artist friends, family and students.  One day, being the organized type that I am, I started organizing all of my encaustic friends into a group.  Little did I know that I was inviting them to a group called Encaustic.  By the time I realized what I had done, people in the group were saying “Hey, what a great idea, thanks for inviting me,” so I went with it.  Now there are 1189 people in the group.

Making art is such a solitary endeavor, yet we’re social creatures.  You have to have so many different skills in different areas.  You have to be chef, cook and bottle washer.  By combining our efforts with a group of like minds, opportunities arise, you have peers to get advice and feedback from, who understand you when you’re in a slump and celebrate when you have success.  Who wants to live in a vacuum?!

MG: What advice would you give someone who is not at all connected to any artist communities?

KB: My advice would be to start your own… nothing big and organized, just something informal.  Contact a handful of artists, say four to six, who you feel are your peers, and meet monthly at one another’s studios.  Have a format so there’s discussion about the work, feedback and an opportunity to exchange ideas.

Another approach would be to search for a group that’s already formed, an association, co-operative, a group project, crit group, drawing group, etc.  Go to meetings and get a sense of if the group is a good fit.  Move on if it’s not or get involved if it is.

Another way would be to get out and go to openings, exhibits, artists’ talks, panel discussions, events and workshops.  Make an effort to strike up conversation, exchange contact information with like minds and follow up.  Put it out there that you’re someone who wants to have a dialogue, an exchange.  I know these things take time but I don’t think they have to be forced.  When you start circulating among art crowds, you start to see familiar faces.  Things will happen organically.

MG: Kim, if you could press start all over again and begin your art career “anew,” what, if anything, would you do differently in regard to this topic of ‘art and communities’?

KB: I wouldn’t change much with the exception of being more selective about the art communities I became involved with.  Some were a dead end, consumed a lot of my time and gave little back.  Some groups were not serious and professional enough or were too social.  One thing I learned (the hard way) to do well was to delegate and think twice before volunteering.  A handful of individuals tend to do most of the work.  For the wellbeing of the community, it’s vital for everyone to pitch in, as equally as possible.  Another thing I’m realizing, in retrospect, is that those communities where there is a balance of men and women functioned best.  That’s rare though because more women tend to gravitate to these communities than men.

MG: Thanks so much, Kim. What else you would like to add to the discussion on the topic of artists and communities?

KB: I think that about sums it up!

Galazzi is an artist living and working in Providence and on Cape Cod in the summer. Her graduate degree is from Rhode Island School of Design where she especially focused on her lifelong interest – art and community. Her website is and she is represented by ERNDEN Fine Art Gallery in Provincetown, Mass.