Welcome to the 14th Issue of PWJ

Encaustic artists? Not us! We’re painters, sculptors, and printmakers who love wax but work in a variety of mediums.

Shelley Gilchrist’s lead feature, Form and Iteration Across Mediums, makes this point eminently clear through the work of eight artists for whom continuity of concept is not limited to encaustic. Scroll down to read it. But don’t stop there. We offer you a lot in this issue, from Nancy Natale’s in-depth interview with the Montreal-based painter Alexandre Masino, to a peek into the Maplewood, New Jersey, studio of Kathy Cantwell, to Cantwell’s story for Open Call about how an online crit group was formed. Our regular features and listings are all here, too, along with a peek at what Cherie Mittenthal is planning for Conference 11. As always, the Comments option in each article offers a way for our conversation to extend into the community. I hope you’ll respond. –J.M.


Shelley Gilchrist, Rabbit-Proof, 2016, acrylic on epoxy clay, 29 x 26 x 2 ¼ inches
Read Gilchrist’s article below

Form and Iteration Across Mediums

By Shelley Gilchrist

Christine Aaron, Murmur, 2013, multiple 36 x 102 inches lithographic monoprints on gampi with multitrack audio (continuous recorded vocal memories, layered with ambient sounds of rain, wind and trees)

“Just rearranging the deck chairs.” An overheard sotto voce criticism such as this can evoke despair, even existential crisis, in the toughest among us. In this case, I heard the remark from a Chicago artist many years ago. Perusing his freshly hung solo show of figurative pastel drawings, he uttered that on-the-spot reaction to seeing them presented together for the first time. Over the past five years, he concluded, he had not made anything new.

He must have brooded about this insight, because less than two years later he showed new work: oil paintings in which he explored the surface with varied brush strokes and used dynamic angles and cropped views in his representation of the figure. By picking up a brush he rescued himself from despondency, jump-started his art and, you could say, mercifully saved the rest of us from another series of centered frontal-seated nudes.

As an artist who has found switching mediums a rejuvenating process well worth the learning curve, I keep those deck chairs in the back of my mind, and try to move on before I find myself moving furniture. In recent years I have shifted sequentially from figurative oil painting on canvas, to gouache on panel, to figurative encaustic paintings on panel, to abstract encaustic painting on shaped panel to—at present—acrylic on 3-D surfaces. But I’m just one of many ProWax artists who find value in switching up their materials, sometimes using distinct mediums to make separate bodies of work concurrently. Here, eight of us talk about fluency in more than one medium, even when that one medium is as beloved for its aesthetic and physical qualities as wax.


Christine Aaron
After taking an encaustic workshop some 10 years ago, Christine immediately expanded her first medium, the inks and plates of printmaking, into mixed media using prints. She enjoys the versatility of wax, especially in combination with other materials, and continues to derive ideas for the future from the concepts and materials of the present, often revisiting earlier ideas with new materials as a means to fresh expression. Regardless of the learning curve for acquiring different mediums (“challenging,” says Christine), she finds the process of inquiry stimulating as it leads to new paths and reveals new ways to explore the inherent qualities of her materials–conceptually and metaphorically—as well as materially. Recent formal explorations have led her to sculpture and installation while she continues to “work back and forth across mediums.” She adds, “Hopefully, my ‘voice’ and artistic viewpoint carry across the work’s various forms and iterations.”

Forest Muse II, 2015, lithograph and encaustic on patinated copper, 24 x 24 inches
What We Keep, 2016, burned and drilled plywood, dimensions variable

What We Keep, 2016, burned and drilled plywood, dimensions variable


Jane Guthridge
Working within the crosscurrents of different media helps Jane move her work forward. “I am continually exploring new ideas and trying to figure out ways to get there,” says Jane. She discovered wax well into her art career, first making monotypes and then discovering that other materials work well with wax as she pursued her enduring investigation of luminosity: “Light itself is now the most important medium I use, and I think that the use of wax has led me to using light as a medium.” Typically Jane makes three to five works in one medium, and then switches (changing studio set-ups) to another. She uses Dura-Lar, sheet metal, and photos embedded with wax in creating her 2- and 3-D pieces, as well as installations–many forms expressing her interest in the “transcendent experience of light in nature.”

Reflected Light (installation detail), 2016, cut Dura-Lar, acrylic, invisible cord

Reflected Light (installation detail), 2016, cut Dura-Lar, acrylic, invisible cord
The Space Between 23, 2012, layered encaustic monotypes and archival inkjet on Asian paper, 19 x 19 inches

The Space Between 23, 2012, layered encaustic monotypes and archival inkjet on Asian paper, 19 x 19 inches


Tracey Adams
Like Jane Guthridge, Tracey was well into her 2-D art practice when her interest was piqued by wax. For her it was a Michael David exhibit of encaustic paintings in New York 20 years ago. Trained in drawing, painting and printmaking in college, Tracey then took an encaustic workshop and proceeded to experiment with wax in combination with her then-primary mediums. She continues to make drawings, prints and collages, both with and without wax, relying on ink, graphite or gouache for complex mark-making. For an exhibit this fall Tracey will show two bodies of work, one complex: collage paintings in mixed media; and one more minimal: a group of encaustic monotypes on panel. She hopes that the distinct bodies of work will dialog. “I’m a restless artist and working with different materials creates an ongoing level of interest, challenge and inspiration, keeping my practice stimulating.”

Balancing Act, 2016; collage, ink, gouache on panel; 40 x 40 inches

Balancing Act, 2016; collage, ink, gouache on panel; 40 x 40 inches
Momentum Transferred, 2015, encaustic and oil on panel, 27 x 56 inches

Momentum Transferred, 2015, encaustic and oil on panel, 27 x 56 inches


Pamela Wallace
Pamela was making prints when, like Tracey Adams, she came across encaustic paintings on exhibit in a New York City gallery more than 15 years ago. She ordered supplies and courageously began to experiment on her own. When she added wax to her collagraphic prints, they “took on a whole new dimension.” Her wax-infused prints have had particular appeal to curators and gallery owners. She continues to work with wax alone and also employs mixed media, including various papers, metal leaf, and cut-up prints in collage, which may or may not include wax. Pamela usually experiments to see what mediums and techniques allow her to express her intentions “optimally,” stating, “my ideas are not medium specific.” While her work in one medium informs her work in others, due to constraints of studio space, she relies on notes and memory, rather than carrying out projects in different mediums simultaneously.

Basics, 2014, collagraph print on Rives BFK, 12 x 12 inches

Basics, 2014, collagraph print on Rives BFK, 12 x 12 inches
Dogwood, 2016, collagraph print under wax and oilstick, 8 x 8 x I inches

Dogwood, 2016, collagraph print under wax and oilstick, 8 x 8 x I inches


Ruth Hiller
A self-taught painter, Ruth first used oil, watercolors and gouache. When she took a wax workshop in 2008, she was immediately smitten and made 200 encaustic paintings the first year. She subsequently used encaustic exclusively for eight years, first with transfers, then more minimally. Wax allows her to work quickly, allowing her to accomplish more work than oil painting. It was a natural step to exploring another fast-drying medium, acrylic. She completed a residency at the Golden Foundation in 2014, exploring acrylic paint’s qualities in depth. Ruth says the residency boosted her confidence about being a painter. “It became clear to me that it was not about the medium, but about how to use it to get your message across.” She has equal opportunities to exhibit both encaustic and acrylic, having created in the different media two series somewhat similar in style. Soft Geometry—encaustic on panel—led to Industrialized Nature, in which she has experimented with acylic on substrates such as linen and plexiglass.

Nehi, 2016, acrylic on plexiglass, 30 x 48 inches

Nehi, 2016, acrylic on plexiglass, 30 x 48 inches
Peterbilt, 2016, encaustic on panels, 48 x 76 inches

Peterbilt, 2016, encaustic on panels, 48 x 76 inches


Joanne Mattera
In an art school elective, Joanne worked for the first time in encaustic. Many years later, she was making acrylic paintings and thread drawings on paper when she felt she had gained the patience and painting ability to bring wax into her practice. Infusing the paper with wax was a natural starting point, and the wax itself eventually became her chief painting medium. Nonetheless, Joanne exhibits work in all of the mediums she uses to explore her chromatic and geometric subject matter. “I identify as the painter I was trained to be, so the exhibition opportunities I’ve cultivated have come to me as an artist, no adjective required.” Her choice of materials is determined by her ideas. The sheen and luminosity of wax define her long-running Silk Road series; for works on the velvety surface of hot-press watercolor paper, she prefers matte gouache or graphite. “There’s an organic development from one series to another, as well as from painting to painting within a series, which advances the oeuvre.”

Soie, installation on studio wall, 2011, gouache on Arches, each 22 x 30 inches

Soie, installation on studio wall, 2011, gouache on Arches, each 22 x 30 inches
Grid of nine paintings from Silk Road, 2014-2015, encaustic on panel, each 12 x 12 inches in a 44 x 44-inch grid installed at dm contemporary, New York City, January 2015

Grid of nine paintings from Silk Road, 2014-2015, encaustic on panel, each 12 x 12 inches in a 44 x 44-inch grid installed at dm contemporary, New York City, January 2015


Corina Alvarezdelugo
Naturally curious about art and sculpture materials, Corina has worked in a variety of mediums. Although encaustic was never mentioned in art school, she discovered its possibilities by examining museum paintings. In 2009 she was inspired to take a wax technique workshop so that she could emulate a particular result in one of the works that was underway in her studio. Since folding wax into her practice, she has continued to experiment further with new materials. Occasionally she sets aside the idea she is pursuing and recharges her batteries by working spontaneously, free of (albeit self-imposed) restrictions and goals. Having multiple skills and materials at her disposal enables her to choose ways to deliver her message. “The ability to work in different mediums gives me that freedom I need, while at the same time it helps me to expand on the story I want to tell.”

Standing Tall IV, 2015; sumi ink, acrylic, charcoal, graphite on Canson; 48 x 48 inches

Standing Tall IV, 2015; sumi ink, acrylic, charcoal, graphite on Canson; 48 x 48 inches
Soul Journey Towards Rebirth, 2013; encaustic, abaca paper, paper clay, indigo on wood; 18 inches diameter

Soul Journey Towards Rebirth, 2013; encaustic, abaca paper, paper clay, indigo on wood; 18 inches diameter


Shelley Gilchrist
Recently I cleared my studio of a few years’ worth of material experiments–acrylic on thermoplastic, wax on epoxy clay, hot-wax-and-marker bleed tests, Duralar practice joints (fail, by the way)–as well as a fair number of samples whose purpose I no longer remember. The neophyte oil painter of 25 years ago would be astonished that so much of my practice now is devoted to exploring materials and solving problems.

Willows 1 (Essex), 2014, encaustic on shaped panel, each 30 x 8 ½ x ¾ inches

Willows 1 (Essex), 2014, encaustic on shaped panel, each 30 x 8 ½ x ¾ inches
Rabbit-Proof, 2016, acrylic on epoxy clay, 29 x 26 x 2 ¼ inches

Rabbit-Proof, 2016, acrylic on epoxy clay, 29 x 26 x 2 ¼ inches

Some of us, like Corina, are curious about materials at the very outset and this can be a fascination that opens the door to artmaking. For others, this interest can unfold as our subject matter changes and, we often feel, demands a new medium. Some of us are restless souls who seek innovation in our practice. Yet, as all of us here attest, investigating different mediums is time well spent. Acquiring the ability to use materials to serve specific artistic purposes has served us well.


Q & A


with Alexandre Masino

By Nancy Natale

When I attended Alexandre Masino’s talk, Advanced Techniques & Studio Practice, last June at the Tenth International Encaustic Conference, I was immediately impressed with the way he spoke about the process and practice of painting. I recognized him as a painter’s painter, someone who knows the ins and outs of the medium and speaks with authority and easy references to the activity, the obsession, the problems, and the thrill of making paintings. He was someone I wanted to know more about and this interview provided me with the opportunity.


Alexandre Masino painting in his studio, 2016
Photo: Yechel Gagnon

NN: To begin with some technical information, I know you heat your wax in cans on a double boiler, which is a little unusual, but then when I watched your video (in French), I saw that you also paint vertically, which is very atypical of painting with encaustic. Would you tell me more about this method and what it allows you to accomplish with your work?

AM: Everything that applies to painting in general applies to our medium of encaustic. Before devoting my practice to encaustic, I experienced that standing and painting at an easel gave me a liberty of movement that was critical to my painting process. When I began using encaustic, I knew two major painters who used the medium, Jasper Johns and Tony Scherman. They both painted vertically, so I never questioned it.


Another view of Alexandre working on an encaustic painting
Photo: Yechel Gagnon

I started exploring the use of encaustic by myself, without attending any workshops, about a year before Joanne’s book was published in 2001. Teaching oneself a specific medium is a difficult learning curve (years of trial and error can be saved by attending workshops at the Conference). I was on my own and found that the glazing techniques and other methods I was used to had to be thrown out the window. The medium was so physical that I sometimes felt like a construction worker, and I had to appropriate unusual tools. All my working habits had to be redesigned.

Now when I teach, I advocate for the advantages of working on an easel, however I do work both vertically and horizontally. Each method has advantages that we must make the most of. My easel is completely vertical—a real 90 degrees, not tilted at an angle. This means that most of the time when my brush drips, the paint doesn’t fall on my painting but just in front of it. Using the easel allows me to see my painting in the same position as it will be experienced by the viewer.


Sculptural buildup of wax drips on front of the easel

Also, painting requires movement. It is a choreography inscribed in matter, so having freedom of movement adds to the painting vocabulary. Standing upright and facing an easel allows you to move your fingers, your wrist, your elbow, your shoulder—your entire body—in a much freer manner than when you are crouched over a table. For a painterly or expressionist application of paint, it makes a lot of sense to work with an easel. I have even achieved a level of control where I can now fuse my paintings on the easel without any sliding of the surface.

NN: How did the use of double-boilers and cans come about?


Paint cans in double boilers

AM: That came when I first started using encaustic. During my college studies at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, I experienced severe health problems due to heavy solvent exposure in badly ventilated classrooms. Working with oil paint became impossible for me, so I thought for a long time that encaustic was out of reach as well. I basically had to find a way to use it while keeping my studio air as clean as possible. I found that with the double boiler system there were no fumes since the paint never overheated. This was the first and most important advantage for me.

I never want to change this way of working as it gives me so many advantages: the cans contain larger quantities of wax because of their extra depth, I am able to bring the cans to my easel so my brushes don’t get cold between the stove and my painting, and my brushes stay submerged in wax so that the ferrules and the bristles stay warm longer, providing me with the possibility of longer brushmarks. Also, I can easily change and adjust my palette as I replace one color with another one just by switching cans.


La dérive des siècles (Drifting of Centuries), 2016; encaustic, gold leaf and copper leaf on panel; 46 x 32 inches (117 x 81 centimeters)

NN: Tell us about the other tool for which you have a great fondness.

AM: The third technical element that I always promote, but which does not seem to be used a lot, is the fan brush. It works wonders with encaustic. It holds more medium than a small brush so it stays warm longer and it is very versatile. With the same brush you can do fine lines and details or build up textures. You can also fill up large areas, depending which side of the brush you are using and the angle at which you hold it in relation to the panel.

NN: Let’s talk about your painting process. You also work in encaustic monotypes and have generously shared information about your techniques in your blog. [Also I see that you recently received a grant that allowed you to begin intaglio printmaking that you combine with encaustic monotypes.] Would you explain more about this and show some examples?


Cette marée de pierre III (This Tide of Stone), 2012, encaustic monotype on Gampi paper, 23 x 34.5 inches (58 x 88 centimeters)

I was introduced to encaustic monotype in a demo by Paula Roland during the first year of the International Encaustic Conference. From the beginning I wondered how I could integrate elements of images that could be duplicated in printmaking and then transformed on the hotbox into unique works with encaustic. That is, I wanted to make monoprints as well as monotypes. I think it’s important to differentiate the two: monoprints have an element that can be repeated while monotypes are solely one-off. I have always been very fond of Edvard Munch’s approach to printmaking, which gives a feeling of everything being possible. One image is repeated in many different color combinations, while compositions are reworked and even collaged. His prints achieve a real playfulness because of his free approach.

In my attempts to make monoprints, I tried techniques such as printing with collagraph plates, but I realized that what I really wanted to achieve was a dialogue between finely drawn lines and the expressive physicality of encaustic. Intaglio printing with encaustic monotypes became the obvious method to achieve this combination.


Lexan plate with three versions of an intaglio and encaustic monoprint

However, since I am very sensitive to solvents, I could not work with traditional etching acids or oil-based inks. I developed a way to engrave Lexan plates [polycarbonate sheet similar to acrylic plexiglass] using a dremel and other carving tools. I ink the plates using Akua water-based, non-toxic inks, and I print them on Japanese paper to later work on them with encaustic monotype. Using Lexan for plates is not recommended by master printmakers since the plates are impossible to ink twice identically, as is necessary for printing editions. However, my goal is precisely to make unique prints rather than editions. When I ink my plates, I make a point of being very painterly in the manner that I wipe the ink out, and I even paint with the ink to rework the image in relation to the engraved lines. This way I have a different ground each time that I start the encaustic monotypes. The transparency of the plate is very useful in figuring out what the final image will look like.

NN: Although your work would probably be referred to as representational, I know that you use the subject matter as a means of connecting to traditions in art history as well as making the objects that you portray have symbolical power and meaning. What is your intention more explicitly, and how do you go about accomplishing what you call “a synthesis of the past and the present?”

I love this question. Thank you for tackling these rarely-brought-up notions and addressing the “synthesis of the past and the present”.

It is true that I believe in history. It is only through understanding the human condition throughout time that we can gain some knowledge of ourselves. I want to link things and not to isolate them. I believe reality is complex and it should not be put into small boxes or arbitrary categorizations.


Évoquer les jours (Evoking the Days), 2014, encaustic and copper leaf on panel, 11 x 12 inches (28 x 30.5 centimeters)

A symbol is something that represents or suggests another idea or entity—something precise. In this regard my work is not symbolic as I don’t work with allegories. On the contrary, I want as much as possible to broaden the interpretations of my work. But you are right; I always integrate many different levels of meaning in my work. For example, when I paint still lifes, I paint only one type of fruit at a time, thereby allowing the fruits to represent beings rather than only fruit. If I were to paint pears and apples together, they would remain pears and apples, but by painting two pears side by side, I paint a couple.

If I paint an open pomegranate, I show the continuity of life with the seeds. Such an image might also be understood as portraying an intimate internal reality contrasted with what we see from the outside. This is the dichotomy between the external and the internal. By painting an apple, an apple core and a seed, I paint time: present, past and future.

NN: Is this emphasis on layered meanings reflected in the titles of your paintings?

AM: In a subtle way, all my work is a form of multidisciplinary dialogue. My titles are chosen to open up the meaning and provide possible levels of interpretation. They derive from quotes in poems or essays or they have a link to mythology, history, or art history. I believe that this provides a dialogue with another medium and creates something larger than the anecdotal aspect of the represented elements. I don’t think it is important to know the exact sources of my titles to appreciate them, but in an oblique way, they add to the whole body of information that is conveyed.


Rêves éveillés (Waking Dreams), 2015, encaustic and gold leaf on panel, 32 x 46 inches (81 x 117 centimeters)

I believe my works are philosophical in many aspects even if they don’t shout it out. In contemporary art we tend to associate philosophy with extremely cerebral and austere works, but I stand against this narrow definition. Art can be sensual and intellectual at the same time.

NN: What do you strive for in your work?

AM: My works are very painterly. To really appreciate them, they need to be seen in the flesh. My work is about the lived experience, as expressed in nuances of colors, textures, and how the painting reacts and changes when viewed from various perspectives or in different lighting. But my fascination with paint and its sensual and evocative quality doesn’t mean that my thinking process is solely materially based.


Synthèse (Synthesis), 2015, encaustic and copper leaf on panel, 16 x 16 inches (40.5 x 40.5 centimeters)

Although my work is strongly rooted in the history of painting and many different aspects of the craft of painting, that does not mean I am not precisely aware of contemporary realities. We live in fast times where everything is speeded up, but I propose to make paintings that are difficult to reproduce and which you have to spend time with to fully appreciate. It is my deep belief that slow food is better than fast food.

NN: One more important influence for you, in life and in art, is Asia. Would you tell us more about it?

AM: I have always been drawn to the cultural history of Japan, its esthetic and its philosophy. For more than 10 years now I have been practicing Qi Gong, and I am really moved by writings of the Taoists, Chinese philosophers—Lao-Tseu, Tchouang-Tseu—who date back more than 2000 years. I have studied the work and the writings of many Chinese scholar-painters such as Shitao and Chu Ta.


Kintsukuroi (Japanese art form of repair), 2014, encaustic and gold leaf on panel, 11 x 12 inches (28 x 30.5 centimeters)

In 2010 I traveled through Japan for a month and had the rare opportunity to be accompanied by someone who knew the country thoroughly and who could speak the language. We stayed in ryokan, traditional inns, in order to live the culture as much as possible. This voyage had an immense impact on my practice. It was by experiencing first hand their temples, shrines and esthetic that I developed an interest in integrating gold and copper leaf into my paintings. What really struck a fundamental chord with me was their appreciation of the beauty of shadows to reveal light, their wabi-sabi philosophy of acceptance of imperfections and impermanence along with the understanding that the natural aging of objects gives them richness and warmth. It is this spirit that I try to convey through my use of metallic pigments.

The Chinese and Japanese traditional painters have a different compositional approach from Westerners, and it is extremely rich to create dialogues between these traditions. For example, we Westerners tend to think of the void as something negative. For Chinese scholars emptiness is fundamental as the place where changes can occur; it is the necessary place for transformations. Everything is in the dialogue between the full and the void, between form and the possibility of mutations within a cyclical conception of time. These notions are crucial and inform all of my work.

NN: Your series of Ehon, meaning painted books in Japanese, is a body of work strongly influenced by your interest in Asia that you have developed over time. I am saving most of your response about this beautiful format for a later article on artists’ books, but I wanted to mention them because they are an important part of your practice.

AM: My use of Ehon and of intaglio have inspired a real cross-pollination in my studio over the last months. I now integrate more and more the use of drawing into my actual paintings in dialogue with the painterly elements.


Frontières du possible (Frontiers of the Possible), 2016; encaustic, gold leaf and copper leaf on panel; 32 x 23 inches (81 x 58.5 centimeters)

NN: And finally, at the Conference, I purchased a beautiful catalog from you that documented a show called Correspondances at Dawson College in Montreal featuring your work along with that of your spouse, Yechel Gagnon. What’s it like to share life with another artist?

AM: I feel extremely privileged that Yechel and I share common careers as well as a deep interest in the dialogue between Eastern and the Western cultures. Our work is quite different from each other from a formal point of view, but it is very similar in its meditative quality and in the influences that inform it. It’s great to have someone to talk to and exchange ideas with on a daily basis. We know each other’s work in a very intrinsic manner while not being worried that our two bodies of work are too similar. It’s also a great exercise to comment and critique each other’s work regularly. It trains our vision in a broader manner than if we were only looking at our own production. Although it’s extremely time consuming to be creating and promoting two bodies of work and two careers, the advantages are enriching and really wonderful. We manage to create a real sense of collaboration where we do everything that we can so that the other’s production can bloom as much as possible.

Alexandre’s website
Yechel Gagnon’s website
The Correspondances catalog is not available online but may be purchased directly from Alexandre for $25, including shipping. Email info@alexandremasino.ca for details.

Beauty and Truth: The Art / Science Connection

By Deborah Winiarski

In his 1930 essay, The World As I See It *, Albert Einstein wrote, “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” As an artist, I too see the natural overlap of science and art. Investigation of the mysterious is at the core of both practices. Both artists and scientists ask the biggest of questions of themselves and of their work: What is true? Why does it matter?

Though artists look to reconcile their own feelings within their work and scientists deal primarily with probabilities, they both search deeply and painstakingly for answers in places where hand and mind are free—the scientist’s laboratory and the artist’s studio. The works below find direct inspiration from the mystery of the sciences—biology, geology, astronomy, physics—bringing the beauty of these micro and macro worlds to light.

Kay Hartung


Kay Hartung, Bio Flow 5, 2015; encaustic, pan pastel, pigment stick on wood panel;
30 x 30 inches

“My work is inspired by the microscopic world. I imagine the energy and interactions that go on in the body and the mind to produce action and thought. I am exploring the connections between science and art, conscious of the profound effects that these minute biological forms have on the universe.”

Elise Wagner

wavehorizoni-72dpiElise Wagner, Wave Horizon I, 2016, encaustic and oil on panel, 42 x 42 inches.
Photo: Rebekah Johnson Photography

“Concepts for my work often coincide with breakthroughs in science that I find particularly compelling. Wave Horizon is my interpretation of contemporary astronomical discoveries about gravitational waves. The image is not interpreted in a literal sense, rather is a starting point for color and inspiration for the creation of movement, depth and atmosphere.”

Kim Bernard


Kim Bernard, Wave Phenomena, 2016; fabric, dye, encaustic medium, stainless steel;
disc diameters range from 18 – 54 inches

“This installation was inspired by images of sound vibrations and the natural phenomena of the movement of sound made visible. The book, Cymatics, by Hans Jenny was the catalyst for the series, where meticulously recorded sound vibrations at various frequencies were made visible through the use of powders, pastes and liquids.”

Lorrie Fredette


Lorrie Fredette, Common Carrier, 2015; beeswax, tree resin, muslin, brass, nylon line, steel;
52 x 48 x 48 inches

Common Carrier, suspended in an important artery in this venue, utilizes the symbolic references of vessel and corridor. The architecture serves as the ‘host’ of an unknown contagion where the interchange of virus (the art) and victim (the building) reproduce and escape to reach its next target (the viewer).”

Jeanne Heifetz

heifetz_surface-tension-22_3Jeanne Heifetz, Surface Tension 22, 2013; copper, graphite, bronze, zinc, nickel, wax, on quartzite; 24 x 24 inches. Photo: Jean Vong

“We are hard-wired to seek out visual pattern, yet patterns that are easy to discern do not hold our attention. Foam’s unstable configuration challenges us to perceive its underlying architecture. Confronted by complex, hybrid forms that refuse to resolve into a predictable arrangement, our neural pathways remain excited, questioning, alive.”

Tracy Spadafora


Tracy Spadafora, Intervention (Part 3), 2016, encaustic and mixed media on braced wood panel,
20 x 20 x 2 inches

“This piece, from my DNA series, suggests the complex and often delicate relationship of man and nature. The bittersweet vine added to this work provides a visual reference to DNA, which is also echoed in the twisting red pattern below.”

Laura Moriarty

Laura Moriarty, Driving Around In The Mountains, 2016, beeswax, pigments, 12.5 x 14 x 8 inches

“Taking poetic license with geology, I compare processes of the studio with processes of the earth. Layers of color form the strata of a working process where the immediacy of the hand is replaced with a sense of deep time.”

* The complete text of Albert Einstein’s essay, The World As I See It, can be found here.

In Five Words: Lynette Haggard

Curated by Debra Claffey

In Five Words is a regular feature of ProWax Journal in which we go literal, lyrical, and poetic. Visual art does not exist in a vacuum, it sings along with poetry and prose, music and rhythm. Each issue we ask our feature artist to comment on one of their works with five single words, chosen to add meaning and highlight intent.

Finding Place, 2016, encaustic and Holy Grail ground on panel, 30 x 24 x 1.5 inches

Finding Place, 2016, encaustic and pigmented gesso on panel, 30 x 24 x 1.5 inches


Essential Questions

How Do You Expand the Audience for Your Work?

Edited by Jane Guthridge

I’m interested in getting your thoughts on how you market your work. If you have gallery representation, do you supplement that with your own marketing? If you do not have gallery representation, how do you market? How do you expand the audience for your work?

Dietlind Vander Schaaf I use my Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote my work. I use MailChimp to send e-blasts that promote exhibitions, workshops, and other news. I’ve written a number of proposals for exhibitions on behalf of New England Wax, and as part of that process I will often install work and design a catalog. I also mail printed postcards.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-winiarski_leftBecause I work at an art school, I am often in a good position to interact with or take advantage of opportunities to leverage myself as an artist. For example, I curate and install the annual staff exhibition at Maine College of Art. That was falling through the cracks before I took it over. I also take a class through Creative Capital once a year to stay up on what other artists are doing and using in terms of self-promotion.

Joanne Mattera Dietlind brings up a good point–the idea of taking on a job that not only provides a service for others but which creates visibility for the artist. That’s a great win/win.

Tracey Adams I do a lot of my own marketing, supplementing whatever the galleries do. I post daily images on Instagram, weekly on Facebook and send a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter links with FB, gallery websites, and my blog.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-wagner_rightI curated a show this year, Burned, Cut, Folded and Stitched. This included writing the exhibition essay and putting together an online catalog through Issu. I’ve taught classes at the Monterey Museum of Art, done demos and talks for docents, and have spoken on panels sponsored by our museum. I’ve produced a catalog either yearly or every other year since 1999. I gift collectors with a copy and split the costs with whatever galleries are featured in the catalog; they gift copies to their best clients, too.

Anna Wagner-Ott I have committed to adding artwork as soon as it is finished and only putting my best works on my website. A website is your artistic identity and so important for marketing.
Additionally, I do post regularly to Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and keep a blog. These sites represent my identity so I am very conscious about what I post. I try to keep my posts professional so rarely mix personal posts or family photographs with the public/professional posts.

Elise Wagner I never rely solely on galleries to market my work. I always take it into my own hands, especially when I have a show up. I collaborate with my galleries on writing content for my media releases. No one knows your work as well as you do, so it’s important you give the gallery the information they need to sell your work. I devote a lot of time, like most of us, promoting on social media. I post on Instagram daily and vary it with images, videos and works in progress, and I update my site regularly with new work with professionally shot images. The photo shoots are scheduled, which gives me a continual deadline to meet.

I do quarterly newsletters, and my list contains all the galleries I love across the country. I also maintain different targeted lists. After finishing a body of work or having a show, I routinely research galleries in key cities and submit like crazy, 20-25 per targeted city. I also research and set grant deadlines in my calendar, market through my classes, and give gallery talks—never demos—at most shows.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-wagner-ott_leftDavid A. Clark I do a lot of marketing, and now that I have a physical space I do even more. In addition to the galleries I am working with, I send out postcards to galleries I’m targeting, art consultants, designers, and curators about four times a year. I also send out catalogues to folks who may have expressed interest or to people I think may be interested in certain bodies of work. I have done some print advertising. I took out an ad in Art in Print magazine and also a regional arts magazine called Palm Springs Arts Patron Magazine. Those ads have generated a bit of interest and widened the profile of my work.

The complex of spaces that I am in right now has hired a PR person and is doing targeted outreach to local hotel concierges and the board of tourism to generate more traffic. We’ve had some press and that has been good. I am very active on social media. There are quite a few local media outlets checking out my photos on Instagram. So I’m hoping that will generate some additional press. It’s a huge amount of work but it’s finally starting to have some impact.

Deborah Winiarski In addition to postcards, newsletters, networking, and catalogs, I believe it’s important to be proactive in your community—even if you have to create your community. I’m fortunate to be teaching in a renowned institution. When I first began teaching workshops there eight years ago, most people didn’t know what encaustic was, never mind how it’s relevant today. I decided to educate the general population of the institution. I proposed a two-evening event where I demonstrated the medium and invited speakers to talk about the medium in terms of its history and contemporary relevance.

Beverly Rippel Besides posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, I am part of the Boston Arts District community where I maintain a studio and am always present at Open Studio events. Here I meet artists, writers, curators, editors, and collectors, as well as college art students who are eager to converse. High school art teachers bring students bound for art school into the studio as part of their education. I have handouts with up-to-date images/website/ email that are available for the thousands of people who walk through the building. I do sell my work through this venue.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-mattera_leftAt present I do not have representation, but I have been showing works through corporate exhibition sales and rental programs since the 1990’s with such established [Massachusetts] venues as Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, The Cambridge Art Association, and the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston. Oftentimes the artist is compensated, the work is seen and insured, and you get the work back after a year to show or rent again. Recently a large painting was sold to the CEO of a law firm who saw the image when selecting work for his offices.

For the past eight years I have been the Chair of Exhibitions for South Shore Art Center, a large venue with educational courses and a gallery. We research museum curators and gallerists to jury our national exhibitions. This volunteer position has been educational, introduced me to great jurors, and continues to widen my vision.

Joanne Mattera I recently prepared for a solo show in Boston. The gallery posted images of my work on its website and produced a beautiful two-sided mailer, which it sent to its client list. I supplemented the gallery’s marketing with posts on my blog and on Facebook to promote the exhibition and then show installation images. I’ll also sent out a newsletter to announce it and the various other exhibitions and openings I have coming up this fall.

Relatedly, I recently completed a second edition of my catalog, Silk Road: Excerpts From an Ongoing Series. It’s got a new cover and numerous new pages to better reflect work that has been or is about to be shown. It is available for viewing online at no cost, so any gallery I work with can send the URL to potential clients as well as to local and regional publications as part of its PR outreach. Serious collectors of my work have been or will be given a copy. Copies will be available for sale to casual visitors to the galleries. Because I don’t do my own graphic design, this is a worthwhile–and deductible–expense for me.

I would note that artists at all levels are involved in promoting their work. Martin Kline, for instance, holds occasional exhibitions in his impressive studio on the grounds of his home in the Hudson Valley. And for the better part of a decade, Jasper Johns has been actively involved with an art historian in producing a multi-volume catalogue raisonné of his oeuvre.

Studio Visit

Kathy Cantwell: Maplewood, N.J.

.Edited by Paula Fava

“The truth about me is I am a clutterer,” says Kathy Cantwell. “I work in a basement studio in my house. The 572-square-foot studio has eight-foot ceilings and three huge windows. The outside entrance is flanked by a sitting porch for quiet contemplation. My lighting is LED high hats and an excellent southwest exposure. There is a great sense of terra firma in this studio because I’m on the ground floor. I consider this my best studio to date.”


“Half the studio is dedicated to encaustic which has an 8-by-3-foot table with flat file underneath, a Vent-A-Fume exhaust through the window, and two palettes against a wall between two windows.”


“Across the studio sits a table for working in oil. I put up stringers along the wall to allow me to arrange the work for viewing in various ways. My painting storage is mostly in another area in the basement and is becoming a force to be reckoned with. I grew into this space as opposed to conceiving of it in its entirety. When I’m ready I can finish the rest of the basement and double my space. “

Kathy Cantwell’s report on the crit group she moderates is the subject of this issue’s Open Call.

Open Call

Raising the Bar: An Online Critique Group and a Goal

By Kathy Cantwell

I began with a simple criterion for participation: Send several images to me along with a website link and a brief statement about the work. That greatly reduced the number of applicants because some people were unable to post a series of images that made a professional or even a comprehensible presentation. Others did not have websites or were unable to write a statement. I felt it was okay to pick artists who seemed to show potential and had a willingness to participate in the critiquing process even if their work needed refinement.


A composite of work by Raising the Bar members
Top row: Anna Wagner-Ott, Susan Paladino, Kathy Cantwell, Julie Snidle
Middle: Carole Peck Harrison, Melissa Morton Lackman, Elizabeth Harris, Robyn Child Cole
Bottom: Gayle Oxford, Louise Noël, Arlene Sokolow, Steven Cabral

There were six of us in the original group. We decided to call it Raising the Bar, as we had been inspired by Joanne Mattera’s ongoing challenge to improve the quality of paintings made with encaustic. Our plan was to have one critique a month. We would discuss the work of one artist member a day after everyone had posted so that it took about a week to critique the six postings. However, we found that we wanted to have freer interaction and to be more active. Since we were a small group, we easily changed our plan to allow posting of images whenever we had work ready. Since then we have had no time constraints or schedules; our only rule is to check in at least once a week with the group and participate in critiquing the posted work. We currently have 12 members.

For the actual critique we follow the principles of DAIJ: Describe, Analyze, Interpret, Judge. It’s a good framework to use for critiquing because it means that we look closely at each work and make an effort to understand the artist’s intention. We all comment on each other’s work, and almost everyone responds to every posted artwork.

My role as moderator has been to lead, institute DAIJ, encourage rigorous critique by example, reach out to potential new members, facilitate their being voted into the group, and then bring them into the group with some orientation. Any issues that come up are funneled through me to help bring about a consensus on the issue.

Critique is a two-way street with us; we give and we get. We are 12 sets of eyes with voices that stretch to find words to best describe what we are seeing. That is where the breakthroughs happen—when what we are seeing is not quite what the artist thinks is there. It has been exciting to see the original members’ work evolve from where it was when we started and to watch the newer members’ work take off too. In my case, my writing and ability to discuss art have improved tremendously. That is a muscle that needs exercise. Today our criteria for joining the group are that an artist must have been painting with encaustic for at least two years, have an art background, be visible on Facebook, show promise, and preferably have a website. We all vote on whom we ask to become a new member.

I think this group has succeeded for two years because each member shares a desire to better her/himself by opening up to criticism. We are also avid users of Facebook. Viewing art online is never as good as seeing it in real life, and at times the art is at a disadvantage, but we do our best to photograph and explain what may not be immediately visible. The advantage of being able to get together at any time without concern for distance or the clock more than makes up for what we are missing in dimensional presence.

The original members of Raising the Bar are Carole Peck Harrison, Melissa Morton Lackman, Anna Wagner-Ott, Gaye Oxford, Arlene Sokolow, and me. Since then six members have joined us: Steven Cabral, Robyn Child Cole, Elizabeth Harris, Louise Noël, Susan Paladino, and Julie Snidle.


Open Call is a new department edited by Nancy Natale for ProWax Journal, an opportunity for members of the larger encaustic community—not just ProWax members—to have a voice in our publication. We’re looking for essays, opinions, and reports of 250-500 words. Our plan is to select one item per issue, with a visual to be determined by the writer and PWJ editor. There is no deadline. You may send a proposal or finished piece at any time to nancynatale@gmail.com with “Open Call” on the subject line. Nancy will file submissions as they arrive and review them as we plan upcoming issues.

A Peek at Conference 11


The 11th International Encaustic Conference will take place June 2-4, 2017, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with Pre- and Post-Conference workshops at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.

“There are lots of new and exciting things,” says Cherie Mittenthal, Castle Hill’s executive director and, now, Conference director. We’re bringing back some regulars and bringing in lots that’s new and different to keep it fresh.”

What’s new? For one, we’ll see artists who have worked many years in encaustic but who have not before presented, such as Michael David, who will give a talk on Contemporary Encaustic, and Dale Roberts who will give a demonstration on Painting from Life. We’ll also see artists like Patricia Miranda, who has a background in a variety of mediums, but who will focus on Professional Practices. And, says, Cherie, we’ll see many of our longtime favorites, such as Wendy Haas, Richard Frumess, Alexandre Masino, Jeff Hirst, and Lisa Pressman.

Look for some format changes, says Cherie. While there will be panel discussions, and plenty of talks and demos, she plans to mix up the schedule a bit with a different time for the Keynote and more 90-minute events. But the features you know and love will remain in place. The Vendor Room will be back. And there will continue to be exhibition opportunities: the Postcard Show, the Hotel Fair, the juried show at the Castle Hill Gallery, and a Conference Curatorial show in Gallery 10 on the Castle Hill campus. Cherie is talking with galleries in Provincetown, so we can expect to see exhibitions there, too.

“Our other big news is that there will be a curated show at the Cape Cod Museum of Art,” says Cherie. She’ll have specifics once registration is underway.

Pre- and Post-Conference workshops will take place on the Castle Hill campus in Truro, with a mix of returning and new teachers. Classes are being finalized.

“The Castle Hill website and Conference blog are in the process of being updated,” says Cherie. “I’ll announce everything on those sites, plus the Encaustic Conference Facebook page. And who’s the Keynote Speaker? You’ll find out soon enough.

On a personal note, I’m thrilled to see the evolution of the Conference, to know that Cherie, who has co-produced the Conference for six years with her staff, is now at the helm of the event I founded and directed for a decade. I look forward to participating as a speaker and conferee. I’ll be the one wearing the “Ask Cherie” t-shirt.

–Joanne Mattera