The Pull of Paper

by Deborah Winiarski

Artists have been pulled to work with paper since the time of its invention centuries ago. In addition to using paper to sketch or capture a moment quickly, they have been pulled to paper as their primary vehicle of creative expression. Working with paper is tactile, intimate, immediate. To work with paper is to be close – one can only be as far away as the length of an arm with scissor, brush, pencil in hand.

Art that combines paper and the medium of encaustic is a fairly new concept that began with Jasper Johns in the 1950s. Johns collaged papers into his paintings using pigmented wax both as paint and adhesive. But it was not until the middle 1970s when Dorothy Furlong-Gardner pulled the first encaustic monotype off a heated plate that paper became viable as a primary support for encaustic work.

Artists working in encaustic today are pulled to paper for a variety of reasons, citing its tactility, delicacy, and history. Paper, when combined with wax, becomes translucent and textural. The works below, created by ProWax artists, offer some exemplars of the contemporary push and pull of combining paper with wax. These artists have been pushing the boundaries of creative expression combining paper and encaustic in ever-innovative and exciting ways.



“The focus of my work is on the shredding, cutting, compartmentalizing and shedding of the past.  This work, from my ‘Transformations’ series, echoes and expands on the use of repetition of action, wrapping, painting, concealing and celebrating the humblest of materials; old clothing, burlap coffee bean bags, paper, and wax.”
– Lisa Zukowski
Lisa Zukowski, Constant Cravings, 2012.  encaustic monotype on paper, 72" x 72"

Lisa Zukowski, Constant Cravings, 2012; encaustic monotype on paper, 72″ x 72″


“This image is from a series of collages using scraps from encaustic papers that were too interesting to trash. I’ve been saving scraps for over 20 years hoping to someday set aside a period to produce a body of collages.”
– Dorothy Furlong-Gardner
Dorothy Furlong-Gardner Garden Party 2 2012 Various papers (mulberry, Superfine, interleaving, Rives lightweight, Masa) 12 X 12 inches Photo Credit:  John Barrois

Dorothy Furlong-Gardner, Garden Party 2, 2012; various papers (mulberry, Superfine, interleaving, Rives lightweight, Masa); 12″ x 12″. Photo Credit: John Barrois

“This encaustic collagraph from the series, “Above and Below” addresses the tension in opposing forces while juxtaposing their connections. My intention is to create a narrative based on abstraction evoking science and spirituality. The conversation between wax and plate results in layers of texture while additional plates render transparency and color.”
Dorothy Cochran
Dorothy Cochran Vivid Dream 2013 Encaustic collagraph and relief on Rives BFK 28 x 16 inches

Dorothy Cochran, Vivid Dream, 2013; encaustic collagraph and relief on Rives BFK, 28″ x 16″

I have always loved working on paper, whether using pastel, ink, oil, or encaustic. Working on paper gives me a sense of freedom and immediacy. This piece is from the series “Between the Lines,” that uses text, book pages, and monoprints to create an abstract narrative.”
Lisa Pressman
Lisa Pressman Between the Lines 17 2009 Encaustic on paper 17 x 17 inches Photo Credit:  Jay Rosenblatt

Lisa Pressman, Between the Lines 17, 2009; book pages, monoprints, encaustic,
17″ x 17″. Photo Credit: Jay Rosenblatt

“I use parallels between human life and the life of trees as a framework for exploring our physical and spiritual movement through time and space. I include wood shards as relics of life; tree rings serve as maps of the past. I strive to create work with a sense of history and personal journey.”
Peggy Epner
Peggy Epner The Long Game 2014 Wax, watercolor, and oil on paper 38 x 34 inches Photo Credit: Hal Samples

Peggy Epner, The Long Game, 2014; wax, watercolor, and oil on paper; 38″ x 34″
Photo Credit: Hal Samples

“I explore abstraction through a variety of found supports and collaged elements.  Using the medium of encaustic, I imbue battered cardboard found on the street with a kind of offbeat beauty – and transform the most ephemeral and fragile of objects into something enduring.”
Gail Gregg
Gail Gregg Rosebud 2012 Encaustic on found cardboard 14 x 14 inches

Gail Gregg, Rosebud, 2012; encaustic on found cardboard, 14″ x 14″

“Printmaking gives me the ability to work on the same or several images at once. This is instrumental for me towards building a series of works that are comprehensive and consistent yet dissimilar and original. Printmaking  has a direct correlation to my painting palette; the inks I use inform the colors I formulate for my paintings.”
Elise Wagner
Elise Wagner Traces & Transits Print 2013 Encaustic collagraph monotype 10 x 20 inches Photo Credit: Rebekah Johnson Photography, Portland, Oregon

Elise Wagner, Traces & Transits Print, 2013; encaustic collagraph monotype, 10″ x 20″
Photo Credit: Rebekah Johnson Photography, Portland, Oregon

“‘Ancient Histories’ explores the marks left behind. These prints are about the trace, the bones and artifacts of ancient impulses. They are the accumulated witnesses of time marching ever forward.”
– David A. Clark
David A. Clark Ancient Histories #61 2014 Encaustic monoprint on Sakamoto heavyweight 25 x 38 1/2 inches

David A. Clark, Ancient Histories #61, 2014; encaustic monoprint on Sakamoto heavyweight, 
25″ x 38.5″

 “The images used in these transfers were taken at the erotic temple carvings of Khajuraho, India, depicting sexual union between people, with a focus on pleasure. Just as there is an urge for the physical act of sex, most people experience a desire to merge body and soul with another. The paper substrates are constructed into forms that reference the movement of human form and language.”
– Deborah Kapoor
Deborah Kapoor Physical Pleasure (Kama) 2011 Photo Transfer on Paper, Snaps, Encaustic 19 x 1.5 x 3 inches

Deborah Kapoor, Physical Pleasure (Kama), 2011; photo transfer on paper, snaps, encaustic; 19″ x 1.5″ x 3″

“My sculptural work is about defensiveness versus vulnerability. The Cluster series falls on the vulnerable side of that spectrum. They are open and fluid, rather than closed and static.”
– Helen Dannelly
Helen Dannelly White Gray Cluster 2013 Encaustic, cone coffee filters 11 x 9 x 4 inches

Helen Dannelly, White Gray Cluster, 2013; encaustic, cone coffee filters; 11″ x 9″ x 4″

“I have always been drawn to the beautiful fragility of paper. Using Japanese papers (mostly Kozo and Gampi), allows me to have a surface that is fragile and sensible yet strong enough to suffer the beating I impose to the paper while working with monotype.”
– Alexandre Masino
Alexandre Masino Je touche au monde IV  2014 Intaglio, gold leaf & encaustic monoprint on Kozo paper 12.5 x 10.5 inches

Alexandre Masino, Je touche au monde IV, 2014; intaglio, gold leaf & encaustic monoprint on Kozo paper; 12.5″ x 10.5″

“My current works explore intuitive mapping of evolving landforms in our rapidly changing environment, and systems in weather and other phenomena and events whose interaction resemble neural networks of the mind. These are reflected in the works on paper and paintings through physical movement and response to media.”
Paula Roland
Paula Roland Dual Map I 2014 Encaustic monotype (two layers) on kitakata paper 36 x 25 inches

Paula Roland, Dual Map I, 2014; encaustic monotype (two layers) on kitikata paper, 36″ x 25″

 “I am interested in the relationship between manmade architectonic structure and the natural landscape, and the interplay between these two forces in an urban environment. My prints work as a shorthand for movement and space between manmade and the natural environment.”
Jeffrey Hirst
Jeffrey Hirst Circuit 2014 Encaustic collagraph on Rives BFK 20 x 15 inches

Jeffrey Hirst, Circuit, 2014; encaustic collagraph on Rives BFK, 20″ x 15″

“The encaustic image was created on a Hotbox as a monotype. It was then twisted and glued into a continuous strip and suspended from the forged iron framework.”
Pat Spainhour
Pat Spainhour Mobius 2013 Rives BFK, encaustic paint, forged iron 17 x 12 x 6 inches

Pat Spainhour, Mobius, 2013; Rives BFK, encaustic paint, forged iron; 17″ x 12″ x 6″

“Using a technique that I learned in San Pablito, Mexico, I draw with and layer cooked mulberry fiber. Using minimal systems of circular repetition, I engage in the act of constructing/arranging and deconstructing/rearranging until the dialogue between the components is complete.”
Jennie Frederick
Jennie Frederick Construct/Deconstruct #3 2013 Thai Kozo (mulberry) and encaustic 30 x 30 inches

Jennie Frederick, Construct/Deconstruct #3, 2013; Thai Kozo (mulberry) and encaustic, 30″ x 30″

“Illuminated by multiple light sources and hung off the wall, these hand sewn cut paper lace works produce a visible dance of light. In this way, the work visually alludes to the delicate yet strong relationships that we form with one another when we are physically distant or separated by time. What is not there is as important in this work as what is there.”
Milisa Galazzi
Milisa Galazzi Waggle Dance Four 2013 Paper, thread, bees wax, damar resin 48 x 24 x 8 inches

Milisa Galazzi, Waggle Dance Four, 2013; paper, thread, beeswax, damar resin; 48″ x 24″ x 8″

“I use paper on its edge to create sculptural drawings that convey the immateriality of clouds, while referencing the curly strokes that an artist (and everyone!) often uses to sketch clouds or smoke. Wax creates warm translucence, and the reflected colors and dimensionality (shadows) change with the light.”
Shelley Gilchrist
Shelley Gilchrist myCloud 3 – Ninfa (side view) 2014 Kozo paper, wax, ink 5 feet x 5 feet x 5 inches

Shelley Gilchrist, myCloud 3 – Ninfa (side view), 2014; Kozo paper, wax, ink; 60″ x 60″ x 5″


This issue’s featured images have been curated by Deborah Winiarski, now Featured Artworks Editor for PWJ.  Deborah Winiarski teaches a mixed media class at The Art Students League of New York and has been teaching encaustic workshops there since 2009. Her work has been exhibited at venues in New York City and across the United States. In 2014, her work was included in WAXING at Denise Bibro Fine Art in NYC, ‘Far and Wide,’ The 6th Annual Woodstock Regional, Woodstock, NY, and BIG BAD WAX at Mount Dora Center for the Arts, Mount Dora, Fla.  In 2014, Ms. Winiarski was an invited artist-in-residence at The Studios at Key West in Key West, Fla. She was also a presenter and workshop instructor at the Eighth International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Mass.  This is her first contribution to PWJ.

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