attracts artists to the encaustic medium? Working with
encaustic offers a whole array of opportunities as it lends itself
to all styles of genre. Encaustic is a tremendously versatile
medium and can be partnered with many mixed media applications
such as photography, paper arts and digital art. Mix your
own colours, create dimensional textures or surfaces smooth as
glass, work in thin transparent glazes or heavy impasto.
two-person exhibition, Pat Whittle and Bruce Tyner are using one
of the oldest art forms in contemporary applications.
Encaustic painting was practiced
by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C.
Encaustic had a variety of applications: for the painting of
portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, for the coloring of
marble and terra cotta, and for work on ivory (probably the
tinting of incised lines).
is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos).
Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and
varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural
bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can
be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used
pigmented. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any
tool the artist wishes to use. Each layer is then reheated to fuse
it to the previous layer.
roots of modern encaustic painting go back to the 18th
century when antiquarians, excited by the archeological discovery
of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, strove to
rediscover the techniques of the ancient painters. Encaustic was
further explored in the 19th century as a way to solve the problem
of dampness faced by mural painters in northern climates, however,
the practice did not become widespread.
painting in 1991 when she was working in the financial field. She
attended night classes at Durham College, joined art groups and
purchased books in order to learn all she could about painting. A
few years into painting, Pat discovered the brilliant colour of
encaustic. It’s a medium that allows Pat to express her love for
colour and texture.
adventurous and curious, Pat enjoys experimenting with different
techniques. “I tried a new method of encaustic painting in which
white fluid varnish is poured on the almost finished work, then
lit with a blow torch,” explains Pat. “Thankful I was outside
as the flames lept four feet into the air.”
Pat also explores
a diverse range of subject matter. In recent years, she has tried
to be more realistic in her imagery, but she finds that she is
continuously pulled back to abstraction.
Encaustic has now
become Bruce’s favourite painting medium. “I enjoy working
with the medium because it can be so flexible,” says Bruce who
has been using encaustic for the past six years and credits Pat
for sparking his interest in the medium. “Often I will have a
concept in mind but with the nature of working with a medium that
actually melts when it is heated, the piece could go in a
completely different direction and I just go in the direction it
surrounds him inspire Bruce. “By looking at one of my pieces,
you are looking at a piece of me, my passions, my experiences, my
thoughts,” remarks Bruce who is currently renovating and old
church in Muskoka Falls to be used as his studio. “I believe we
were all created to create. I find that I am always creating
wherever I am or whatever I am doing,” reflects Bruce. “That
being said, my studio is a special place, when I enter my studio I
have entered my sanctuary. I have entered into my sacred place to
do a specific creation. I can relax and creative juices are free
Both Pat and
Bruce hope that visitors to their exhibition will learn about the
versatility of the medium and a newfound appreciation for this
ancient art. “The medium is also so multi-sensual,” adds
Bruce. “From the moment that the viewer comes into the gallery,
not only do they have a visual experience, they also catch the
sweet aroma of the beeswax that is so much a part of the encaustic
with a public reception on Saturday, October 26 from 1pm until