MATERIAL + SUBJECT
In this series of paintings, the subject matter correlates to the specific type of wax used on each support - i.e. beeswax reflects the history and the poetry of bees, microcrystalline wax the politics of petroleum and soy wax, the effort to go ”green” or to consider the notion of being sustainable.
This series was part of an 2009 exhibition entitled “Relationships” at the Brunnier Museum of Art, on the Iowa State University campus.
Facts about each of the waxes:
Beeswax is the most pure, natural and sustainable of the waxes in addition to having an intoxicating and sensual aroma. It is the most versatile of the three waxes, allowing for the broadest variety of technical applications. One must use a rigid support, such as wood panel, when painting with beeswax. It is also the most costly to use. Environmentally, there is an ongoing concern about the future of pollinators and ongoing debates on what is causing colony collapse and how to stop it.
Microcrystalline, a petroleum-based wax is a more supple wax and can be used on stretched canvas. It is not from a sustainable source,
Soy wax is not a typical wax used by artists who work in the medium/technique of encaustic because it is not stable. In 2005, I initiated a collaborative relationship with Dr. Toni Wang, an Iowa State University scientist, who has been making various “soy wax” recipes for me to emulate the unique properties of both beeswax and microcrystalline wax that I most desire from those individual waxes. The goal is to make a soy wax recipe that is stable enough and that has the same range of technical applications that the other waxes have.