The Artists

Susan Arens

Encaustic paintings

Bainbridge Island, WA

My work has evolved from traditional oil painting to include encaustic painting and mixed media. Encaustic painting is an ancient medium that uses pigmented beeswax painted on a solid surface like wood. The ancient Egyptians used it rather creatively to paint portraits on mummies, pieces of wood, even ships. In subsequent years it fell out of favor due to less labor-intensive mediums such as tempera, fresco, oils and most recently, acrylics.

Today, encaustic painting enjoys a renaissance with readily available mixed pigments and supplies. I discovered the painterly aspects of encaustic painting in 2011 at a local workshop and have been experimenting ever since. It is a fascinating medium that offers the luminosity of oils and the transparency of watercolor. It is fun to combine with other media - some of my paintings may include charcoal, oil stick, graphite, thread, tissue paper, maps, fabric, even window screen. And unlike other media, encaustic paintings are very durable, resistant to moisture and won't fade.

My subject matter varies from figurative work to abstract landscape and collage. I like having a variety of media to work with and typically work on several paintings at once. Since the encaustic process requires a heated palette and heated wax, I can work on a collage or an oil painting while my wax is heating up!