Encaustic wax is a medium that predates oil painting. The ancient Greeks first discovered that molten beeswax mixed with pigment could both seal and decorate their boats. Later, the Egyptians used encaustic paint for the portraits on the crypts of their aristocracy. In the 20th century, Jasper Johns rediscovered encaustic painting, a process based medium that offers new techniques each time you work with it.
My work is a combination of encaustic paint, collage and oil stick. The heated paint solidifies instantly as it is applied to the surface. As I build up layers of paint, I scrape, etch, collage and rebuild my surface. The fragility of wax and the task of manipulating it, offers constant challenges. By its very nature, one must relinquish a certain amount of control as wax has a mind of its own. While I guide it…it guides me. There is something meditative about working with encaustic wax…the mixing, painting, pouring, fusing and scraping. The very process of painting in encaustic allows for editing and reworking, thus allowing me to create my work much the same as a writer writes a book. The end result is richly textured paintings filled with nuances.
Several of my series explore landscape grounds where familiarity feels unfamiliar. The work sits between near and far…painting and drawing…narrative and non-narrative representations. These imaginary landscapes emerge from a dream whereby the dreamer discovers a world that appears recognizable, yet it is one he/she has never seen. It is a visit to a distant memory…one that cannot be fully recalled but can be comprehended. It is that fleeting moment, the ambiguity in the psyche, which I strive to make real.
Contemporary artist, Francesca Azzara, works primarily in encaustic wax, a medium that pre-dates oil painting. Encaustic paints are made from beeswax mixed with pigment and resin. The paints are heated on a hot palette and worked with a heat gun and brush. This challenging yet forgiving medium allows the artist to layer the paints, collage and etch into the wax to create unique and varied surfaces that cannot be duplicated with any other medium She has been working in encaustics for over 12 years.
The artist’s work has been exhibited extensively through out the tri-state area resulting in numerous awards including: two HEART grants from the Union County Division of Cultural Affairs and featured “Artist of the Month” on the Discover New Jersey Arts web-site. Francesca’s work has been sighted in many publications including the New York Times and the Newark Star Ledger. She is a member of the prestigious National Association of Women Artists (the oldest women’s art organization in the United States) and the New Art Group aka NAG (www.newartgroup.com)
Francesca teaches encaustic painting workshops to both beginners and intermediates at the Newark Museum and the Art Center of New Jersey. She also teaches photographers encaustic techniques to help them enhance their photographs.