Encaustic medium refers to molten beeswax mixed with damar resin (which creates a harder surface). Encaustic paint is created by mixing pigment, either dry or oil paint into this medium. The encaustic medium or encaustic paint is heated to a melting point (160-220F) on a heat source. I use an electric griddle with temperature gauge. Then it is quickly applied to a substrate using natural bristle brushes while still warm. Each applied layer is fused to the previous one using another heat source. I use a heat gun, propane torch or tacking iron each of which gives a different texture. This is important to maintain its structural integrity otherwise the layers would peel off like phyllo dough. A finished piece often has 10-20 layers of encaustic wax/paint.
The luminosity of encaustics as well as range of media that can be incorporated with it are 2 key factors that have drawn me to it. Charcoal sketches as well as photographs can be burnished or transferred into the wax. Paper or objects can be encased/collaged. Pastel, inks and graphite can be used within it. A variety of metal tools are used to scrape, incise, texture the wax. Working with encaustics is an alternately additive and subtractive process and one in which there is great tactile engagement with the material.
Sabrina primarily works directly on wood substrates. However she is currently creating encaustic infused Japanese paper artwork as well. After infusing the strips with encaustic medium, they are laid onto a bed of beeswax on wood panels.
About the Artist:
Sabrina Armitage lives and works in Los Angeles, and her layered, textural multidimensional artwork is influenced by her education in psychology and her previous professional experience as a social worker where she worked to unfold the human layers that reveal the inner psyche.
Sabrina was born in Vienna to Czech parents. Her family moved to New Orleans when she was one. From an early age she had a passion for sketching the world around her. Being surrounded by the historic homes of New Orleans and the architecture of the European cities where she spent her childhood summers, she became drawn to the effect time had on the texture of wood and iron, and the ways in which the layers would unfold to reveal the history of a building. These textures and layers would represent a significant theme in her mixed media art years later.
After studying architecture, Sabrina’s curiosity shifted from understanding structural framework to exploring the framework of the human psyche. With degrees in psychology and social work, Sabrina began a formative career in clinical social work, drawn to working with children and families, helping to unfold the human layers that reveal the inner landscape.
In 2012 Sabrina fully entered into the world of encaustic painting. The rich colors of the French Quarter and its historical layers continue to impact Sabrina while her summers in Wyoming inspire raw natural paintings and a vision of wide open spaces. Themes of resilience and adaptability weave through many of Sabrina's pieces, reflecting both her background in the human psyche and her parents’ escape from a war torn occupied country. Sabrina’s multidimensional work illustrates struggle and yearning, the translation of humanity's foibles and the layers that can be peeled back, revealing the internal landscape. Her ever-evolving layered medium of encaustics encompasses the truth of nature in its specific natural form and evokes possibility and resilience as the human threads that course through both life and art.
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Frame: This piece was framed by the artist, and the frame may be made from different moulding than is featured elsewhere on the website where we describe the frames used for our photographs.