“Hot Wax, Cool Paintings” will be featured at BAA Gallery

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The work of artist Anne Kennedy will be featured at the Beaufort Art Association (BAA) starting March 1 and running through April 26. The theme of her exhibit is “Hot Wax, Cool Paintings” featuring encaustic painting, which is an unusual blend of hot wax with pigment.

An opening reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 6 at the Gallery at 913 Bay Street in Beaufort. Light refreshments will be served. There will also be on exhibit the work of 65 other local artists, who are members of the Gallery. The public is invited.

Kennedy started her career as a cytologist, which she says was defined by “looking for the smallest of changes in shapes and colors of cells of the human body using a microscope. For many years, this was my art,” she said. “Now, I work in oils, mixed media, alcohol inks, and my passion, encaustics.”

An ancient technique dating back to the Greeks, encaustic means “to heat or burn in.” Greek mariners used wax to caulk ship hulls; pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships.

The use of encaustic on panels rivaled the use of tempera in what are the earliest known portable easel paintings. Tempera was a faster, cheaper process, while encaustic was a slow and difficult technique. It allowed the paint to be built up in relief, and the wax gave a rich optical effect to the pigment making it startlingly life-like.

Encaustic had far greater durability than tempera, which was vulnerable to moisture. Perhaps the best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the first through third centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt.

The 20th century has seen a rebirth of encaustic on a major scale, having overcome the laborious job of melting the wax.

“I have found my true calling as an artist with this natural medium,” says Kennedy. “As a beekeeper, I use the wax from my bees mixed with the resin of trees and pure earth pigments to make the “paint” that I work with. The sensuality of melted wax, the luscious colors, the feel of working with this difficult but forgiving medium has forever found a place in my heart.”