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Studio 87 Art Gallery in Perth features artist Sarah Hunter
Sarah Hunter

After graduating with a BA Hons degree in Graphic Design in the UK, Sarah made a successful career as a graphic designer and Illustrator for over twenty years. Since moving to Canada, the artist has been pursuing a passion for encaustic painting. A sense of place is very important to Sarah, and painting the Ontario landscape has been grounding to this place now called home.

​Over the years, the artist has developed a love for the physical wax surface of encaustic, which when applied in its molten state has both immediacy and spontaneity allowing their “paintings” to develop a life of their own. Sarah has learned to control the medium but, when the heat hits the wax, it is always a surprise. There are so many subtleties of heat and how the wax and pigment respond to it. With encaustic, one must embrace the accident and the mystery; which Sarah does admirably.

Sarah applies the pigmented wax in many luminous and complex layers. Oil pastels, raw pigments, shellac and graphite are incorporated and fused into the surface with a blow torch. Each layer is reheated to be made smooth or built up to create texture. And, Sarah often etches or carves into it to reveal the history of the work; the strata of the landscape, if you like.

Sarah explores the balance between representation and invention with the hope that a kind of distillation has taken place where the artist’s passion for, as well as the essence of the Ontario landscape comes softly through.

What is Encaustic?

Encaustic Painting is an old technique dating back to Ancient Greece. Encaustic consists of natural beeswax and dammar resin (crystalized tree sap). The word means “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax to fusing the layers of wax. The medium is melted in a variety of ways from flame to iron to blow torch! Applying the hot wax can also be done in myriad ways ranging from using a paint brush to simply allowing the wax to drip onto the artwork’s surface. Some artists scrape or carve into the layers to reveal colourful underlayers, giving a bas-relief surface. An extremely versatile medium, the wax can be mixed with dyes, and spread over canvas, photo-transfers and wood panel.


How do I care for Encaustic art?

Encaustic is durable and archival. As with all fine art forms, it should not be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures; keep it in temperatures between 35° and 125°Fahrenheit (1 to 52° Celsius). Indirect sunlight or bright, white lighting is desirable and will bring out the luminescent quality imparted by the wax.


An encaustic painting may develop a film on the surface for the first six to twelve months as the wax cures. This is a natural process called “bloom” and is easily removed by wiping the surface with a soft cloth. Dusting the artwork’s surface with a soft brush and buffing it with a soft cloth periodically will maintain the unique patina of the wax.


If storing or shipping the artwork, first wrap it in a layer of wax paper, then wrap it in your storage/shipping material of choice. If storing it in a cool space, handle it carefully (do not bump the edges), and allow it to return to room temperature before unwrapping it.

Your beautiful encaustic art will last a lifetime!

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