Urban Markings in Encaustics 2021
By Claudia Marseille
Increasingly I search the streets of my urban world, often seeing beauty where others may not. Discarded objects, recycled materials, graffiti, torn flyers, rusted metal all provide a bridge between my inner world and the outer landscape of urbanization and globalization. I apprehend and appreciate the life and beauty that urbanity offers us– weathered through time, distinguished by history, and marked by human presence.
Lately I am less interested in what is uniquely personal to me, but rather, am engaged by the universality of the human experience I find in the residue of urban spaces. I scour the streets of my native San Francisco Bay Area, but also foreign cities, for images, inspiration and influence, which I then reconfigure into paintings constructed from wax, oils, collage, and prints from my photographs. The layers of wax create a sedimented history of my impressions and thought. This series of encaustic paintings was generated by past trips to Buenos Aires, India, Morocco, Uzbekistan, San Miguel de Allende, South Africa, and Oakland, CA. And this past year of lockdown has inspired the appearance of the coronavirus into my imagination and several of my paintings.
I love encaustic painting for its direct, physical and alchemical process. Each layer of wax, after it is applied onto a wooden panel with a brush, is fused with a paint stripper, hot iron, or blowtorch. The work is then altered through the application of additional layers, and by scraping off sections with razors and scratching into it with sharp points. Oil paints are rubbed into indentations and wiped off. This produces either a thick, gritty surface, or a thin translucent veil hinting at what else the painting might have been.
The melting process can be unpredictable though, and sometimes strange results can occur. This forces me to be flexible and to remain open to the myriad possibilities that this medium allows.
Claudia Marseille 2021
Claudia Marseille is a Berkeley Native encaustic artist and photographer. She is represented by two galleries, Seager Gray gallery in Mill Valley, and Kelsey Michaels gallery in Laguna Beach. Her work can be seen on her website: claudiamarseille.com. Claudia is currently working on a memoir about growing up severely hard-of-hearing before the advent of digital hearing aids.