Artist Statement KRISTEN WILKERSON
Kristen Wilkerson is an American artist who creates abstract encaustic paintings from her studio in Asheville, North Carolina. During the process, she applies roughly 100 layers of beeswax, resin and pigment to achieve a perfectly smooth surface with a deep complexity. Kristen makes the encaustic base using beeswax straight from the hive of a local beekeeper; thus, each piece permanently carries the scent of honey. In addition to practicing art, Kristen designs and teaches online courses in advertising
for Michigan State University. Her path to art is somewhat unique; she is a self-taught artist and professor, yet her academic and industry experience actually inform her art. She notes, “The creative processes behind cultivating just the right ad, crafting the perfect lesson or painting a complex work of art are all very similar.” She adds, “I’ve worked with oils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels since I was a child. To me, encaustic is the ultimate artistic platform because it’s a perfect culmination of all of these mediums. The process can yield a painting that’s smooth or rough; transparent or opaque; abstract or realistic. “With each firing, the wax reveals a different personality. There are really no limits to what you can do with hot wax.”
After creating acrylic and oil paintings for many years, I found myself drawn to encaustics. Part of the intrigue for me lies in its history as an important ancient art form dating back to at least the 5th century B.C.
The other is the versatile, complicated nature of the medium; with every firing and manipulation, the wax reveals luminous colors, patterns and textures. My paintings bring to light my passion for contemporary art; I’m also highly influenced by the beauty and geometry of modern architecture and design. My schooling and experience as an advertising copywriter also inform my work. To me, the complex processes of crafting just the right words and constructing a painting I’m content with are nearly identical. And, as in copy writing, I almost always instinctively know when a piece is truly complete.
I often use cool, moody hues—the colors of the sea.
To me, the unpredictability and depth of the water parallel the abstract patterns that transpire as the beeswax is fused, layered and fused again. Sometimes my paintings are transparent; more often, they’re opaque. After years of experimentation I've established some control over the medium; however, the distance from torch to surface as well as variations in temperature,pigment composition and technique all affect the outcome of my work. In the end, all of these elements combine to write a unique story for each piece of art.