American Hot Wax

California painter’s no blues diva, but she gets by

Encaustic (hot wax) art is messy, semi-dangerous, and difficult to work with. The only bonus, really, is the kinky stuff you can do with the leftovers. But when lifelong painter Susan Foley encountered the technique, it was love at first sight.

“My work has always been about surface, and I loved the look of encaustic,” she says. “I don’t use it in a traditional way.” Rather than brushing on layers of colored wax, Foley builds and scrapes alternating layers of oil paint and plain wax to build up the surface of the canvas. The resulting works capture the intent of the artist at every step, in the same way a tree records its history in layers of bark.

Though the 50-something artist is well known in the California art community, people sometimes confuse her with Sue Foley, the blues singer. “Finally, I went out and bought her CD,” Foley says. “She’s great. In my next life, I want to swap places with her.”


Fri., Jan. 2, 7-10 p.m., 2009
 
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