Bee Season

Lisa Marie Sipe, 32, is sweet, cheery and likes to mess with melted wax. Three years ago, she started working with encaustic — in which pigmented wax is poured, painted or dripped to create colorful, nature-inspired patterns. Her well-organized garage studio smells like sweet, melted beeswax. For months, in preparation for her show "Dog Bellies" at Shemer, Lisa chased down every spotted mutt in town for inspiration.

On encaustic: I invite people to my studio all the time because I think it's playing, in a way. I'm, like, "Come over. Let's play." And I show them how to do it, because a lot of times people are really interested in it. Some people are, like, "Oh, this is really fun," and other people are, like, "Ugh, I can't stand this."

Do it: I always knew that I would do art but I always told myself that, like, "Oh, graphic design is my career. I'll wait until I retire and do it." I don't know why I thought something stupid like that. I was working with the administrative assistant from Shemer at the time and she was, like, "Oh, let's take a class," and I was, like, "Sure, that would be a lot of fun." And through that, I'm, like, "I can do this. Why am I waiting? Why? I can — I can do it." I think I had the misconception that you can't do that for a living. That's not how you survive. And I think we make what our lives are. So if I want to live by that rule, I can. Or I can say, "I can do this."

Pattern-maker: I'm really attracted to nature and patterns in nature. It started with tree bark for me. I really, really fell in love with the tree bark and then I noticed that everything has its own pattern. So, "Dog Bellies" is the first show that I'm doing something totally different than what my other shows were. Not only do I love dogs, I love these shapes. It's interesting to me how very similar they are to the tree bark. And then from here, I want to go on to (I just took some photographs of spots that my brother has on his shoulders, and I think I want to go into doing a family portrait in my language) taking that closer look and getting down to the patterns.

Nice belly: It got to the point where I ran out of people I knew with spotted dogs, so I went to the dog park. And that felt really weird. I took my press releases with me because I didn't want to seem completely insane. So I had to be, like, "I see your dog has spots and here's what I'm doing." It felt a little strange. But, actually, dog owners love their dogs, so people were, like, "Oh, my Gosh, I'm going to post it for everybody to see at the dog park." It was a very good response.

Bee problems: And I just had my new studio and I'm, like, "Okay, this is fantastic." I come out here, I turn everything on — it's 10 a.m. on a Saturday. So I turn everything on and then I go in the house because everything needs time to warm up. So I come back out here to start working and there are bees swarming everywhere. And I know that bees are attracted to beeswax, but whenever I've taken the workshop during the day, we might have one bee come in. So bees are swarming in here and I was, like, "Oh, my gosh. I have to do these paintings and I can't go out there. Am I going to have to get a bee suit?" I was on the verge of tears and my husband goes, "Well, have you ever seen a bee at night? Why don't you try working tonight and see what happens." And so that night I came in and not one bee showed up.

Tasty: I think someone said that they wanted to lick the piece or something. Because one of the pieces kind of looks candy-colored and so they wanted to lick it, which I thought was kind of strange, but I took it as a compliment.