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For the Love of Bees:

Works in Hot and Cold Wax by Catherine Rodgers

December 20, 2016 - March 19, 2017

Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center

Catherine Rodgers, a painting and textile arts instructor at the Museum School of the Arkansas Arts Center, tells us about the encaustic works in her exhibition:

It all begins with a flower and a honey bee. Bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers and transport them to hives where either beeswax or honey is made. Artists discovered how to use beeswax in their works centuries ago. The practice comes to us from ancient Greece and perhaps even earlier.

The artist in her studio.
While there is evidence of use throughout art history, waxes are in the midst of a revival today for many reasons. I am drawn to them because of their permanence and historical background plus the brilliance of color and visual effect. The painting also hardens quickly, which is an advantage over working with slow-drying oils. And, then there’s the aroma. My studio smells like honey while I am working making it a delightful experience. Bees have even dropped by as if they have found their home.

The wax process is simple. Pigment is mixed with beeswax and a resin and worked from a warm palette using a brush for hot wax applications. The final treatment is using a heat gun to fuse and bond the painting. For cold wax, a solvent is added to the wax and pigment mixture softening it for application with a palette knife.

My works are inspired by my life experiences. I have had flying dreams since childhood and in my dreams I soar through the clouds looking down on the Earth. My landscapes, therefore, resemble Google maps, which I use as source material when sketching my paintings. Many of the images are taken from land formations surrounding the Arkansas River. The color choices are solely mine and based on color theory. Some are analogous color schemes, some complementary, and others are taken from proven selections on the color wheel.

Catherine M. Rodgers, Snow Melting, 2016, beeswax, oil, Dammar crystals, cold wax on canvas, courtesy of the artist
I also enjoy exploring with beeswax to see how far I can take the medium. I have entombed dyed papers, a by-product of making silk scarves, with beeswax and finished the solid wood top of a table I made with a mixture of pigment, beeswax and damar crystals.

My first memory of the Arkansas Arts Center was being in a play when I was a child. My role was to be a tree swaying in the breeze. Since then, life has taken me down many paths. I hold a M.B.A., worked for many years in corporate marketing, and founded Barefoot Studio where I trained yoga teachers and taught classes. For the past ten years, art has been my full time passion. In addition to teaching for the Arkansas Arts Center, I teach at Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa in Tecate, Mexico.



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