Kathleen (right) with LA sophistosThe works are colorful abstractions of classical architecture, with each painting borrowing its tantalizing title from a Greek term found in my book (e.g., Naos, Eleusis, Mystai, Kystai, Kykeon, etc.).
I'm always interested in the role chance plays in the production of a work of art. Kathleen's paintings seem a subtle mix of playful happenstance and conscious design.
Surprisingly, this sense of artful spontaneity is captured in a painstaking ancient technique called encaustic.
Encaustic is from the Greek word enkaustikos meaning 'to fuse,' or ‘to burn in.' The ancient Greeks sealed the hulls of their ships by coating them with wax and resin, while heating the coat with fire. Eventually they began to mix in pigments, adding color to create their startling warships.
Though slow and difficult, the layering of the wax heating process gives a rich and life-like optical effect, and is far more durable than tempera.
By the 5th c. B.C., the technique was being used in highlighting features of the marble statues on the Acropolis and the famous Parthenon frieze.
"Phidias and the Elgin Marbles"by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, oil, 1868
Kathleen explains her use of the process:
Along with gorgeous colors (you really can't appreciate the translucent effect in these flat, digital images) the process leaves an interesting edge to the paintings.
"Animal or vegetable wax (I use beeswax) is melted with the resin of the Asian fir tree. Oil paint is then added to the hot liquid and applied with brush to a wooden panel. The wax immediately hardens and must be fused with fire, or heat, for its permanency."
Here's how the catalog sums up her art: "The elegance of the works is tempered by geometric blocks of color, giving a sense of contingency to the otherwise highly controlled world of architecture."
I like that: a sense of contingency. It speaks to the process, the art of the art. As if Chance had been caught while fusing into Fate.