Fashion Magazine

Jessica Hemmy – Encaustic Painter

By Simonettha

This artist uses an interesting technique to make her suggestive paintings. Here’s her story.


 “I grew up in beautiful Lawrence KS. It’s a university town rich in culture with a great focus on the arts. My father was a glass artist and I spent most weekends running around art fairs or his glass studio. My parents signed me up for all kinds of art classes at the art center and I took every art class available to me in school all the way through high school. Although I had a strong visual arts background I ended pursuing a different love, I went to culinary school and worked as a chef through my 20’s.

At 29 I became pregnant with my first son and realized the culinary field didn’t fit my current family situation well. It was demanding of my time and somewhat hard on my body. I wanted to get back to visual arts. I went back to jewelry making, silver smithing and began painting. I loved the tools of jewelry making and working with my hands but painting was almost instantly gratifying. I had trouble focusing on one medium.

Then I saw a video online of encaustic painting. I had never heard of this technique or medium. I started researching it and watching videos. I obsessed over it for quite some time. At that time I was pregnant with my second child and on a strict budget. I was afraid of working with anything that might have harmful fumes. Finally after my baby was born and was a few months old I dipped into my savings, bought up all of the encaustic supplies I could afford and dove in. This is the medium I had been searching for. I love it. Now I dream in melted wax and shellac burns. I can’t get enough. I still work with other mediums such as alcohol ink or acrylic paints when I can’t get into the studio but encaustic is where my artistic heart is these days.”


 What technique do you use and how do you choose the colors? I use a technique of layering the encaustic paint (which is made of bees wax, dammar resin and pigment powders) and fusing each layer. Once the layers are thick enough I like to burn into them with my blowtorch. Sometimes using it as my paintbrush for a distinct line and other times using it in a more abstract pattern. I also do a lot of shellac buns which create a lacy veining effect. I try to choose colors that have a high contrast to one another but I always seem to go back to a lot of blues and greens.

Since I am new to this medium there is a lot for me to learn. I have been playing around a little with image transfers but for the most part I like movement and fluidity in my work.


What is art? Art is different for each person and every artist. For me art is expression. It is therapy and escape. It is connecting with another person through creating something. It is a vision pulled from your mind or your soul and shared with the world.


What are you inspired by? I am inspired by nature and the medium. I love that the medium comes from bees (wax), tree sap (resin) and beetle secretions (shellac). It’s intriguing to watch the paints flow and bubble and swirl. I love letting that be part of my piece. Letting the medium move freely and embracing that in the final look of a piece.


 How would you define your art style? I would define my art as fluid and organic in style. I like my works to have a sense of movement even when the subject is abstract. I don’t like a lot of hard angles in my work.


 What is your next project? I have several pieces in mind that I want to work on. I have some collaborations that I’ve been speaking to another artist about. But I think the next project will be a series inspired by nature. Shapes that I want to use and colors I’d like to play with. I have some monarch butterflies that go through all their stages on our tropical milkweed. I’d like to do a series based on the colors they go through; from caterpillar, to that beautiful chrysalis with gold and black and finally to that vibrant orange, copper and black.


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Jessica Hemmy – Encaustic painter

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