Stephanie Hargrave Encaustics: Artist's Statement


Hargrave’s encaustic work strives to combine biology and botany with imagery that isn’t overt necessarily, but feels ultimately familiar. Her paintings incorporate a tendency to abstract organic forms, and in doing so, emphasize the direct correlation between subject matter and materials, as pure beeswax, resin and pigments are heated, layered and fused with a torch.

By applying hundreds of thin layers, she can attain the transparency and luminosity that is possible with wax. She carves into the pieces with pottery tools and dental instruments, exploring varying line weights in the process. There is often tissue paper with quiet pencil lines drawn, burnished and layered into the wax. She approaches each piece without any pre-conceived idea; each painting grows naturally through the process of layering, decision making, eliminating, receding, assessing and at some point, knowing when to walk away.

“I find beeswax to be inherently lovely, and work with it always mindful of how its natural beauty and transparency can coexist with my ideas and imagery.


Hargrave has been painting and/or working in clay since college, where she studied color theory, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting, as well as creative writing. She started a line of functional ceramics as a small business in 1997 after studying with Carol Gouthro, and has worked with metal, oil paint, watercolor and acrylics over the years, but her medium of choice is beeswax. She learned a great deal studying with Jef Gunn and Larry Caulkins at Pratt Fine Arts Center, and later began co-teaching at Pratt (using wax as an element in sculptural collage) with Rickie Wolfe. She also teaches at NW Encaustic, various other venues, and from her studio.

She has shown her work in Seattle, Minneapolis, San Luis Obispo, Santa Fe, New York and Atlanta. Her work is in several corporate collections, including Seattle’s Swedish Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center, Barclays International in Texas, Abri Hotel in San Francisco, the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, and Kaiser Permanente in Baltimore. In 2014 she was a panelist for the Inside Art program at Town Hall on the topic of Imagery and Art (curated by Juan Alonso-Rodriquez), her collaborative work with RobRoy Chalmers was on the cover of Art Voices Magazine (Fall Issue), with accompanying article/interview, and featured in Jennifer Margell’s publication of her book Encaustic Art. In 2015 she was the juror for the Mercer Island Art Council’s Yearly Art Show, and her work entitled Capra Hircus 3 was juried into the Encaustic Art Institute’s permanent collection. In 2016 she received a grant to complete a collaborative permanent art piece at Einstein Elementary that features the work of over 120 students. In 2017 she received a project grant from International Encaustic Artists, and in June 2018 was published in their online EncaustiZINE (Unity featured on the cover, article on Innovation pgs. 12-14). She is currently working on a large commission (3 encaustic works and 2 sculptural encaustic works) for a residence in Boise, and preparing for her second showing with Shift Gallery at The Seattle Art Fair (juried/international).

Hargrave donates to a variety of auctions each year, co-runs Shift Gallery with fellow artists, and maintains memberships with Artist Trust, Pratt Fine Arts Center, the Center on Contemporary Art and the International Encaustic Artists.

Encaustic has been her focus for the last 18 years - it is the one medium that affords all the other materials she has worked in to overlap and inform one another.