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New exhibit at the Holy Cross Gallery featuring Greg Wright

Published 9:42am Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Local artist Greg Wright has a new encaustic art exhibit at the Holy Cross Gallery.

Encaustic artwork by Greg Wright. (photo submitted)
Encaustic artwork by Greg Wright. (photo submitted)

Wright has had a lifelong interest in art, architecture and design. With a degree in architecture, Greg worked and lived in Atlanta until retiring to Tryon about seven years ago. After retiring from his job, Wright was searching for his artistic muse and found it last fall when the Upstairs Artspace offered a class in encaustic painting in conjunction with their exhibit “Heated Exchange.” While working with wax poses certain challenges, Wright loves the flexibility of working with encaustic and the variety of  tools and materials that can be used to create a finished piece.

The word “encaustic” literally means “to burn in.” Encaustic refers to both the paint and the process of painting with melted wax.

Encaustic painting originated thousands of years ago. Ancient Greeks used melted beeswax to seal their boats. They soon discovered that pigments and hardeners could be added to the wax and their caulk became a means of decoration.  A thousand or so years after the Greeks, Egyptian painters used  the medium to decorate mummies and to create portraits and icons.

For many years, the method was essentially lost and forgotten.  Encaustic painters Diego Rivera, Jasper Johns and others revived the medium in the 20th century. The advent of heating tools made the use of the medium far easier and encaustic painting has once again become popular.

The process: clear or pigmented beeswax is mixed with natural tree resin, which acts as a hardening agent.  The wax is then melted, and brushed onto a substrate using a paintbrush or other tools.  Each layer of wax must be fused with the layer below using a heat source so that all the layers are  bonded together.

The paintings are for sale, with a few exceptions. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 150 Melrose Avenue in Tryon.

- article submitted by Wanda May

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