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Wax on, Wax Off: Local Artist Blends Encaustic Art and Photography

By Kelly Church

Tucked away in her private home studio in Brookline, MA is artist Amalia Tagaris. As a nationally exhibited artist, Tagaris is trained in professional photography, but self-taught in her true passion: encaustic art.

Encaustic art is a form of painting using a beeswax, damar resin and colored pigment mixture applied to a rigid surface such as wood or treated canvas. Originally developed by ancient Greeks and Egyptians who wanted to adorn architecture, sailing vessels and portraits with elaborate detail, this form of art requires fusing of the layers of wax paint to each other to maintain sturdiness of the painting. Tagaris started experimenting with the encaustic medium in 2009.

"It was love at first sight when I discovered landscape artwork painted with the encaustic medium just several years ago in Boston," Tagaris says. "I was drawn to the luminous qualities of the paintings as well as the depth and textural surfaces that could be created with the layers of wax."

Tagaris considers encaustic art a unity of the things she loves, including photography and various types of paints. Working with encaustic paints allows for Tagaris to constantly be revisiting her work. Once the wax comes in contact with a heat source, it once again becomes malleable and reworkable.

"I find this medium exciting and challenging since the original intent of my work can be altered in a spontaneous moment," Tagaris says. "I [am] also attracted to working with encaustic paint since a multitude of other mediums and materials such as photography, oil paint and inks can be incorporated within the layers of wax. I especially enjoy working with my photographic prints since the wax gives the image a painterly effect. You can see the movement of the brush strokes on the surface of the work which brings the photograph to life."

Tagaris says that marrying her photography background with her love of encaustic painting was a natural progression that created an original direction in her art. By introducing a flat photograph to the encaustic medium, the piece is given a unique "ethereal" quality that continuously excites her.

Tagaris has no professional training in the encaustic arts, but has a pretty large portfolio to show that she is working to perfect her craft. She has paintings for sale with a wide range of inspirations, although she insists that art isn't about profit.

"I define a true artist as someone who dedicates themselves to understanding the mediums they choose to work with while having the intention of expressing themselves creatively," says Tagaris. "I do not believe true artists have to hold degrees in art nor do they have to make an income from selling their art."

"NYC Times Square II", encaustic & pigment stick on photograph, 30"x40" (2012)
"Euphoria", encaustic on photograph, 12"x36" (2011)

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