Janice Rhodes is an artist that works in beeswax, a medium called encaustics. Her studio is in a converted garage near downtown Bend. In the winter a pot-bellied stove warms the whole studio, but during the summer she opens the large bay door letting sunshine in as well as a few curious bees. “After the bees have checked out what I am creating in beeswax, they go on their way.”
Janice has been an encaustic artist for over eight years. A well-known encaustic artist came to Bend to give a workshop at the Art Station. Says Rhodes,” The encaustic process was so unique and challenging that I moved away from the more traditional mediums. I was hooked. My approach is to paint more realistic, though, than abstract.”
Few people recognize a painting as encaustic, but know they admire the texture, colors and brilliance. This is the hallmark of encaustics. Janice explains that Greek Fayum Funeral masks from centuries ago can be seen in major museums today. The combination of beeswax and damar resin has preserved them. A resurgence of the art began in the 1950s with modern tools
The process begins with Rhodes melting beeswax and resin in a slow cooker. She pours this melted medium into tins of dry pigment that are then kept warm on a pancake griddle. This becomes her pallet. She paints on a birch panel and fuses each layer with a heat gun or torch…there are usually many layers. After several years of working in this art form, she knows hot wax has a mind of its own and she learns something new every day.
Janice is one of the original artist members of the Red Chair Gallery and will be showing a variety of new works in May. She is a member of the High Desert Art League.