Stephanie Hargrave

About the Artist

Inspired and influenced by the architecture of natural structures, Stephanie’s paintings and sculptures grow to be abstractions of organic forms. She often uses the design element of repetition, so often found in nature, as pods, seeds, blooms, cells, eggs, husks and spines co-mingle and overlap. There is a direct and intentional correlation between subject matter and materials, as bee’s wax, resin and pigments are painted in layers and fused with a torch.

Pure bee’s wax lends itself beautifully to the imagery she creates, which is painted free-hand from imagination. Much of the line work is created by inlaying pigmented wax into carved lines, scraping it flush and fusing it in. She burnished in ‘draw-through’ prints on tissue and graphite drawings to add texture and different line weights. Stephanie approaches each piece without a pre-conceived idea of what it will look like — instead, she lets the painting grow naturally through the process of layering and decision making, adding and eliminating, receding portions and creating new imagery.

Each piece can be polished to a natural sheen with a clean cloth, or if left alone, will ‘bloom’ (a natural occurrence with these materials) which looks like a film that develops on the surface. This matte surface is lovely, but the colors richen when polished.

Stephanie has been painting and working in clay since college, where she studied color theory, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting. She started a line of functional ceramics as a small business in 1997 after studying with Carol Gouthro, and has worked with metal, oils, and acrylics, but her medium of choice is bee’s wax. She learned a great deal studying with Jef Gunn and Larry Caulkins at Pratt Fine Arts Center, and has been focusing for the last 9 years exclusively on encaustics. It is the one medium that affords all the other materials she’s worked with to overlap and inform one another. Bee’s wax is aromatic and physical, romantic and transparent, addictive and difficult. She finds it inherently lovely.