Whether firing up the butane torch or gently scraping away layers of beeswax, Mary Farmer is in constant motion as she paints. It’s a ballet, it’s a tango, it’s a funky bounce and it’s called working in encaustic. By adding layer upon layer of beeswax infused with Damar resin and pigment she achieves beauty and luminosity in her encaustic work.
Following in the footsteps of such renowned painters as Jasper Johns, she chose the unique medium of encaustic painting to express herself artistically to the world. Farmer melts beeswax and colored pigments and then applies the hot mixture to a prepared panel. She labors through hours of sculpting and layering to build vibrant images into masterful works of art. Unique to other artists that employ the encaustic method, Farmer often uses watercolor in her process. This unconventional technique provides a beautiful, dreamy “under painting” for her layering effects. She also mixes her own pigments, incorporates handmade paper, raw pigment, graphite, and oil stick within the many layers of her paintings. Farmer is a popular teacher; she teaches both novice and experienced encaustic artists on various aspects of encaustic technique. “Encaustic paint is my medium of choice, I do take a bit of multimedia approach but, in the end, it all comes down to that beautiful, luminous and tactile beeswax. I just can’t get enough of it.”
When asked, “At what point did you decide to make art” Farmer replies, “My father was a very creative guy. He could design and build anything; I had the coolest playhouse on the block! We had an outdoor kitchen before it was ‘the’ thing. As a young woman, I made things all the time: Barbie doll clothing, special occasion cards, small treasures and symbolic altars. About 20 years ago I started drawing and drawing and drawing, shortly thereafter I learned how use oil paint and then I could/would not stop. My art making genie woke up and insisted on being heard and expressed.” Farmer obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Georgia State University after beginning her degree program at the Atlanta College of Art. She has completed several encaustic workshops and certificate programs in New York and San Francisco.
Mary Farmer lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and has a studio dedicated to support a constant flow of her creative juices. Mary and her husband, Michael, travel often to new and exotic places – “We both have a touch of gypsy in our soul” – she has a particular affinity for New York, Paris, Portland (both), and New Zealand. She attended the Havana Biennale in March 2006. They have traveled to hike the Italian Alps, the West Coast of Ireland, and much of New Zealand’s South Island. She spent a month covering the continent of South America, visited Italy, France, Germany, Spain and England to ramble through galleries and museums, taking in as much art as possible, this is a favorite endeavor.
“Creating and making art is one of the most gratifying things I do. It’s my deep need to express this fundamental part of me. Words often fail me, the paint never does.”