Hargrave’s encaustic work strives to combine biology and botany with imagery that isn’t overt per se but feels ultimately familiar. Her paintings incorporate a tendency to abstract organic forms, and in doing so, emphasize the direct correlation between subject matter and materials, as beeswax, resin and pigments are heated, layered and fused with a torch.
By applying hundreds of thin layers, she can attain the transparency and luminosity that is possible with wax. She carves into the pieces with pottery tools and dental instruments, exploring varying line weights in the process. There is often tissue paper with quiet pencil lines drawn, burnished and layered into the wax, and more recently, she is using a fine powdered graphite to achieve desired details. She is also applying encaustic to hand formed porcelain structures. These are combined using steel wire, crocheted cotton string or yarn.
Hargrave approaches each piece without any pre-conceived idea; each painting grows naturally through the process of layering, decision making, eliminating, receding, assessing and at some point, knowing when to walk away. “I find beeswax inherently lovely, and work with it always mindful of how its natural beauty and transparency can coexist with my ideas and imagery.”