Marion Nelson popularizes ancient Encaustic Art

For those who made it to Marion Nelson’s “Encaustic Works” show at Kenai Peninsula College interest in an ancient art form has been re-kindled. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface, usually prepared wood, canvas or other materials. Marion Nelson, manager of the Kenai Mall back in the day, became known as the Mile Post lady before retiring and starting the very popular Central Peninsula Garden Club, but was also part of the beginning of the Kenai Art Guild who only recently has taken up encaustic painting, “Art has been a life long interest and ability of mine which now has taken this turn with an introduction to encaustics thanks to a friend of mine the Mile Post editor in Anchorage who encouraged me to take a work shop in encaustics with her, which I thought would be fun and here I am three years later with a show at KPC and a studio I have in my backyard,” Nelson told the Dispatch in an interview during the show. 

Marion brought a life of experience in pottery, sculpture, water color, acrylics, fiber and paper and a wide variety of media to her new found passion for totally original encaustic art, “One of the assets and liabilities of an encaustic piece is that there is no way to duplicate it and there will never be two pieces alike a picture is the only way to copy it or keep as a record of what I have done,” she said.  Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface but Nelson says sometimes the piece really creates itself, “I try to have some idea of what I’m going to do, otherwise I get lost in the wax a little bit so I do give myself some direction or like I say I give myself assignments as I did with the salmon piece here at the show, but it primarily depends on where I am on a given day and what I want to achieve as an end result,” she explained.  Marion said the reception of her encaustics by the local community was very encouraging with many more pieces selling than she had anticipated, “I also got a few pieces commissioned from the show and it was very encouraging.  There were some that were not for sale, those I’m keeping for the future and my family.  I have a lot of work to do now to catch up with the pieces that are gone out of my studio and I certainly plan on having other local shows in the future for folks who may have missed the one at KPC. 

Marion is always willing to share with others interested in encaustics but says she wants to learn more before actually teaching.  You can meet Marion Nelson most any Tuesday or Wednesday at either the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon or the Kenai Chamber meeting at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center or at any of the regularly scheduled Garden Club meetings held at the Aquaculture Building on K-Beach Rd.