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The Artists Among Us: A creative canvas of hot wax

[Christine Jamieson]
Artist Christine Jamieson, seen in her home studio, says she enjoys encaustic painting because it's “very sculptural.” Below are three of her paintings. The dinosaur (not encaustic) was part of the on the wall street art festival in Kingston. (Submitted Photos)

Christine Jamieson loves the process of working on an encaustic painting. The art form is also called hot wax painting, and involves just that: heating up wax. The melted wax can then be pigmented and applied to a surface, whether it be wood, paper or canvas.

[Christine Jamieson - Sun]“It’s very sculptural,” says Ms. Jamieson, who works at Queen’s as a graphic designer in the marketing department of University Relations. “There are so many ways to express yourself. I love carving into the wax once it has dried, and if I’m not happy with something, it’s easy to scrape off.”

At Queen’s since 2008, Ms. Jamieson works full-time but finds that she migrates into her home studio after her young daughter is asleep, often working from 8 or 9 pm till close to midnight. Alternatively, on some weekends, her daughter and partner may head out for a few hours and she steals away to work on a piece.

“It’s really therapeutic. Right now I am working on a series influenced by my mother, who has started to prematurely lose her short-term memory. I am trying to find a way to express the way she sees the world, the immediacy. She lives so much in the present and is so captivated by details – the light of the water in a swimming pool, or the texture of a sofa cushion,” says Ms. Jamieson.

[Christine Jamieson - Worm]“She is also trying to hold onto moments, taking bits of tangible things – a paper cup from a burger place that she’s written our names on – so she doesn’t forget them. I think bringing her into my painting is one of my ways to cope with her illness.”

Ms. Jamieson has always been creative but she didn’t start painting steadily until she took a workshop in encaustics back in 2007, and loved the form. She slowly built up her studio and now enjoys using many different media in her paintings, including photos and other paints, such as watercolours and oils. She is also starting to get into illustration. 

Much of what Ms. Jamieson does at home feeds into her work at Queen’s, even if it’s simply on a sub-conscious level. In marketing, she designs print and electronic material for the university, including viewbooks, magazines, web pages and identity development. 

[Christine Jamieson - Skirt]“I don’t often think about it, but the imaginative work I do in my painting does work its way into my designs. If, for some reason, I’ve been thinking about dinosaurs at home – maybe working on something with my daughter – somehow that playful element, even if it’s not dinosaurs, will work itself into the designs. That vibe is in there.”

Ms. Jamieson has exhibited her work in several exhibitions in Kingston, and works on commission. View more of her paintings at christinejamieson.com. She is also interested in starting a lunch-hour field sketching group – if you’re interested, contact her at jamiesnc@queensu.ca