Kathleen Waterloo

Kathleen Waterloo creates encaustic paintings (encaustic: the ancient technique utilizing pigment mixed with molten beeswax) which are color-based architectural fantasies. Responding intuitively to her passions for and intellectual interest in the design of man-made human environments, Waterloo creates color formed space that blurs the line between 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional perception.

For this recent body of work, the artist has studied the floor plans and design characteristics of major international airport terminals in China. With these global visual cues functioning as a starting point, Waterloo creates rich encaustic tapestries of color and structure, engaging us in the question of how we map our own spaces, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Waterloo in the studio

Airport/Wuhan (WUH) 2014, Encaustic on panel, 48" x 44"

Airport/Qingdao (TAO)   2014, Encaustic on panel, 48" x 44"

Airpoort/Shenzhen (SZX), encaustic on panel, 44x44

Airport/Chongqing (CKG), encaustic on panel, 30x30

Airport/Hong Kong (HKG), encaustic on panel, 30x30

Airport/Guangzhou (CAN), encaustic on panel, 24x24

Airport/Beijing (PEK), encaustic on panel, 24x24

Run Thru I (DLC), encaustic on panel, 12x12

Run Thru II (DLC), encaustic on panel, 12x12


Encaustic painting is a technique developed in ancient Greece, and refers to any process that incorporates the use of wax manipulated through heat. Predating oil paint by centuries, beeswax is the oldest known pigment binder. The Greek word Encaustika literally means "Burning In". Typically, in this process, pigment is added to molten beeswax and in some cases resin, a hardening agent, and then applied to a rigid surface. The surface itself may be warm allowing for manipulation of the encaustic paint. It may also be cool causing the brush stroke to "freeze" immediately. After each application, the object is subjected to the "burning in" process, which consists of passing a heat source over the surface, causing a fusing and bonding of the painting. The surface may then be polished with a soft cloth resulting in an attractive sheen. While this is considered the "Classic Technique", encaustic is a flexible medium, accommodating a wide range of experimentation.

Beeswax, with its organic qualities, its evocative translucency, and its inherent feeling of timelessness, can be a seductive medium for both artist and viewer. Today many contemporary painters are rediscovering this ancient medium with amazing and varied results. These artists are experimenting with the expressive possibilities of encaustic techniques, pushing and coaxing the medium in new and unusual directions, always with an eye to its history.

Encaustic artwork has the advantage of not yellowing, of weathering well, being unaffected by moisture, and actually being able to withstand higher heat than oil paintings. It can be used for creating texture and can be applied to any number of surfaces (canvas, paper, stone, wood panels, etc). While at first glance beeswax may seem like a delicate medium, durability is one of it's greatest attributes; many examples of complete and undamaged works survive from ancient times. Unlike paintings produced in other mediums, these works retain a surprising brilliancy of color and freshness of execution. Rooted in historical precedent, this versatile medium remains vital, rich with possibilities for contemporary artists.