By Harry Toufar
SPENCER — The Egyptian Fayum Funeral portraits have survived over 2000 years without cracking, flaking, or fading. The use of beeswax is responsible for this long trek through the ages. The use of beeswax is known as encaustic painting and involves a layering process, with each layer fused together.
Jesse Fritsch was exposed to art at an early age. By the age of five, she was enrolled in painting classes. In high school, she took a short hiatus from art, picking it up again in college. In her first year of college, Jessie was an assistant to a painting professor who just happened to be an encaustic painter. There, she came upon the book, “The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt,” by Euphhrosyne Doxiadis, and her life was changed forever.
According to Fritsch, “I was self taught.”
She applied for, and received, a grant for subjects not offered. With the grant money, Jessie purchased art supplies. The professor let her work on her own.
Encaustic painting can be a forgiving and cruel art. Fritsch was quick to point out, “A mistake can be forgiven. You can scrape it off and start over. The most important part of encaustics is the fusing of the layers.”
What does it take to work with encaustic painting? According to Fritsch, “It demands a confident hand that can control the medium as well as a hand that can allow the spontaneity of the flow of wax.” This balance of discipline and disconformities are reflected in her work as well as in her life. Fritsch said, “I try to let life take hold and just go with the flow instead of worrying about everything all the time and unlike life, encaustic is forgiving. If you don’t like what you put down, just scrape it off and start over. “
“A Buzz in Art” will be on display in the LuCille Tack Center for the Arts gallery during the month of February. An open house will be held on Friday, Feb. 2 from 5-7 p.m. The art can be viewed during the open house and during performances.