The Textured Hieroglyphics of Jessie Pollock’s Encaustics

Jessie Pollock_Nest 3_Encaustic on Panel_12x12

Nest #3 by Jessie Pollock, Encaustic on Panel, 12″ x 12″


Jessie Pollock: Vernal Pools and Other Landscapes

September 4, 2015 – December 3, 2015 in the South Gallery
Reception: September 26, 2015, 6 – 8:00 PM

Vernal Pools and Other Landscapes is the latest exhibition of paintings by Jessie Pollock.

In this show, two mediums are represented: her earlier work in encaustic and her recent explorations with cold wax. Encaustic is the process of layering oil paint in hot wax, sometimes with mixed media. Transparency is one of its primary attributes. Pollock’s newer medium of cold wax tends to be more ‘painterly’ but lacks the transparency of encaustic.

Jessie Pollock_Like Clouds, Stones Too Are Amorphous_60x30_Encaustic, Copper on Panel

Like Clouds, Stones Too Are Amorphous, Encaustic and Copper on Panel, 60″ x 30″

Like Clouds, Stones Too Are Amorphous I & II are both 30 by 60 inches tall. In these two encaustic on panel paintings, stones are piled up yet they barely touch one another, precariously balanced, hovering, ready to topple over or fly into the air. Each stone is outlined in thin lines against a thick layering of wax and color. The result is amorphous, as well as sensuous, hieroglyphic and mysterious. Pollock said, “I find stonewalls intriguing. But like all organic material they too are subject to change and deterioration. The walls also represent for me the strength and determination of the people who built them; the attempt to control the wildness of nature and their environment.”

You will want to run your fingers over Pollock’s textured surfaces; exploring like Braille her embedded texts. Not surprising that she trained in art school as a sculptor. The paintings in this show are tactile, especially in her new series called Vernal Pool. These four paintings are painted with oil colors into cold wax. Encaustic and cold wax need to be painted on wood panels or some other stable substrate. In her Vernal Pool series, Pollock rims her panels with copper, adding an old world feeling to these works.

Pollock uses brushes, oil paint, paint sticks and tools that scratch into the wax when cooled. “The beauty of wax is the ability to keep adding and erasing layers, which adds depth. The more layers, the better the piece gets,” Pollock said.

This current body of work at West Branch is Pollock’s attempt to express her appreciation of natural beauty. Living in southern New Hampshire, she experiences the fullness of four seasons. “The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me. Fibonacci and the intricacies of nature have always intrigued me.” Fibonacci is a sequence of numbers; each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. This pattern, called the Golden Mean, is found in all of nature, from the human body, to plants and shells, and in ancient architecture.

Jessie Pollock

Vernal Pools #4 and #3, Oil, Cold Wax, and Copper on Panel, 12″ x 12″

Pollock works in a large studio separate from her house where she paints every day. “I can create all the mess I like in the studio and leave it there until the next day,” Pollock said. “In the morning I paint to classical music. If I paint in the afternoon, I ramp up the music to give me some energy. This time of year my door is open so my companion cat can wander in and out at his leisure, or settle into a chair just to keep me company.”

At the AVA Gallery’s 2015 Juried Summer Exhibition in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Jessie Pollock was awarded a Juror’s Recognition Award. The juror, Susan Strickler, Director of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire wrote, “Jessie Pollock’s richly textured landscape paintings and luminous photo-based images are romantic, sensuous and evocative. They suggest the passage of time and evoke nostalgia for times past. Intensely appealing for their tactile surfaces and radiant light, Pollock’s paintings transcend the reality of a specific time or place. Though modern in their materials and sensibility, these works send us back to a way of life now vanishing.”