Deborah Howard-Page

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Neighborhood: Potrero Hill

Inspired by images of wild birds I saw in a U.K. newspaper, I felt compelled to paint them. As I worked, what crept in were hints at disappearing wildlife habitats: ghostly tree branches, empty nests, holes in trees, eldritch bracken, or abandoned bird houses. Bits of decorative "wall" paper appear through the wax, hinting at human domesticity; our relentless, invading progression into vanishing wild domains.

When I realized my equipment and I were not up to the task, I went online to seek permission from photographers to use their images. (I don't usually paint over photographs, although I have done in some of my earlier Cupid works using my own photos.) I render figures with oil paint over a ground of many layers of wax encaustic on small wood panels, incorporating gold leaf, bones, feathers, leaves, flowers, fabric, glitter, old wallpaper, origami or decorative papers into the layers of wax. Once the oil paint has dried, which takes a few months, I like to go back in to add finishing touches of pastels, inks, and/or colored pencils.

A luscious ground for oil paint, melting beeswax smells SO lovely (reminiscent of my Waldorf school days!), plus it lends an element of mystery to the finished work, both of which I find appealing.