I began working in encaustic in 2009 and developed my encaustic process during a 3-year intensive studio practice and study of the medium. Recent innovations in encaustic materials have allowed me to experiment to paint larger, thinner and on canvas while still maintaining the primary properties of translucency and opulance that make encaustic such a rich medium for my sea themes. The encaustic process involves heating pigment-embedded wax on a hot palette. As soon as my paint-laden brush leaves the palette, it begins to harden. Each paint mark made on canvas has to be reheated to fuse to the canvas and to previous marks and layers. In a medium-sized canvas, I have laid more than a hundred layers and have fused each with either a high-heat air gun or a small iron. This is a labor intensive, messy, hot, uncomfortable process that relies on an artist's ability to “go with the flow” and manipulate the materials to her end. I work on a flat easel, standing, and use gravity as well as brushes and palate knives to help move the paint. Traditionally, encaustic paintings are made with beeswax paints on small, hard surfaces. I use a combination of waxes and pigments, including a small amount of beeswax.
Ruth Hamill received the Copley Society of Art Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. (2017) and is "one of the most intuitive artists working today," according to a Charleston, NC, Post and Courier review of her work (June 1, 2016). She works in oil and encaustic on canvas as well as ink on paper and experiments to use these traditional mediums in new ways to best suit her subject, which is often the transiency of a wave. Ruth Hamill is the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center grant (2009) and top awards at the Crane Estate Art Show (Ipswich, Mass., 2009) and Rocky Neck Art Colony's Perfect Storm Exhibit (2015). Her work has been shown at The Art Museum of Cape Cod (Mass.), Shore Institute of Contemporary Arts (NY), and covered in The New York Times, Art New England, Artscope Magazine, Art Mag of the South, Charleston Post and Courier, and Boston Sunday Globe.