Artist spotlight

Hey this is cool: Angus King bought her painting

She paints using the encaustic method, an unusual medium which uses hot wax
Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:30pm

    CAMDEN — It must be a good feeling to get an email from Senator Angus King telling you how much he loves your work.

    Kendra Denny, a local artist from Camden, didn’t even know one of her paintings sold at Archipelago in Rockland last week until she woke up one morning and got this email.

    "Kendra — Mary and I fell in love with your painting at Archipelago over Blues Festival weekend. My idea was to take it to Washington but Mary says it doesn't leave Maine! Really nice work; thanks for sharing. Best, Angus."

    “It felt pretty awesome to have someone I admire and voted for admire the work that I do,” she said.

    The painting titled Silver Dawn, is the view from the top of Bald Rock looking out over the bay.

    Denny’s been creating art for as long as long as she could hold a pencil. The painting King bought, as well as everything else in her current body of work, was made using the encaustic method, known as the “hot wax” method.

    The way it works is that she works off a hot flat griddle (the kind that makes pancakes) using a medium of beeswax and damar resin (a pine resin) she makes herself. She spreads the wax on the griddle, then adds oil paints to tint the medium. 

    ”The only thing that is weird about it is that I’m working on a heated surface,” she said. “I keep my medium in a tin on the griddle to keep it melted. Other than that, it’s not that different from any other painting methods.” The process of encaustic painting is similar to the way a watercolor artist would add water to a tray and mix in different colors.

    Once Denny has her medium the way she wants it, she dips her paintbrush in the wax and paints on wood panel.

    She learned these techniques from a workshop she’d taken at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts three years ago and has been using the encaustic method of painting ever since. 

    “It’s pretty unusual,” she said of the method. “It was originally designed by the ancient Greeks to decorate ships. And nobody really knows how far that goes back—some say Ninth Century B.C. They discovered pretty quickly that they could also use it as an art medium.”

    Given its maritime history, it’s only fitting Denny would be drawn to encaustic painting. This summer, she has been working aboard Lazy Jack II, a schooner out of Camden and when she has time to paint, she focuses largely in landscapes and seascapes.  She says that the nature of the wax allows for much more versatility than traditional oil or watercolor painting.

    “I can do image transfers into the wax,” she said. “It works best with old Xerox images. If you put the Xerosed image face down into the wax and burnish the back of it, you’re left with a mirror image of the original.”

    One of her more recent projects has been photographing Curtis Island in the Camden Harbor every morning at 8 a.m. and creating a series of image transfers from the photos to encaustic paintings.

    Denny, a Camden native, is back in Maine for good after a 15-year absence.

    “I’d been feeling burnt out from living in Washington, D.C., and when I came back up here for the Haystack workshop, I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ Everything fell into place at once and I moved back within a month.”

    This past April she was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of two artists in residence to spend a month at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland.

    For now she is content to work on the Lazy Jack II and lay down her artist roots in the community. She recently became a member of Art Collector Maine. Her work can frequently be found at Archipelago, River Arts in Damariscotta, and The Gallery at 11 Pleasant in Brunswick. For more info visit

    Kay Stephens can be reached at