Introducing Artist No. 53 – Elise Wagner

When Elise Wagner, PDXOS artist No. 53, was 15, she aspired to be a ballerina.  But then life got in the way.  She was involved in a near fatal drunk driving accident in 1982.  She spent her recovery drawing and, on her return to high school, her art teacher encouraged her to pursue art as a profession. “I have always overcome life’s many challenges through creating for as long as I can remember. The reason I continue doing art is it deepens my experience and evolves along with my own growth as a human being.”

Elise eventually relocated to Portland, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree at Portland State University.  She studied painting, sculpture, art history, printmaking, geology, physics and environmental biology, which eventually wove into what would become the conceptual fabric of her work.  She is currently working on a series of paintings that highlight the receding glaciers that will be on exhibit at Butters Gallery in October during Portland Open Studios. ” I am also continually working on a limited edition series of encaustic collagraph prints that serve as studies for my paintings.”

She works “as if I am drawing a map to a place that doesn’t exist. Creating after all, is creating something from nothing. My work process is methodical. I enjoy creating challenges and pushing the boundaries of my chosen mediums. It involves staying open, researching, reading, drawing and journaling. It is also interdisciplinary, as if I am conducting a conversation between encaustic, oil painting and printmaking.  My research is ongoing. I have Google alerts set up so that I receive notifications about discoveries in physics, astronomy and the environment. I also look at images from the National Geologic Survey on a regular basis. I have a slew of bookmarks that inspire my work in addition to many books in the studio I look at when setting out to begin a body of work.”

Elise is excited about inviting you into her home studio.  Although she has been in the studio for 16 years, she still feels it is a work in progress that has evolved along with her career as an artist. “There is a lot to see in the small space of my studio. When I had my house painted, I selected a very bright red for the doors and I’ve referred to them over the years as ‘the red doors of abundance’. I have taught encaustic and printmaking workshops in my studio for 16 years to artists who travel from many parts of the world and my art compound has become known as ‘Wagnerica’. It is set up for encaustic, oil painting and printmaking. My Takach etching press will be on display and likely in use as well as my many wax colors melting. I will have a large selection of prints and small encaustic works on display for sale. Also, I developed a way to print from the texture of beeswax called ‘Encaustic Collagraph Printmaking’ using my own specially formulated collagraph white wax. I will be demonstrating the use of my Wagner Encaustic Collagraph White and it will be available for sale.”


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