My newest body of work, Uncharted Territories, was created over a nine-month period, and represents my ongoing curiosity and fascination with the unknown and the celestial within a cartographic framework. Most recently, I have reincorporated oil painting; translating and bringing into oils the various layering and glazing methods I have discovered through encaustic. This new way of working is how I continue to challenge myself, and is inadvertently congruent with the title of the show.

Painting for me is navigation; abstraction is navigation. In this way, every painting I have made has been an Uncharted Territory. Working in an abstract realm often calls for creating an arbitrary direction through the use of color, scale, composition, subject and materials. I begin my paintings very loosely, by laying down what I refer to as a territory. I build thin layers of wax to initiate a dialogue. I navigate each painting by way of my use of materials, and discovering what emerges from what I have put down in the past. My process is methodical and relies upon response and sensibility to chance occurrences as well as predictable ones to ultimately direct the work.



For close to three decades, the majestic untouched landscapes and natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest have largely informed my creative sensibilities. Using the many symbols found in physics, alchemy and meteorology as my muse, I strive to reflect the seemingly illogical and arbitrary order inherent in today’s uncertain world.

Engagement with my immediate natural surroundings has fostered a preoccupation and fascination with the unknown, the sublime and the celestial. Creatively, my interest lies in attempting to bring aspects of all these things, our unseen realities, our sense of time, memory and place into a visual context. Atmosphere is used in the work as a metaphor for transitions: where things end, where they transform and where they begin again. 

The foundation of my work often begins with careful consideration to scale, color and composition achieved by visualizing or drawing. I often work on several paintings simultaneously and rely on chance occurrences in materials to navigate me.  This way of working enables me to detach from the work to some extent, allowing for a dialogue or theme to emerge.

Painting for me acts as a metaphor for all that that is unknown, intangible and incomprehensible to us as human beings. Though my work is driven by my own fodder and nostalgia of science’s attempt towards a definition of order, the true meaning in the work lies in its interpretation and contemporary relevance.

Elise Wagner, 2014