Q: When did you begin working with encaustics?  What do you love about it?

A: I took an encaustic class taught by Mel Kolstad about three years ago. I always wanted to try encaustic painting but as a person with a very small studio, the set up for the typical encaustic artist was not possible for me. Mel’s way of working with a small craft iron works well in my small space and working in the collage method just speaks to me in a way that I can’t quite explain. 

I love building images in layers and how the encaustic medium creates immediate depth and atmosphere. As with all mediums, there are inherent challenges and limitations to encaustic collage. I also enjoy the challenge of figuring out ways to accomplish a particular effect that I imagine. Sometimes I make it work. Sometimes I don’t, but each time I try a new method, I learn something new that influences my work.

Q: Tell us about being both a mini gallerist yourself (of the Nicholas Quarry Gallery), and having a show in someone else’s mini gallery!  

A: It’s exciting! Especially since the Angelica Kauffman Gallery was inspiration and motivation for me to renovate my old dollhouse for the same purpose. I enjoy seeing how you have curated the show!

Emily Runnerstrom Solo Show at the Angelica Kauffman Gallery

Close up view of 9 1″ x 1″ encaustic works by Emily Runnerstrom.

Q: You also work larger, how does your creation process change when you work on a miniature scale?

A: My practice does change. I edit my actions more when working in miniature,  and set up arbitrary rules such as “I will only create an image in only three layers,” or “I will only use collage images from the same source.”

That is one rule I followed when making the Common Tangle series. All the images came from National Geographic magazines from the early 1960s. I found it was a good thing I used the same source material, because as I began to melt the encaustic medium over the images, the magazine ink started to dissolve! After a moment of irritation, I began to manipulate the inks in a way that maintained the essence of an image but also blurred the faces of the people I chose for the collage. I enjoyed how the blurred faces added a bit of mystery to the pieces. If I had chosen images from a variety of sources, there would be inconsistencies in how the collage material reacted with the wax and I don’t think the pieces would work as well as a series.

Emily Runnerstrom Opening Reception

Emily Runnerstrom Solo Show at the Angelica Kauffman Gallery; view of the opening reception.

Q: Love those little faces in these works — do you find the collage materials and go from there, or do you start with the idea and look for the perfect material?

A: When working in collage, the idea almost always starts with the collage material. I am a big fan of antique ephemera. I have built up a solid collection that I use in my collage work. I’m never without a good starting point for a piece. 

Find Emily @emilyrunnerstromart on Instagram and emilyrunnerstromart.com