Collector’s Choice: Pamela Caughey


Pamela Caughey

What is Encaustic Painting?


Encaustic painting involves painting with molten beeswax combined with damar resin crystals. Encaustic layers are added gradually, and fused with heat using either a propane torch (my preferred heating method) or heat gun. This heating process is what gives encaustic painting its name, which means “burning up in” in Greek. This is an ancient medium, originating over 2000 years ago. Examples from antiquity include the Fayum Mummy Portraits from Egypt, discovered in the late 1800s, completely preserved to this day.



The word Encaustic comes from the Greek word “Enkaustikos”, which means to heat or to burn and is an ANCIENT medium. Some of the oldest surviving encaustic paintings are the Fayum mummy portraits (Fayum is a hot, dry region of Egypt.) The Fayum funerary portraits were painted on wooden panel in the Greek realistic style, but showed contemporary fashion and hairstyles of the Roman court. The wooden portraits were placed over the mummies faces, and buried in mortuary temples—where it was dry, dark and airless.


Many of these portraits were excavated in the late 1800s, and there are about 900 that are perfectly preserved, 2000 years later. Paintings on panel were considered very prestigious in the Classical world, but the Fayum portraits are the only large body of art ON PANEL to have survived.





Photopolymer (Solarplate) Etching


What is Photopolymer Etching? In this printmaking process, an image is transferred to a light sensitive plate, called a solarplate, and exposed to the sun or inside a lightbox. After the image is transferred to the plate, the plate is rinsed in water, dried, and then inked and printed on an etching press. Though photographs can be used in this process, drawings can also be done on ground glass and the image transferred to the light sensitive plates. The results look somewhat like traditional lithographs, because the ground glass used in the drawing has a surface




Pamela Caughey is an artist living in Hamilton, Montana with her husband and two sons. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. During her four years of college, she took courses in oil painting, ceramics, and art history. She lived in London, England in 1983-1984, where she studied photography, drawing, and ceramics. After moving to Montana in 1986, she began her serious study of watercolor and served as President of the Montana Watercolor Society in 1996, Vice-President in 1994-1995, and Watermedia Chairperson in 1994. Since her move to Montana, her work has been included in numerous juried, solo, and group exhibitions throughout the country.




In the fall of 2007, Caughey continued her studies in art at the University of Montana. She began graduate school at UMT in 2008, and earned her MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Montana School of Art in December, 2010. Her work was exhibited in numerous venues in 2012, including the 10th NW Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, WA, Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture in Bozeman, MT, the Holter Museum of Art in Helena, MT, and the Missoula Art Museum’s Triennial: 2012. In 2014, she had a solo exhibition, “Ubiquitous”, at the Missoula Art Museum. This show will travel over the next three years to venues from Wyoming to New Jersey.




While Caughey creates art related to psychological, social and biological themes, she is equally challenged by pure abstraction. “I consider myself an experimental artist, enjoy mixed media, and like to allow the process to guide my explorations of the day. The encaustic medium holds a special interest for me, as the medium of molten wax encourages spontaneity, the ability to work on a malleable surface, and the opportunity for the most direct translation of emotional content to the painted surface.”

Caughey has served on the faculty of the Bitterroot College of the University of Montana in Hamilton, Montana from 2011-2013. She is currently a full time artist and teaches from her studio.





University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. Biochemistry, 1983
University of Montana, School of Art, MFA Drawing and Painting, 2010


Holter Museum of Art, Sherman Gallery, January 20-April 20.
Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ; Ubiquitous, January.

Nicolaysen Museum, “Ubiquitous”, Casper, WY; May 13-Sept 18.
Tart Gallery, September.
Creighton Block Gallery, Big Sky, MT, July.

Turman Larison Contemporary, Helena, MT, August-Sept.

Missoula Art Museum, Missoula, MT, Ubiquitous: Migration of Pathogens.
Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell, MT, Terra Strata.


I would like like to give sincere thanks to Pamela Caughey for sharing her art works with KIRSTEINFINEART in today’s art feature.







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