Encaustic Slide

Encaustic at Clark University

April 26, 2012 - Written by 

Brook Gruber & Nicholas Hancock

Many multi-disciplinary collaborations and new techniques have emerged in the many and various encaustic workshops that have proliferated in the last two decades. Toby Sisson, a professor at Clark University in Worcester, MA, has been consulting with R&F for the past two years to make encaustic an integrated part of the painting program at Clark.






Jessica Bisbee

What is exceptional about the course Sisson has developed is that it is one of the few instances where encaustic painting has been brought into the academic curriculum. Sisson has her students explore the many properties of the medium and then use them to approach sculpture, photography, printmaking, painting, and drawing as part of what she calls a mixed-media “cross-pollination” with the different disciplines.



Palette set-up with exhaust hood

Palette set-up with exhaust hood

I recently paid a visit to Sisson’s class in encaustic painting at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Many of the 12 students had had their interest piqued by an exhibit of encaustic work that Sisson had curated the previous semester. Some were inspired by the seductive opulence of the paint and the almost infinite variety of mark making possibilities. Others were fascinated by encaustic’s long and fabled history.

Toby Sisson with her class

Toby Sisson with her class

Many of these students are double majors, combining science, language, literature, and art history with their fine art degrees. So the various directions from which the students were approaching it further broaden the cross-pollination that Sisson is using as a focus for the class.