Ascending Artist: Christy Branson

Ascending Artist: Christy Branson

After discovering an ancient form of painting with wax, one Spokane artist doesn’t ever want to put down her brush

Encaustic artist Christy Branson. | Photo by Young Kwak.

Christy Branson discovered encaustic painting entirely by accident.

Though she spent five years studying fine art at Boise State University, making her own art mostly went on hold after getting married, moving to Spokane and raising two children.

Now, she can’t paint fast enough.

“I had tried every medium and I loved it all, but I hadn’t honed in to what my craft was going to be,” Branson, 44, recalls from her sunlit South Hill studio, in a former service station off of 29th Avenue. A west-facing wall encompassed by two windowed garage doors illuminates the space in warm, natural light. Having moved there in February, it’s a huge upgrade from working on art in her dim, poorly ventilated basement.

“I was busy doing life, and it wasn’t until I ran across the medium that a light bulb just went off and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to get my hands on this and learn everything I can about it,'” she continues.

Encaustic painting is one of history’s oldest art techniques. Translating from its Greek origins as “to burn in,” encaustic involves using melted beeswax mixed with colored pigments and damar resin, the sap from a family of trees in the Eastern Hemisphere. The oldest known encaustic paintings include third-century Egyptian portraits discovered on the sarcophagi of mummies.

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