About the artist

Light. If there’s any one thing that has fascinated me – and driven my art through 45 years – it has been the nature of light. I purchased my very first camera at 13. It was a Sears branded SLR I ordered straight from the catalog with money I earned mowing grass in Wise, Virginia where I grew up. My intention was simply to photograph clouds. I was captivated by how sunlight shifted and shaded through the layers … how it peeked grudgingly around the edges of storm clouds … how it slowly seeped – golden and warm – to knock out the cool colors of the morning haze of the Appalachian Mountains

I never imagined this curiosity with light would turn into an Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moment for me. Without even realizing it at the time, my focus literally changed. Little by little trees crept into my cloud pictures. Then land. Then buildings and entire landscapes. Light remained at the core … but I began to see differently. And I began to fully appreciate those unexpected moments when – without warning – light could transform the entire world in front of me.

That fueled a life-long love affair with capturing light. Although I spent a few memorable years as a professional photographer, shooting for a local newspaper and doing the obligatory wedding circuit, I soon found another home at the keyboard. I’ve spent the bulk of my time since as a professional writer, first as a print journalist and then as an executive speechwriter, a position I’ve reveled in for nearly 30 years.

While writing has paid the bills, chasing light remains a tremendous passion. I’ve spent a lifetime traveling to common – and sometimes remote – areas trying to capture it just for a moment with my camera. I love traveling to the national parks in the US and Canada, but I’ve also found captivating subjects simply driving down I-75 and on rural backroads.

One journey a few years ago took me to New Orleans … where Alice was waiting to usher me down the rabbit hole again! To journey through the rabbit hole once should be enough for anyone. But twice? It had to be fate that put me and my wife in Jackson Square where local artists sold their work. It was there I saw a photographer do something I’d never seen before. She covered her photography with … beeswax. It was the most ethereal photography I’d ever seen. Encasing the photo in beeswax changed it in profound ways. I knew I had to learn more and so began another journey of discovery about this ‘new-to-me’ – yet ancient – medium called encaustic art.

Simply put, encaustic is a combination of heated beeswax and damar resin. Most artists – but not all – add pigment to the encaustic and apply the liquid mixture to a surface like wood or a photograph. That’s where I started, too, covering my own photography in beeswax and finding an entirely new way to see light. But like any journey worth taking, it was the unexpected twists and turns that yielded the greatest satisfaction.

I found encaustic was imminently adaptable. You could not only add pigment, it was also a fantastic medium to explore texture. And layers. And mark-making. And more layers and pigments and embedded papers and shellac and fire and inks and oil sticks and pastels. The more I explored, the more encaustic became, in the words of Alice herself: “Curiouser and curiouser!”

And so today, I’m still tumbling down the rabbit hole. Letting the art take me where it takes me. Curiously exploring new compositions. Curiously exploring new techniques. But more than anything, exploring new ways to capture my life-long fascination with the curious nature of light.

Fletcher Dean

Artist, photographer, and writer

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