Denise Sagan

Denise Sagan is a painter working primarily in mixed media and encaustic in Fayetteville Arkansas. Her contemporary abstractions are inspired by organic textures, colors and shapes she observes in nature. She creates highly textured and organically colored work by blending and layering wax and other materials over an imperfect surface of cracked gypsum.

Denise was born and raised in central Wisconsin. She went on to study art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design before finishing her art degree at the University of Arkansas. Her early art career included 19 years as an illustrator and award winning designer for Dayspring Cards, Inc, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards. as well as creating several commissioned portraits in colored pencil, earning signature status with the Colored Pencil Society of America, and winning several awards, including Best of Show in the Artists of NW Arkansas Regional Exhibition in 1999.

 

BEAUTY THROUGH BROKENNESS

“No one goes through life without pain and sorrow. It happens to all of us. Some of it is a result of our own poor choices and some bad things just happen. Fortunately, we can choose our reaction to our struggles. We can learn and grow from our pain, and difficult experiences can become a source of strength. True beauty can come from brokenness.

As an artist, I work with materials that communicate who I am. For me, it is important to show both the hardships and the joys in life because there is beauty in both. 

I begin each piece with an imperfect base of cracked gypsum (plaster) onto which I apply watercolor. The paint seeps into the valleys and cracks of the plaster accentuating both the harshness of the texture and the beauty of the color. Allowing my materials to crack, absorb and move is what makes my work unique and communicates my message. 

On top of the painted plaster, I apply and burn in encaustic, which is a mix of beeswax and rezin. Like water on rocks, it is the great amplifier, restoring and energizing the watercolor. Encaustic also gives my work a shine and is a wonderful base for more materials like shellac and gold leaf to embed and move. There is a sort of surface alchemy that takes place in which I am able to control the resulting randomness. I simply decide what to keep and what to discard in order to create what I want. 

There is beauty in both the joyful and sorrowful, in both the summer and winter, in both the forests and deserts. I want my work to communicate that”.