Betsy Eby works in encaustic, a painting medium that dates back to the 5th Century B.C. Eby’s mixed-media material is composed of molten beeswax, pigment, and damar varnish. She manipulates the viscosity and then engages in torching, spattering, dripping, and layering her material. She utilizes broad spreading knives
throughout most of the process, and then later uses a brush to draw a line or a specific drip onto the outermost layer on the surface. Not only is Eby addressing the formal structure of composition and color within a translucent medium as unforgiving as watercolor, she must balance this with the dimension of the wax itself, the way wax obfuscates color and buries a gesture, all the while building to a finished surface that glistens like poured resin. It is a process of constant push and pull. The resulting paintings are uniquely transparent, with lush and active surfaces that are simultaneously sensual and contemplative.
Eby was born in Seaside, Oregon, in 1967. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in art history, with an emphasis in Greek, Roman, and Asian antiquities, from the University of Oregon, Eugene. While interning at the University Museum, she was influenced by Asian landscape paintings, as well as by the Northwest master works she catalogued. After graduation, she lived briefly in Tokyo, and was deeply influenced by Japanese history and culture.