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Mixed Media with Encaustic


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. 

Then in 2012, Denise was introduced to the encaustic medium and her work took an entirely different turn. She found encaustic’s luminosity and versatility with other materials to be intriguing. She began using cracked gypsum (plaster) as an imperfect base, painting it with watercolor and covering it with the encaustic. For the next few years, she immersed herself in mixed media and soon realized she wanted to pursue her art full time; that day came in January 2018.

“Riverwalk” Best of Show- Northwest Arkansas Regional Exhibition 2018

“Riverwalk” Best of Show- Northwest Arkansas Regional Exhibition 2018

In September 2018, Denise won Best of Show in the 2018 Artists of Northwest Arkansas Regional Exhibition, this time with a piece done in mixed media with encaustic. Above all, she has learned to trust the process, “I used to control every mark I made on the surface but now I let the materials suggest a course through the work as it develops. I simply decide what to keep and what to discard until the piece tells a story that I like.”