lisa donohue


Encaustic and Pinball? Absolutely. Like Beethoven and Disco.

Contemporary encaustic works typically bend toward the otherworldly - soft, organic, dreamy and abstract. When faced with the challenge of producing encaustic pieces that would be evocative of pinball graphics & culture, my knee-jerk feeling was that it was a pretty silly notion.

My inspirations for this project come from vintage pinball and pachinko machines: the beautiful patinas, textures, color palettes and strong, universally-recognized graphic motifs are fun and nostalgic inspiration. Weathered and decayed playthings can take on such a lovely, historic quality - sort of like an old-school gamer’s interpretation of the “Velveteen Rabbit”.

For these works I went far beyond the typical limitations of encaustic medium. Encaustic (melted natural beeswax, pigment and damar resin) offers endless possibilities for layering and embedding all kinds of materials, but can be wildly unforgiving in its application. Applying high heat to distribute wax and pigment constantly forces changes in composition, making it difficult to tame into clean lines and separate colors.

My approach for “Silver Ball” involved computer graphics software to map out composition elements and create negative/positive hand-cut stencils for masking & layering. Digital files were also sent to a fabricator to custom cut plexiglass. Finally, I incorporated weathered hardware, authentic carbon steel pinballs and LED electronics to illuminate portions of works from behind the canvas.

My hope is that these pieces will inspire a sense of wonder, playfulness and nostalgia for game enthusiasts, and to help break the mold of what is placed in the typical encaustic art “box”.

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