Mary Ellen Sisulak

Sisulak Mary Ellen

Address: 11736 Mink River Rd.
Phone: 920.854.4839
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Website: &
Medium: Mixed media, Encaustic, Fine crafts
Gallery Representation:  Edgewood Orchards Galleries, Turtle Ridge Gallery, Ellison Bay, Encaustic Art Institute of Santa Fe

Mary Ellen Sisulak

Interpreting the power of stones, grounded in earth, I stretch hide over manipulated wood panels, carving, forming and painting into this primal surface. My strength is in the line, which can be seen throughout my work, but sometimes, just a color or an object is the impetus to start a new piece.  I  return to some of my favorite subjects, which have become sort of spiritual for me. I find the description and narrative to be part of the piece only after I have completed the journey, but it is always there in my subconscious.  My subject matter is always connected to nature and history.

I am an enthusiastic and long time encaustic artist.  I started in the 60's after I was introduced to the media by my high school art teacher.  The medium was taught with the added benefit of its Greek history and origins. At the University of WI-Milwaukee in 1974, none of my professors were versed in the medium and so, I had to experiment with it; including some very unsafe practices of mixing my own cold wax with heat and turpentine and a lack of knowledge in safe and appropriate surface preparation.  After I produced a collection of work in 1996-1998, I decided to switch to gouache because of its portability.  Still enamored with the medium, in 2018, I took some workshops with Francisco Benitez and Ellen Koment in Santa Fe. The introduction of water soluble encaustics, safe practices and new techniques was like a catalyst for me and I fell in love with the medium again.  I like to combine very detailed areas with looser areas, so the combination of water-soluble encaustic and hot wax in my pieces gives me control and freedom. I start with a pencil drawing, then rub the dark areas with graphite.  Water soluble encaustic lets me build thin layers of details and I can incorporate the hot encaustic as well as layers of water soluble medium to get the translucent quality I strive for, leaving areas thick and textured or thin and articulated.  I am deeply influenced by my habitat.  I live in Door County, WI, a peninsula surrounded by water and I have the benefit of the Mink River Nature Conservancy adjacent to my studio. It is a wild place that has many unique indigenous species.  I like to study my subjects in depth: how plants, flowers and trees grow and our relationship to them.  My paintings are an exploration of my surroundings. 



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