“I got my first commission from my mom to paint the kitchen cabinets when I was 12. She was great at encouraging my creativity.” While Martha Kroupa was raised in an creative family, it was only after a 28 year career in the Coast Guard that she returned to the arts. “Now art has become a way for me to honor my mom.”
For Martha, she recalls “it was all by happenstance that I got into encaustic.” After a trip to Asheville, she was awestruck by the process while watching a local artist create encaustic pieces. She was initially drawn to the warm energy of the process, and its forgiving nature. “There are often happy accidents with what I create. You never know what will emerge.”
“I’m really inspired by nature - that’s where I spend most of my time. I love the birds out where I live in the country, we’ve really created a haven for them too.” After a while, Martha began to notice the different personalities of each bird - even identifying certain bird couples. “I started thinking more about what their lives were like from their point of view.” After a few practice rounds, she created her first blue bird encaustic and it took off from there.
“The creative process begins with my wife, Brenda, helping to build my panels.” Once the panels are built, Martha will create a background, lay several coats of wax to let cure. She then begins painting the image or composition onto the wax. Sometimes this can take several days. After the painting is complete and dried, Martha will apply final top coats of wax. “Brenda and I have recently collaborated on some great collage work with pages of antique bird books or music sheets as the background - onto which I paint. Brenda then frames the pieces. She’s amazing! Working together and brainstorming is so fun.”
The possibilities with encaustic are endless, and Martha is just getting started. She is planning a new series based on her rescue donkeys, which have become quite the inspiration. Through every process, Martha says to “be present and just embrace your creativity and yourself. It allows for freedom of expression.”