Julie Brookman is best known for her encaustic paintings, where through hot wax and pigment she has found a way to capture the myriad faces and moods of the sea in a way that makes time stand still. To create her paintings, Brookman focuses on layering, transparency, and repetition of movement to allow the paintings to form intuitively, and of their own volition.
Her work has a thick, semi-translucent glasslike surface, with layer upon layer of encaustic wax mirroring the ocean surface itself.
"Julie Brookman has given her recent paintings the title, Saudade. Though this Portuguese word is notoriously difficult to translate, the English word, nostalgia, may come closest. The two ideas that seem to crop up in all definitions of Saudade are 1. a yearning for something in the past, and 2. a keen awareness of ephemerality. I take the time to parse this word because so much of the energy that is in Brookman’s paintings seems to flow from these ideas. She has found a way to freeze the pounding surf, to make time, and sea foam, stand still, and in the process of looking at the results we are somehow made aware of the impossibility of the task at hand, for the more we stare at the hypnotically complex and unendingly irregular patterns of waves, the more aware we are that to watch something in the act of becoming, or of dissolving, is only to remember what it looked like a moment ago, which is to say that seeing is an agency of memory.
The most recent of these paintings turn away from the surf, and it’s collision with the land, and abandon any obvious direct referents in favor of mystery; these latter paintings could conceivably be construed as the surface of metallic planets, or as vast oil slicks, but on the wall they present themselves with an authority that requires no further gloss.
The creation of the paintings involves more elemental processes than the usual picture requires. Brookman works in encaustic, a medium of ancient provenance which involves hot wax as a binder for pigment. The paint must be heated at various stages of application in order to make it able to be brushed and manipulated. In addition to heating pans of color on a hot plate, Brookman employs a variety of torches to heat and re-heat the surface of the painting. Aspects of the process are inherently uncontrollable, and instead require an ability to allow the painting to unfold on its own. Drastic changes can occur over large areas quite quickly, so the artist must be alert to nuances of timing as she wields her industrial torch in great sweeps across the surface." —Michael Pauker