Carly Le Cerf captures Australia’s arid landscapes in ethereal interpretations.

Story + Photos Mandy McKeesick

Artist Carly Le Cerf works in overalls and boots for a reason. In her studio near Mount Barker, WA, hot wax is flicked against boards and a blowtorch throws flame. In a corner, in a frypan, something is melting. A wall is a canvas of its own – scrawled random thoughts and inspirations, chunks of melted paint, waxy shavings on the floor. If it were red it would look like a massacre. Out of the chaos emerges a desert landscape, viewed from above as though a wedgie has directed the work.

Carly does encaustic painting, a technique that mixes pigment with native Australian beeswax and Damar resin, and the resulting combination lends both translucency and depth to her sprawling works. “I heat the wax and resin in muffin trays on a George Foreman pancake grill, unless I’ve got a big batch and then I use the Sunbeam frypan,” she says with a smile. Both are coated thickly. To the melt she adds pigments and applies the concoction to boards either flat or on the wall. Every layer of paint is fused with a blowtorch. To the work she adds alcohol inks and sprays, and uses oil sticks to add and partly remove colour. Metre-long painting sticks allow her “to paint without control” and goat-hair brushes are used because synthetic bristles melt. “I’m working with a natural subject so it is important to me to work with natural materials, and let them do their thing,” she says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #152

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2024