encaustic wax painting

Artist Statement

Fullerton is a contemporary portrait artist working in encaustic, an ancient medium using beeswax fused with heat. She paints by layering and scraping molten wax to reveal her subject physically and emotionally. Wax dries quickly, so she paints fast and spontaneously. Her colorful, tactile portraits have a unique luminosity and depth.

Living and traveling in Europe from 2016-2019, Fullerton sketched people in coffee shops and streets across Europe.  Returning to her studio in Germany, she began slathering the sketches in wax. She found that wax mimics flesh, giving skin a chromatic richness that is impossible to create in other mediums. Fullerton began finding ways to work the wax in a more painterly fashion. While most artists blend colors on the palette, Fullerton blends skintones by layering wax, alternating opacity and transparency, and by fusing with a torch or an iron. 

Fullerton’s work is built around visual anthropology narratives about different cultures and people. “Anthropologists collect photos. I paint what I observe.”  Inspired by the diverse cultures across Europe, her subjects ranged from the colorful Catalan dancers in Barcelona, to the smiling eyes of the ever-friendly Irish.  Upon moving to the US she studied indigenous Americans and discovered the untold stories of Native American women warriors who fought lockstep with male warriors. Fullerton’s Native Women Warriors were selected to provide inspiration to people feeling overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic and appeared on 10 Nashville billboards in 2020.  

Fullerton has exhibited throughout the US and Europe, has work in university and museum collections including Vanderbilt University, and has authored articles about encaustic wax. Her work was on the cover of Wax Fusion magazine. Fullerton lives and works in Nashville.


Visual Anthropologies


My work is built around visual anthropology narratives through portraiture. My interest in anthropology began while working in consumer marketing. Consumer research began taking an anthropological approach around 2004-2005. We conducted ‘ethnographies,’ observing people and how they lived. I worked for Mars Petcare, maker of Pedigree and Whiskas, and ethnographic studies gave us insight on consumer relationships with their pets.

In 2016 I moved to Germany, and lived there for three years. While traveling, I became fascinated with the diversity of cultures and how well they remain preserved, country to country. Hop a border, and people are suddenly different. From the colorful Catalan dancers in Barcelona, the ‘smiling eyes’ of the ever-friendly Irish, and the weathered faces of Greek fisherman in remote Peloponnese villages, I sketched and painted the people I met while traveling Europe. 

Upon moving back to the US in 2019, I struggled with my identity as an American, leading me to research on Native American women. I discovered the untold stories of women warriors-our heritage. Euro-American culture perpetuates a fictional “princess” stereotype of native women, yet many fought lockstep with men and became highly respected leaders. Native Women Warriors, and their stories of resilience, was my first American anthropology.  Next came my Civil Rights protest singers from the 1960-1970’s, in response to the current Black Lives Matter movement, and most recently, Zoom Babies, a giant zoom screen with portraits of squirmy baby faces sitting on their parents laps, as families coped with kids and work during the pandemic. 

Some of my Visual Anthropology Narratives:

  • Protest Singers 

  • World Healers- eastern, African, and western medical healers

  • Native Women Warriors- historically accurate portraits of native women who fought for their tribes

  • Vetted Souls- faces of homeless US military veterans

  • Irish Eyes- street portraits from Ireland

  • Into the Wilderness- reflections during the COVID pandemic 

  • I am Danish- portraits of Muslim youth in Denmark

  • Delta Blues- Mississippi blues artists who performed in juke joints and had little commercial success, but greatly influenced American Blues music

  • Ordinary Environmentalists- everyday folks working to make change environmentally

  • The Outsiders- portraits of visionary self taught artists, creating outside of art world norms