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Holladay Journal

Holladay artist Nancy Vorm finds passion in the encaustic art process

Sep 07, 2023 03:39PM ● By Collette Hayes

An accomplished artist, represented by Phillips Gallery in downtown Salt Lake City, Nancy Vorm has been selected by the Holladay Arts Council as Holladay Artist of the Month. (Photo credit Nancy Vorm)

The beauty in imperfection found in nature is the underlying theme in Nancy Vorm’s encaustic paintings. Vorm utilizes natural materials and elements such as beeswax, Asian papers, inks and rusts to create depth in texture, luminosity and translucency in her non-objective art. 

An accomplished artist, represented by Phillips Gallery in downtown Salt Lake City, Vorm has been selected by the Holladay Arts Council as Holladay Artist of the Month. Vorm’s encaustic paintings have appeared in over 30 exhibitions around the world. Her works are highlighted in a number of publications as well as displayed in several public buildings. Vorm has taught workshops locally and in Park City. Currently, she teaches private workshops on the encaustic art process at her studio in the Bogue Foundry in Salt Lake City.

Vorm received her Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Indiana University and worked as a dental hygienist for many years.  After relocating to Salt Lake City with her husband, who is in the automobile racing industry and travels extensively, she found herself with a significant amount of free time. Vorm made the decision to go back to school and study art history. After being accepted in to the University of Utah’s art department, she was encouraged to work toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing. While working toward her degree, Vorm discovered the encaustic medium art form.  

“I’m a very process-oriented artist,” Vorm said. “When I was introduced to the encaustic process at the university, I absolutely fell in love with it. Amazingly, when old ships were pulled up that had sunk at sea, paintings on board were still intact. Because of the many layers of beeswax used in the encaustic process, the paintings were protected. The encaustic art form died out for many years, then there was a resurgence of it in the 1950s.”

Encaustic painting is one of the oldest art forms dating back to ancient Greece. It is a lengthy process. To begin, photographs or underpainting can be applied to a substrate surface, usually a wood panel. Pigment is added to hot liquid beeswax. The wax is then applied to the wood panels in layers. After a layer of liquid wax has been brushed on, heat is applied using an encaustic fusing tool. This allows each layer to soften and melt into the previous layers. Tools then can be used to scrape, groove or gauge the wax. 

Vorm makes her own inks used in her encaustic paintings from various materials taken from nature. She has several sketchbooks filled with detailed notes of the materials and the processes used to make natural ink. Detailed steps can be found for the process of making prickly pear cactus fruit ink. There are a number of color samples of English walnut and hickory tree ink. Throughout the sketchbooks observations are documented—for example, the inconsistencies in color of hibiscus ink and the beautiful color obtained from avocado pits. 

“I really don’t want to exhibit my art in shows for a while,” Vorm said. “I want to focus on my inks. Recently, I’ve been collecting rocks to make ink out of minerals. I want to spend more time playing with the inks and figuring out ways to incorporate it into my art.”   

Utah’s diverse and varied landscape provides inspiration for Vorm’s encaustic paintings.

“I love the Great Salt Lake,” Vorm said. “The inspiration for my art comes from observing the imperfections in nature. Embracing this beauty of imperfection is the underlying theme in all of my work.” 

Vorm’s artwork will be on display at Holladay City Hall through September.

If you would like to nominate an artist for Holladay Artist of the Month visit the Holladay Arts Council website at For more information about Vorm’s art, she can be contacted at [email protected]