Graceann Warn

Graceann Warn is a full time studio artist from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Her paintings and assemblages have been shown and collected nationally and internationally for over twenty five years. 

“The art I make combines elements of beauty and classical form with an underlying sense of mystery that (hopefully) compels you to look at it over and over again.  While the pieces reflect my obsession with logic and numerical rationales, I try to infuse a lyricism within the multiple layers of paint and paper that comprise them. Albert Einstein once said “Once I understand what something is, I don’t have to think about it anymore.” I never want my work to be that finite. 

My work has always been about process as well as finished product.  My labor in the studio is reflected in the surfaces of my paintings so that the human element is revealed and apparent. Lately I believe more than ever that humans cannot deny their need for something authentic –even sublime- to inspire and transport them.  Art can do that.

My most recent paintings are encaustic on wood panels. After years of working in assemblage with found objects I have begun to set a new course which entails more work in the surfaces of my new pieces with less reliance on the object(s) about which a piece hinges. It’s a new way of approaching work, a new way of thinking. This work allows me to enter into a fresh dialogue, one in which layers of color and pattern create a kind of complex logic. The way a line or an edge lies in relation to an adjacent one speaks volumes. The gestural quality of the encaustic surface can embody at least energy if not emotion. As it was with the assemblages, my aim is to hold just enough back so that the piece feels as though it contains so much more to be revealed over subsequent viewings.

My work is imbued with symbolism and while some of it is archetypal, it is my intention that there be individual interpretation. An empty drawer, a door ajar, an obfuscated glass can hearken strong personal associations. An indecipherable book page is a mystery about which one can only speculate. A boat shape suggests a journey with an unknown destination. The viewer is invited to enter this story and complete it.

I continue to work with the themes that have forever moved me - chance, magic, travel, the cosmos and science. Science is showing up a little more these days as I find myself pondering our collective future. I am inspired by science and the quest for discovery. I rejoice in intellectual curiosity. I am strangely comforted by knowing that certain things are un-quantifiable.

The inspiration for my work comes from many places. My background in landscape architecture and classical studies along with a passion for travel and a true love for materials and design combine in the studio to make this work. It is that transformative process that I find so exciting and it is the thing that keeps me working.

About Encaustic:

Encaustic is an ancient medium in which beeswax is melted and combined with dry pigment and resin. It is applied to a ground while in its molten state and as it cools, it dries as a hard, permanent surface. It is reworked with heat until I get the desired surface. I have long been attracted to encaustic because of the interesting surface textures I can achieve with it as well as its compatibility with oils and collage. I first became aware of the medium from looking at the work of Jasper Johns. I was recently reminded of encaustic on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico where I saw numerous examples of contemporary artists working with it. There is an immediacy to the look and an unmistakable presence of the artist in the surface. 


Do not be alarmed if you feel a slight ‘stickiness’ to the surface. The surface will continue to cure while gradually hardening. Eventually (allow about 6 months from the time you hang it) the surface will be hard enough to allow for polishing with a soft, lint free cloth. To clean, simply dust with a feather duster. Encaustic, like all art, should be kept away from direct heat and sunlight.”

(go to paintings)