One of the great benefits of interviewing a fellow New England Wax member is learning a thing or two that would otherwise be unknown. For Soosen Dunholter, that interesting thing was her 2011 three-week long walk along the Camino de Santiago, a 1000-mile ancient pilgrimage trail that crosses the Pyrenees mountains through France, and continues all the way across Northern Spain. She stopped to eat and sleep and meet pilgrims from all over the world along the way, but mostly she walked by herself with only what she needed in a 20-pound backpack. She determined her starting point, but did not plan where she would stay along the way. “It was a very meditative process. I learned a lot about myself and my world view.”
When she is not undertaking a pilgrimage, Soosen lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire and has been a practicing artist all of her life. She studied fine art in college but made her living in graphic design and illustration, first working for the Brookstone Company as an Art Director, then at an national educational seminar company. Despite her busy life, including raising two children, she always kept her hand in fine art.
One of her earliest mediums was acrylic. She painted in a cubist or abstract style reminiscent of Picasso and Braque, which later evolved into collage. Next, she experimented with sculpture and photography, and finally taught herself printmaking. In the early 2000s she worked with cold wax and paint sticks, and during a workshop at R&F Paint in Kingston, New York, she discovered encaustic medium. She liked the way her prints looked with a layer of wax on top and soon began incising lines into them as well.
Despite her love of encaustic, she does not want to be pigeon-holed as an artist of encaustic exclusively. She is constantly expanding her artistic tool box and works in a variety of mediums. One of her most unique projects was making books from avocado pits.
” My medium is anything I can get my hands on, “she says. “I am inspired by the vast colors and textures of the visual world I experience on my daily walks. I believe my job as an artist is to convey these connections with nature to the world.”
Soosen pointed me to a quote by Joanne Sharpe, who explains how working with her hands is her passion: “In our highly tech-based society, there is still a need to give attention to the work of the hand, to tactile activity, and to the natural crafting impulses we evolved with as humans.”
She keeps inspired by having at least 5 projects going on at once. Upon visiting her studio last year, I was, too, inspired. Her studio is a beautifully renovated garage, with big windows and nature all around.
With so much inspiration, it’s not surprising to see diversity in medium, color, and subject matter. I am particularly fond of her blue greens, and enjoy this tiny painting every day, which sits on my kitchen windowsill by the sink.