Claire O’Neill: Old is New Again

By Lisa Orgler in Featured Artists > Photography

Sometimes the most intriguing thing about a work of art is the process in which it was created. Clare O’Neill has borrowed the age-old encaustic process to give emotion and mystery to her photographs.

Currently living in Minnesota, Claire began her photographic career traveling the Irish countryside. After a professional change just three years ago, she was able to exhibit her first body of photographic work showcasing the people and places of Ireland. Her photography began in black and white, but her desire to create depth and texture has led her to explore innovative techniques.


To create the mysterious depth you see above, Claire uses encaustic, a wax-based medium that originated thousands of years ago to waterproof and decorate ancient Greek war ships.

Claire layers this encaustic wax over her digital photographic images to suggest an “imaginative, sensual, and provocative style”. Her materials include molten beeswax, pigment and damar crystals. The process includes fusing layers of wax after each application to allow viewing many layers at once. Claire will keep manipulating her materials until it feels just right.

On Bridge

These images are not only mysterious, but timeless. They seem to be a window into the past and definitely place an antique spin on our contemporary lives.

Claire’s process also seems to heighten her subject’s presence. In the image above, the skyline is a beautiful collection of light and dark tones, reinforcing the city’s depth. The two pedestrians, laden in black, act as a resting point for our eyes.


Claire states that perfection and control in photo encaustics is impossible. The elegance evolves from imperfection and satisfaction from the unexpected.

I invite you to visit Claire’s website at to explore this lovely old-world spin on contemporary photography.


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