Selective Focus: Natalie Salminen Rude

Natalie Salminen Rude works in a variety of mediums, and recently opened a studio/gallery in the Woodland neighborhood. She tells how her varied interests come together in her work.

NS: I work in a host of mediums which all wonderfully inform each other. Encaustic, oils, photography, haiku — each process shapes the other. There’s this constant hum of cross-pollination that happens in my studio. I think curiosity and a fascination with connection are the forces that propel me to do the work I’m doing. And beauty. Always on the hunt for beauty.

Marimekko: By Women, For Women
encaustic, mixed media, gold foil on panel
This piece was created for the Finland 100 show at the Duluth Art Institute that opened Dec. 6. Showing until January 2018.

I came to work in encaustic after playing/painting a bit with melted candles in college — to which my then professor let me know that there was an ancient beeswax medium called encaustic. A year later, while living in the Everglades, I ordered the only book available on the subject at the time, and taught myself (i.e. fumbled along) in my kitchen. Earlier, while working on my BFA, I danced between ceramics and painting as a concentration. Ceramics held the physicality that I craved, but painting held the color. Then came encaustic. It was this beautiful marriage of the two. Plus, I was able to employ my wildest mixed-media and text dreams within the medium. Encaustic felt like coming home.

Living the Questions
encaustic on panel
Living the Questions is a piece in my ongoing series, Sashiko. It is currently showing at Studio Haiku.

That was 2004. I’ve been working in encaustic ever since. It’s almost like an epicenter — something that my other mediums resonate and revolve upon. The process is fascinating — encaustic is a mixture of pure beeswax, damar resin (an East Asian tree sap), and pigment — all fused with heat. Once the medium has been created, (the medium itself is the paint) each layer of paint is fused to the subsequent layers beneath. Mixed-media materials may be embedded along the way. Depending on the height of the relief that is built up, layers may be carved upon and excavated. The possibilities within encaustic are truly limitless.

A view of my studio’s new showroom — showcased in this photo is an Elko Credenza by Eastvold Furniture, walnut vases by Glørud Design and framed giclee prints by myself. In this particular credenza, Eastvold uses materials sourced by Intectural, a Duluth company that sources green architectural building products. We love highlighting our local economy and the beautiful quality that we have right here at home.

I love what I do. Absolutely love it. And yet it’s so hard. Excruciating sometimes, even. There’s this call to serve the work, which I try my best to do, but there’s always a wrestling. This is the challenge and the reward. Staying with a piece even when it’s had me in tears – such a feeling of deep accomplishment.

Trinity: Invitation detail No. 2
encaustic, mixed media on panel
I call much of my work “derivatives of nature.” Trinity:Invitation is a good example of the modern yet playful gestures that I incorporate. Many images within the painting I later used for further encaustic work and haiku.

Much of my work is commissions based — also deeply challenging and equally rewarding. I put my heart, body and mind into my work and strive to bring a work of art that communicates more than we could imagine. So there’s a seriousness that arrives, but it’s so much fun to play out … so in the end I guess it’s a lot of serious fun. Beautiful, serious fun.

Natalie Salminen Rude at work in her encaustic studio.

Studio Haiku – 2311 Woodland Ave.

studio Haiku
a poetic atmosphere
for creative acts

This past year my husband, Josh Rude of Glørud Design, and I dreamt about creating a “poetic atmosphere” within my studio that we could open to the public. It would be a showroom that would give us creative space for us to exhibit what we’re currently working on, as well as space to exhibit work of artisans we find particularly compelling. We opened a few weeks ago and it’s just as inspiring and fun as we had hoped! It will forever be a work in progress — I think that’s the point. Josh and I have collaborated on a few pieces that I’m quite excited about — encaustic and walnut vessels and lighting in particular. Currently we’re carrying a few dynamite pieces from Eastvold Furniture out of Northfield, Minn., as well as exhibiting a new haiku and photography series that I’ve been nurturing for the last few years. There are original encaustic paintings, many prints and a host of other goodies up now, as well. We’re open Wednesdays 10-7 and by appointment.

A view of my encaustic palette
The medium is placed in metal containers that sit atop a 180 degree heated griddle. This is the working temperature of the paint. After the paint is brushed onto the substrate, a blow torch is used to fuse each layer of paint together.

Locally, my work can also be found at Lizzards Gallery and Framing downtown. Lizzards does a wonderful job of connecting people to our art culture. Very grateful for them.

I’m on the web here:




Natalie Salminen Fine Art

For more on Encaustic:

I’m working on a handful of very meaningful commissions this winter through my justice/art/beauty initiative, The Commissions Project. One being for the organization Preemptive Love Coalition, based in Baghdad, Iraq. They work to empower people affected by war by “preemptively loving across enemy lines.” We’ll have an opening for the new artwork at Stuido Haiku on Valentine’s Day, so mark your calendars.

I’m also working on a piece for Bent Paddle’s new taproom and partial proceeds from prints of the painting will go toward protecting our beloved Boundary Waters. So much good in store!

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