Meet the Artist: Dawn Tekler

Tekler Cheap Thrills 39X18
Texture and color tell the story.

By Kelli Comer

For local artist Dawn Tekler, the muses of her masterpieces come in the form of industrial steel mills found along the Cuyahoga River and the flora and fauna of Lake Erie. As an avid paddleboarder, Dawn rises to paddle the river at daybreak, seeking the magnificent sunrise at exactly the right moment in time, while most of Northeast Ohio is still sleeping.

“Seeing the sunrise at just the right spot, breaking through the various bridges and train tresses, provides my inspiration to get up at 5 a.m.,” says Dawn.

“I like to think that I get up early so you don’t have to. The amazing Lake Erie sunrises feed my imagination for seascapes. Lately, I’ve been looking more at the shores along the water and incorporating the twisting trees and vines that live along the shoreline.”

Years ago, Dawn discovered encaustic wax while searching for an alternative process to her photography. She started by deconstructing her photographs and embedding them in the wax. After a few years, she transitioned away from using photos in her work to focus solely on painting with wax, while exploring color and texture to convey the story.

“Encaustic wax is an ancient process that has been around since between 100-300 A.D. It’s 100 percent archival and melts at 175 degrees,” Dawn explains.

“I make my own medium by mixing 100 percent beeswax and damar resin, then color it with oil paint or powder pigment. I keep it melted on a griddle and use paint brushes, putty knives and a heat gun to apply, layer, fuse and scrape the wax.”

A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Dawn was seduced by the dark room and pursued a career in photography, even though her initial goal was to become a painter. Her current career at a tech company has allowed her the time to come full circle and get back to her original focus of painting in her very own gallery.

“About a year into painting, I secured a space at the 78th Street Studios and never looked back. Since then, I have worked on creating a welcoming gallery where I showcase my encaustic paintings and unique jewelry by local and international female artists. I want art to be fun, evoke a feeling and be approachable. I encourage guests to ask questions, even if they think they are silly. Chances are, I’ve asked the same one,” Dawn smiles.

To reach Dawn, you can email her at or call 216-906-2501. To shop online and learn more about the artist and her work, visit Follow her on Facebook @dawn.tekler and on Instagram @dawn_tekler_studio.