Thursday, February 25, 2010

Encaustic progress

I got back to work on the 24 x 36" cradled panel after a break for the week-end trip to Dallas.

I just couldn't leave this as a tree.......I love trees, and they appear all the time in my work ever since I started painting. However, I am not planning to revert to any manner of realism and this was going that way........IT IS NOW GONE.

First round in the studio I brushed on every conceivable color and range of red and orange, purple, golds......... Just covered pretty much all of the previous image. I started turning it all around and I need to remind myself to do this often so I don't get locked into a design that isn't going anywhere. OR, keep myself from doing something a little more out of my current box and comfort zone.

Next session........adding wax takes an enormously longer time that wiping out an acrylic under-painting....My back can testify to this.

Now the thing is horizontal and it starts looking like a landscape...(after adding a lot more color besides red). So much for getting out of the comfort zone, huh.  The handling of the encaustic pigments IS out of my comfort zone for this size work.

This painting is beginning to mesmerize me with all it's little nuances of color. IT SUCKS. It is not a painting, it is a lot of color nuance. When you get away from it, it dies from no distinct value contrast.....anywhere. SO, I take it out to take a photo at this point.

Then I just bite the bullet and paint a whole 5" across the top WHITE.

Hum.... I didn't see this picture before I did the white....looks better outside...However this painting would not be hung outside.  I may have made a mistake with the white...but what's done is done and I will have to work with it.

Here it is with the white across the top.......darn it, it looks crooked and I even measured.  Oh well. It will not stay this way long......but that will come later as I have to run to the dentist, pick up a painting and make a run into the grocery store.

My thoughts are running toward putting that violet back in the top where the white is but this time it will be a paler, grayer value/hue which I hope with give more contrast without the lack it had before.  We'll see next session.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New encaustic painting in Progress

Back up in the studio today to start doing something with the 24 x 36" panel with the coat of Evans Holy Grail on it. If anyone doesn't know...this stuff is like gesso for encaustic painting. You cannot use regular acrylic gesso or anything acylic under or with wax or it might or most likely will pop off at some point.

This is a size panel I've never worked on before for encaustic painting. If I continue to work with encaustic a lot, I will have to have larger pieces as working on all these little ones is just not for me. I worked on the two panels for the 48 x 48" diptych and it was no more of a problem than a couple of small ones I thought other than the physicality of applying all that wax. Same with my other paintings....I like to make big gestures.

Well......this ain't gonna happen with encaustic.....the big gestures. It's dried and cooled by the time I can get it to the no fluidity. (Unless I learn some way to remedy that.)

SO....with that nice white ground, I set about laying out some color all over and making some gestural marks with oil paint. I've never done this before as a beginning for encaustic. I didn't use any medium other than thinner and just painted a lot of it on. This took a gazillion years since I had to heat and unscrew all the dried on tops of the tubes. SO, I didn't use many colors being lazy as I am.  I had it in mind to make a 2010 winter painting....don't know how and why but I had it in mind. Of course, I had to start with color though so I used violet, magenta, cad red light...kind of analagous, gorgeous colors.



Hum.... started out looking like my layout for lots of land inspired work....then I add more paints and squished them all around with a paper towel so they wouldn't be wet or have any thinner left when I added wax medium  I don't know if this is kosher or not but I do know you have to have a ratio of a lot more wax than oil paint in your encaustic paintings if you want them to dry and fuse properly.  Then I just added a good layer of a lot of medium all over this panel and fused it gently.

It's a toss up what this might become is my reasoning...thought about getting out some papers but then figured I'd just wing it and see what happened. I got out the flow tool, wax crayons, oil sticks and turned the whole thing around a few times.  A real mess.

Looks like a tree or some other type of  organic shape is emerging.  I just kept adding paint, medium, marks and fusing until at the end of the day I had this going.......light is not good...all the clouds have rolled in again.

Taking photos does a lot to tell me that the black is too prominent in the photo...there will be scraping and fusing and more paint added...maybe another plane but this is looking like the old pecan tree I gaze down on from the studio...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Encaustic painting

I'm continuing to work on the small encaustic pieces. I picked up a little piece I worked on in the workshop and didn't know what in the world I was going to do with this little painting unless I put in into a larger painting. SO, that is what I did. This little piece looked so much like the dormancy prevalent in winter that I went for adding a 'background' for it. This picture seems to look a lot more yellow that what I see in person.......but I think it worked out.

DEAD OF WINTER........ encaustic, 10 x 10" cradled panel

I work on a couple of pieces at a time so I had my eye still on this piece that I put a heavy matted paper on earlier. I also dug some stuff out of a basket and laid that out with it. It has a primitive face, beads and leather strings. What in the heck am I going to do with this I couldn't figure out. I see things like this off and on and I like them, but when I try to work with this kind of material I'm verging on not being my usual self. I decided I would do it anyway, so I just started adding papers and I made marks on the papers with charcoal. Medium was layered on and fused.......oops the little metal face wants to come loose when it gets hot.  I just kept adding marks and made some with the flow tool as well. I liked the nice little 'accidental' green that came out of the tool before I added the white.  Finally, I came up with this to photograph.

PRIMITIVE.....encaustic, papers, found elements, 10 x 10" cradled panel

I've got the Holy Grail  ( Evans Encaustics ) applied and drying on a new larger 24 x 36" board now.........ready to go later. I love having that lovely white surface to start on sometimes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

- Johnson Creek Studio - Cheryl D. McClure: More Encaustic work

More Encaustic work

Okay......the previous start just didn't work for me. SO, something to do is just paint over it. That I did, and I chose yellow since yellow was already there in the under-painting. As the work developed I could still see some of the marks I made and they continued to make me think of plants/trees/organic matter. By the time I got through manipulating the paint, scraping and adding more in made me think of the fossils found of plant and animal life from eons ago. SO,.....tentatively, I titled this work , Yellow-Gray, Fossil.

I started to work on another small 10 x 10 x 2" panel. This one had a layer of natural beeswax or two on it and I drew and made marks with some oil sticks and pastels, added some wax, fused and manipulated it all around and added more wax. Yellow must be permeating my life today with the sun shining so this one also got a great dollop of yellow. I have titled this work, Yellow Sky Kinda Day.

Upon seeing this one...I may have to do a little more finessing of this band of blues...just a little too straight across without enough variation. We'll see!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Yeah.... just get to thinking you know what you're doing and the powers that be will let you know you do not.

I went up to the studio today to work some more on prepped boards. I rummaged around and found some nifty paper I bought in Carcassonne France quite a number of years ago. Yes, I noted it has a glossy surface but I thought I should try it anyway after all I'm still learning to do this wax painting and transfer stuff. I like collage but sometimes it would be better to have a transfer of certain lines or designs instead of collaging them in.

SO, I just heated my surface, slapped the torn paper on and rubbed it to death. While doing this I noted I wasnt't see a lot of lines coming through the paper as this paper is a little thicker than just plain old copy paper. I kept on though until I figured it was time to try the water dissolve and rub off thing. I gotta tell you, you need a lot more water and rubbing with this paper and it wasn't entirely successful if you want a transfer that looks perfect. I can thank those same powers that be that I don't. My perfection is imperfection.

It was still a flat transfer since I rubbed away so much of the thickness of the paper but it might not be worth it really to use this kind of thicker paper with a sealer on it for this technique.

Then I thought....OKAY...where am I going next with this piece so I rummaged around for some more paper and came up with a dark navy almost black looking paper. I say black since it looked that way until I took a picture of it and it looks dark blue there. I assure you it is more black than blue. I tore, fused, cut, laid it down, fused. Painted yellow paint on places, fused. You cannot forget to keep fusing every layer.

I got tired, hubby was home, and so I decided that was it for the day. I made a bunch of my own kind of marks into the surface......OOPs, now it looks like one of my landscape marks in the middle so I had to do some negative painting. Finally I decided I would have to put it away and come back and see if a miracle would happen over night.

So lesson learned (although I already knew it).....never think you know how to do anything. Some days are flow days, some days are lesson days.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch workshop

Oh my....what will I report from the Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch workshop held last week at the Encaustic Center in Richardson, TX (Dallas)?  First of all, we had a fabulous time talking, painting and learning with a good friend from Mississippi, Cathy Hegman. Also, it is also wonderful meeting the artists you know already and the ones you don't in a setting such as a workshop where you are all sharing your experiences/knowledge.

Trish is a delightful person. She demonstrated several times a day the way that she uses wax, collage, embossing, transferring images, etc. We then all set to try out all these techniques we may or may not have done in the past. We all learned a few things or or a lot of new things (depending on individual experience) to take home with us and interpret in our own work.

I'd never really been fortunate in transferring images before. It was better to actually see someone do this instead of reading the instructions. With encaustic I think it is easier since the method we used used water to remove the extraneous paper left on the board. It was so much better to not have to worry about washing off more than you intended with the wax being waterproof.  I found that I had not been rubbing the back of the paper with the transfer near enough. Also, pouring water on and rubbing it off is a lot easier and less time consuming than using a least for me.We also used a laser or toner based transfer......and water. No solvents to have to go outside for or anything special other than that. Have your wax surface slightly warm, lay down your transfer image face down into the wax and rub and rub and rub with the back of a spoon, etc. Finally, can start pouring on small amounts of water and rubbing with your fingers until all the paper residue is gone and your image shows. If there is a little left, the next layer of clear medium with cause it to just disappear.

I did two pieces this way to try to reinforce this in my mind for the future. I have a lot of things I might want to photograph and use this method on. All in all, I probably did about 7-8 smallish pieces running from 8 x 10" and down during the three day workshop. the two I'm showing here with the transfers are both 10 x 8".

During the workshop, I also worked with using fabrics as collage elements along with other stuff you find around...threads, slightly 3-d stuff to embed. Whatever interests you to apply to your work. As a painter I tend to forget all these nifty little techniques most of the time and keep just painting. However, now and then I want to know how to get a certain look for special paintings.....OR how to incorporate elements I haven't used much before.

The reason to take the workshop is that I've only taken a one day thing about 6 months after I started working with encaustic. I figured I might be making things harder on myself than I needed to so I was going to see if there were easier ways to do some of the things I was doing. Some like the transferring were good to show me a simpler way. Other things, looks like I'd been doing okay all along.

All of us need to get out once in a while and get together with other artists ......and maybe pick up a thing or two. That's the great thing about workshops, you get to do it all.