Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Melting Beeswax: fun new encaustic art

For the past year or so I've often caught myself daydreaming about what it would be like to play with a new medium...encaustics. Whenever I visit art galleries I am drawn to this ancient art of working with beeswax, contemplating the process, all the while enjoying the sweet scent of honey delicately hanging in the air around each piece.

Finally the timing felt right. I had a huge block of pure beeswax collecting dust, patiently waiting to become something beautiful. Just as I did when I started oil painting, I ordered a couple how-to books online and started to teach myself, experimenting with different tools, surfaces, and techniques. I was instantly swept away! How ironic that the two most water-repelling mediums, oil and wax, help me express my beach wanderings and ocean play best.

My friend Claire Mackenzie helped me take the leap. She is an amazing encaustic artist who is also a watercolour painter and graphic designer. Check out her website ClaireAstra. Another inspiring encaustic artist who shares my love of depicting surf culture is Susan Wickstrand. Check out her Blog.

I'm sure this new medium will grow and evolve over the years just as my oil paintings have. For now, I'll go with the flow and enjoy working with them in earth-friendly collage paintings, using my giclee reproductions on bamboo fine art paper, layers of melted filtered beeswax, painting highlights with pigmented beeswax, adding subtle carvings for texture, all mounted on 1 1/2"deep cradled panels made from renewable quick-growning paulownia hardwood trees.

I couldn't find any books or encaustic materials locally around the Halifax area, and had to improvise on many tools. Here is a list of where you can find what you need if you want to dive in like I did...

Studio Space: my dining room table (yup!) covered up well
Hot Palette: griddle at Canadian Tire
Brushes: hog-hair brushes already on hand that were retired (too stiff to paint with)
Wax Pans: muffin pans and tin cans
Carving Tools: old pottery and lino-cut tools I had on hand
Wax: find a beekeeper to buy bulk unfiltered beeswax, or source filtered and pigmented beeswax in Canada through Curry's and Opus, or through Dick Blick in the US
Supports: use cradled wood supports or Encausikos primed panels, both available through the above shops
Tools: heat gun, wood-burning tool, torch, masking tape, pottery tools, etc.
Mixed Media: scrap-booking paper, sand, oil sticks, watercolors, acrylic paints, and anything you can imagine to use for different textures
Ideas: Two great books I've been referencing are Encaustic Art by Lissa Rankin, and Encaustic Mixed Media by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch. They are both packed full of creative ideas and invaluable resources.

To see more of my encaustic collage paintings, please visit my Shop. To see my current art show featuring some of my encaustic art, please visit my website for more info on United By The Waves.

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