Sunday, October 30, 2011

The beginnings of two encaustic paintings . . .

I've had a painting block for a while. My knee "went out" after I completed my painting wall (also decided to finish some painting on the studio walls and shelving) and was moving/organizing things in my studio. The next step I had planned was to paint the floor. That thought must have been a little overwhelming. So I just shut down for a while. Painting with hot wax is enticing to me, so I pushed on. I usually don't post my process, as the finished piece is SO different from the beginnings. But I know how much I enjoy it when others show their process. So here goes . . The following are the beginnings of two paintings . . each 16 x 24. The colors are not accurate, as "I" am photographing!

After priming and fusing (butane torch) the wood surface with clear encaustic medium (beeswax & damar resin), I painted two layers of white encaustic paint and fused. (From now on I am creating a background surface . . far from the finished painting). Then I rubbed some brown pigment oil stick into different areas. At the top I rubbed in some black oil stick. After very lightly fusing I let it rest 24 hrs.

This next picture is after I started using layers of encaustic paint mixed with medium (this is like mixing acrylic paint with water or oil with solvent). Some colors were tan, some rust, some brown, fusing between all the layers. I am fusing very lightly, as a heavier fusing would distort the surface. 

The beginnings of my next painting . . .

On this wood surface I did many overlapping layers of beige, tan, and grey paint. This time, as I was fusing, I purposely used the flame of the torch to move the paint around.

In this image (above) I used a heated tack iron to flatten some of the surface and blend some of the colors.

This next step (above) changed the more golden tones to greys and charcoal. As you can see in this next detail shot of the above, the iron left the kind of surface texture that happens when an iron is used. I had decided to rub the surface with graphite oil stick to bring out this surface texture.

This last detail show shows the oil stick that is "caught" in the wax that was created from ironing the surface.

This paintings will most likely be entirely different as I progress. I also thought I'd show you the fans that are running as I paint with the molten wax. The first pic below is a fan that was original to the 1932 building. No air conditioning then, so this sucks air from the inside to the outside. It is on the wall just below the ceiling.

Originally, when I moved in, the wiring had been cut. After getting it rewired, I discovered that the suction wasn't strong enought to pull the fumes (when the surface is fused, it goes above 220 degrees and creates fumes that need to be ventilated) out of the room. I was going to create something to direct it out toward the exhaust fan . . a pretty daunting task with dryer duct over the work area to the ceiling and into the fan. But I tried directing the fumes away from the work table with a floor fan directed toward the exhaust fan . . and it worked!!! Whew!! Much easier!

So when I paint with encaustic I have two fans going at once. The large old one near the ceiling is pretty loud, but when I'm working I don't notice it and have gotten used to it. It works!

So there you have it. Aaahhh . . . the little "extra" steps that involve creating art!!!! That's why they call it "WORK"! . . but . . fun work!


  1. It's all so beautiful Jann! Making art really is "fun work"!

  2. I love your neutrals of course and am especially drawn to how the dark gets caught in the texture.

    I look forward to seeing the next step!

  3. very interesting having never painted either with oil or encaustic....(spelled incorrectly I think) but I know I want to try oil and cold wax eventually. I will continue to follow and learn........demos help me realize the process. Thanks, Karin Lynn

  4. Hi Carole, Zen Dot, and Karin . . thanks for visiting and commenting.

    Carole . . It sure is fun when I'm putting that hot wax on the surface.

    Zen Dot . . I'm wondering what the finished piece will be!

    Karin . . I also worked in cold wax and oil recently, but none are finished. When I get stuck I go back to encaustic, which I love. I taught myself encaustic & have been working at it for a year. I know how much I appreciate it when others show their process . . welcome!

  5. Mmmm I love the look of these beginnings, Jann. The layers, the colours and the texture... magic!

  6. I love the layers of mark, color and texture. Beautiful and stunning work.

  7. Thank you, Shelley . . but . . these are changing . . :-)

  8. Bonsoir Jann, de superbes effets de la matière et du rêve, curieux je suis de voir la suite; see you sun Jann, à bientôt.

  9. The textures and depth- beautiful!

  10. Thanks for sharing some of the steps along the way Jann. I find this types of posts fascinating as well.

  11. Bonjour, Thige . . merci boucoup!

    Hello Shayla . . thank you!

    Hi Seth . . Nice that you stopped by! I hesitate to show the process . . only because it is usually so different when it's finished . . but . . "why not!", I said to myself.

  12. JG - thanks for sharing the new beginnings of these paintings - the encaustic process is so attractive because of the layers, texture and depth you create. Glad you have overcome the block. B

  13. Jann -- luscious, stunning work! thanks so much for sharing, esp. as I'd just about given up on encaustic. I see now that maybe my approach was still too timid?!? :-)

  14. sorry about your knee.. thank you for sharing your process.. to see the changes in your encaustic from the beginning.. amazing changes.. very good.

  15. Hi Barry, Kelly, and Donna . . thank you mich for visiting and commenting.
    Everyone's kind input help me move further . . out of the "stuck" spot. :)

  16. What a great and interesting blog, very giving.