Even though I've always been primarily a photographer, I'm having trouble finding a way to combine my images with encaustic that feels "right" to me. I am still in the early stages of this investigation, and there are so many variables that it's mind-boggling. Slowly I'm lurching toward something, although it's still a process heavily in the "trial and error" phases.
More appealing to me, as you'll already know if you're one of the 2.3 regular readers of this blog, is the combination of oil paint with encaustic. I am not painter and never have been; I can't make a decent line with a brush on canvas, but for some reason using my fingers to apply oil paint onto surfaces or wax and then applying more wax (or more paint) is incredibly fulfilling. The paint, especially if you're using cheap oils, does amazing things when you fuse it into the wax; the pigment and oil separates somewhat and the liquid quality of the wax as it heats lets the paint move and flow into strange and interesting patterns and pathways. Higher quality oils will still run with the flow of overfused, liquid wax, but resist the interesting separation that creates such odd patterns within the painted sections. So I am using a blend of high quality and student-grade oils, with the cheap stuff where I want interesting scumbling and patterns and the better stuff where I want the paint to maintain its integrity when it is fused with the wax.
So far my favorite surface is a raw birch panel made specifically for use in art. I like being able to see the grain of the wood through the wax and feel the texture, and there is also something appealing in the idea that I'm using a host of organic materials in this process: pigmented oils, beeswax, wood, natural bristle brushes. (Certainly some of these organic materials can be wildly toxic, but that's nature for you.) And I'm also using my hands a lot, because that just seems to feel right. When you get right down to it, I have gone deep analog with my artmaking, and at the moment, it's incredibly satisfying.
Here are a few works in progress which I like, in various stages of development:
|working title: Pink|
Encaustic and oil on acrylic panel
This acrylic panel is transparent, so it will be interesting to see what it looks like when I remove the backing. I think I will probably apply one final overcoat of medium and overfuse to a smooth glasslike surface, then buff to a high shine.
|working title: Rorshach|
Encaustic and oil on cardboard canvas
|working title: Woodflow|
Encaustic and oil paint on wood panel
I know there are a lot of little details in this new artistic practice that I need to get better on, like cleaning my brushes and paying better attention to safety details. Although really, I've spent so much of my life up to my elbows in black and white photo chemicals, if I'm going to be poisoned by something there's a good chance I already have been. And I might one day learn how to actually deliver oil paint to my surfaces with a brush. But right now this slap-dash, experimental, deep analog place I'm in feels just right to me.