Friday, February 11, 2011

Looking At Process

In tandem with my last post, I thought I should offer myself and the 2.3 regular readers of my blog a little roundup of the encaustic practices and processes I'm gravitating towards. This is, obviously, not going to be an all-inclusive list, and in reality it's just a little reminder to myself of the techniques I've tried that seemed to "work" for me very quickly. There are plenty of others that I imagine I'll find more appealing once I become better at them.

Here's the short list:

* Using paper to provide color. A sheet of really interestingly-colored paper used as background (either across the whole surface or in a strategic part of it) adds controlled color and brightness. This works best when I'm not planning to put a lot of layers of medium or other colors on top of the paper; the added wax soaks into the paper and dulls the colors or makes it take on the colors of whatever is layered beneath it. If you're using colored wax underneath the paper and planning for this effect, however, it can yield quite interesting results.

* Stamping on paper and integrating this into the image. Can either be a small piece of the image or the full background.

* Applying oil paint on the surface with my hands before augmenting it with pigmented wax and clear medium.

* Applying oil paint on the wax itself with my hands, and "sealing" it by fusing. I can't paint on canvas with a brush, but for some reason I can paint on wax with my fingers.

* Mixing up the application of wax and medium to the surface, so that some areas have wax and other areas are bare down to the surface (usually painted).

* Very simple straight carving into the wax, overfilling with an accent color, and scraping back to find the line.

* Moving pigmented wax around by overfusing it and letting it run on the panel.

* Using heat on a wax-dipped brush to spread pigment thinly.

* Adding scrapings of different colored waxes to the surface of pieces and expanding them in fusing.

* Overfusing generally.

* Burnishing the finished pieces to a glasslike shine.

* Creating diminsionality with a build up of layers of wax.

I haven't yet figured out how to use my photographic images with encaustic ... that's one of those things that I can already anticipate needs to be a bit thought out. The image and the wax have to make sense together, t enhance each other in order to make a cohesive statement. I'm working on this, though, and I don't think it will be long before I hit on an approach that makes me happy. I have a feeling I might enjoy working with colored inks also, and much more translucent colors. So far I've only used bristle brushes, but I'm reading about artists who use foam brushes, pouring techniques, and splatter approaches to distribute wax on the surfaces they use. In addition, there's a whole world of surfaces that I am anxious to try, and my investigations of those will most likely change the way I work.

I'm glad to have found this medium. There is something about working in it that feels right to me, in the same way photography and video did at the beginning, but also includes the hands-on aspect that I find so appealing about book arts. Maybe I did actually always want to be a painter ... with encaustic, it feels like maybe I am.

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