Monday, February 05, 2007

Fun With Encaustics

I signed up for this workshop fresh from viewing Jasper Johns encaustic masterpieces in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. I have had one prior experience with encaustics when I layered encaustic wax over large photographs. I should have started smaller, those pieces were 44" square. This is one:It is a photograph mounted on 1/4 birch plywood. It just so happened that I ruined one of these, so I cut it up and used pieces of it for this workshop. My goal for the weekend was not to create a masterpiece, but to learn as many techniques as I could.
This is my first piece. It's small, only 6" x 8" on MDF that was supplied. Three layers of wax over the whole piece (pale yellow, red, black) then I carved into the warm surface with woodcutting tools. Lastly I collaged the checkerboard (woven paper) on top. I love the glossy black surface and the red, but discovered that when it's heated after it's carved you lose the line.

Next are two paintings, with encaustic wax colors. We only had primaries, white black and red-brown to work with, so we were limited. This was to see how colors mixed on the hot plate, and how the fusing (with heat gun) moved the colors around. 6" x 8" on mdf
Next is another small image, painted and collaged. I used printed tissue paper, painted the rest, and came back later to add the text, which I inscribed with my non-dominent hand using a nail. It says "well spoken". I'm thinking the image of the man is Shakespeare.

After this I started using my own panels, which vary in size around 12x12 to 14x18.
Remember that the background on these was already there. I added the seed pods, taped the edges and poured the encaustic medium to cover them. It created a lovely surface, but the wax is too opaque in this depth, and obscured the background too much (for me).This is my favorite piece. This is another collage. The pictures are from an old science book. Above that is inscribed "possibilities of INVENTION". I rubbed black and red oil paint into the inscribed line. I don't think it's prominent enough, but I like the composition. This is a technique I didn't know about -- charcoal transfer. I did a quick drawing, flipped it over on the waxed surface, and rubbed it to transfer. The heat gun seals the surface so that the drawing is permanent. One more technique, I taped off the squares, and rubbed gold and silver leaf into the surface.On the pink background (which already existed) I collaged a piece of toilet paper with the word "itch" written on it with marker. I soaked the paper in wax, applied it to the surface, and heat set it. I think it's funny because the paper swelled up and looks really scratchy compared to the smooth pink background.

So that's it.

In other news, I delivered the large abstract painting today (which was approved on Friday), and met with a client about the nine foot square abstract. Busy!


Martha Marshall said...

That workshop sounds like it was great fun. Thanks for sharing some of the tricks you learned!

Karen Jacobs said...

What fun! I can almost smell the beeswax. My gear is still sitting out, so much to do, maybe when things slow down a bit. Great post... makes me hungry!

Anonymous said...

I love all of them and I've learned a lot. Do I owe you any $$s?

Love the 'itch.'

....damn blogger - this is gb

emily dg said...

I've heard/seen encaustics before...your's are wonderful! oh, great...another thing I want to learn. least it's warm!

Anonymous said...

Hi Robin!!
This is Brenda B from the PaintL list. I LOVE the little tree. How big is it, and is it for sale?

Do encaustics attract dust and stuff? Are they hard to keep?

Great stuff kiddo, enjoy CA!!