Encaustic photo: Waxy Fern

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I’ve been experimenting as always and one thing led to another.

I decided to transfer my photographs onto a transparency film via laser printer. Then, I wondered how it would look encased in encaustic media. I used a piece of mat board and fused a couple of layers of encaustic medium. Next, I placed the film on top and added a couple of more layers and fused it as well. It gives the picture a bit more substance just by the thickness of it. I like the retro kind of look, the depth and the waxy sheen of the surface.

The only thing that I’m not too thrilled with is the archival factor. I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to archival quality in art works; I always use acid free papers and boards and the highest rated lightfast pigments in paints, etc. In the case of encaustic wax, the wax itself does serve as an isolation layer against acid but it does not do anything for pigments fading. While black toner from a laser printer is pretty good in maintaining ‘colour’ over time, coloured toner does not.

So a piece like this can still be enjoyed but is not a good example of long-lasting art.

 

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Watercolour feather

I thought it would be fitting, since my last post was about natural specimens, that I would add a specimen of my own. I really enjoy looking at nature closely (except for bugs, of which I have a phobia) and admiring the its beauty. Oftentimes, even the mundane things when looked at closely are incredible.

Below is a watercolour of a feather I did a while ago. It is on lovely handmade Twinrocker 140lb watercolour paper. As you can see it has deckled edges all around. I’m a sucker for deckled edges, although this one undulates a little too much for my liking but, I don’t want to nitpick.

I love the contrasting hues of the turquoise and burnt orange, the hard edges, the soft colours that bleed into each other and the fine down that gives it more definition. I’m sure there are a myriad of colour combinations of feathers in nature that no one has even thought of.

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Manic Mondays: Meditation with nature

Mondays are always hard, I’m guessing it’s not just me. It’s back to the grind, it’s especially hard when you’re in a job or a situation you don’t enjoy. In situations like this I like to shift my focus to nature, and the peace and beauty of it. Do you get a calming effect with nature, too?

Below are some pictures of the beauty that surrounds me in the place that I live. Just a little walk from my house, in a valley, with a trail shaded by lush greenery and old trees:

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On the weekend, my son and I went for a run (starting up to get back in shape) in this beautiful place. There is a lake in the middle of the valley.

Here are some wonderous things I saw:

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Wishing you a peaceful week.

 

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Oil painting study: “acrylic orange”

A while back, I was experimenting with paint. I loved the look of oil paint but hated the smell of it. My limited exposure to oils was when I was in high school (a very long time ago), I think the brand was Grumbacher. It was the traditional type of paint that came in a tube, made with linseed oil and you needed solvents to modify and clean it up. It turned me off of oils completely.

Now we have many more options: some oils are water miscible, some are made with safflower oil and some are made with walnut oil like M. Graham. I can attest to M. Graham having no offensive odour at all. Suddenly, there are opportunities for working in oil. If any of you had the same experience, rejoice!

Below is a small study I did with acrylics to emulate an oil painting. It does not have varnish on it yet (the varnish would deepen and saturate the colours to make it look more like oils). In this study, I was aiming for a chiaroscuro effect through the contrast of highlights and shadows; this effect would also aid in its composition and singular subject matter:

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Watercolour face from a while back

My recent look at Karl Martens’ watercolour birds reminded me how much I love watercolours. I love his way of painting with calligraphy brushes and his ‘meditative’ approach. The loose, gestural rendering of the body of the birds contrasted by the tight and focused facial expressions is wonderful. So I started to look at some old watercolours I did a while back.

The one below was done on rough 140lb handmade paper. I think the paint was Daniel Smith but I do use my own palette made up of Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Schmincke and Sennelier. There’s quite a bit of granulation and lots of paper texture coming through. I do like the luminosity of the eyes:

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Bird photo transfer in encaustic

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I hope everyone had a good weekend, for those of us in Canada we’re still having a good long weekend!

I had some mini cradle boards so I ended up experimenting with them. I decided to use a photo transfer of a bird. This time I used different method: instead of using plain paper, I used parchment paper and the image came out much cleaner. Normally, I would do more to it but I just liked the image with a few thin coats of encaustic and gold rub (Inka Gold – I love this stuff). Inka Gold is a brand of water-based coloured beeswax paste. I don’t know of any other thing like it; it’s odorless, easy to rub in, made for porous surfaces and dries fast. The only drawback is that it only comes in metallic colours.

For those of you who are interested, the red background is my silicone mat that I work on; it’s great, nothing sticks to it and it’s also heat-resistant, ideal for encaustics.

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Ingots of Medium

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Finally I was able to get some more Damar resin, so I was happy making some more encaustic medium. There’s something really relaxing about making the medium; it consists of weighing the proportions, melting the Damar resin first (has a higher melting point) and adding the beeswax. Then the mixture is stirred until everything is melted and incorporated into a unified liquid. It is important to ensure that the temperature is low and even, if the temperature is too high it’ll start to smoke, bad for health and bad for the medium. After the mixture is ready, it is poured into a muffin pan until it is cooled and solidified.

Taking it out is like taking out ice cubes, the pan lightly hit on a hard surface and the ingots pop right out. By the way, I just call them ingots because they remind me of precious gold ingots, it is not some official term.

imageSome people filter the molten liquid because the Damar resin has debris/vegetable matter (Damar resin is essentially tree sap). I prefer to render them into ingots and scrape out the debris from the bottom – the debris settles on the bottom. It’s a lot less messy and troublesome than pouring the hot liquid through a filter, in my opinion.

Once all the ingots are made, they are ready to be used when the inspiration strikes.

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Experimental Interlude in Encaustic

The last post on the encaustic piece I was working on left off with the addition of gold leaf. I was happy with the way it progressed so far and I didn’t want to ruin it. And I needed to bring more focus on the central subject of the tree, but wasn’t sure what to do. When this happens, I usually put whatever I’m working on aside and try different things by experimenting. In this case, I am using different encaustic techniques on small pieces of rag board (100% cotton mat board); using these boards for experiments is less costly than using a birch cradle board. I will continue doing these until something clicks.

In the experiment below, I made a random design onto the mat board with India ink. Then I covered it with a couple of layers of encaustic medium and fused it. After I added some glass cabochons and ensconced them into the medium and fused it with more medium to hold it in. Using glass is a bit tricky, you have to make sure the size of the glass and the way it’s secured is compatible with the strength of the piece; this involves weight, gravity, adhesion etc. … After the glass was added, more medium was randomly dropped onto the board to add more texture and black oil paint was smudged in.

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Below you can see the glass cabochons in more detail:
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I like the way the design underneath can be seen in magnification through the cabochons. I don’t know if this can be incorporated into the piece I was working on but it gives me something to think on. By the way, these experiments are little works themselves and will be used in a series I think.

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Gold

Hello dear readers, I hope everyone had a nice Mother’s Day on the weekend!

Continuing on with the progress of my encaustic piece, I wanted to accentuate the contrast between the blues and the yellows without being too drastic. By the way, turquoise-blues and golden yellows are one of my favorite combinations; the colours remind me of sun and sea. I decided to add imitation gold leaf to the piece; Instead of large patches or masked off areas, I opted for small pieces. The flecks of gold imitates iridescence due to its reflections of the yellows and it’s juxtaposition to the blues. The sheen and reflection of the gold flecks adds an element of movement to the piece because it depends on the viewing angle and light. I think it was the right choice to use the gold leaf in this manner.

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Below is a close-up of the yellow side of the piece. You can see the gold flecks as well as the glass beads from the earlier layers. The glass beads look like little craters or even bubbles under the surface. There’s a lot of interest and richness in the texture of this piece aided by different materials used in different layers; in the upper right area, you can also see the white encaustic paint “marbled” with the blues. The conduciveness to layering is one of the wonderful things I appreciate when I work in encaustic.

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A tree…

In my last post we left off with the progress of my encaustic piece as a ‘wintry’ looking backdrop of some sort. It had some organic motifs with transparent beads that added to the ‘icy’ look. Since I’m working intuitively, I never know what I’m going to end up with. I’ve painted the center white and added a photo transfer of a tree. It was then covered with encaustic medium and fused lightly:

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Below you can see the piece after the wax had cooled off from fusing, after which oil sticks were used to add more colour. I think it’s looking quite different from before but it’s definitely looking warmer. I think it would be interesting to see how it finally ends up.

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