Ceracolors (part III)

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I just got around to conducting more experiments with Ceracolors. Again, these are very quick experiments, no more than 30 mins each (except for applying gesso). I am still pleasantly surprised by some aspects of Ceracolors, while other aspects have me perplexed.

First, the perplexing part: my application of Ceracolors on wood cradle board. In my previous post, I had trouble with the Ceracolors cracking. I thought it was either the heat applied to soon or the untreated substrate of the raw wood on the cradle board.

This time, I prepared the cradle board with 2 coats of R and F encaustic gesso. The result is that it still cracked! And it started to crack even before I used the heat gun:

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It was great to paint with and I did use thick impasto applications of the paint. A couple of heavily worked parts lifted off. Which tells me that adhesion wasn’t secure. And I also feel that if my paint was extended with medium rather than water, it would be better for adhering multiple layers as well.

I can think only of couple of things left to try: see if the paint adheres better to a substrate coated with watercolour ground, or try using a commercially prepared board for encaustics. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else.

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On the other hand, Ceracolors on ragmat works beautifully. I didn’t do any preparation to the matboard at all. And painted in impasto and any which way I wanted. You can see the paint did not crack:

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Matboard is cotton and absorbent, and this is the only difference. Wood cradle board and matboard are both rigid enough, but the wood is not as absorbent as the cotton “paper” of the matboard. It would be great just to paint on matboard, but it would need to be framed.

I like to paint on the deep cradled wood panels because they do not need framing. If the matboard is a larger size, it would have to be doubled-up to increase rigidity for framing but does not need glass. I’m speaking as an ex-picture framer.

I’m going to try again with a substrate coated with watercolour ground and a commercially prepared board, probably Ampersand. They do make quality products. So stay tuned for the results in part IV.

Ceracolors wax paint (part II)

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As promised, I am continuing my review of Ceracolors wax paint. Above is the completed test painting done on an untreated cradled wood panel. In my review part I, I tested the paint on some acid-free mat board. I really liked the way it handled and had no problems adjusting to its characteristics.

Today, my review continues with how the paint handles on the untreated wood panel. I applied Ceracolors in Titanium White straight onto the small scrap panel with a palette knife as a background. It kinda looks like vanilla frosting and it spreads easily like it, too. 😋

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Afterwards, I applied heat with a heat gun while the paint was still wet and noticed some bubbling.

When working with hot wax (encaustic) on untreated wood, there is always some off-gassing. This is because wood is always in various states of fluctuation, adjusting to the moisture level in the atmosphere. This fluctuation causes little pits to form in the molten wax and is inconsequential with regard to the structural integrity of the encaustic art work.

In the case of Ceracolors, I am working with a water miscible wax paint. As the paint dries and moisture evaporates, the paint forms cracks and flakes off slightly. This is bad news regardless of how cool the cracked texture looks in some parts. I’m hoping this problem will be resolved with the application of encaustic gesso (keeping fingers crossed and I will do another review that includes the results). The application of gesso on a substrate is standard practice in oil and acrylic painting.

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Now onto the good part. As you can see with the little abstract test piece, you can get some really neat effects. You can apply the paint thickly straight out of the tube for impasto. You can water it down and get light watercolour effects. And you can use sgrafitto technicque and scratch into the paint without waiting a long time for paint to dry. The sgrafitto technique produces white lines or pointillist effects in my piece. The little white dots and lines were made by just scratching in with a sharp metal wire. I love the fact that you can do this, and in some of my watercolour paintings I have used white acrylic paint to get the same effect.

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Below is another detail in close-up:

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I am very excited and look forward to discovering many more things that you can do with this versatile paint. I’ll keep you posted.

Ceracolors wax paint (part I)

I’m trying a brand new medium. I mean a medium that’s not only new to me, but pretty much new to modern art supplies. I say ‘pretty much new to modern art supplies’, because there have been recorded formulations since antiquity that were similar. I am here referring to Punic wax.

Within the scholarship about the Fayum mummy portraits, it is undecided whether cold or hot wax was used, but the wax I’m talking about today is a water-soluble cold wax paint.

I only know of two water-soluble wax paints in modern formulations available today: one is Cuni paints from Spain and the other is Ceracolors made in the U.S.A and sold by Natural Pigments. I’m going to be testing out Ceracolors:

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I started to play around with the paints on my trusty pieces of mat board:

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The paint comes out of the tubes well, much like traditional paints, and the most wonderful thing is they don’t have any odor, not even a slightly oily smell. You can see that the titanium white I’m testing out is thin like a regular paint, not like the molten wax of hot encaustic. Ceracolors can be heated to speed up drying and curing, but if heated when wet, the heat will cause bubbles to form.

image I mixed up the paint with a spatula on my glass palette. They mix really well. The consistency is different in that it’s slightly lumpy and light but in a good way. Usually if paint is lumpy it has hard bits that don’t dissolve, but in this case the paint feels a little mousse-like. It’s hard to describe and I don’t know if this description makes any sense.

The paint application is smooth and has great coverage. One thing though, the paint dries very fast. If you’re painting with a brush and doing glazes it will be difficult for you. As along as I can adapt to the characteristics of the paint, the fast drying time can work for me. For example, I like doing glazes, but with oils it takes forever. With Ceracolors, the paint dries quickly so as long as you work in thin layers scumbling. Your progression is much faster. The fast glazing possibility is very satisfying to me.

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The paint is great to work with using the palette knife and mixes very well with water. The compensating factor for the quick-drying paint is that it re-wets pretty well. Here’s a closeup of the face I did in about 30 minutes. It has about 5 layers of paint.

Surrounding the face, I just used a flat brush to paint one-stroke quick stripes so you can see how the paint goes on. This paint is very versatile and I’m exited about the many possibilities. And like any wax-based paint, you can polish it to a lovely sheen when it’s dry.

I will post further experiments with this paint as they happen.