my 1st encaustic 2


i kept adding blue. i mixed up some cobalt to go over all the ultramarine i’d already used. i was trying to build it up so i could make it drip later. or something. until after this point i hadn’t used any heat on my painting. it’s all been with paste wax so far.  the extra thick blue was the last thing i did before bed. i was kind of liking the scumbling effect.


next morning, i decided i needed more color on the face. so i put raw umber, and some of the caput mortum i had on the palette. but being morning and me being fresh and having thought about my work all night, i grabbed a hair dryer next thing, and hit those blue tendrils.


well that was cool. the blue, being fresh, meaning having a lot of turpentine in it, melted at a very low temperature and ran like crazy. gravity controlled the flow. there were funny air currents from the hair dryer, such that a backflow occurred that crept against the flow of wind.

i begin to see why people like encaustic. yesterday, when it was just wax paste and pigment on a brush or at best a palette knife, it felt more like working with crayons than serious art.

but with a hair dryer, or later rigged, a heat lamp, wax does what it’s supposed to do, and bubbles up and runs.

it also changes color. the white becomes translucent, and the yellow turns brown. i’m not even using a heat gun. but the damned heat lamp is very hot, and melts things almost instantly.

i don’t know how much to melt things. i don’t know when to melt or even if i should melt. it matters how long you let it sit before hitting it with heat, it matters if the turpentine has all evaporated. as with everything, the importnat variations are endless.

now that i’m heating it,tho, i’m a good deal happier with what i’m doing. it’s in the ugly stages, tho, and hard to live with. but i’ve painted enough to know that the ugly stage is fleeting if you keep working at it.


isn’t this cool? melted crayons are an entirely different animal than just crayons.


i added more yellow to the hands and scales and face and eyes. i added more red to the mane and neck. then i melted it, below.


then i put a coat of clear wax paste over the green and put it aside to see what happens when a thick coat of wax paste sets up.

i’ve found out that the longer you let the paste dry, the longer and hotter it takes the hair dryer in order for it to melt and move.

there are varying stages of move, as well, from rounding the lumps and streaks of wax from the brush, to making the lump bloom and sweel, to making it collapse into liquid and go streaming away from the site. after that it sizzles, and sometimes it gets dark.

i’m a lot happier with my progress once heat got into the picture.

i decided that i need to be working on several paintings at once so that i don’t hurry thru the drying and then frying stage with the heat lamp. so i dug thru my pictures and came up with a koi photograph that i painted when i first started painting in oils, back in 1999.

i’ll post that tomorrow.


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