encaustic painting n+5


this is how last night’s fogginess on the right side cleared up with a night’s drying time. so, it does get more translucent as it cures. that’s good.


now i’ve stuck more yellow ochre on top of pretty much everything. the tone of the painting is yellow ochre, that’s what i see in all the nooks and crannies, wherever i peer, there’s yellow ochre. let’s not get started about that. i notice when i’m doing a painting that i’ll start to see the colors i’m using everywhere in everything, all living creatures organic and in.


i mixed up a thin ultramarine blue and put it in the background and the foreground, anywhere i could see darks. the blue ran so readily that i had a whole section liquid. that’s why it’s thin blue at the top and pools at the bottom.


loads of raw umber, loads of a red mixed with a very littel bit of white.


then i mixed up a super-thin batch of white and put it over the background and leaking across the yellow line in the lower right. when i melted the white in, a funny thing happened. the wax underneath the white melted before the white did, and so when the white finally melted, it was torn apart. something to do with surface tension, i’m sure. you can see this best in the upper right corner, about an inch or two down the right side, little dots of dark blue.

at this point the whole background has been melted and remelted several times. it seems that no matter how thick the wax is, when it goes, it tends to all go at once, so you don’t have one layer melted and the next down soft and the one down from that solid, you have a pool of molten wax. all of a sudden. the blink of an eye, literally. very surprising.

and look at the beautiful runny swirly flowy patterns we’re getting when things start to flow.

i’ve been thinking of that reference to dorland’s wax medium where the procedure was to suspend light(s) above your picture at such a distance that the wax goes molten but doesn’t bubble. this depends on the color, i’m afraid, but never mind. i’ve been thinking about this all day, and i figure now would be a good time to try it. but first i put on another layer of translucent wax medium on the background and burned it in.


i restated all the lights and all the colors, then laid the painting flat on my palette, unclipped the light, and waved the light bulb over the painting for a change. usually i hold the painting up under the light. but this way the painting never moved, and so when i got a section molten, i didn’t have to worry about it flowing because of gravity.

i had to worry about it flowing because of differences in surface tension. this means that if i didn’t want it to flow across the painting in a big drip, i had to warm the whole area evenly and slowly so that it all went liquid at the same moment.  more learning curve.


then i put a thick layer of wax medium over the background, and then i diluted some white with more medium and knifed it into the wet wax. it smooshed around a lot. then i heated it until the white ran.

it seems to be easier, tho hotter, to melt white than it is to get the translucent wax medium to go when it is devoid of pigment. when it was cooling i took my finger and mooshed the white around on top of the medium, which had mostly hardened, the solvent having evaporated under the lights.

even tho i’m now working with odorless mineral spirits, or pure fossil earth or mineral oil it’s hard to tell, they’re still toxic. the fumes make my eyes sting after awhile. i’ve been hanging back until i can’t smell the orange scent, and i’ve got a fan on in the studio and plenty of fresh air. but i still felt a little queasy at times during the day.

about citrus oil. i’m not sure if citrus oil itself, d-limonene, is completely volatile. the solvent needs to evaporate completely if the wax is to cure properly (so everybody has admitted), and so i may have an insurmountable issue with citrus oil. more later.

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