dammed wax

i’ve finally hit my first official creative block.

i’ve gone thru this plenty of times, but not with encaustic. i knew i would come across one fairly soon because of the enthusiasm and drive i had for the medium this last two weeks. i dove right in and started work on five paintings, trying to figure out how to paint in wax, but more than that, how to speak in wax, how to wrap what i want to say around the strange syntax and foreign vowels. how mixed a metaphor is that?

i got to the point where all my paintings had a thick coat of drying wax medium on them, and none of them looked good.

they are all in that middle stage where the work looks horrible even if it started out well, and even if it’s going to finish well. it’s vital not to get attached to the middle stages, because that’s where all the trouble lies.

so now i look at them and they’re all pasty and indistinct because of the translucent wax on top of them. and i don’t know what to do with any of them.

okay, taken one by one, let’s see if i really don’t know what to do.

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the dragon

i need for the wax in the hair and scales to flow. i need to burn in more darks in the face and do something about the background. i want it to flow like my silk dragons, and it irritates me that i can’t make that happen.

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the fish

i have slapped fresh paint onto the fish that are rising out of the wter to get the food. all the other fish are underneath a layer of wax. i guess i need to smooth the wax. maybe i need a little more depth. i need to differentiate between reflections and clear water and fish shadows. not much moreneeded on this one. it’s as complex and ambitious as i could want, and given my skill level with wax, not too bad. i might show it.

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the abstract experimental painting

nothing will happen with this for a long time. it’s where i am trying out my various recipes, recording what happens when i do something in particular. a place where i dump ashes and shavings onto the surface with abandon, where anything goes, depending on my mood. it might turn out interesting enough to keep, but i could always scrape it off and melt it around a wick.

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the studio still life

it’s all covered like on the right side, in reality. and in this state, i don’t know what to do with it at all. myabe i should liquify the whole thing and see what happens. it’s not terribly convincing as a realist still life, as i had intended. i find i’m a beginner at knifework, and find it difficult to function with materials that have any body at all (anything not watercolor).

so this is the one i’m having the most problem with. what to do next?

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the nebula

or maybe this is the one i’m having the most problem with. all the features are there, but it doesn’t look anything like a nebula. maybe putting the stars in will help, but it’s not convincing, and needs many delicate layers of very thin whiteness. i’d love to see it much thicker, like two or three inches, especially the yellow and red lines. and the background glasslike, atmospheric. it has a way to go, and i’m not sure how to proceed.

why the paralysis if i know what to do? for the last three days i’ve been lollygagging around doing anything but paint. i’ve read art references. i’ve finished novels. i’ve taken naps. i’ve sat on the computer. i’ve started rearranging my sewing supplies. i made a stab at sweeping the floors.

because when i go downstairs and look at my paintings i am at a loss, and it’s like an aching rip at the edge of my mouth.

i want to go grab jim and have him tell me what he would do with them if they were his, or rather suggest what i should do with them. i won’t do it, of course, at least not the way he’s saying, because i am constitutionally incapable of following orders, but i’ll take what i understand of it and practice that.

i’d like to take a workshop except then i’d know what direction not to follow, and i’d rather stumble upon the paths myself.

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