encaustic – sugar hollow 2

i have to apologize to all my readers, loyal and casual, for the quality of my indoor flash photographs.  i have only now discovered auto levels in photoshop, and now we can all see the colors correctly.  mea culpa.

today i don’t know wht happened but it was forever getting to the studio.

oh yeah, i remember.  now, our phone’s been out for over a week.  it was out for four days before we called it in, and THE NEW AT&T gave us a trouble ticket and told us the guy would be out in a week.  so we didn’t take or make calls for a week.  not such a biggie, unless shit happens.

okay, the week passed, and they were supposed to be here this morning.  so what happens during breakfast but the phone rings.  we almost didn’t recognize it, but thought it might be the construction going on next door.  it was the repair dude, on his way to us, stuck in traffic.  wow.  either he had the magic touch or his phone is special, because that was the first time the phone rang all week.  so i cancelled the trouble ticket.

and why would i do such a thing?  because, if he’d come to check out our line (i discussed this with him in detail), he would find that there was nothing wrong with it, because wasn’t i on the phone to him at the moment?  and finding nothing wrong with the line, he would have to conclude that the trouble must be inside the house, and charge us $85 to have come out for nothing.  so, to avoid a capricious charge that we don’t need, being starving artists and pensioners, i canceled the ticket.

after all, this has happened before.  jim and i argued about it, but i believe that this has happened three times this year, where the phone will go out for days, and then mysteriously come on again, often right after we call in a trouble ticket.  something they must do to test the line must reset the thing, or something.  maybe it’s happened four times in the last year.  anyway it goes on, and i call at&t to cancel the trouble ticket, and things go back to normal.  but this time it’s been a bit too long.  the last time it happened was during the big rain when we had a week of high humidity.  i’d already figured out it was a short (because my ex the exphone guy told me so and my brother the cable guy told me so), but since it came back on afterwards, no biggie.  and this week in atlanta we’ve had another batch of rain for several days, and today it started looking like it might clear up (we haven’t seen the sun for days now) but then it started drizzling, and suddenly it was like portland on a good day, where we couldn’t see the buildings down the street and everything squished.  i had to hold the leash of the big dog because the sidewalk is wet and leaf-ridden, and i don’t want jim pulled two ways by two dogs and go down.  if he should bust a hip we’d have to rig a way for him to paint while in traction, and that’s no joke.

so i cancelled the call.  and called at&t back and bitched at them about how hard they are to contact when you have a phone out.  they were so hard to talk to in person that i had to deliberately fuck up my responses to the automated menu and be passed in irritation to a human.  they said not a lot to help me.  since the phone was working, there was no point having someone out; if it happened again call in a ticket.

about ten minutes later i got another call.  the phone was right by the sudoku puzzle i was doing, at the kitchen counter.  it was a recorded message saying something that i hung up on, mildly irritated that this should be my first reconnection with the world.

and the phone didn’t ring again.

i’ve just joined paperback swap book club, where you take your old, read books, list them on the site, and then someone at random requests one of your books, you take it to the post office and pay media mail postage on it ($2.38) and send it off.  for every book someone takes, you get a book in credit.  so i spent the morning wrapping books to go to the post office.  and then to get my license.  and to make sure, i checked the license website.  there was a provision for getting a copy of your license ordered online, but you needed your license number.  and how were you supposed to get that if you’d lost it?  nothing for it but to go downtown to the bureau.  so i looked for a phone number to call them, chuffed that i had my phone back on.

but it wasn’t back on.  it was off again.  the weather had turned damp again and the fucking thing shorted out.  again. so i went online to at&t’s site to request a repair.  again.  i remember from last time the phone went out and i tried to enter a ticket online.  in order to request a repair to my home line, i have to fill out an online form, and then enter a special online registration code.  and how do you get a registration code?  why, they call you at home with it.  knowing this, i had requested they send me the damn online code when the phone first went out this time, and by the time i had to request this second repair ticket, it had come in the mail.

so i did that, and now i’ve got the guy coming out to have a look at the line next tuesday at 7 pm.  that’ll be 3 weeks without phone service.  and i imagine that the weather will turn long before tuesday evening, and i’ll have to call and cancel.  again.  this gets dizzying.  we need to buy a cellphone to back up our landline so that we don’t get caught out in an emergency, but still need the landline for when cellphone service is disrupted or we lose the phone or the baby flushes it.  besides, i hate having a cellphone because it means you have to take it with you from room to room so that you’re there when it rings, and if it should become uncharged and you’ve left it somewhere, tough luck.

anyway, this string of events was so over the top that i just had to laugh.  you can’t get mad when the whole day is like this, all you can do is see the humor in it and let it go.  else you’d have to go postal. especially when you have to spend a couple of hours getting your replacement drivers license after all this.


so never mind the rest of it.  i was glad enough to get down to the studio around 3 this afternoon.  it had started to rain lightly, and i listened to the dripping eaves for a couple of hours while i started in with some wax.

first things first, start on the dry rocks.  in my reference picture they’re a very light burnt sienna, and once they dip under the water they turn into a much darker, more yellow sienna.  i mixed up a good chunk of yellow beeswax with some titanium white and burnt sienna.  i incorporated some old creamy yellow that i’d been keeping in a pile under a jar, and thinned it to a nice buttery consistency with orange oil.  the lighter wax is the dry rock, and the darker pink is the underwater rock.  i haven’t touched the top 7/8 of the painting yet; it’s just the way i left it after burning in the really thin black.  while the wax was still wet, i took a knife of the really thin black i’d used yesterday for the lines, and dragged it on top of the pink wax.  i figured i should do this because the white in the wax is really opaque, and i couldn’t see the lines i’d put down yesterday underneath it.  then i burned it in.  i was drinking a cup of coffee at the time, sitting on a stool in front of a table where i had the painting flat on its back.  i was switching hands holding the heat lamp.  the citrus oil was evaporating out of the melting wax.  i was overwhelmingly hungry, and my coffee smelled like the best orange flavored coffee i’ve ever had.


this is a closeup of the first burn.  i don’t usually put down one color over another color when it’s wet.  usually i burn in one layer at a time, mainly out of impatience.  but this time i worked fast.  and burned it to a molten state.  and the black did wonderful flowy breaky things.  and this is only the first burning.  as i develop it, the black (black, purple and umber) will break up further and get more cool.

i was going to stop there, but nah.  i had time to mix up a huge pile of bottom color and burn it in before dinner.  and dinner was going to have to come soon, because i was awash in orange fumes.  it took a good hour to burn in the whole thing (you can see where i finished, on the left most of the way up, the whitish area is more translucent when warm, and becomes clear when cool), and i came out of the studio smelling like i’d been making marmalade.


i figured i’d show this even tho it’s impossible to see a difference.  what i’ve done at this point is mix up a whole load of yellow beeswax with burnt umber and chrome green, thin it with orange oil, spread it on, and burn it in.  the wax paint went clear when i burned it in, because umber and chrome oxide are transparent colors.  so you have a completely different texture in the water simply due to opacity and transparency.  that’s way cool.  and one of the things i don’t know about my craft yet.  the learning curve is never ending.

i feel about wax the way i feel about making bread, or messing in the garden.  it’s good to get down and wrangle with your materials.  cooks are like this, things get flung and thumped and crammed to the limits of their endurance.  ups package loaders are like this – if it says fragile, throw it.  it’s good for them.  they ask for it.  like a palette knife full of softened wax, it wants to be flung onto the board like a trowel full of cement, and then slathered on with the belly of the knife.  it’s so satisfying, the large motions, the big scumbling strokes, the touches that appear slapdash but are actually expressive, you just don’t realize it when you put it on.  but after it’s melted, wow.

tomorrow i’ll work more with the foreground rocks, since they’re completely different in character than the river bottom rocks.

again, i didn’t get a picture of the finished north georgia trout stream painting because the lighting was so poor today.  i’ll post it tomorrow, weather permitting.  or maybe it’ll rain another day, whoopiee.

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