encaustic – sugar hollow 4

today i didn’t have much time in the studio.  i thought i’d get much more done than i did.  but we went to an art opening this evening, and got up late, and all sorts of things happened that i forget about.  the phone still doesn’t work, tho.

i’d left the fresh wax paint on the board last night, without burning it in.  i’d layered in green, then purple, and then a grayed tan, and then left it on the board to dry overnight.  usually i slap on a fresh coat of paint and hit it with a heat lamp while it’s still wet.  this time i had a dry wax layer to reheat and melt into the layer below.  this turned out to be quite a bitch.

using citrus oil to thin the wax is really beneficial to the burning in process.  thinning the wax reduces the melting point, because when i put it on the painting it’s near liquid as makes no difference, and melts right away.  it only melts to a certain point, tho, as the citrus oil evaporates off.  there’s a little space of time where the wax has slumped, but the oil has off-gassed, and the wax that’s left hasn’t yet reached its melting point, so you have a little space of time where nothing happens, after a certain amount of melting has occurred.  this is the time when the layer you’re burning in has a chance to melt and flow over the layer beneath without the layer beneath melting.  you can see where the new stroke of wax is a little raised above the was beneath, and gradually the edges melt and it flows out.  and at that point the wax it’s flowing on starts to melt.  so it gives you a rather long time to work with your layer of almost molten wax, compared to it all being dried and cold and heating up at the same rate as the layers beneath.

it took forever to burn in that 700+ square inch board.  at least an hour.  i stopped for coffee, and it was orange flavored.  i was reading where they’re using d-limonene in heartburn treatments.  and it has cancer preventative qualities.  it makes me hungry.

after burning it in, over lunch, i sat and looked at my painting for awhile.  it’s still flat, you can’t tell there’s any depth in the water, and you can’t tell that the picture travels across the bottom of the river.  it looks more like a wall than a stretch of ground with water flowing over it.  the only good thing i found about it was that the green i used is exactly the green of the river bottom.

i discovered a lot about my subject by staring at it for several days.  the first thing i discovered was that my drawing skills suck.  when i draw in a photograph, which is how i compose paintings, not being able to improve on life, i start with representative marks spaced all over the canvas, placemarks for the features of the landscape.  slashes, curves and dots.  then i connect these marks with an overall drawing, and then further refine it until everything is accounted for.  then add paint and build a composition.

the trouble with this is that even tho all the features get represented in the painting, they’re not necessarily to scale.  i’ll have a passage that looks like what it is, and then things will get all squinched up in a corner, and in the other corner i’ll have to make shit up to fill the open spaces.  when i painted my monumental picture of new york city i had to erase and redraw the composition four times.  it was a very large painting for a watercolor, and i tried different approaches to the drawing – starting at the bottom, starting at the sides, starting at the top.  everything ended up off scale and ridiculous looking.  i got really frustrated.  finally i just attacked it one day and got really into the relationships between buildings and angles and distances and shadows and negative shapes.  and it worked.

but i didn’t do that in this painting.  i figured that if i got everything in there, even if the scale fluctuated thruout the painting, then it would look okay and nobody would notice anyway.  and since you’ll never see the reference picture, you’ll never notice.  please leave a comment if you do…

i turned the painting upside down and looked at it for awhile.  i can see awkwardness easier that way.  also looking at it in a mirror.  it helps alot.


i’m not seeing any depth, but i did figure out why there’s only red rock in the foreground – it’s because there’s loads of depth, and the color is leached out of all but the highest rocks, which is what i’m standing on when i took the picture.

what i ended up doing after burning in that vast expanse was to go back in with that really thin black, spreading it with a finger, putting it on the deeper shadows.  i burned this in, and then was a little more satisfied.  but what a short work session it felt like.

more today.


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