encaustic – microwave w/apples

it’s been a few weeks since i was able to devote any attention to my painting.  i’ve been watching the grandson and everyone’s been sickish, so i’ve been distracted.  and then there’s the recent full moon, which was a very significant amount of change to deal with.

anyway, this is what i left last time, just the underpainting in pastel.  i didn’t bother fixing the pastel, because the first layer of wax will just pick it up.

i took a huge big dollop of wax that had been pre-softened with the addition of orange oil.  the oil is a solvent, and will dissolve the wax without heating it, but it’s a slow process.  i like to mix in enough orange oil to make a stiff but not unworkable paste – beeswax and orange oil – to which i add dry pigments.  in this case, i added a bunch of titanium white dry pigment, and worked it in with a little more orange oil.

and then i took my largest palette knife – i’d call it a palette trowel – and smeared white paint all over the microwave surface.  the knife only smeared the paint on, but it was sure faster than using a small palette knife.

the second stage had me smearing the paint more evenly using my fingers.  there’s nothing to replace fingers in this kind of painting.  you can easily tell, using your fingers, when the wax is evenly distributed, and there’s something so very satisfying about moving things around by hand.  you can’t do that with traditional encaustic (try smoothing molten wax with your fingers).

then i hit it with the heat lamp, and melted all the wax i’d just laid down.  this took some time.  it would be faster if i used a hotter heating method.  if i used a torch, say.  but i frankly don’t even like the high intensity flood lamps i started out using – even with sunglasses they blinded me for ten minutes afterwards.  i use a daylight spectrum bulb, which is a poor use of an expensive object, but it was all i had, so i used it.  but it heats up a several-square-inch area of wax in under two minutes.  the whole white area of the microwave probably took an hour to fuse, but time doesn’t run the same way when you’re doing art, so it’s really hard to tell.

so now i have the first layer of white, all burned in.  the paint picked up a good deal of the pigment underneath, but i don’t mind that, as it’s a first layer.  there will be many more layers.

i’m going to do the white microwave first, and then the yellow inside of the microwave, and then i’ll do the apples and cup, and then the background.  or so it seems right now.  tomorrow i’m going to even up the straight lines and make sure everything looks like the right shape in the right position.  it’ll be more white first, and i’ll figure out how to do the shadows as i go along.


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