i consider this finished. in addition to the blue, i stuck on some more burnt umber on the trees, made the stripes on the palms by scraping some paint away, and took some of the light greens i used on the barn painting and put highlights on the plants. then i made some van gogh stars to show how full of humidity the horizon was, and put in a couple of vague breaking waves, darkened the porch railing, and that’s it. i’ll sign the back, and give it to the little kid who suggested it as a painting.
this is the amsterdam boat pastel underpainting, covered in wax paste prior to burning in. the wax is very goopy because of the orange oil, more than i usually put in so that it would be goopy. jim makes it up a lot stiffer than i need, so i just add orange oil on the top and come back in a few days to stir it all up as it dissolves. the reason the wax is so damned opaque is that it hasn’t been burned in yet.
you can see how much clearer the wax is once it’s been melted and allowed to cool once more. the idea behind the melting is to fuse all the layers of wax together. this is partly unnecessary when you’re working with wax and citrus solvent mixed together to form a wax paste, because it’s not in layers when you do that, it’s got a solvent in it so the layers dissolve together. or would, if i didn’t burn them in. i like the burning in.
some painters use wax paste instead of molten wax (which they call ‘real encaustic TM’). these soft wax painters come from an artist name of joel reeves who taught this in the late ’50s and early ’60s. back then, everyone, from karl zerbe to jasper johns used solvents in their wax, but the solvent was turpentine, which is horribly toxic when inhaled as a heated fume. so nobody does this anymore. the proponents of ‘real encaustic TM‘ insist that all solvents are bad bad bad, and concentrate on using molten wax. this means that the wax is heated constantly, and repeatedly, which does bad things to the wax (shortens the molecule chain every time) and puts beeswax and damar fumes into the air. so the ‘real TM’ crowd hyperventilate their studios using industrial strength fume hoods and osha face masks. this is a ridiculous overreaction to fumes, you can ask any oil painter who uses solvents.
anyway, we don’t take the safe-at-all-costs stance, and think the ‘real encaustic TM’ crowd are a little off the deep end. we were taught to use solvents and paste wax, and avoid overheating the beeswax, and so when we discovered orange oil, we were delighted. it’s mostly nontoxic. you can eat it. it makes me hungry to work with it. the smell is highly pleasant, and i’ve got asthma and so should know if it’s harmful when inhaled. and it’s not harmful to me. the msds says it’s gras – generally recognized as safe, but others warn of liver toxicity, so it’s a good idea to have a fan going so the fumes don’t concentrate. but it’s not going to kill either of us, and the effects you can get with paste wax burned in are tremendous – i can do details.
i’m not sure if i’ll be continuing with the boat and reflections painting, as i’m running out of time to experiment, and this painting isn’t an experiment but a real painting.
note on the luan panels. i’ve been trying to cut the sheet down into boards, and am having trouble. the circular saw is too rough and will tear the delicate wood up, so we’re not even trying that. we tried the hand saw, but it was slow. i tried a mat knife and it took for fucking ever, and i went out and got cutting blades for my dremel tool, but it would only cut halfway thru, and when i tried to score and snap it, the plywood broke at different places. so we asked jim’s son michael, a professional woodworker, to cut it for me. that way i don’t ruin all my panels, just the first four i tried to cut myself.