encaustic – north ga trout stream 2

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this is how i left it the last time i worked on it.  by the way, so far these are all indoor photos, with a flash.  you can see the glare at the top of the painting.  see the last entry for what i did before this.

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this is the whole picture.  the top half is laid out in pastel, and i’ve covered the bottom half of the water with pale wax.

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but this is how it looks outside.  i think i’ll forbear taking any more pictures in the studio.

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so now these next photos show the progress of one day, every step, or every couple of steps, because really my process consists of slapping on some paint and burning it in while it’s still wet, then slapping on some more.  and i mean putting in three strokes of green and then burning that, and then five dots of red and burning that.  so i’ve taken a picture after every step, if i remembered.  and since this was yesterday’s work, i’m  not going to remember very well what i did.  i’m just describing what i can see in these progress shots.

for instance, i have put on a nice mixed blue for the reflections of the sky at top of the painting, and burned it in.  i also took some gold ochre and burned it in for the orange tree reflections.  and then i mixed up some very light pinkish yellow and stuck it on where the water is.  my idea is to make the water glow with light while still being darker than the rocks out of water.  above is the whitish wax before i burned it in.  i wanted to show how much it changes, but so far i haven’t had much contrast in the before and after shots.

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in this case, however, because there’s so much white in it, and the white does such extraordinary things (like breaking apart and churning), it really shows a difference.  i’ve noticed that white kind of disappears when the wax is burned in.  i don’t know whether this is because the heat damages the pigment, burns it, or what.  i can’t explain it, but i can see it just go invisible as i’m heating it.  that’s another reason to treat white with respect, that most dreaded of colors.

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now i’ve gone in and added more gold.  i use quinacridone gold (po49) because it’s transparent and very strong.  it’s a car color, but they don’t make gold cars like that anymore, so they’ve stopped manufacturing the color, and now only a few places offer it at all, so i got a bunch and i’m using it with abandon.

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and now it looks like i slapped another coat of whitish yellow on it, because it just wasn’t light enough.  doesn’t it look different every time i touch it?

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and i’ve gone and glazed it again with more gold, mixed with raw umber and a little blue.

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this is what it looks like close up. couldn’t tell you exactly where, oh yes i could.  on the bottom is the big underwater rock on the lower left, and on top of that is a large dark space in the water, with the bottom in between.  you can see how much the different wax applications of color have moved, and how the white spreads and flows.  it’s really beautiful.

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now i’ve gone and put in some fish with the same black/umber/purple i used to outline the rocks.  there’s also 2 white fish around the middle of the board.  then i added in some mixed orange, and some blue for the reflections.  the whole thing looks a bit stark.  this is how i left it last night.

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this morning i went down to the studio and clean neglected to take any pictures until i was finished for the day.  so there are a lot of steps here, and i’ll try to remember them.  first i put on another, lighter coat of blue and a darker orange and tried to cover more of the area.  i burned this in. then this was too much, and the blue stuck out too much.  i decided to worry about that later.

so then i took a whole bunch, most of a pint jar, of bleached white beeswax, thinned it a bunch with citrus oil, and burned it all in.  this took the better part of an hour, and that means i was exposed to citrus oil fumes for the better part of an hour, huddled over the board with my heat lamp only millimeters from the surface of the wax, only a ceiling fan on low drafting the fumes away.

and i felt fine.  you must remember that i have asthma, and if the fumes are going to be harmful, i’m going to know it.

so now i’m kind of liking the coating of clear wax.  it obscures some of the frenetic detail of the bottom.  the bottom was meant to be pretty featureless, with light shining indirectly on the water.  but i wasn’t getting that, so putting a layer of translucent white wax on top was a good thing to do.  as it turns out.  what do i know before i see how it melts?

then i continued the blue down into the bottom of the painting, and then i diluted the hell out of the blue that was left and smeared it on the water on the bottom half of the painting, and burned it all in.  as a final touch, i mixed up some white and laid it on to be white water, little wavelets.

in the burning in of the painting – i had to burn in the entire painting except for the rocks on the lower left, twice today, once for the clear wax, and once for the blue and orange bits that are everywhere – a funny thing happened to the black fish.  now, black does this when heated.  it breaks up like white does.  but while white breaks into minute particles that then flow and blend, black breaks up into larger pieces, and flows together in the direction gravity indicates.  i managed to bump the painting while one of the black fish was entirely molten, and the jostle separated a whole half of fish which floated about a sixteenth of an inch away from its original position, leaving a big gap in the fish.  but i haven’t tried to correct it, partially because it doesn’t seem to make much difference in the way it looks at a distance.

at this point i might be close to done with the water.  now, however, i have to go back to the rocks at the lower left and really beef them up.  they need texture you can see and feel, and right now, compared to the complexity of the water, they’re kind of rudimentary.  altho, i had thought them mostly complete when i first started with the water.  but of course, nothing turns out like you pictured it in the beginning.  at least, nothing turns out exactly as i picture it.  i don’t have the skill to exactly realize something i can think up or picture in my mind.  or the talent.  but wtf, i don’t care.

encaustic – trout stream in north georgia

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it really is pretty up there, folks.  the extreme southern splash of the appalachians, all mountains and valleys and swift flowing rivers, with ancient cherokee fishing weirs all over the place.  there’s this place near helen.  it’s a gift shop of renown, and they’ve got a deck out back and a basement down below that look onto a great trout stream, where there are hundreds of what look like 20-pounders to me.   so i’ve been there twice, tho i get lost every time, and had my camera with me.  what we’re seeing in the picture above is the underpainting in pastel.  i don’t actually do an underpainting, just a few lines telling me where everything is.  i usually do the painting just the one time, rather than a painting underneath that just gets covered up.  i mean, what’s the point?  jim always does an underpainting in a contrasting medium, and often he does studies as well.  i just prefer to go with what i see and feel and work out the relationships on the canvas.

what you’re seeing is the trout stream, about 20 feet below me.  there are rocks on the lower left which are out of the water, part of the bank on which the old mill stands.  you can see the bottom for about 10 feet, and you can see all kinds of huge trout in a frenzy over what is being tossed to them by tourists (a little candy dispenser with fish pellets in it, a handful for a quarter).  beyond, you begin to see reflections, so there are alternating stripes of blue sky and orange fall foliage, and still there are fish under the surface but you can’t tell much with the glare.

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i’ve begun putting on the wax.  this is the lower left corner of the painting, and i’m putting wax on it first because it’s out of the water, and therefore needs to have some heavy texture.  what is painting in wax about if not impasto, at least until you melt it…

i’m using white wax first, because it gives me the most trouble.  by this i mean it melts at the highest temperature, and so i put it on first and burn it in so that it’ll be done and i don’t have to mess with it again.  because once i put other colors on and try to burn them in, if i put white on afterwards, then the darker colors all run by the time i get the wax even slushy.

i’m learning from last time, so i think.  the last thing i did was a house portrait, way finicky for wax, and i had to resort to masking in order to keep the whole picture from churning.  i learned that you work from light to dark or else.  i was taught light-to-dark in watercolor, but i’ve always ignored that rule because i like to have contrast present early.  sometimes i put the darks in first.  but i can’t do that with wax.

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or can i?  here i go putting in blue for the darkest shadows.  i’m not really worried about it because the white’s already hardened, and the blue will melt way before the white softens, and my only issue is will the orange melt appreciably faster?  well, it does, but the areas are small enough that i can scoot over parts that are melting for parts that aren’t, and then come back for a moment at a time until the wax is just at the edge where it starts to run.

you’re getting one step at a time here.  usually i don’t put this many photos in, because i basically can’t tell the difference until quite a few changes have been made.  if i took notes, but then i couldn’t stand to take notes.  but if i did take notes, i’d know a hell of a lot more about fabric dyeing, for one thing, and silk painting.  and cooking.  oh well.

what i’ve done above is to put in some buff white in for some of the rocks, orange where the orange rocks and floating leaves go, and then some blue on the edges of the rocks that are quite dark in the reference photo.  i also have begun texturizing the large rocks to the left and bottom, putting little bits of brown and blue on them.

actually, the blue i used was way old.  i have this habit of keeping all the wax i don’t use, putting an inverted cup over the colored lumps to keep them soft, and then using them again the next painting i do.  so i have bunches of white left from the holbox painting, for example.  and buff white.  and some green.  and the black i used in the windows.  all that shows up here.  the blue, however, is from several paintings back, and air had gotten in under the glass, and it was really tough, even after i thinned it greatly with citrus oil.  and it really didn’t want to melt, either.  usually when i put on a freshly thinned batch of wax, it’s still wet when i burn it in, smelling pleasantly of oranges (no physical symptoms, either, no eyes stinging, no lung pain, no nausea), and it tends to melt at a lower temperature than wax that has already been burned in.  it starts to soften immediately, since it’s still wet, and once i’ve burned it, it buffs up really well, and that’s how i know it’s set and there’s no more solvent in the wax.

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what you’re seeing now is the same painting as that one above, but after burning in the blue and orange.  you can see a shininess in the blue line at the top of the photo.  as i suspected, you can’t really tell the difference at this distance between freshly painted wax and burned in wax, altho close up it’s appreciable, even striking.

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at this point i wiped away most of the pastel, which i hadn’t bothered to fix, so that i could see better.  and then i put the rest of the buff white over the bottom of the painting to the right, where i had already decided i wouldn’t put any paint until i had the rocks finished.  good intentions, why do i bother?

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and this is what the whole thing looks like.  you can see that the part i’m working on is very small (24×30 masonite panel, gessoed a light gray).  the buff white goes out to 3/4 of the way to the right edge, and up to the level of the big dark underwater rock to the left.  you might be able to see a little blending of the wax with the pastel.  unfixed pastel blends with wax because it’s basically loose pigment on the board, and the wax just absorbs it and mixes it in.

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this looks so abstract.  i’ve put in some blackish very thin wax around the edges of the rocks that are out of the water.  this is a reinforcement of the marks i’d made with the blue.  i’ve got some burnt sienna, and the white dots are actually not quite white, but lighter than the buff of the river bottom.  i’ve also continued developing the texture in the 2 big rocks to the bottom and left, and the large underwater rock above.  this is a shot taken after burning it in.  you can see in the large underwater rock that the white has moved and bloomed (check out the previous 2 pictures).

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now i’m really restating the black.  i’ve mixed up new black, which actually more consists of dioxazine purple and raw umber.  it’s extremely thin, so thin i put it on with a brush, an old wax stiffened brush i had laying about.  perhaps i could have cleaned it before using it, as it left a sort of trench with parallel sides when i put paint on with it, but i figured what the hell, since i’m just going to melt it anyway.  and lines this thick, i want to see them melt right down.  at this point the painting looks kind of cartoonish.  i’m wondering about it, but keeping on, because every middle stage painting is ugly.  and the middle stage can start with the establishment of the composition.

it melted down some.  you can see this best in that triangular lump about 1/8th in from the bottom right, offshore of the big rock at the bottom.  altho the black was very wet, and flowed out immediately, i still had to watch the other colors, especially the sienna, since it turned shiny and liquid faster than the other colors.

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now i’ve stuck some blue in as light spots on the rocks. the wet rocks in between the two big rocks are very shiny.  mainly they look black and the highlights look blue.  the only change here is very difficult to spot.  i put a layer of clear beeswax over the rocks that are partially obscured by water.  the blue space between the large rock on the bottom and the smaller white rock next to it, as well as the space between those rocks and the large white rock to the left, has got maybe an inch of water on it, but it’s enough to ripple and obscure the details.  so i’ve stuck clear wax on it and have burned it in, and you really can’t see it.

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so now i’ve added just a smear of very thin white over this, with my finger, and burned it back in.  you can see especially on the blue space between the two white rocks on the bottom, where it’s now milky.  the other spots still don’t show much.

well, it’s hard to believe i left it that way last night.  what probably happened is that there are pictures in the camera.  i’ll get to it soon.  it’s time to walk the dogs, and jim gets impatient.  he’ll start off by himself if i don’t hurry.

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i finally finished it.  i made all sorts of mistakes.  you can’t just slap a bunch of wax onto a panel and expect it to fuse up nicely.  what it wants to do is melt, run together, and churn.  and we can’t have that.  that’s what happened to the palm tree in the center.  it was nice and crisp and full of detail, but when i melted the white roof and walls next to it, the thing ran and churned and i didn’t even notice it, because the white wax was still solid and i was getting impatient.

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that’s when i decided to mask off the areas i didn’t need to burn in, meaning covering everything i’ve already done with paper.  i used the backs of both the 8.5×11 photos i was using as reference, as well as an envelope, and torn up pieces of some laser-printed receipt.

white throws off the heat.  i’ve got a heat lamp an inch from the surface of the painting, and after a few moments things start to get a little shiny, maybe sweat a little (i’m using orange oil as thinner, and it begins to off-gas at a low temperature).  then the surface gets way shiny, and i can see the reflection of the bulb clearly.  then edges go away and pigment starts to move as the wax liquifies and flows away from the heat.

dark colors, in general, heat up faster, and liquify many seconds before white does.  putting the black windows in first, therefore, is a mistake.  so is putting them in anything but last, especially over top of white.  here i am trying for subtle shadows, and all i get is smears of gray.  the thing to have done would have been to put the white down first and get it good and burned in, therefore good and hard.  i have a theory that the more you heat the wax, the more brittle and hard it becomes.  this is just a theory, and it goes way against the current ‘standard’ practice of keeping the wax molten and brushing it on while hot, because hours of molten wax just isn’t good for the wax’s structure.  i’m convinced, anyway.  since i use solvents, it could be that heating it multiple times doesn’t make it tough but rather makes it normal by evaporating away more and more of the solvent.  however, i think it evaporates more and more of the softer qualities of the wax.  perhaps we’ll see.  i’m going to do another post on the encaustic process itself, soon…

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this is the middle stage of the painting, where everything looks awful.  i’m still altering the shape of the house, for example, and the road is giving me fits.  it’s a sand road, because nothing is paved on that island.  and it’s not our typical sand, either, because it’s not exactly white and it’s not black or gray or brown.  so i ended up putting all colors into it, the way i tend to do with richly colored and textured objects.  and while you can make out the things in the background, you’d be hard pressed to report that it was a rather casual airport, with 2 palapas and a plane behind a rail fence and some cinderblock walls.  for the road, i kept slapping on clear wax, or somewhat white colored wax, sort of a hand-mixed buff titanium color.  layer after layer, burned in and burned in, until most of the color was obscured.  and most of the shadows on the road.

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the gold ochre on top of the burnt sienna bottom of the house was an inspired idea.  not.  i wanted to do something to darken the shadows inside the porch, and didn’t really want to get anywhere near the black doors, so i lightened the other red blocks instead.  and it looks really messy.  then i had to darken and re-texturize the plam tree.  and then i had to beef up the background some more.  and then add fence rails, which i had to do by carving out the wax next to the house, slipping thin wax into the lines, and burning it in only until it began to run.  the white of the window frame was done by scraping the wax off down to the gesso.  and i had to redo it every time i heated anything around it.  at some point the wax ran even tho i had paper masking it from the sunlamp’s ray’s.  there was a lot of redo in the house.  the grass was actually pretty hard, because i had to put in a bunch of colors before it started to look like it had any depth.  and then the marks on the road.  i incised lines, and you can still see some of the top incision, and then put in dark raw umber and melted it.  but it looked horrible, so i melted it again.  and then it was still a bit awkward, so i did it a third time.

and that’s the beauty of wax.  it attenuates the more you melt it.  you can use the churning effect to your advantage if what you really want is a muddy gray.

that’s the painting.  it’s about 9×12 and will fit in someone’s suitcase the next time they go to holbox to visit.  tia can hang it in her house, or leave it in the sun if she really just doesn’t like it.  it looks passable at about 8 feet, which is where it should be seen from, and the details of the wax look best close up.  you’ll never figure out where i’ve signed it unless you’re looking at the tail of the plane with a magnifying glass.  i hope they don’t think i’m insulting them with a crappy painting, and instead become seduced by the wax into thinking it’s a work of actual art and an homage to their kindness.  but you never know how your art will be received.

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encaustic venus

not de milo – de planet.

this will be my nth encaustic painting of a planet or moon. i’m obsessed, happily, with soft looking rounded shapes floating in space. cosmic breasts. and i keep finding correspondences in life – i saw my mammogram image on the screen behind me in radiology, and it looked just like one of the moons of saturn. so i’ll be doing a mammogram disguised as a planet any old time now. and antarctica without the ice. and the crescent earth with long  shadows cast by the clouds.

so cool.

venus by radar image, color coded. venus uncoded

for this painting i’m using a 30×40″ panel coated out with rabbit skin glue gesso. i outlined it in pastel, as i have been doing, and sprayed with acrylic medium thru a mouth atomizer to fix the pastels.

this is the first pass, just to block in the colors. i’m using beeswax thinned with orange oil except on the sky, where i’m using microcrystalline wax and orange oil, mixed with dry pigments, and put on with a palette knife.

then i burned it in with a heat lamp.

after putting on the base colors – pink, blue and green, i worked in some brighter pinks and some acid greens, as well as a purplish red. i used the ex-wax i keep in a jar with orange oil to make the atmospheric gunge.

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interesting how nothing seems to change even tho a great deal has been done. i put in dark blue (dioxazine purple and prussian blue), and started working the “landmass” toward yellow and orange, because i just don’t like pink.

then i burned it in, a little less deeply this time (as if it’s easy to avoid liquifying the whole thing). i’m trying to only barely glisten the wax, only to barely soften the outlines, only enough to swell the wax, not to melt it. but i find it very difficult to do this because it all happens so fast, and because i continuously have to keep coming back around to that spot in order to continue heating the nearby wax.

the interesting thing is that it’s not very visible, the difference, whether you melt the shit out of it or barely warm it. you can’t really tell until you get close that there’s been any running at all.

which is why i like encaustic paintings close up.

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not being able to leave anything alone, as soon as i’m fnished melting the planet, i start in adding more paint. about the only difference i can see in this picture is that i’ve started messing with the gunge in the atmosphere again. oh yeah, and i remember slapping a bunch of quinacridone gold over the “landmass”, which gives it an overall richer and yellower cast.

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sorry about the shakes. i took it outside to get the real colors, after putting on some nice acid green (viridian and cadmium yellow dark) and starting to define the circular features with various shades of purple.

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this is how i left it last night. it’s ready to be melted again, and then i might have to do something else to it. the ring things are god knows what. let me look it up. volcanic features.

i included this as a post. it’d been sitting in my draft box for months, and i figured it had things that i was never going to say again about this painting.

playing catch up

catchup. ketchup, catsup. what a strange looking word. and what an ugly word. you can’t ever catch up. not with work, certainly not with sleep, not with bits of life you’ve ignored. ‘too late’ is also an ugly word. so i’ll never retrieve the time wasted obsessing on a disaster that hasn’t happened (yet). this is what i managed to accomplish in all that time.

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i’m going to detail the last three ‘moon’ pictures i’ve done, tho two of these are actually planets. ’round things in space’, perhaps. except one of them is a mammogram painting. so, how about ‘beautiful orbs’ or ‘heavenly bodies’ or some other trite descriptor? i’m not good at marketing.

the first painting was actually the last one i did, in blog fashion – filo – and it’s a painting of my latest mammogram. i was in radiology doing a mammogram, and looked up to where they had it on screen (why do they use films when it’s all digital now?), and was captivated by its  beautiful, planetlike appearance.

so i got a copy of the films and did a painting. it’s kind of small, only about 18×22 or so. working in wax, it’s nice to have a frame already on it so that you have somewhere for the melted wax to go. since you don’t want it pouring off the edges, it’s really nice to have a lip. so jim has been building panels with frames stuck right on them. more like fillets than frames, but even a small edge is good.

the thing that sets this painting apart, apart from the subject matter, is the materials i used. i wanted real texture for this painting, and wasn’t willing to spend a whole lot of wax building up layers. layers melt. i wanted something apart from the wax, something stable. usually what you’d use in this case would be acrylic molding paste. but i felt experimental. so i started out shredding cotton balls, and put them on the contour of the breast. this worked really well. it was white, tho. i didn’t really want white.

problem – how do you render xrays in wax? they’re so spectral. wax does spectral pretty well. they’re so dimensional, you can see the roundness of the breast, the thickness of the tissue. usually in painting you do that with illusions of space, with receding colors to the back and distinctness in the foreground. i can say that i had some technical problems.

so i started laying in the wax. with a palette knife. i love knifework in wax. it’s so expressive. at this point i don’t remember what i did first or second or anything. i know the space background in the upper left is a beautiful dark blue when the wax is hot, but you’ll never see that, and can’t see it in the picture.

melted wax is transparent. you see the particles of pigment embedded in it. the colors are vibrant and clear. once it cools the wax becomes merely translucent, and many of the glorious colors and effects that are so striking when it’s hot disappear once it cools. so the main beauty of an encaustic painting is mine to see, mine alone. it’s my reward from the wax. it’s like walking in the west of ireland when the sun comes out and lights up everything in miraculous colors and you’ve forgotten your camera.

so i might have put on quinacridone gold first, but i remember rubbing it back in to the sea areas near the end of the process. but i remember laying out a bunch of fibers. i had teased apart the threads of a piece of linen at some point, and put them in a ziplock back for future use. ah, the delights of a stash drawer. i put them down to represent the veins that show up in mammograms. for the thickness that shows tissue density, i was stumped. cotton balls only went so far for texture. i had covered the cotton with a coat of wax and burned it in, and in the beginning you could still pull cotton out of it. the wax melted and got in between the cotton fibers and stuck them firmly to the panel (i think), but didn’t build up as fast as i thought it would. it was still mostly cotton for a few layers. but i’d slather on more wax and melt it again, and eventually i had something that felt like wax and not some dead thing.

when it came to the interior of the breast, i needed something softer than cotton, something not as densely packed. so i looked around the house with an eye to art supplies, and came upon a new use for dog and cat hair. we have 3 dogs and 2 cats upstairs in the living area of our house (our studio is on the bottom floor). they shed. it collects. it’s fluffy, light, insubstantial, and loose. so i went around the house and scooped up several dust bunnies, took them downstairs and started laying strands of hair down on the panel. they stuck to the wax very easily, and i mushed them around until i had an increasing ball of texture to the center of the breast.

then some clear wax over all this. and then i rubbed in some blue, and painted on some red onto the fiber lines. then i put some blue into the contour lines. then some white. each time i put even a small bit of pigmented wax on, i would then hit it with an outdoor spotlight to burn in the addition. this means i would spend five minutes painting, and 20 minutes standing there holding a light and squinting thru sunglasses. but i kept liking what i was getting, so i kept doing it. it’s so exciting. you can spend an entire day standing there heating wax up.

i have to apologize for the fuzzy quality of this picture. sometimes i think i’m getting a good photo without using a tripod, and sometimes i’m just fooling myself.

this is venus. it’s not venus as we know it, because that’s a star in the night sky. it’s a false color venus showing height. so the redder, the higher and the blues are lowlands. we’d call them seas, and who knows, they’re calling the blue volcanic plain and the uplands volcanic outflows. none of this is visible to us because of the cloud cover of venus, but if we could see thru the atmosphere, this is what we’d see, wildly colored tho it is. this was a fun painting because of all the colors. normally pink is not in my palette, but the reference photo demanded it.

you can see the planetary gunge around venus. it’s all sorts of colors. represents the atmosphere, but really it’s because i love the image of earth surrounded by space junk. pick up your trash!

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the painting before that was of the earth from an angle where you can’t see any land. antarctica is actually there on the lower right, but it’s only a different shade of white, harder, with turquoise blue ice. i love how the clouds make a figure to the lower left. a space dude with a helmet. for this one i believe i did the sky first simply to outline the thing. i believe i used a lot of black for this, not just some black and mostly blue. on the mammogram painting i remember i didn’t use any black, but put something warm down first, and covered it with ultramarine, which made a visual black once it cooled to translucent.

i used the same gunge to go around the earth that i’ve been using to go around all the planets. i’ve got this little jar full of scrapings from the palette. old colors removed with some effort from my glass palette, stuck into a jar, and a little solvent added to keep it soft. if mixed up, it would be a dark brown mess o’gunk. but used unmixed it’s a rich blend of colors that smear nicely around the edge of a planet. you can see it more clearly on the venus painting, but that’s just a trick of the light. unfortunately, these photos don’t half do the paintings justice. the beauty of the wax is such that you have to be right there in three dimensions in front of it (and don’t forget the dimension of smell, wax is really good for that special sense). i’d invite you over to my studio, but i won’t.

the clouds were easy to build up but also difficult because it actually required loads of colors and lots of buildup before they started to look like clouds. there’s white in there, and purple, and a mixed gray and even some green and red. and more white.

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it was a slow process. but the more i did, the better i liked it. unfortunately the final photo was smirched by a dab of wax on the camera lens, but since it’s hanging in the bedroom where we can see it, i can’t get a better photo at the moment. so oh well.

encaustic: blue marble

ocean261 pastel underpainting

ocean275 1st layers of wax, burned in

ocean291 2nd layers of wax, to be burned

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detail showing thick impasto of whites, striving for texture but not yet melted

i’m having a funny moment. im sitting here at 2 in the morning typing in the dark, and for the longest time i could only sit here with hands poised above the keyboard and staring into space, because i couldn’t think of anything to say.

not like i haven’t been planning what to say on my blog while i’m standingi around doing my art work. i do that a whole lot, having always had a camera and mike in my head. but i couldn’t figure out what impulse to follow into a blog entry, and couldn’t figure out which of my many blogs to post to, and then got lost in wondering which of the many blogs is more me? is it the cancer blog? is it doing art? right now it’s alot about traveling.

i guess what i’m trying to do is write missives, like i used to do when i’d go travelling. originally it started as 25 page letters to a friend. i knew a girl who wrote home on carbon paper, keeping a copy for herself as her journal. once the internet got here my letters turned into emails, and spammed emails at that. i sent them to anyone i had in my address book, and didn’t really care if i was burdening them with an hour and a half of reading. nobody let me know they didn’t read my emails. and now i don’t have to offend anyone with another wave of revulsion at seeing an email from me, because you have to search for my blog entries to find them, and that means you’re asking for it.

but my train of thought has been interrupted again by a funny moment, a pre-epileptic-like frozen gaze where my mind is active but my body is drooling. odd.

i’m working up a whole set of planet paintings. i want to do a long thin panel of moons in their phases, and not necessarily the moon we look at. i’ve been getting interested in parts of our planet that don’t look familiar. antarctica without ice. the arctic as an inland sea. i’ve been spending a lot of time on websites about the poles. fascinating stuff. antarctica without ice is like some fantasy novel’s map. i want to name the bits and pieces things like dragon ridge and silent wood. i want to do mars, tho the color scheme is challenging – red. red is challenging. blue and green are not. gray is not.  but i guess i lie. gray is every bit as challenging as red. blue and green are not. white and blue are not. and black.

i’ve noticed a very strange effect in melting my white wax paint. i’m using titanium white in beeswax, softened with orange oil instead of melted on a hotplate, and fused with a heatlamp.


note the bubbling of the whites and grays, and how the white has pulled away from the blue

i don’t put white on until i have to. white takes the longest to melt, and melts at a higher temperature, so everything around it is already molten and flowing  by the time white looses its structure. white is trouble. even a little white mixed in with some other color.

what happens is this. when i heat up the layers of wax i’ve been laying down for awhile, and there’s white in the paint layer, it’s as if the wax underneath the white layer (or two) was liquid and the white was slowly melting on top of an already melted mess of wax with some other pigment in it, and when it gets to a point of moltenness the fabric of the white suddenly tears, gets holes in it that spread. kind of like crawling, when a glaze beads up on the surface underneath. it’s a crawl in the direction of the heat source, and if not noticed, which is easy because it’s very glary, the crawl can become a flow and then a churn and then you have uniformly mixed color and that’s bad.

the crawl is interesting. i can’t control it. not that it can’t be controlled, but it seems to be because the white was heated maybe too fast. if it’s deliberately heated fast, the wax surges away from the heat, swelling into rings, and the white just bursts apart. if i back away the moment the white starts to split then it’s not too bad, but that part tends to stay liquid longer because it’s white and the wax retains the extra heat needed to melt it.

i have no idea why i’m getting a crawl with white. i see no mention of this problem on the encaustic forum, so i’ve got to think that it’s my method. which means, working with solvents. which is universally frowned upon, even tho it means you can paint with brushes just like you would with oil paint, with ample time to do all the brushwork things that makes oil paint so satisfying, but with the magical texture of wax.

so i’m thinking that my orange oil might be the problem. i’m going to experiment some more.

once i figured out it was me, i whipped out my experimental painting and did some samples. curiously, i couldn’t duplicate the results. so i launched into the next painting, and when it came time to add the white, i started getting the effect again even in very low concentrations of white.


more detail showing texture, this made either with a patted brush or my finger – you won’t see the tearing of the white until i burn in this layer, tomorrow.

i was trying to document this problem so that maybe someone could tell me what’s going on. so i tried to take movies i could put up on you tube, but all they showed was the heatlamp glaring into the surface of the painting. i want to show the liquifying of the wax and the point at which the white starts tearing like ripe pantyhose. but i can’t do that very well, apparently, and i can’t describe it. and since this last layer of white was mixed with mineral spirits instead of orange oil, and since i already released and burned off any remaining orange oil when i burned the first layer in, i will, i feel sure, be able to figure out if i’ve got a d-limonene problem, or does white separate with any solvent.

my d-limonene problem. i made myself sick using turpentine as a solvent already. nausea, vomiting, ill for a night and queasy thereafter for awhile. so i switched to orange oil. because mineral spirits are petroleum products, thus they cause cancer. d-limonene is gras – generally recognized as safe, which means non-toxic. there was some concern about effects to the kidneys in mice, but later studies indicated cancer-fighting properties of orange oil, and it’s being investigated as a prophylactic supplement to prevent recurrence.

i’m breathing in small quantities of a cancer fighter, how’s that for cool? because yeah i’ve already had cancer and so it’s kind of reassuring to know i’m not deliberately courting it after the disastrous first date but rather running with the antidote.

i’ve been up for awhile. jim’s asleep, allison’s still at work. did i mention i have a full house at the moment? my kid’s here, part time, and her kid’s here sometime, and so i don’t have three minutes to myself, so i’m up writing while jim sleeps. it’s spring, so my days are spent at least thinking about outside, and i’m furiously finishing this encaustic and maybe one more before perhaps turning my attention to showing them, which means work, but maybe someone else’s work. i need to turn my attention to fabric for awhile. i have to figure out how to dye silk using mx fiber reactive dyes, which is just a vinegar recipe rather than a soda ash recipe, but i still have to figure it out and get my learning curve down before i go off to the back of beyond and not know what i’m doing and make a balls of it.

pair of beauties 2

a word on encaustic painting. a word on painting with wax. a word on the cold wax method of encaustic. i have found that i have a really hard time applying wax paint if it’s at all waxy. but once i cut it enough it becomes like oil paint, like butter. come to think of it, i can’t handle spreading butter cold, either. there’s got to be spreadability before i’m happy. and correct me if i’m wrong, because i haven’t tried encaustic the regular way yet, but you can’t get a buttery application with molten wax. whereas i can paint with it. with brushes, and go back, and blend. i have maybe ten minutes before enough citrus oil  has evaporated that the wax becomes tacky.

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indeed, you can see the reference photos tacked up onto the background right there. just like old fashioned paste-up mechanicals that nobody uses anymore. anyway, ten minutes of working time is as good as or better than acrylic and watercolor, tho nothing to the hours of working time when you’re working in oil paint.

i love to paint. it’s a physical thing. well-being floods thru me when i’ve got a brush in my hand. i know, it’s sexist. but the charge is there. but i really LOVE to paint with wax. it’s light and fluffy, it’s smooth, it stays where you put it, it has texture.

texture. this is why i dare to include wax encaustic on panel in among my fabric art blog entries, because it’s so tactile. and the thing about fabric is that it’s tactile. it’s something you just have to go up and feel. and wax is exactly the same. it’s three dimensional, and there’s a surface that feels marvelous next to your skin. and god the colors. wax holds pigment unlike other media. watercolor doesn’t have depth. acrylic smells bad so i never use it, oil takes forever to dry but smells great, pastels ah that’s a different paragraph. oil has the translucency as well as the impasto and so does acrylic, but there’s that dimensional thing. you can make wax thick, and it looks thick. you can see down into it. you can get lost in it.

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detail of the moon

maybe later on you can see down into it. i’m actually painting rather thickly on this. with a palette knife. and now that i’m using white in the colors, it’s opaque. i’ve been using up whatever color is left on the palette by mixing in the next color, so i’ll have a batch of paint that goes progressively brown or blue or white.

i’m going back and forth between palette knife and paintbrush. wax scumbles really well, and a palette knife is great for scraping and smudging, tho lousy for detail, at least at my skill level, which is only practiced beginner.

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i worked out the details with pastel in the earlier stage of this painting, which is 48×54 on panel. i’ve never had any luck with pastels, but as a way to block in the color it can’t be beat, except it didn’t like my surface very much. too hard, and too smooth.  i didn’t use any pastel on the background, which was mid gray. i changed the position of the moon from lower to higher. you can see antarctica at the bottom of the painting.

starting with ultramarine blue, i used the palette knife to lay in the large areas. then i put in the green. then the earth color. but all of this in several stages. i’d put in the blue, which is the negative space, then try to put down the brown objects then sliced back into it with the ocean again, then back to the land with different colors. at this point the only white is the underlying pastel.

somewhere in the middle of the back and forth process i decided i needed to see the background now. so i mixed up some dark microcrystalline wax and put black and ultramarine and burnt umber, and slathered it on with a palette knife.

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i’ve been messing around. i ended up putting blue in the shadows of the moon and several different layers of browns on the landforms. i went over the oceans with cobalt and prussian and a little white. and i’ve brushed on a layer of microcrystalline wax, more black and prussian blue.

it’s funny, but every layer of paint outlines a different contour for the various landforms. i’m constantly revising what i’ve drawn, even at what you would think was a late stage. but it doesn’t matter with wax; i could come in at the end and decide i wanted the moon back down at the bottom, and just excise it and paint a new one in.

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now i’ve started in with the clouds. i’m painting just like i paint in oils, cold wax is a substance with a lot of body.

i’m waiting to the end, i think, before torching the planets. how apocalyptic that sounds. on the jupiter painting i just finished, i burned the wax in with every layer. i was constantly pulling down the eyeglasses and pressing the switch on my heatlamp, feeling like the welder in flashdance.  for this painting i’m too in love with the way the wax is going down just like it is, and wondering if i let it dry long enough will i be able to buff it up and call it done? plenty of wax paintings have been done that never came near a heat lamp or any other source of heat.

i’m very pleased with my progress on this. i like doing planets. i’m wondering if i can get images off google earth that i could use, because i could do closeups. i could do the fiddly bits. a little research says i can, clouds and all. how delicious. i can spend hours looking for source images, cruising around examining features of the planet. i can do this, wasting entire days or nights, depending.

but not tonight.

a pair of beauties

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i wanted to do another planet in encaustic. the last one i did was jupiter, and it turned out so well that i thought i would to ahead and do another. but which planet? mars is monotone, venus is too much like the sun. i could try doing the sun, but it somehow didn’t occur to me. i could do a moon, one of jupiter’s, perhaps, with loads of radiating lines and fractures. but they were all too much the same color.

so the earth. but which view? i didn’t want to be chauvenistic about it. there are too many views of the north american continent. neither did i want to pick a  hackneyed european view. what i wanted was the poles. what i wanted was the clouds. what i wanted was the circulation of the clouds against the blue. what i wanted was a hurricane.

but alas, what i found was this neat view of both the earth and the moon, shot by some orbiting spacecraft out to make a survey of the planets. it’s a real shot, not a composite,  and it shows the moon at a slightly different angle than we’re used to seeing it.

then i picked a panel. jim had already gessoed and set aside a number of panels for both of us to use in our encaustic journeys. this one was the twin of one he’d just put a carnival scene in egg tempera on, and it was nearly square – 54×48, and i snatched it up.

one thing i’m going to do this time, i’m going to weigh the panel before i put any wax on it, because i want to find out how many pounds i’m going to use on a panel of this size. encaustic is traditionally done on small panels, mainly because i don’t know. but at this size, 4 feet square and a bit, it’s already heavy, being masonite backed by 1×2 bracing. i’ll weigh it tomorrow.

i’ve been talking with jim about the way we’re into doing things the old fashioned (cheap) way, and my recent conversion to it. previously, i’ve gone to a lot of trouble and expense to collect all the colors i could ever want to paint with in both oil and watercolor. i’ve got a complete set of watercolors that take up several not so small boxes. i’ve got a much larger set of oil paints that take up an orange box and spill out over the sides. this represents hundreds if not thousands dollars of paint, albeit collected over the past 30 years but hey.

now, after being exposed to jim’s style of studio work, which he’s honed over the last 50 years, i’ve decided that i might as well learn to mix paints from the raw materials and free myself from the tyranny of art supply stores who would treat me as an end user of their products. and i’ve got a thing in cooking against using processed foods, because not only are the manufacturers using the cheapest ingredients possible, but they’re doctoring them to look and taste more nutritious than they are, and often they’re poisoning me with the chemicals they add. the same with paints.

so, i’ll do it myself and avoid all the snake oil and pitchblende.

now i have a whole set of pigments in a conveniently arranged series of tiny little containers that will last me for years. i can take a little bit of pigment, and mix it with any binder i choose, and make paint that is nothing but pigment and binder (no fillers or extenders or imitation ingredients). watercolor – add gum arabic. oil – add linseed oil. acrylic – add acrylic medium. encaustic – add wax. et voila. so i’m a new convert, and very fundamentalist about it. everyone should throw away their tubes and make their own paint. yarrr.

anyway. the one medium i haven’t mastered is pastels. my friend jim bianchi in charlottesville has been trying to teach me how to use pastel for years, and i’ve never gotten it. but what he’s really doing is trying to teach me to paint, all wrapped up in pastel technique, and so i have of course not understood what he was trying to teach me. i can only, it seems, understand painting my way, and don’t tend to learn from the experience of others. i remember telling my mo that many times while i was growing up, much to my later chagrin (sorry mom).

anyway. since i’ve always been really frustrated by my lack of technique in pastel, i decided that i might as well do the underpainting that way. pastel on gesso on board? it’s not recommended, exactly. but that’s enough to interest me, so fine.

the way i use pastel, it turns out, is directly, stick to panel, and smooshed in with a finger when i’m done applying it. pastel doesn’t take really well to board, it’s too hard and in this case too smooth, but i started with raw umber, which in pastel is a warm light gray, outlining my objects. when i had everything indicated (here’s how i draw my first marks – i stand far back from the board and hold the reference photo in front of my eyes. then i wisk it away and note the position on the board, walk to it with one eye still closed, and swipe a mark, then step back and start with another feature. then i used the raw umber for the darker white of the clouds,  and progressed to burnt umber for the dark earth and white for the clouds. then some mid gray for the low clouds, green for the andes mountains, a light purple for the cloudy parts of the amazon basin, and ultramarine blue for the ocean.

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you can just see the first moon i drew, on teh lower right hand corner. i didn’t like it there when i got it there, because it gave the picture too much weight, so i floated it up to the other corner, and liked it there. i noticed when doing the drawing of the moon, upside down becuase i often draw things at different angles to the proper viewing position, that there’s not only a man in the moon, but when seen upside down the moon looks rather lke a skull. which is cool. how metaphorical. dead moon, skull. man in the moon reversed to be skeleton in the moon. fecund earth, dessicated moon. well, it tickles me.

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then i started on another one. this is on a 30×40 panel, which i had whipped out at first thinking it was big enough, but when jim offered me the 4×4 one i jumped at it, and then had this nice smaller panel all set up. and then i found a picture of the earth with no identifiable land masses. too fucking cool. it has what i think is antarctica, but otherwise it’s just ocean and cloud, and that’s exactly what i was looking for. i wish it had been a full earth, but i’ll take what i can get.

so i took pastel and started in. the first time i did this it turned out a little bit different, but the gesso hadn’t been well sanded and it was very rough, and pastel doesn’t like too rough. it’s like chalk on a sidewalk, and pretty much there’s nothing left in your hand except rubbed-off pigment on your palm. didn’t want to do that. so jim sanded my panel for me, before i could get to it. you have to be careful with jim that way. mention something you lack and he gets right on it, neglecting his own work to tend to your needs. the guilt is overwhelming, so i try not to need too much.

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so, drawn in with raw umber, this time on a white ground (the first earth was on a toned ground, mid gray), i turned the board this way and that and drew in the cloud masses. i was taken with how much like continents the clouds work. they follow a lot of the same rules you can construct for land masses in seas of water. fluid dynamics. i studied it in college. would have gone on to be a climatologist if i’d finished school. but that was in the late 70s, and i don’t think i’m going to go back now. tho you never know. i might get bored with painting and writing fiction. as if.

it’s funny how differently i  draw when i’m  putting in the blue. when i’m drawing the edges of the clouds i draw one line, when i’m drawing in the edges of the ocean, i draw another line, even tho these are the same edge. it’s the difference between drawing an object and drawing the space around the object, another trick in seeing like an artist. first i drew the positive clouds, and then i went back over my lines and drew the negative ocean, and got more accurate with every pass. tomorrow i go back and refine my masses and shapes. i won’t do anything to correct the colors, i’m just worried about getting the contours, the lines, as accurate as i can, always keeping in mind the fact that i will be the only one to ever notice.

so, an exciting couple of paintings. because i have this opportunity, i’m going to try to approach the encaustic part of this painting differently. on one painting i’ll put on wax and then fuse it, put on wax and fuse it. i’ll constantly be whipping the sunglasses on and off, feeling like a welder as i reach for the heat lamp switch. with the other one, i’m going to put wax on and put wax on, and never heat it until the final fusing at the end, when i plan to melt the whole thing to molten liquid. insert crazy laugh. mwahahaha.

my sewing room 4

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it’s funny. usually it’s me that’ll go have a look at what jim’s painting, and immediately spot something wrong. usually i blurt it out rather triumphantly.

well jim did the same t hing to day. he walked by my painting, sitting in teh back hall, and stopped suddenly because he’d seen something wrong.

the chair leg. i’d painted the shadow right over it, hadn’t i. well yes. so i need to scrape it off with my fingernail.

but it took me a little while to do it, several days i guess since my last post, and every time he passed the painting it jumped out at him.

i put him out ofhis misery today.

there wasn’t much to be done to finish it. you probably can’t tell any difference and haven’t been able to for several sessions. it’s all subtleties.\it’s nitpicky fussy layers upon layers of paint that doesn’t want to go down except in glops, and dry quickly and get sticky.

on the other hand, that’s the beauty of wax. endless layers of mostly transparent, actual depth, real optical mixing of colors. such a nice thing.

i finally gt hold of some quinacridone gold. it’s a color i found at daniel smith years ago, and with rich green gold it is my favorite  color, especially thin. i wanted to buy some dry pigment, but nobody sells it. in fact, nobody hardly sels it in tube colors. so i found guerra paints because people in the forums led me there thanks folks, and they’ve bought up all the remaining quinacridone gold because they think it’s a nice color too. it was a car color. it was discontinued in 2996? and nobody’s wanted to paint cars that color since. i find that hard to believe, because it’s a beautiful shiny transparent gold. now, rich green gold probably turned out looking like snot green wen they sprayed it on cars. do they still make that? axomethine yellow?

anyway, i talked to the helpfull guy at guerra, who told me that no i didn’t want it in dry pigment form because i couldn’t possibly mull it fine enough to be transparent when made into paint. at best i could end up with a burnt sienna color. so, i got an alkyd dispersion, which basically resembles owoodstain in consistency and smell. they make the pigment into a water dispersion as well, for people who work in acrylic or watercolor or egg tempera. but i’m working with wax at the moment, so water kind of doesn’t work very well, so i’m stuck with concentrated stain.

i dipped my smallest palette knife into it, very thin, and let it finish dripping, and then let it continue finishing over my palette and then wiped it off of the palette knife, and my hand, a very thorough stain, like instant tan only this looks convincing. but orange.

then i added a small palette knife full  of wax medium (beeswax and orange oil) and mixed it up. it was very strong.

i put it on the chest of drawers to the right. it needed it. then i stuck it on the windows and on the blanket rack and on the chair, and a little on the lights and the folding screen.

for soe reason i found the quinacridone gold covered the whites as well as the darks, which would make it opaque. perhaps i used it way too thick even at the dilution i mixed it up to, maybe i should have used one drop to a knifeblade full of wax. i slathered it on with an old brush that i hadn’t bothered loosening up in turpentine first

i singed it. in quinacridone gold. which doesn’t look too thick over the white, and was hard to make clear at the further dilution i had to make in order to sign my name.

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the next step is to take it down to the studio and fry it.

i fried my daffodil experimental painting the other day. about a mnoth ago i picked a daffodil and cut it n half lengthwise and put it down on a board, and covered it with paste wax. and then i let both halves sit. i suppose i should have fused the one half right away, but i couldn’t bring myself to melt a perfectly good flower.

so both halves exuded this watery brown stuff about a week later. they’re all dry and somewhat dessicated now, under the wax.

i was on the pohone to my ex the other day, and so annoyed with how he was going on that i turned on the heat lamp and fused one half of the daffodil painting. i didn’t even think about it, because i was on the phone, being annoyed. i just went ahead and melted the half until the whole half of the painting was clear molten liquid, with a dried half of daffodil in the midst of it.

i haven’t seen it since. it has gone back to being translucent and semi opaque now, undoubtedly. the other side will still be somewhat sticky as it continues to dry as the solvent evaporates. whether it will have to be heated at all if i let it sit long enough is one of the experiments i’m doing with this painting.

i’ve sent off two of my early encaustic paintings as presents. i gave the dragon to my brother, a dragon, who lived in taiwan and taught engligh. and i gave the icon to a real monk friend of mine, and had it blessed by an orthodox priest for use as an icon. so that’s cool.

now that i’m finished with this painting, i’m going to finally get to the things that have been hanging over the chair in the picture, which is several wall hangings i’m also making as gifts. and then i have to pull out my silk table again and get started teaching myself a new trick.

my sewing room 4

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i’m deepening the shadows. i began dilineating the chair, which i’d been avoiding up until now, just like i’m still avoiding the dresser in the foreground. but i’ve done a lot with grays, unfortunately the shortcut taken (black plus white rather than blue red and yellow).

i can see that the whole thing is rather tilted beyond the distortion of the digital lens of my fuji coolpix, which is the low end of digital cameras. never mind that, i wish the sound recording part of my digital camera still worked so that i could put sound on my youtube videos of my grandson.

i’m very bothered by one detail of badly drawn perspective. the top of the baseboard molding on the left is way wrong, or maybe it’s the bottom of the molding. and i still think the lines fo the dresser drawers on the right could use a better eye.

i’ll turn the painting upside down and look at the lines from that angle, and i’ll be able to fix them easily that way.

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i’m almost at the end now. i mixed up all the strange colors for the fabrics, bright blues, purples, scarlets. i was very frustrated, because no matter how heavily i mixed in the pigment, it was transparent, and hardly made a dent on the underlying color. only if i mixed white in would it be opaque. and that maddens me. so i’m going to have to go back over the blues and purples several times, and that means letting the wax paste dry, and that means waiting. if i go in too soon with more, i only rub up what’s underneath because of the solvent.. but i encountered that problem in oil painting. when i’d try to do too much too fast it’d just glop up. so patience. i put in the scene out the window, the lawns, the tree, the distant buildings and trees, the blue sky all of maybe 2 inches wide.

everything’s almost there. except that i have to do something to almost everything. the floor needs its lines and the shadows restated, the dresser needs to look like wood, the sewing machine needs its knobs, the material needs to look like it’s draped, the box of rolled up patterns needs to look like cardboard and craft paper, the books in the racks need colors.

of course, the real sewing room looks nothing like this. in the time since i started this picture, i have filled those top two shelves and piled things on top of the box of newsprint lower down. the cat’s sitting on the sewing table, there’s electronic junk piled up underneath on the floor, and i’ve been only waiting to finish the painting before the table and sawhorses leaning up against the wall go to be my silk table in the bedroom, and the folding screen in front of it hangs out on the porch to block the view so i can keep my bedroom door open all night for the breezes.

but i’m not quite done yet. i have to fix those angles, i have to keep laying down material colors on the chair and the blanket rack. the other room has to be finished, including can you tell that’s a painting on the far wall? and i’m not done with the view outside either. the lights need work, the sewing maching, like i said before.

i’m at the point where i’m liking this painting again. i started out being compelled to do it because of the perfect way the scene looked when i saw it suddenly, right after having actually arranged it. oooh i must do a painting – why not an encaustic? i’ve been doing still lives of my rooms for many years, bookshelves, kitchen, stove, etc. whatever looks so perfectly arranged that it’s like being in a museum. well, because of jim’s taste in renovation and decoration, i do live in a museum, and there are a dozen paintings i could do that are simply perfect little interiors begging to be painted. and jim’s encouraging that. he wants to see the bookshelf, the dresser, the pantry, the altar of love, the mummy display.

in the middle of doing the painting, i didn’t like it as much. it was in that ugly middle stage, where everything is awkward and difficult, where there are more problems to be solved than enthusiasm cells for going on. i’ve left a few paintings at that stage, and never went back to them. then threw them out so i never could. but persistence handles all those objections, and anyway finishing is what makes a painting. not the broad underpainting, but the tight expressive little dashes of highlights and rich deep darks. all those details.

but now i’m to where most of it looks like what it is, and that’s where i’m satisfied and stop working on it. because where is there to go after you’ve got it looking like itself? sign it and start on something else.

so only one more session and i’ll stop, i almost promise.

after i finish that by god i’m going to deal with the material  slung over the back of the chair, which is an unfinished wall hanging for my friend kerstin who got me a gift certificate to an art supply place, bless her heart. and when i’m done with that, the silk table goes up and i figure out how to make regular acid silk dyes from fiber-reactive mx dyes. it’s a simple formula involving salt and vinegar but it’s not widely known because… damn just get silk dye in liquid form or get the powdered acid dyes. don’t try to reinvent the wheel. you always take the hardest path from one place to another. that’s why you’re a loser.

i’ve had family members say this to me.

i like reinventing the wheel. it keeps me active. i struggle to find my own answers instead of relying on received wisdom, and really enjoy innovating when it actually works. and there’s nothing more infuriating than to tell me there’s only one way to do whatever. because there’s always another way, and if i have to find it myself i’ll do it just to show you.