encaustic n+16

enc7-26 still working it in the studio.



i’ve discovered two ways of looking at it.

upstairs in the bedroom, where there’s room to do the burning-in.

i’m doing the final melting of the wax at this point. i’m going to melt the whole thing, not just the top surface. i don’t know why. it’s just what occurs to me.

 i was thinking i would do another, top coat, with maybe some damar to toughen it. but i ended up just burning it in what i had, but rather than getting the top surface glisteny and moving on before you melt the wax, i figured i wanted to go ahead and eliminate all the texture i had built up, and end up with a smooth, featureless surface, which is how this planet would appear from space.

because there’s a bunch of stages from frozen to liquid wax.

there’s the nothing happens stage which goes on for a long time while the wax absorbs the heat.

there’s the slight sheen of melting beginning to happen.

there’s the shining and swelling of the wax, kind of a wart-like look. the wax becomes pebbly.

then the wax cracks up some, as darker colors go to liquid sooner than lighter ones, and you get a crackle effect of matte-looking wax with runnels of molten wax among it, like an estuary as the tide coming in.

then the area goes to liquid. the colors disperse and some start to churn, eventually ending up as a solid color pool. or doing something strange and like evaporating the wax from a spot with smoke and little embers and shit. (i’m imagining this part, i haven’t yet overheated the wax past the fragrance point.  my hamburgers can’t make that claim. )

that’s one way of looking at the melting to liquid process. this is from the point of view of watching the wax melt.

enc7-28 see how cool the flow gets?

when you’re watching the moving puddle of melted wax, you’re tracking a different animal. this was all revealed to me over the last few days while i’ve been trying to fuse this enormous three foot by four foot – that’s twelve square feet (a garden) – painting of jupiter.

so first nothing happens. then there’s a glow from underneath the surface of the wax, which remains matte.

the glow spreads and the wax becomes translucent, so you see details that nobody else will see when the wax has hardened again. it’s very precious.

the area becomes bright and reflective, and then the reflections seem to shimmy as i move the light around.

a pool of liquid forms, liquid that reflects. anything that doesn’t reflect isn’t yet liquid.

every pass next to the liquid spot enlarges the liquid area, so i end up stroking the pool ever outward or down the painting or whatever. spots that hadn’t been liquid a moment ago soften and flow with the next pass of the light. i can work up whole areas of liquified wax without seeing any of the details because of the glare of the lamp. i’m not looking at color. i’m looking at texture. at the lack of texture – at a limpid pool of molten wax.

when fusing like this, whatever its technical name might be, my object is to make the surface featureless, meaning not just no texture, but no knots of color.

it can cause a runny mess to have large areas liquified at one time. but if i’m careful and patient, i can heat a whole area up at one time, and have it all just go to liquid at the last moment. or i can do it like vaccuuming a rug, one swath at a time.

in the middle of the liquifying process, still plenty of texture.

but i’ve found that i can concentrate on the wax itself, and work patches of white, say, which have to be handled carefully if they’re not to explode all over the place and contaminate my nice clear darks. it drives me nuts with anxiety if i’m watching the colors instead of the molten sheen.

when i do the gestalt of the molten wax thing, it’s much more meditative, and it’s easy to get lost in that and find my huge pool a solid ugly purple brown. then i guess dig it up and start again.

partially melted, you can see the flow.


i’ve got a couple of hot spots, places where instead of heating the wax until it went liquid, i seem to have burned the damn stuff away, because the longer i heated it, the drier it got. i guess you can volatilize off all the volatile bits about the wax and end up with burnt pigment dust on board.

i’ll fill them with wax and reburn them.

looks like real clouds. that’s because the white has somewhat flowed and mixed with the other colors, which had liquified first.

i really like the shiny way it’s solidified once i melted all the features. mind you, it was an intricately featured and textured piece of wax, and i’m losing all that. but for me the texture was a poor substitute for what i wanted, which was a planet, a solid object of liquidity and flow, atmosphere. i wanted waves, and all i could get with the textured wax was particles.

so i’m digging it. it’s turning out the way i wanted when i saw the photo of jupiter and thought –  wow, that looks just like wax.

okay, it’s finished.

for my next project, i’ve just had an order for some silk scarves, the cheshire cat. so i’m turning my attention to a whole nother kind of frustrating experiene. join me.

encaustic n+15


that yellow i used yesterday – toluidine yellow. what a name.

jim has ceased seeing any difference in the picture no matter what i do to it. i must be mostly finished. i’m still looking for the perfect orange for the dark bands. when i look at the reference photo, i can see that the reddish bands are actually glowing orange. it haunts me. how to get it? wait until the whole painting is surmounted with translucent unpigmented wax and then use just that wash of orange on the top layer? the suspense is maddening.

today’s work is remarkable because of the failure of my rational mind to work as an artist. i’ve got this vision of the color i want, i know exactly what it looks like.but i start out by mixing in another entire color into a bunch of dark scrapings on my palette, and it veers ever further from my ideal color. i wonder why i’m continuig to smooth it out and fold it back in on itself.

but then i take a knife tip of the color, which while trying for brilliant orange i wound up with a palish plum, and eventually ended up making it vaguely white skin colored, that is, jaundiced pink.

and then i began to see that same color popping out all over the reference, and areas just begging for me to wipe them with the tip of my knife. (ever see sweeney todd?) so i’m painting with pink. in all sorts of places. and it’s good.

it’s happened twice now, that i would set out to make one color and come up with an off-the-wall not match that happened to be just what it needed.

i spend a long time burning these days. i’m putting one color on at a time, no more than thirty or fourty marks all over the painting, and then i’m going right in and melting only those marks. i get dizzy with the changing perspectives and perceptions that i experience as i watch the wax’s movements. it gets trippy right away.

it takes ten minutes for my vision to come back. even tho i’m wearing welding goggles (sunglasses) my eyes still smart as if i’d been looking into glare. duh. ah but the joys of watching wax melt, ahh.


then i went in with white. i had put pink over where i wanted darker clouds, in the equatorial band of white clouds. and now i went in and put white on top of that, thinking maybe it would blend in the end. i’ve been making that mistake all along. i’m building up a rich texture, but i’m not blending anything, unless i’ve been holding the lamp over it too long.

now i’ve got to go in to the swirly bit to the left of the red spot and make that more three-dimensional. it’s not there for me yet.

and i’ve got to figure out how to do the orange glaze.

i’m about out of beeswax. we bought two pounds frompearl paint a few months ago when i started this, and i’m running dry, so i just ordered 15 pounds of bulk beeswax from a mom and pop (hi mom and pop, want to watch the grandkid?), and a gallon of citrus solvent. that’s my pre-tax refund essential buy. all my discretionary income goes into art supplies.

maybe i can use some quinacridone gold oil paint, because you just can’t buy this pigment, even tho somebody must be making it. i’ll see about it tomorrow.

jim’s building both of ussome panels. he’s got a 4×6 foot and a 3×4 he’s pputting gesso on now, and all i hae to do is decide waht i want to do next.

except that i just got a scarf order, so now i’m going to switch gears when i finish the jupiter painting, and do cheshire cats on silk scarves.

isn’t life fun? there’s always something.

encaustic n+14


well, yesterday i thought that all i needed to do was find a place to hide my signature, but as i was sitting in front of the easel in my rocking chair, the dog sleeping in my lap, i saw what i needed to do.

more color. i saw red all over the reference photo. i saw purple. i saw green. i saw loads more whites.

uh oh.

i’m a wimp when i start a painting. i’m very tentative, very pastel, very frightened to make a mistake. and i don’t know why i bother, because by the end of a painting i’m using big bold strokes, expressive slashes of color, drips, splats. painting with enthusiasm. painting like a spastic.

don’t let anyone tell you painting with wax isn’t messy.

there i’d gotten to the end stagees of this painting, when i shadow the right side, and then put coatings of clear, that is unpigmented, wax over the whole surface and buff it to a furniture-shiny shine.


dioxazine purple.  red ochre and naphthol mixed into the dark palette scrapings to make a rich plum. orange, and i couldn’t find a single-pigment orange in the collection (except for cadmium, which it is said turns brown while burning in, and thus i’ve avoided it on hearsay rather than testing the validity of it). the yellow i used for orange has some funny name, a chemical, and i can’t bring it to mind. th- something. made by perma-color paints of charlotte nc which is defunct. lo these many years likely, because they’re from his stash, which goes back the 50 years he’s been painting.

i burned in the purple, which i used as my all-purpose dark, and then my sienna and red and pink and orange. i still have to do the whites.


but i got sidetracked before doing the whites by the poles. my polar area has been so far undeveloped, and when i look at the polar projection or the panoramic map of jupiter, i can see lots of things going on there. it must be as cold at the poles as it is here. i think of my poor friend renee freezing to death mere yards from the north pole, and my poor sister susie freezing to death in sodden frigid ireland. thank god they’ve got central heating in the back of beyond like they are.

i went around and put gray all over the poles. i’d noticed when contemplating the photo yesterday morning that the white circles near the bottom of the left side had another whitish band beneath it, and all i had was dark. i think it tilts up as you go to the right, tho, so i’m going to have to fix it when i go downstairs in a few minutes.

i ran the gray around the left edge of the planet and out into space for a couple of inches. and then i took the rest of the scrapings and the gray and mashed them all over the blackness of space, so now there’s streaks and orbiting bits of dust (like my house) flying everywhere. i like how it looks.

the whole thing has got a lot of atmosphere on it now. close up the texture is way fun to look at, and i’m really enjoying the painting of this picture. it’s coming along well, also, which helps, but there’s something about using wax to paint with that gives the whole experience a sense of physical joy. like the slight weight of the water makes you more aware of your muscles when you first get in the pool.

but am i done yet? no. i’m going downstairs now and jump in, and i may not be done when the light goes in the studio this evening.

encaustic n+13


it’s nowhere near ready. i’m still building the forms. still adding white. i’ve put in more burnt sienna and even some naphthol red. i’ve gone in and restated the blues with ultramarine, using my usual method of seeing blues everywhere once that’s what i’m looking at.

when i look at a reference photo, i end up seeing all the colors in every picture. i guess my eyes are picking up on the little dots of color in the photo emulsion. but when i look at colors in the environment, i end up seeing all the colors as well. what i actually end up seeing is purple. when i’m looking for it, i can see purple everywhere. pine tree bark is purple. shadows are purple. the sky is purple. and the bottoms of clouds – purple. perhaps this was what the fauvists were up to.


detail of the first stage. blue everywhere. fresh white in the equator clouds, and i’m still trying to build up the wrinkled clouds to the left of the red spot.


now i’ve done it. up close it’s way too much, but far away it evens out. i mixed up some microcrystalline wax, which is a petroleum product, something pehaps exxon mobile would be exploring on jupiter itself some day. surely there’ve got to be hydrocarbons on jupiter, right?

microcrystalline wax, tho i’ve seen it pictured as clear as paraffin, is really a nasty brownish color, like solidified used motor oil. so you can forget it if you’re trying to make whiter whites. the stuff adds it own color in a very noticeable way, not really noticeable in beeswax which is a sunny yellow. microcrystalline is a dull umber. but for my purpose in this next step, ideal.

i want to start putting dimension in there, which means shadows. looking at the reference photo, i can see shadows alongside the forms, especially clear with the white clouds inside the red bands. but there are shadows even in the white bands showing in some places cute little cirrus cloudlike formations. so how do i get that? a dark wash.

so into the microcrystalline wax goes some turpentine and a tiny touch of ultramarine and raw umber powder. jim modified the wax with mineral spirits and orange oil to begin with, and it came out pretty thick, so i’ve been diluting the wax even more when i mix pigments into it. mixing even a little pigment into the wax, i’ve noticed, stiffens it up like adding flour to gravy. for a wash, i want really gloppy stuff, which will give a thinner application, and won’t be opaque.

or so i think. i got it very dilute, but it still was a rather stiff paste. like whipped egg whites, firm without being dry. i slathered it on, alarmed by how dark it was. it dulled the whole picture down immediately.

on reflection, i should have been judicious about putting on the wash, just use it in places where i wanted it to go darker. but no, i had to slather it over the entire surface. good girl. never enough when too much will do.

i figured rather blithely that i could just take a soft rag and wipe the wash off, because it wasn’t going to dry until i’d burned it in.

i’ve found that burning in is a necessary step for the way i’m doing the wax, as it is for using the wax in a molten way like you’re supposed to do. i put on a color, or several, and then i put on my sunglasses and turn on the heat lamp and hold it, or rather move the heat lamp either slowly or jittery-ly across the surface, about 3″ away. if i hold it closer, the center of heating is reduced, so i can narrow in on a small amount of something, but the wax heats way quicker, and since wax retains heat, the melting continues for a second or two after you remove the light from the area. it takes constant vigilance.

because i usually put the wax on thickly with a pallete knife, i’ve got to melt it rather thoroughly if i expect it to bond to the layer below. i believe, altho since i’ve never done it molten i don’t know, that the layers you build up using molten wax are necessarily thinner than doing it with paste wax medium, that is, beeswax mixed with solvent and applied cold. and the procedure with molten wax is that you put it down onto your painting surface, and when it dries, because it sets up immediately, you then fuse it to the painting by melting it, not a lot, just until it’s shiny, unless you like churning and running the wax.

i’ve been looking all over for specific mention of when the burning in process is done in molten encaustic. and i’m not finding it. they get vague about what stage the melting in is. is it constant after every application the way i’m doing it, or is there some end process involving heating. this really is a medium where you figure it out for yourself. that’s the beauty of a lost technique, innovation is the key to mastery of it.

for this layer of dark wash, i used a 3″ brush, rather than a palette knife. it left brush strokes. i cleaned the brush up with turpentine.

when i’m fusing freshly laid paste wax, the area gets shiny immediately because it has lots of solvent in it, and solvent seems to lower the melting point of the wax considerably. essentially i’m hitting the wax mixture with heat before the solvent has had a chance to evaporate, so it’s still wet. and it heats beautifully. one pass and it’s shiny. another and the edges start to blur. a third and it begis to flow. double that if there’s white in it, of course.

another reason to melt the hell out of the wash is that i want to get rid of a lot of the wash. i tried rubbing it off with a cloth after i put it on, but the solvent had already softened up the previous level of wax and the damned wash was sticky. all i could do was smear it, and smearing only blurred the details. so i had to burn it until it flowed to the edges.

a dark wash burns off easily when fresh, melting readily as the solvent off-gasses. but leave it while you go have lunch and walk the dogs, and it dries enough that now you’ve got to raise the temperature of the wax a lot to get it to melt. like, as hot as all the surrounding wax that’s already been burned in. so you end up melting the painting while you’re trying to burn in another layer. or at least, i do. wholesale melting is not what i want at this point.


so you can see litttle dark edges now. look in the leftmost cloudbanks. they shade nicely. i’m thinking a couple of doses of wash and i’ll have some real visible texture.


at this point i go ahead and cover up the black acrylic in the sky. with microcrystalline wax mixed with a healthy dose of ultramarine and raw umber. burning this in was a pleasure, because it was on a dark background, and it was thin, and it was wet. all i had to do was turn the heat lamp on and the thing started glowing. i melted each section until it was just beginning to slump, and moved on quickly. i wanted a smooth surface in the end, and i didn’t want any brush strokes or palette knife marks. i put the wax on with a brush because of the wide expanse, a lovely 3-inch bristle brush i just got. how lovely. when the wax is this diluted and soft, you can use a brush to apply it and the brush doesn’t gum up. painting with thick wax is like trying to paint with a toothbrush.  yuck.


i’ve restated the whites over the shadowed surface. then i stuck in some white and yellow ochre, and some white and raw umber. it was just so dull that i knew i was going to need to build the forms up again. the idea, i suppose being that you cover less area with the color than before, so that you can still see some of what you’ve covered up. when it melts there’s a chance that some of the white will go away and some of the red and other darks will flood around the whites and it’ll all soften up nicely.  there’s also the chance it won’t work and will look stupid and amateurish. but oh well.


i only put whites on the left half of the planet. the part on the right is going to take a shadow, so i can leave it less developed.

again i mix up a big batch of microcrystalline wax, this time with a little black added to the ultramarine/umber pigments. this is a real thin batch, and instead of brushing it on, i put it on with a knife. i’m thinking after i burn it in it’ll turn more transparent and will just darken the area a little.

what i want is a thick, translucent layer of darkness lying over the details of the planet, so that you can see down into the wax. it’s one of the things wax does best.

what i got was a chocolate mess.

after burning it in, it was a hard dark line, and looked ridiculous. i wish i’d taken a picture.

first i tried using a cloth to wipe away the edge of the shadow, which was laid in in an arc swumg on a string from the middle of the left side of the painting. i pulled up a lot of wax, and the problem didn’t get any better.

then i used a fresh cloth (paper towel) and wiped up another handful. then i realized it wasn’t going to come up without help, so i grabbed a palette knife and scraped most of the stuff off. three or four knives full of goo went back onto the palette. then i smoothed it with a towel. but it was only smearing it.

finally i used my hands. damnit, the cloth was just putting in streaks, the knife wasn’t smoothing anything down. my hands are sensitive and strong, and finger painting was my favorite activity when i was a little kid.

i really wore down the right edge of the shadow, and pushed most of the color back toward the right, or poleward. then i burned it again until it slumped.

since i had so much dark sitting back on my palette, i put in an aura around jupiter’s edge. it’s a real thing, but it’s not in visible wavelengths. but i love planetary auras.


i should have waited for the shadow step. i still have to adjust the way the areas close to the pole look, the yellow ochre areas. the extreme polar areas are also more translucent, almost whitish under the clouds. and now i’m going to have to go back and put it in over the shadow, which is going to show. we’ll see.

it wasn’t light enough in the middle. it was still way too dark in area above and to the immediate left of the red spot. jim offered me a capful of orange solvent and a toothbrush, and i scrubbed it into the whites and then rubbed it off with a soft rag. this worked well, so i finisehd the capful and was much happier about it.

jim came up and suggested i find a way to mute the line of atmosphere i put around the left edge of the planet. it was very sharp. he was thinking further washes diminishing away from the planet.  i knew what i had to do , and it wasn’t washes, but realized that he hadn’t been playing with the wax like i have and probably didn’t know, so i told him to go ahead and hit it with his finger like he would if it was his painting, and he ended up smoothing half the edge, caught in the romance of the wax. the fleshlike feeling. ywaahahahaha.


so now i’ve got an atmophere thingie that can use some further development. i’ve got a decent shadow on the right. the clouds are looking realistic enough, and i need to put another level of black space with maybe a few stars. we’ll see what else it needs in the daylight.

i ended up taking this shot with a flash and no studio light. aiming the camera in the complete dark was interesting. the colors are completely washed out in this flash. i’ll take the final picture in the daylight, propped up on a shady wall outside the stuido. i might take it tomorrow.

encaustic painting n+12


this was yesterday. today i’ve done more stuff. i’m finding it absolutely exhausting to treat this huge expanse with a heat lamp. i finally measured the painting, it’s 3 feet by 4, and it took me two whole days to burn in these first layers.

something strange, i’m using titanium white for the whites, and when i hit it with a heat lamp to melt the wax and fix it, the white burns right off. it dissapears. you can see this in the equator, right above the blue on the right side. that’s faintly whitened masonite, rather than melted and rehardened wax and pigment. i don’t know why the white would disappear like that. nobody in any of the forums has said anything about it, and i’m only waiting until i’m approved to ask the question at the r&f handmade paints forum.

when i do i’m expecting to be pilloried for using wax softened with turpenting, mineral spirits, or orange oil. the orthodoxy on encaustic is that it’s molten when you put it on, and then molten again when you burn it in. this is only orthodoxy, however, and one of these days i’ll have lots to say about being fundamentalist about art methods. especially when it was a lost art for a thousand years, and today’s encaustic bears little resemblance to the evidence for how they did it in the old days. but that doesn’t stop fundamentalists from insisting there’s one right way to do it and everything else is heresy. i just hate that.


after i burned in the first layers and lost all that white, i had to go back in and put in more whites. that’s what i’m finding out about encaustic. it’s many layers, many applications. the way i do it builds up a rich texture that i rather like.


the difference in these pictures has not as much to do with chnging colors as with changing light. i’m using a flash to take all these pictures, but if i’m working during daylight hours i get a whole different tone than if i’m under artificial lights only.

with these steps i’m putting in white, burnt sienna, yellow ochre. for the first burning in i laid the whole picture on a table and went over each band with a heat lamp. for the following steps i’m leaving the painting on the easel and hitting it with a lamp until the paint almost starts to run. the first time i did it, i turned it on its side so if it did run it would be in the direction of the bands rather than across them. but i’m not really running the wax, so i’ve stopped doing that.


every stage gets it a little further, a little closer to what i’m looking for. i’m starting to get a lot of texture in the layers of paint, but it still doesn’t look very right yet. it’s going to take more time and more wax. it looks sort of okay in thumbnail form, here on the blog. but this closeup shows just how ragged it is.

i’m thinking i’m going to do a lot of very thing washes next, that will stick into the crevices of the wax and make shadows, emphasizing the 3-dimensionality of the forms. then a few layers of clear wax to give it some depth, and then the finishing shadow of the sun on the right side.

but first i’m going to put some more white in the clouds around the red spot, and turn some of those black lines more blue.

encaustic n+11


i’ve laid in the colors on jupiter. now it’s time to build the forms. all done with a palette knife. of course i’m not happy with it in this stage. who would be? but there’s more to come, and before long it’ll be a right mess.


using ultramarine blue and raw umber to make the darks, putting them in wherever i see them on the reference. the problem with me is that i don’t work dark to light or light to dark. i work with the colors i see and that attract me. that way i make a lot more work for myself by putting some color on that really should go on last over other colors. that way, i have to go around the color i’ve just laid in instead of working in ever smaller fields of color. when will i ever learn? hah.


it’s starting to begin to resemble jupiter. the colors are still way too harsh, but i’ve got a whole range of them now. from white and blue and gray to burnt sienna and red and yellow, and dark.

soon i’ll have to burn it in to fix the wax. this is the part that scares me. i already know that the darker colors will melt first and the white won’t hardly melt at all, so when i do go to heat it up i’m going to have a nightmare on my hands. some of the white has damar in it, which should harden it even further, but then, i want some lumps of white, especially in the white band above the red spot. i want that part to flow around the white lumps. we’ll see if it works.

but not now. i’m going to work the surface some moreuntil i have approximately all the colors in the right places. then i’ll burn it, and whoah nellie.


back to the icon. i see this is a little fuzzy. sorry about that. makes my eyes hurt to look at it. i’ve made all sorts of adjustments to the original design, because of the better reference photo i found. the brown fabric in the middle of the saint is there on purpose, it was evidently commonly found on the robes of the rich. fashion. the deacon has a sort of physical square halo, and to further bring it into physicality it’s got a cloth draped on it. why i couldn’t tell you. the shadows underneath the guys are green in the original, so i just changed them. seems foolish, but there you go. this is a very tedious way of proceeding, and i’m not at all fond of using tiny little brushes and a steady hand, which i don’t have.


this is it, finished. i stuck the saint’s name around his halo, and put in the details of the bible and the various drapery. it looks okay.

we took it down to our local orthodox church, where the priest, father jacob myers, blessed it for me. how very sweet of him. he’s got a lot of icons in his church, and jim and i were very pleased to tour the sanctuary. there were more icons in the holy of holies, and father jacob left us alone, so i could have snuck into it and had a good look. but i knew i probably wasn’t supposed to, and there were plenty of other ones to look at, so i didn’t. maybe i’ll ask next time.

i’m going to put a coat of wax and damar on it to protect it, and then put a hanger on the back, and off it goes to brother martin. and after that, i don’t know if i’m going to do any more icons. i’m not religious, so it’s not a devotional thing for me. and the technique, tho interesting, is way too nitpicky for my tastes. on the other hand, an icon-like style would be perfect for such portraits as i’d like to do, including one of father jacob, which would embarrass him and maybe even piss him off, and maybe one of my sister and brother and law, libby and liam. it might be even more appropriate to do one of my sister lisa and her husband otneil, who is a real life pastor down in brazil, but it might piss them off even more, as they’re not remotely catholic or orthodox, but born again protestant. who knows.

anyway, it’s done, and i had fun doing it.

encaustic my next project

so, i’ve pretty much done with my learning about encaustic series, or shall i call it “my first encaustic painting” series. a dragon that turned out crappy, a koi painting that’s pretty cool, a little still life of my palette, an experimental piece i’m still not finished messing with, and a nebula that turned out just shy of good.

the world has suddenly turned into wax. spreaind butter on my sourdough bread. that’s like wax. rubbing my brush in a bar of soap, that’s like wax. watching the sunset, that’s like wax. oooh, wax. the seduction of wax. it just draws you in and you willingly go. it gets positively mystical.

jim gave me a great big book with lovely large format pictures of everything from our solar system to the farthest reaches of the universe (echo). the nebulas and galaxies are all waxable. but it wasn’t until i got to jupter that i went nuts. ooh the swirls. wax does that. look at those clumps of color. wax does that. half molten wax does that really well. if i could control it somehow.

so i got out a tiny little panel, smaller than the one i did the studio still life on. and i took a circumoplar view of jupiter and drew it in with a compass. it was too small, but i’m still practicing. or so i thought. jim was outright disappointed that i was confining myself to tiny. i was thinking the same thing. i need big panels to do this kind of detail, should i figure out how. big. not 5×7. that hurt to think about. but i was in a hurry to begin and figured i could build proper cradled masonite panels real soon now.

so jim made one for me. he found an old panel that was all bent and dinged, and found some 1×2 strips and glued them to the back and presented me with it yesterday.

there’s a fictional character named gully jimson, and he’s a painter. and when he sees a blank wall he has an overwhelming urge to turn it into an enormous painting. he stands there transfixed. “a wall.” that’s how i felt when i saw my board. 30×40 maybe, and heavy as shit. but large. especially for an encaustic. all the wax i plan to put on it is going to make shipping prohibitive, so i probably won’t be able to ship it to any far-off shows. should i finish it.

i had a picture i was going to use, the flyby of jupiter by cassini sometime in the past. i found it on the internet.

i wanted to use the panorama photo, but i’ve already tried it on a s carf. nobody could tell it was jupiter. but put a horizon in there and a couple of stars and even if i do a crappy job it’ll still be recognizable.

so i got out a piece of thread and a big chunk of graphite and drew a half circle. but it didn’t match the photo in curvature, so i did what i always do, and held the photo up in front of my face until it covered my view of the board, and when i had fixed my eye on a band, i whipped the paper away, noted where my eye fell on the board, and walked over there with my eye fixed on it, to make a mark. i did that for each band, and when i was done, i freehand drew the band lines all the way across the picture plane.

and this was fine at the time. then i mixed up some white, a lot of white, actually, and went and borrowed jim’s largest palette knife with a bend in it to keep it away from the freshly laid surface. i slathered white wax all over the whie bands in the mid lattitudes. then i mixed up a bunch of burnt sienna and laid it in. then it was time to come upstairs and get dinner. jim had gone up awhile before and made rice and fish, and had stomped on the floor to let me know dinner was ready. he’s so good. he works in the studio day after dy all day long, and it’s rather rare when i have studio time, sohe does nice things like bring me tea and make dinner. to tell the truth, i’d stay downstairs and not bother with dinner until my eyes were sore. when i get into my painting. but there are so many things to take care of that sometimes i don’t get to my painting. but i’m sure back into it at the moment.

this afternoon when i finally got downstairs, after watching an encouraging inauguration, the only time i’ve switched the tv on except to watch a video was today and i watched for hours. it was great. where were you when whoosie was sworn in, it’ll be a question everyone can answer for awhile because a majority of the people on the planet with tvs had them on today. pretty cool. rah.

anyway, something about the drawing of jupiter bothered me. i noticed it looking at it in the mirror. it was crooked. i figured it was the easel, got up from the rocer and straightened it, but damned if it wasn’t still crooked. finally i  got the measuring stick.

i had erred in my drawing of straight lines across the field by an inch in 36, which is a lot. that meant, if i wanted actual level bands, i was going to have to scrape off some wax and add other wax. i debated with myself awhile. some people would leave it as it was, maybe a degree off horizontal. maybe 2. but it continued to bohter me. if i had wanted it crooked, i would have made it 13 degrees crooked, or 23. those are deliberate crookeds. mine was bad drawing. so i got out the yardstick, measured on the one side, transferred the measure to the other side, put my ruler on both lines and scraped a new line. then white. then sienna.

i still hadn’t put in the poles. they were a dirty gray. i used the gungy stuff i had recently scraped off my palette and mixed with orange solvent. it was quite gooky and still full of identifiable colors, but mostly it was ready to use. so i mixed some more blue and some white pigments into it and slathered it on both poles.

and that’s what i did today. and now it’s dinner time.

i haven’t taken a picture of my first step yet, i left the camera upstairs again.