So, I might have told you how I’ve been obsessed with encaustics since, oh, maybe sometime in the spring. Maybe I’m just in love with the idea that you can take found objects and sort of “dip and dunk” them a new life? Maybe I love the softness that a wax coating can give to a photograph? I don’t know what caused this recent obsession, but I can say that it’s not going away anytime soon. Rather than try to fight the urge, I’ve decided to actually do something about the problem.
For those who don’t know a lot about encaustics and encaustic painting, let me start at the beginning. Encaustic painting is a method of painting with beeswax. Dating back possibly as far as 100 AD (we’re talking ancient Egypt here folks!) the technique involves heating the beeswax and mixing pigments into it, basically mixing your own wax-based paint, which is then applied to a surface (usually wood, though sometimes other materials are used.) You can use encaustic paint in a sort of “dip and dunk” method, where you dip small (found) objects into the wax and apply it to a board, you can sort of “collage” or sculpt into the layers of wax different objects and things (such as photos) and you can also use the wax mixture as you would a “regular” paint (like an oil or acrylic.) Speaking of acrylics, these are very popular with encaustic painters, because they dry quickly (unlike oil) and you can easily paint the acrylic onto a board to be used to hold the encaustic coating (unlike, say, maybe a watercolor, which you would probably want to do on watercolor paper and then adhere the paper to the board.) Jasper Johns, the noted American artist was famous for using encaustic coatings on his work, and it’s become quite popular recently, thanks to the availability of things like those heat guns you can buy cheaply at Home Depot (used to more easily melt the wax.) My friend Laura uses an old crock pot to melt the wax and mix the pigments, then she employs the “dip and dunk” technique to coat her small, found objects and complete her work. You can also make a monotype from the finished product, so encaustic painting can be used with photography and printmaking as well. It’s a fun thing to do if you haven’t yet tried it.
Anyway, enough about the background. So, I found this really super cool (well cool to me) website (and group of people actually) called Texas Wax who are really into encaustics and encaustic painting. They even offer classes in this ancient technique. I told Scriber’s Web about the class and she was immediately hooked on the idea and she’s signed up for a class in September-she’s going to do some encaustic painting and has been enjoying the work of one of the Texas Wax artists, Sharon Kyle Kuhn. Several of my friends are already doing encaustics-I mentioned Laura, and I have a few others that are “dipping and dunking” around with wax. With all of this peer pressure, it’s not too hard to imagine how I want to get into the action myself, so I’ve decided to “take the plunge” (no, not literally, I’m not going to dip myself in wax just yet.) I’m going to try some encaustic techniques myself to see how it goes and I plan to take a workshop later in the fall. (Watch this space for details on that.)
Of course it naturally follows that I would get interested in this now, that it’s 105 degrees out (hard to do wax in this heat-you can’t really ship wax-coated boards when it’s this hot) and the world is suffering from an epidemic of cross colony bee collapse, but there you have it. As I look at more of the work, I’m slowly getting hooked. Besides, winter will be here soon enough and then I’ll actually want to play with a heat gun.
While we’re on the subject of hot, I should point out that this is one of my light painting shots from the Dixieland Jazz band shot I did last week. They were having a lot of fun and that Dixieland music is some really hot jazz, isn’t it?
Until next time…