Earthen Sunset – Encaustic on Panel

Earthen Sunset, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today’s upload and post is called “Earthen Sunset.” I got these pigment sticks from R&F paints (the people who make the encaustic paints that I use) and tried them out. One of the sets that I have is metallic and one is supposed to be a “life drawing set.”

I started using the life drawing set because I loved the shades of browns in it. It has everything from dark sepia to earthy reds to light golden flesh-like colors in it. Oh, these pigments sticks really are very nice and have made me wonder, why have I not tried these sooner or tried to do more with these sooner? Now that I know about them, oye, will I be using them a lot. Though they are a bit expensive, I believe they are well worth the price of admission as it were. The colors blend beautifully and they really have lovely pigmentation. The set I was using was very even and smooth and somewhat even easy to draw with, at least I could almost be able to draw with them.

I had a very productive day in the studio yesterday, being able to knock out five paintings over the course of the day. When working with the encaustics on this new small series I have unified them by using a darker foreground and a lighter “sky” area. My inspiration for these was sunset time in the desert. I saw the beautiful brown earth tones and immediately thought about Santa Fe and the way the colors all look in the desert at dusk. I made some abstract landscape-like paintings, although you might not read them as landscapes. I’m fine with getting away from the realism for a while, I mean, heck, I do enough photography for two lifetimes, right? I’m all good with delving into the abstract, especially with the encaustics. All of these new paintings have some kind of title that hints back to their “sunset” beginnings.

Working a bit larger allows the artist a bit more freedom. Working smaller allows us to experiment and try out new things. These are sort of mid-sized panels, actually 12×12 panels. I hope to move back up into the larger sizes soon, and do some 18×18 panels, also I have purchased some 18×24 panels that I will use as well. I do like the larger square work but also really like the landscape orientation that an 18×24 allows me. I like having that natural orientation and that rectangular size, almost better than the square. Maybe again here, it’s all of that photography corrupting me, but that’s how I see things.

I think one of the things about abstracts is that, in general, they look best when LARGE. I need to start doing some 36×36 sized panels or some such thing, just to start getting that big and to allow me to work with the materials better.

For me, encaustics is becoming as much about working with materials as it is working with the paint. I find myself saying things like, “let it cool, add more wax” all of the time. I’ve discovered that it’s really just laying and layering in the wax, working with the layers, adding texture, colors, wax, and pigment until you get a composition that you are happy with, that you like. It’s almost as much about the materials as it is about the color or the paint itself, at least that’s what I’m finding.

I believe that my new set of encaustic work is much better than what I had been doing. I now look back and sort of cringe at my old stuff and that’s good. I mean, I’m a mature artist, so I know how to put out work on some level, but the encaustics are harder to work with. I do feel like I’m turning a corner, of sorts, that I’m now able to paint more with them, able to get the kind of “looks” that I want more and more as I work with the paint and materials. This is a gradual thing, and I’m certain it will happen over time. I’ve also learned as an artist not to rush things. Work will come if you let it happen.

Of course, like an idiot, I ran out of white paint in my studio yesterday. What a fool I am and still a beginner on so many levels. (Ok, note to self. Never ever run out of white or black paint. Really a stupid move on your part in oh so many ways.)

Today it’s supposed to storm a lot so I will be away from the studio doing other things. I do have some larger panels to think about and I will start to think about working on those, not to mention I laid down some plaster yesterday too, so that I can use Conti crayons or even soft pastels on some plastered boards as well. Look for that work, coming soon to a blog near you.

And, you know, probably some additional photography too because, rumor has it, there’s a photographer that lives here sometimes as well.

Until next time…


  1. Great Grandma Lin
    November 22, 2011 / 2:27 pm

    sounds like you are having fun working in different media. I do that too as a writer, writing columns that I turned into books and poetry that I'm planning to make into a performance art with a group of women poets I teach. It's so fun to be creative…also I make flyers to publicize our programs and organize a newsletter. Carry on is my motto!

  2. mythopolis
    November 22, 2011 / 7:22 pm

    I liked it although, I interpreted it differently. It looked more aquatic to me – like water in the large foreground, and land on the horizon…

  3. Carol
    November 23, 2011 / 2:55 pm

    Lin, yes, I work with photography, encaustics and pastels mostly but I like to dabble and try out new things a lot too.

    Mythopolis, it is a lot like water. The wax sort of "pools up" as I melt it and becomes quite fluid. It's really molten when I paint with it, so it's very fluid in nature. I think this is why a lot of encaustic artists work with shades of blue a lot-it hints back to the water and liquid nature of the medium.

    Interesting thought, kind of like "red seas." I might have to try this as a series. Sort of makes me think about sharks though. Hmmm.

    Thanks for your comments!

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