Getting Confident with the Medium of Encaustic
Now, that I feel confident, I have decided to begin my Shore Line Series and my goal is to create 10 encaustic artworks of our shoreline around the lake where I have my studio. I have tried different techniques over the past month and have concluded that the paint needs to be added to the surface similar to a pointillism technique. Through experimentation, I see that I need to use overlapping small brushstrokes and a layering of different colored paint. Then I went over the waxed surface with an iron and blended very carefully. The problem with the iron is that I can take too much wax off and the edge of the iron can leave grooves that expose the back layer. This can be used to my advantage as well if I want to see the bottom layer coming through the surface. I have to plan the layers of colors so that one can see a bottom layer and that layer is integrated into the foreground.
Here is the first example of an abstracted version of weeds along the shoreline of our lake.
In the first shoreline work I used my imagination and first created a water surface treatment with the layering of colored wax and then took may iron to incise the surface into waving the water. Then, I took the strips of fabric and attached the fabric to represent the reeds. I waxed the surface of the reeds to add a bit of dark color to the edge of the reeds to suggestion a light source.
I spent the last two days working on a 16” X 16” painting of pickerel weeds. Pickerel weeds have been a theme that I have painted with acrylic paint on canvas over the last few years. What I love about encaustic is the layering of the wax so that I can get a thick impasto quality on the surface. Also, I can not control the wax in the same way that I control the acrylic paint which can result in a stiff overworked image and not as gestural as I like. Also, encaustic has a relief sculptural quality. I painted the background with two layers of encaustic medium and then just added the wax/oil paint colors for the water. After the water was finished I drew the leaves on white fabric, cut them out and glued the fabric leaves over the water with an iron. The hard part was keeping the green wax on each leaf and not to go out onto the water. I did go outside of a few of the leaves and just took a scraper and scraped off the green at the edge of the leaf. I added the stems to each leaf and ironed them down. Then, I took paint/wax and filled in the stems. It was really hard not smearing the water around the leaves. I have to think of a better method of adding the paint/wax so that the areas stay crisp and not smudgy. Also, I have to keep the wax temperature around 170-200 degrees so that it flows from my brush. If the wax is too cool it tends to congeal into lumps which are harder to get rid off with the iron.
The iron is a wonderful tool. I love the way I can blend the colors into each other and develop grooves that can be built up with more colors. I could not do this without the iron and my major tool for building up the colored wax.
Here is the finished example. I am thrilled with this one and plan to do another 3 of different viewpoints of the same scene and see about putting them together.