I am presently seeking out new territory in my paintings, and it’s too soon to show what I’m trying to learn now. So, for your viewing pleasure today, here is one of my favorite paintings from my encaustic period (which lasted maybe 3-4 years and may not yet be over). This is the 4th in a series of 4 paintings of poppies – a very popular group of paintings.
I spent this past weekend with ten other members of the Austin group of Texas Wax in an encaustic painting workshop at Majestic Ranch in Boerne, TX. Boerne is a lovely little Hill Country town located not too far from San Antonio. Majestic Ranch is an Arts Foundation atop a hill with classrooms for painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and more. It also includes a pavillion and gazebo…and many breathtakingly beautiful views of the Hill Country. When R&F comes to Texas, this is where they hold their workshops.
Early Saturday morning, I met up with the other Texas Wax artists in the hilltop classroom for the two-day, all-day workshop. It was wonderful — kind of like being back in advanced studio classes at art school — each of us working on our own creative projects, and meanwhile chatting with other members of our art tribe. Only this was over in just 2 days instead of a whole semester, so there wasn’t much chance to watch each other’s creative development, nor to get to know each other much better. We did hang out for a while after the Saturday workshop, over dinner and a beer at a brewpub in Boerne.
I’m pleased to announce that the encaustic group I belong to, Texas Wax, has just unveiled their new website and blog — designed jointly by artist and web guru extraordinaire Haley Nagy and yours truly. Please feel free to check it out while we continue getting our artists added to the site. There’s already plenty of information there: history of Texas Wax groups, upcoming classes and exhibitions, photos from previous exhibitions, resources, and plenty of ways to get involved. Link to Texas Wax website.
*June 2010: I have stepped down as webmaster of the Texas Wax website. It was a great and fulfilling challenge for the past year+, but it’s time I focus more on my art and design careers and less on volunteer work.
Texas WAX Austin Artists First Exhibit at Bay6 Gallery and Studios
What a great opening! So many people showed up, and once again, Sharon had some of my work very prominently displayed, for which I feel deeply honored! The yellow poppy paintings on the front wall are mine.
View some random photos from the event (click on the thumbnails):
The process of painting in encaustic entails heating up the paint – which is a combination of refined beeswax, resin and pigment – until the paint mixture melts, then quickly brushing the strokes of paint onto a surface before the wax hardens — which takes no time at all.* Usually, I can get only 1-3 strokes onto my surface before the wax solidifies. So, it’s dip and stroke, dip and stroke, over and over and over until you’ve covered a portion of the surface, at least.
*[Another method for painting in encaustic is to keep your painting surface heated by placing it on a warming plate, so that the wax in the paint stays somewhat melted while you’re painting. This feels much more like painting in oil, and I do it this way often, too.]
The layers also have to be fused together with heat to make the painting strong. There are several tools and methods for doing this; at present, I am fusing the wax with a heat gun — in many cases, melting the wax layers together. The heat gun also blows out air, and thus moves the paint around a little or a lot, depending on my application of heat and air and my intentions.
This is what causes the tricky part of encaustic painting. You have to heat it at least enough to fuse the paint, and I find that I can manipulate the paint being blown around a bit and achieve some gorgeous effects. However, the danger is that the paint will blow around in unexpected and perhaps unwanted ways, so it’s as likely that you’ll ruin something you really liked as that you’ll create some other area that’s just what you wanted. Maybe it’s actually more likely that you’ll ruin some beautiful passage of paint. At any rate, the results are impossible to completely control.
Which is, in a way, why I love this medium so much. I have to be very Zen about my encaustic paintings, and the biggest skill to learn is when to stop messing with the painting.
Sometimes I feel like I ought to have those horrible flashing red and yellow banners on my art site, proclaiming the words that I sometimes get as compliments on my work. But I won’t, because it would be tasteless and annoying to do so. At the very least.
I will, however, mention a few of those words here:
The luminosity in them is amazing.
Beautiful and terrifying….
The thing I will say about the encaustic paintings — the surface is gorgeous! Depending on the application of the paint, you can sometimes see down right through the colors. Also, they all look far better ‘in the paint’ than any digital image of them can possibly convey…
So go see them at the AVAA show, if you get a chance, or come to my studio for the next East Austin Studio Tour (mid-November). Unless they will be shown somewhere else before that, in which case, I will be sure to post about it here and on my website.
I found a good intro to info about encaustic paints and paintings at RF Paints. Click on the link to read.
This is the kind of painting I’ve been doing a lot of since late last summer. I absolutely love the process and its effects.