Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attempt #1 - Encaustic Painting

Over the past many weeks I've been gearing up to begin an exploration of encaustic painting: I've purchased books, equipment and materials, spent many hours researching various techniques on-line, and even signed up for an on-line video workshop with Oregon encaustic artist Linda Womack.

Yesterday, keen to get going, I began work on a 6" x 6" wooden cradle panel. I painted a couple of layers of wax medium (dammar crystals mixed with filtered beeswax - commercially produced) over the panel and attempting a photo transfer from one of the pictures I took of a hallway in Kilmainham Gaol while my youngest daughter and I toured Ireland last year.

My first problem was with the thrift store griddle I'd purchased for melting the wax medium - it overheated and the medium began smoking; second problem - I didn't have the proper ventilation required for drawing away the toxic fumes, so I threw my studio door wide open and the icy breeze cooled down the wax too quickly; third problem was attempting a photo transfer using an inkjet photocopy rather than a toner-based photocopy. My second attempt at the transfer seemed to be coming along nicely until I hit it with the heat gun and the transfer suddenly shrank severely, cracked, and lifted off the waxed substrate - eeeeek!

I was picking the brittle bits of transfer off the wax, silently cursing and wondering if I should attack it with a scraper and begin again at square one. Partway through the picking and scraping, I stopped to examine the distressed surface and decided it was beginning to look interesting; just for the heck of it I added some red wax medium and decided the experiment was taking a turn for the better. I quit then and will continue to work on it again soon, once I've purchased a new griddle and thermometer to ensure a minimum of toxins in the studio.

Must do more research before I return to the panel... stay tuned.

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