Bringing out the Blues (and Greens)

Posted by on Jan 12, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off on Bringing out the Blues (and Greens)

My challenge – adding colour to a textured wax surface.  I continued to work with the wax panel that I had previously written words on and made random textures with various tools.  Now I wanted to try out a combination of oil sticks, dressmaker’s tracing (carbon) paper and oil paints directly applied to the wax.

Dressmaker's tracing paper, oil sticks, oil paints and linseed oil.

The dressmaker’s tracing paper worked very well.  Placing the blue coloured-side face down onto the wax surface, I wrote onto the reverse side (non-coloured) using a blunt pencil.  Providing that the wax surface was fairly smooth and that I used a good amount of pressure, I made a clean transfer of the word onto the wax in blue carbon.

However, when I tried to write directly on the wax surface with the oil sticks, they didn’t work at all.  In fact the white colour from the wax surface transferred to the blue oil stick, instead of the other way around.  I’m going to have to read up a bit more on how to use oil sticks in encaustic painting, since they certainly didn’t work the way I imagined – I thought it would be like writing on a wall with a crayon! (Mental note – try my kids’ crayons next time.)

Words written on encaustic surface using dressmaker's tracing paper.

Next I applied the blue oil paint directly from the tube on the wax surface.  Wearing latex gloves, I rubbed (‘smooshed’) the paint into the incised lines of the words I had written in the wax.

Smooshing oil paint into the incised lines in the encaustic wax.

I did a bit of finger-painting on the surface, getting a nice mix of blues and greens.  You can see that it made the surface of the wax very shiny from all of the oil in the paints.  It also did a great job of highlighting the textures on the surface.

Finger-painting with oil paints on the encaustic wax surface.

I wanted to see how the textures and words looked when I removed the majority of the colour from the surface.  I used lots of paper towels and linseed oil to remove the paint from the wax.

Wiping off the excess oil paint with linseed oil from the encaustic wax surface.

You can see that almost all of the oil paint has been removed from the wax surface, leaving only the colour in the crevices of the words and the textures of the scraped lines and brush marks.  But it also removed my tracing paper words – next time, I’ll do those afterwards.

Oil paint trapped in the crevices of the textures and words carved into the encaustic surface.

Now that I had an interesting textured surface on my primed panel as my base, I started to play with some collage elements.  I wanted to keep to the blues and greens that I had used to colour the words and lines on the wax.  I selected a few collage elements to play with and see what combination would be most pleasing.

I chose a sheet of handmade green Japanese rice paper which had lovely fibres running through it.  Going through my large bag of coloured feathers (a great find at Michael’s Arts & Crafts store), I picked a few turquoise feathers.  Lastly, I went through my stash of fancy napkins (I’ve started collecting printed paper napkins – luncheon and cocktail size – great for collage and decoupage), and picked one that had the same blue and green tones to complement the other elements.

Selection of collage elements for the painting - printed napkins, handmade paper, and feathers.

I ripped pieces of the Japanese paper to add corner borders to the painting, leaving the long fibres exposed on the edges.  I used clear encaustic medium (EM) to ‘glue’ the paper on top of the textured wax surface.  Next, I gently tore out the pictures from the cocktail napkin: the butterflies, nest, and magnolia blossom (tearing made the edges blend better into the melted EM rather than cutting them out with scissors).

I layered the feathers to create borders on the opposite sides from the paper borders, smoothing out the quills with the melted clear EM.   I used a heat gun to fuse all the collage elements on the surface as they were applied.  I applied one final coat of clear EM to get a uniform coat over all the elements, which helped to bring everything together.

Collage elements in final places on the encaustic painting.

To finish it off, I cleaned up the sides of the panel with the encaustic iron and painted the edges with a dark brown wax.  I like the dreamy, romantic feel to the work – a feeling of Spring and rebirth.

You can find my completed work, “Blue Dreams” for sale in my online store on Etsy – Lexi Reid Studio.

Blue Dreams. Encaustic Painting on Wood (7 x 7 inches). 2011