Saturday, May 11, 2013

Encaustic Talk

More and more I'm meeting experienced encaustic artists. During last First Friday (May 3rd) I met Patricia
Kilburg, a fascinating artist with lots of tips and stories (including some of disasters with wax) about the world of  encaustics.
Tricia Earle also shared with me how beeswax and resin, the first medium humans ever used to make art, is dated back to Greek and Roman times.  And Patricia noted that encaustic is Greek for "to burn in."
along with the history and artist's stories, I'm learning more about this seemingly simple but actually quite complex art, at least for me.  I love it, it;s fun, but it''s also fickle and can be dangerous: breathing in too much Damar resin, working with butane flames, spilling a large amount of hot wax in your home, as Patricia did.  Thank goodness she's now in a studio at the Flat iron Building in the Village at the West end here in Greenville, SC. where a mess is not so much of a disaster to clean up.  The wax is not difficult to clean off tabletop surfaces, just heat it up and wipe away . It even polishes my butcher block counters, but when spilling a large amount you end up wasting a lot of wax unless you can figure out how to crack it and pick it up in the solid pieces when its cooled.  I'm not sure what Patricia did and hope to never have to learn.

So inspired by Michael Ziemer, Tricia Earle, Patricia Kilburg and Paul and Greg Flint, I carry on feeding my newest addiction. I've traded the smell of linseed oil for melted wax.  I've learned a lot so far about which surfaces to use and which mediums but learning to control the wax is almost as difficult as water color to me. Although wax is so much more forgiving, heat it to move it or to peel back a layer if something doesn't work.
Patricia showed me how she uses the butane torch which smooths the wax to a satin-like finish.  She made it look so easy and not so dangerous that I'm tempted to add one to my heat blowing tool.
 I also saw how much wax she could hold in an electric skillet and I'm on the hunt at yard sales and the flea market for one.  I love my small heating pan from Ranger Inks and so far haven't needed massive amounts of wax at a time, but so far I've been working on rather small surfaces. The largest I've used so far is the one entitled, Berlin" 11X14, where I attempted a transfer technique and it didn't work. So I have to heat that board clean and start over.
So my newest pieces continue the series of  strange landscapes but this time I'm combining my fascination with the universe and the beauty of the death and birth of stars. The first on is "Starbirth"  and takes place on a planet I've only seen in my mind's eye.  And the second is "Magellenic Cloud."  the cloud of gases and particle resulting from the death of the star prior to the formation of new stars and galaxies.  these have been a lot of fun as well as an experiment working with gauche and white beeswax on primed and umprimed board surfaces. I now prefer the primed. I have a few more I want to do in this series.

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