Encaustic Work

Untitled Encaustic Painting, copyright Joan Z. Rough 2011

Home again and almost caught up with all that I’ve been ignoring since I left. Unfortunately we’ve had no rain for well over a week and the garden is calling for lots of attention.  I’ve chosen drought tolerant plants for the most part and that does make things a bit easier.  I’m having a rain barrel installed next week so that should make it even better.  That is if we ever get more rain.

I promised some of you that I’d post photos of the encaustic work I did over Memorial Day weekend at the workshop I attended at BookWorks in Asheville, North Carolina.  It was a fantastic  weekend and I’ve found myself very excited by the technique and the possibilities it holds.  I’m planning on getting to work with lots of experiments in the days to come once I finally gather the equipment and materials I need.

Encaustic is an ancient technique using beeswax melted and mixed with Damar Resin to create the medium or paint.  Dry pigments or oil paint is then added to create the colors one desires and the paint is then applied to an absorbent ground, such as wood, cloth or paper.  The wax mixture is allowed to harden slightly and is then fused to the ground material using a heat gun, iron or blow torch.  More layers of paint can be applied as well as found objects, like paper, shells and trinkets of all kinds.  For me it is all about layering, texture, collaging …. almost what ever I want to do.

The piece pictured above was my first and started with a layer of red medium, over which I applied a number of layers of differing colors including white, blue, green and yellow. Once the paint had hardened I began scraping it away revealing bits of the colors that had been applied before the final coat.  I spotted a blob of wax at on the table where the wax had dripped as I had applied it to the board.  I pulled it up off the table, fused it in the center of the scraped painting and there, above is the final result.

The next piece is actually a spontaneous collaboration between by myself and my wonderful teacher Celia Gray.  She had been layering colors on a board inspired by the work of another artist as shown in a book on encaustics that I had brought along.   Near the end of the class on the final day another student in the class needed an extra piece of wood to work on.  Celia softened the wax on the board she’d been using with a blow torch, called me over and suggested I start using the layers she was about to scrape away to making the board available for the other student.  As she scraped, the warm medium came away in thick, rippled ribbons of color which I picked up and began applying to a board I’d just started with a layer of white paint.  I pressed them down on to the board and then curled the remaining ribbons into rolls and placed them down the center of the piece.  The result is pictured below.

My next experiments will be with collage.  I’ll keep you posted as I go along!

Close-up of untitled encaustic, a collaboration with Celia Gray, May, 2011

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4 Responses to Encaustic Work

  1. patricia says:

    beautiful artplay! color is my game, this inspires. We are back from a 5000 mile journey including our granddaughters glorious, sensitive, we all said I do event and back also to my many gardens. I have three waterbarrels connected in a series, collecting water off our studio. May the rains bless you.

    • jzrart says:

      Thanks, Patricia, for the compliments and the rain blessing. Your trip sounds like it was wonderful and I hope you’ll do some writing about it!

  2. Clara says:

    These are wonderful! And the photos themselves really capture the three-dimensionality of the pieces. I’m so glad you enjoyed your class at BookWorks. Let’s schedule a call sometime soon to catch up. I want to hear all about it.

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