Last week I gave myself the gift of an art retreat — five days of getting up and knowing there was nothing on my plate to do except make art, all day long. Heaven.
I haven’t done any artwork at all since I finished the last Gaian Tarot card last fall. I’ve been wanting to learn the ancient process of encaustic (painting with beeswax) for the past three years, but didn’t allow myself to try it out until I had finished all the GT cards. I even signed up for an encaustic workshop on Whidbey Island (not too far from me) last September, then had to cancel because I had too many deadlines at the time.
I became fascinated with the medium when I realized its possibilities — you can build layer upon layer of collage, paint, and embedded objects, with layers of beeswax inbetween. All the layers are translucent and the bottom layers are somewhat obscured. You can scribe lines and textures into the wax, and you can scrape back parts of the top layer to reveals color and pattern underneath.
It’s messy and tactile and makes room for happy accidents. It’s about as different from colored pencil painting as you can get!
I took the class at the wonderful Sitka Center for Art & Ecology near the Oregon coast . . .
There were ten students and two teachers in the class. We all learned the medium together and taught each other tips and tricks. It was fascinating how each person’s work came out so distinctive and different, even though we were using the same tools.
Here’s the first panel I worked on; it has 2 or 3 layers of beeswax on it:
Here’s how it looked later in the day:
Close-up of the spiral:
I added a couple more layers of beeswax and then, a face:
There are layers of torn paper, oil paints, oil pastels and beeswax. I drew the face in charcoal on paper, looking at a photo of a Buddha statue. Then I turned the drawing upside down on top of the wax and rubbed it with a burnisher. It transferred quite nicely to the wax. I then fused it lightly with the hot air gun. (Fusing each layer is part of the process.) I liked how the hot air gun moved the charcoal around a bit. Made the eyelid more liquid.
Here’s another piece I worked on, somewhat similar to the first:
I added the same face, but this time I incised the lines into the face after transferring the drawing.
I filled the lines with black oil paint and scraped off the excess. This face looks more like a woodcut and the first one is a bit more delicate. I like the first face better, I think.
And here’s a third piece, completely different from the others. This one is mostly cut paper, with oil paints and pastels adding touches here and there. I like this one a lot too.
I plan on doing a lot more encaustic pieces, and bringing some Tarot and Goddess archetypes into them. One of these days I’ll put them up for sale.
So. much. fun!