Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where to Go Next?
A Question that Seldom Has a Clear Answer

Last month someone asked what the next "exploration" would be.

We weren't being deliberately evasive but couldn't really answer that question. What usually happens with the Gazette is that one thing leads to another and it's not necessarily clear at the beginning where the "thread" we follow will take us.

This month we were aimed in the direction of encaustics by Karen Eberle's example, which she shared to illustrate an embossing technique she uses regularly in her work.

Linda's Star
scroll toward
bottom of page.

While ggd has known about Karen's interest in encaustic, we do not, unfortunately, live close enough that we've ever been able to watch her in action.

But this sparked our curiosity once more.

Years ago (you don't want to know how many!) we knew a commercial artist whose hobby was painting huge oils. At one point he experimented with "painting in wax," as he called it. The results were as impressive as were his oils but to simple mid-western (at that time) tastes, it seemed unimportant whether the painting was done with oils, tempera or wax.  Little did we know!

Ancient Encaustic Painting
We obviously were not artistically sophisticated enough to realize painting with wax to replicate the oil painting technique with which he was already so comfortable was his technique choice. There are as many other choices as there are artists to make them.

Sometime around the 1990's interest in this ancient art form was renewed, grew and now the Internet abounds examples of many diverse styles.

Another Example

In a quick Google search (where we "borrowed" these illustrations from Wikipedia) we've discovered a few basic things about encaustic:

One   It's fairly expensive in the beginning. Probably, once outfitted, it's just refilling supplies but they are not cheap.

Two   There is some question about the toxicity of the materials. A good cross draft is suggested as necessary to avoid breathing in the fumes for too long.

Three    It requires heated tools which need care to avoid the possibility of accidentally burning something or someone!

All this aside, the hazards may be no more than many of the materials artists use and have used for centuries. We are better informed and can take special precautions in working with them.

Still....exercise caution.


More Modern Approac

Now That We've Scared You Off.....

Here are the plans for next week:
Thanks to another artist friend, Lisa Magruder, who teaches wonderfully creative and exciting children's art classes, we will adapt encaustic techniques to make them smaller (most of the examples you see on the Internet are HUGE) and hopefully a bit more "user friendly," safer and more economical as a "taste test" before you decide if these materials and techniques are something you'd like to include in your Artist's Arsenal.

With apologies to "real" (i.e., serious) encaustic artists, we will call our bite size sampling "Faux Encaustic." You probably have everything you will need so be sure to come back and "play" next week.



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  1. great choice! one thing you may consider when getting started - instead of going to the expense of the dedicated wax and equipment is to use a little craft iron to melt the wax and crayons as the medium. it's a much cheaper and equally fun way to experiment, getting pretty close to the same results.

    1. : ) Are you reading my mind? Or my NOTES? Sounds like you've played with this before... please come back and kibitz next week.

  2. I'm thinking those tiny irons used by quilters to open up a seam.

  3. this should be interesting. I've done encaustic way back when... and just recently had two play days with different friends doing encaustic, so have lots of samples , techniques and things using them. I went the cheaper way, with Beeswax and Crayolla Crayons and Metallic crayons. Used an old fashioned travel iron (no holes on the bottom) and my Clover iron for details, as well as some wood burning/stencil making heads. I must pull out my more expense wax, it's hidden in my spill over room somewhere... Have a great day

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Finding travel irons like you have is difficult. They are rare...even on eBay!
      I too, took a cheaper route...for starters. Not only is it expensive to set up all the equipment, I just don't have the room.
      Envy your "spill over" room.

      Looking forward to seeing your samples and to this month's play.


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