Monday, March 2, 2009

Miniature Encaustic Painting Workshop - day 1

This weekend I completely recharged my painting batteries by attending a class at Northwest Encaustic taught by Larry Calkin.  He is an amazing encaustic painter and all-around artistic explorer who shows locally and in New York.  And he's a wonderful person who believes in freely sharing all of his knowledge and the how-to of all of his creative discoveries, which I hugely admire and strive to do also.  His website is, in case you are curious...

This class was specifically "Miniature" encaustic painting, so we were learning how to use woodburning tools to apply pigmented beeswax onto small pieces of plexiglass or sand-blasted steel.  And glass, as it turns out - hee hee hee - but that will be in my next post.

So for lack of a better idea, for my first experiment with this technique I decided to work on the image stuck in my head of the huge, red crane that looms up through the trees at the massive construction site a couple of blocks from our house.  This site is a major component of the expansion of our regional sewer conveyance system.  The bright red crane is a surreal image to me and crazy looking both night and day, since work is happening 24/7 there.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, in my mind's eye the crane wasn't quite the right dimensions, so it looks like a cross in my pictures, which is interesting but not what I was going for.
Here are my crane pieces at the very beginning.  I had drawn the trees on with a sharpie pen and painted the crane with watercolor.  Plexiglass on right, steel on left.  Then I coated both with a thin layer of clear beeswax.  These are about 2.5"x3.5" -

Then I could add the encaustic paint to the trees with the woodburning tool.  I also painted the back side of the plexi with green acrylic paint which gives it a really cool depth and glow if you see it in person - 

I was going to do something with all of the negative spaces around the trees and crane, but I was ready to leave them and move on.  I will pursue this image again, with a crane of proper dimensions and more realistic trees, because I'm not done with that idea yet. 

This shot was just to show the depth -

I whipped through my sketchbook and found the watercolor of an anemone that I did back in '01 when I was determined to do something in my sketchbood every day.  That lasted 3 days.  But this was handy.  So here is the beginning of a little anemone painting - 

It is about 2.25"x2.25", on steel.  I painted red watercolor on the steel before putting a clear coat of wax on top and then adding the flower using the woodburning tool.  You'll see the finished piece in my next post.

Here was my work area during class - 

 There are little blocks of the pigmented beeswax, and the woodburning tool with a spade-shaped tip.  You can see the bottom of a soldering station on the upper right, which you have to run the woodburning tool through in order to be able to regulate (lower) the temperature of the tool.

 This shot shows what the set-up looks like when you do larger encaustic work using brushes to apply the wax that stays melted on a hot plate/griddle -  

When you apply the wax that way you have to fuse it with a heat gun or torch.  With the woodburning tool, you are fusing the new wax in as you apply it. 

1 comment:

Holli said...

Oh man, that class sounds fantastic, wish we had classes like that around here!