Tuesday, August 07, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 4

OK, finally, more of the conference...

Note: I'm going from the notes that I took during the demos, so if you happened to be there and notice that I got something wrong, please let me know. Oh, and often there was more info, I just tended to write down the things that I didn't know already or that helped clarify some process...

It was really difficult to choose between the competing sessions, but here are the ones that I chose:

Textural Explorations by Lissa Rankin

Lissa's work is very textural with built-up areas of encaustic. She showed many different techniques for achieving these types of effects.

She began talking about her love of the blowtorch. She said that she only used a heat gun for a long time but then tried the blowtorch and has never gone back. She recommended the Iwatani CB-TC-PRO Butane Torch. It's a small creme brulle torch available from www.cooking.com.

Scumbling - to get built-up texture, she uses sort of a dry-brush effect, letting the brush strokes build up. She takes the encaustic paint off of the heat to cool a bit. She brushes a few layers before fusing since the fusing knocks down the texture a bit. She continues, sometimes working on a piece all day long.

Relief - using leaves, burlap, lace, etc. She heats the surface a bit and then flattens the material onto the surface. She paints medium on first and then paint. She then removes the material (you have to experiment to find the perfect time to remove it) and fuses to soften the edges. She uses a pigment stick on the edges to add color and dimension.

She makes her own medium with 80% beeswax and 20% damar resin.

Stencils - using mylar stencils or transparency film that she cuts her own stencils from. Preheat the surface a bit before applying the stencil. Brush on some medium and then the paint. She recommended using a heat gun because the blowtorch can sometimes melt the stencils. Fuse lightly then remove stencil (again, there's a perfect time to remove it). Fuse again to soften edges.

You can put the stencils in the freezer and the wax will break off and you can reuse the stencil.

She makes her own blending sticks with 4 parts linseed oil to 1 part beeswax.

She makes her own pigment sticks by mixing half of the blending stick with half powdered pigment and then pouring it into a muffin tin.

Elevated shapes - using masking tape (I believe she used the blue painter's tape), mask off an area and then brush on medium first. Brush on paint. Fuse lightly and remove. 1/4" thin making tape bends and makes curvy lines.

If you wipe off oil paint or pigment stick with linseed oil, she recommended cleaning that off with alcohol at the very end since it evaporates.

Molds (this is a little sketchy since she was rushing and I'm a little rusty on mold-making)
Paper clay - like papier mache - push object into it and leave it for a couple of days. Pull it up when dry. Glue it to the panel with matte medium on back.

Gray modeling clay - roll it out and put object in it (coat it with linseed oil first). Pull it up. Fill the cavity with wax. Let it set a bit and remove it. Use toothbrush and water to clean clay off. Preheat surface of the painting. Put wax piece on palette to melt a little and then put it on the painting.

Elemental Substances and Processes by Mari Marks

Mari's work is kind of minimal but also textural in a different way.

She had what seemed like a very time-consuming process but also sort of meditative.

She started with a panel that had a solid color of encaustic paint on it. She mixed artist's graphite powder with denatured alcohol. The alcohol dispersed the powder and enabled her to brush it on the painted panel. The alcohol evaporates and leaves the pigment. She then fused it under a lamp, moving the lamp very slowly. This seemed to allow the powder to melt into the paint. Sometimes the powder reacts with the paint to create interesting textures and shapes.

She mixes other powders with the denatured alcohol to create similar effects - ashes, red ceramic clay powder, plastic roofing cement, dry pigment.

Break Away from the Brush by Nash Hyon
I don't have a website for her, but click here to see some of her work.

She said that she rarely ever used any brushes. She applies paint almost exclusively with metal tools, using as-is or heating them for different effects.

Transfers - warm surface and apply copy face down, burnish, apply water and then scrub with a sponge or cloth. The toner will transfer onto the wax.

She mentioned something called Digi-Fab - digital silk - inks printed on clay-based paper that will transfer (I'm not sure if I wrote that down correctly).

Collage - when collaging paper, scrape with scraper to help it adhere and remove bubbles.

Metal tools - she had different metal tools such as a nail in a wood block - she would heat up the head of the nail and press into surface of the painting to create textures and shapes. Same with a piece of copper, metal screen tool, metal comb, paint brush cleaner, metal dog brush, ceramic tools, etc.

Iron - she recommended Reynolds non-stick aluminum foil - iron it to get texture.

Applying paint with metal tools - she used what she called "surface knives" for Venetian plaster that can be found in the decorative painting department at hardware stores (I found some at Lowe's). She would apply the paint and then smooth it out with the same tool. You can also heat up the tool and smooth the surface or drip paint off of the tool.

To create texture, she used it at a cooler temperature and let it kind of drag on the surface.

Those were the demos for the first full day. There were some the next morning that I will write about later!

To be continued...
Now playing: Ryan Adams - To Be Young
via FoxyTunes


Bridgette Guerzon Mills said...

Thank you so much for posting your notes! Sounds like it was a fantastic experience. I'm going to give the transparency film stencils a try.

judy Holder said...

Thank you

For a very interesting post on encaustic. I am wanting to try painting with encaustic again. I would like to try the little torch. But I have to work on my ventilation system first. Any suggestions on methods of ventilation that you are familiar with would love to hear. Looking into an exhaust fan with a lot of CFM for my narrow window.
Also, thanks for post on Lisa Rankin which I found very interesting. Thanks