THE PROCESS OF ENCAUSTICS

Encaustics have been around for quite awhile. At least 2000 years. At that time the Egyptians used encaustics to paint portraits on their mummies. Unsurprisingly, they still exist and colors are still brilliant.

HOW IS IT DONE (to visit my site, click on image)

Set up includes:

  • griddle,
  • metal pans,
  • natural hair brushes like hake brushes,
  • beeswax medium,
  • pigments,
  • torch with mapp gas or heat gun,
  • torch starter
  • paper towels,
  • and your substrate, a hard surface.

Why a hard surface?

Wax is not flexible. Linen and canvas stretch and tighten with the weather. You don’t want the wax to crack.

Beginning.

You begin by setting the heat to 200°. When the wax is liquid, brush on your surface. Put two layers down. You can brush across and down. Unless you are interested in a smooth finish. I usually begin with smooth layers. Each layer is fused to the layer underneath by heating. It cools in minutes, so you can continue to add layers. You can add texture any time by adding collage materials. You can prepare them by dipping in wax, or placing them directly on the warm wax. And you can add texture by scratching into the surface.

Finish.

Encaustics are naturally glossy. However, until they are totally cured (about 6 mos- 1 yr) the may get dull. You can polish the surface with a lint-free rag to keep its high gloss appearance.

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NATURE INSPIRED ART: Tackling a large encaustic

SEEDING

Small encaustic paintings like the 6X6 one above have been leaving my studio pretty regularly. Lately, I’m trying my hand on a large format encaustic. The wax begins to harden the second you remove the brush from the pot, so it is a real challenge to work on something larger than 8X8 or 10X10.

Just to cover the surface takes some time and maneuvering stretching my body across the board. I lay the 24X36 piece on the floor and bring the heating tray to the floor as well. I continue to lay in the wax and colors until the surface is covered. Then I need to fuse it to the layer below.

After 2 days of work and slowly building up layers, textures and colors, I’m left with the image below. Almost done. Now I begging to add the colors I want to be in the main and finished piece.

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I brush on the wax with the colors I want for the finalized painting, continuing to fuse the new layer to the previous layers by torching the wax until it begins to glisten. I intentionally leave the bottom portion deeply textured, but smooth out the top third of the painting. A heated iron works well. Then I finish off by scratching in a few connecting lines and lightly torch. Below is the finished 24X36, Listening to Silence, encaustic on cradled board.

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It is on display at my studio, Osprey Studio, this week-end, during the Alamance Studio Tour. Saturday, Oct. 18, 10-5 pm, and Sunday, Oct. 19, Noon – 5 pm. I’m # 12 on the tour.  DIRECTIONS.

For more information about the Alamance Studio Tour, visit HERE.

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INTERSECTIONS OF LIFE

Lingering Drop of Sun, 18X24 Encaustic by Jude Lobe

Lingering Drop of Sun, 18X24 Encaustic by Jude Lobe

In my INTERSECTIONS Series, my new works are created using Cold Wax & Oil or Encaustics. Intersections are junctions or where things come together. In life we come upon intersections, crossroads and forks in the road that change our course. Sometimes great success or happiness comes from intersecting our passion with our talents to work in harmony with the universe. In my life it is the intersection of the emotion I feel about the natural environment and how I can explain and explore it in art.

The above 18X24 on cradled board was inspired by this excerpt from Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”

IMAGE: Lingering Drop of Sun, Encaustic, 18X24X1.5, $775.

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IT MAY BE RAINING; BUT THE SUN STILL SHINES

IT MAY BE RAINING; BUT THE SUN STILL SHINES, Encaustic Painting, 8X8, by Jude Lobe. $245

IT MAY BE RAINING; BUT THE SUN STILL SHINES, Encaustic Painting, 8X8, by Jude Lobe. $245

The encaustic painting involves using heated beeswax mixed with resin. I have a griddle set up with mini bread pans; one pan holds the medium (clear beeswax & resin), and several other smaller ones hold medium mixed with added powdered pigments.  My hope in beginning is too keep all the pots clean and separate, no mixing the brushes that are each assigned to a particular color. Only mixing on the griddle. But. . . .

just like when I am painting in oils, the enthusiasm and speed in adding paint to surface overtakes common sense, and by the end of the day, all my colored pots look quite different and I hardly remember with what colors I began. The griddle still becomes a beautiful palette at the end of the day, as it is so easy to mix colors on the griddle before applying to the board.

I’m also becoming a great fan of the torch and prefer using the torch to the heat gun. I seem to more easily get lovely smooth surfaces, with which I begin. Toward the end of the painting, though, I like adding texture, and I seem to be able to control the amount of heat and the spacial area that I heat with the torch.

The painting below began with pots of cobalt blue (yeah, that got mixed very quickly), yellow, sienna and red. The painting below is at the Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro, catty-corner from the fabulous restaurant, the Roadhouse.

WHY HANG ART IN YOUR HOME: Small paintings like these are great for hanging in small rooms, like the bathroom, kitchen, or mud room. Art has a way of inspiring you and lifting your spirit. Consider having a work of art to look at while washing your hands. It makes it a lovely experience.

Carolina Country, encaustic, 8X10

ENCAUSTICS ARE HOT

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My Queendom for a Tree. encaustic painting, 6X6, by Jude Lobe. $140

My Queendom for a Tree. encaustic painting, 6X6, by Jude Lobe. $140

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”

 ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die

It happened quite unintentionally. Me creating with encaustics, that is. A friend wanted to know how to do encaustics, as she was considering pursuing it. I told her I wasn’t doing encaustics at this time, only cold wax & oil, but had the equipment and would get it out and show her the process.

And so I did. I pulled out the heating tray, the various small metal containers of mediums in which pigments of color were added, the large container holding the encaustic medium and array of natural brushes, each designated to their own colored container. Oh, and then there is the torch. Some of the colored pigments I brought back from a trip to Rousillon, Provence, France, known for their beautiful ochres. Others were given to me by a friend who brought them back from Peru, where she purchased them in a street market.

     I proceeded to grab a small 6X6X1.5″ gessoed board and began to brush the hot wax across it. After two thin coats, I then torched it, moving the torch around until all the wax glistened to fuse the layers. As it cooled, a smooth, flat surface appeared.
     This process went on for several layers. I also added some texture by layering hemp cord across the board and lightly pressing it into the soft wax. Again, back to the hot wax and brushing, first in one direction, then another, then torching it to glistening state. As the layers of color and texture built up, I would scratch into the surface where the painting was screaming for it. Finally, I figured the painting was complete. My friend decided it was too messy and is going to do cold wax & oil.
     Since I had all the equipment out and had one piece begun. . well, I just got hooked. I guess you might say, my spirit became ignited and it kindled a new desire to work in encaustics. I’m on fire. (ok, enough with the puns) I can’t help myself now. But they are all small pieces at this time. I may expand to a larger size for pieces for my opening in June at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

 

WISHING TO SLOW DOWN TIME

SEEING SIMPLICITY, Cold Wax & Oil, 18X24, by Jude Lobe

SEEING SIMPLICITY, Cold Wax & Oil, 18X24, by Jude Lobe

If someone were to ask me what I did last week or even yesterday, I couldn’t tell them. The day and week were filled with a host of extraneous errands that keep me from my list of want-to-do’s. But there isn’t any one thing I could actually say I did that made me feel I accomplished something.

I have goals and things I want to accomplish. My ultimate goal is to declutter, down-size, simplify my life and complete an artwork every day. But little extraneous “stuff” always seems to pop-up keeping me from achieving my goals. I truly think that if Einstein were still around, he would have proven that time is, in fact, moving faster. There seemed to be so much more time when I was in school, to think. To just sit and read and think.

So what does all that have to do with this cold wax and oil painting above? Well, I had turned off my cell phone and headed for the studio the other day. This cold wax and oil painting began as just basically playing around with drawing and coloring. Several layers of varying colors were squeegied on the board. Usually I alternate a light layer and dark layer. Then I began by taking a potter’s tool, a stick with smooth, somewhat pointed end, and drew lines with no pre-meditation of thought. Afterwards, I picked up my brush and  mixed different color oil paints with wax and painted in the shapes. Feeling quite relaxed with no real theme in mind, I continued adding textures, designs, and after awhile I hung the piece on the wall and I noticed the window.

It seemed to me to illuminate my feelings of late, where I have the sensation I am so busy but can’t really enumerate my accomplishments. The mood of this painting exactly expresses my sense of being overloaded and engaged in many activities that do not yield me the satisfaction or triumph of accomplishment. Oh, how I would love to be able to turn off the incoming traffic, ie: cell phones, daily routines of preparing meals, and so on, and just read, paint and garden. Like that crow peering through the window, I’m seeking simplicity in my life.

I wonder if anyone else has those feelings of wanting to escape to a quieter environment.

LAST FRUIT: cold wax and oil

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LAST FRUIT: Eye on the Prize, cold wax and oil by Jude Lobe

This piece entitled, “Last Fruit” grew into thoughts of how man has misused, unappreciated, devoured, drained, wasted, worn out (well, you get the picture), the fruits of nature. But then as it neared completion, the unanswered question of ‘what do we do when resources are limited’ appeared. It perhaps will lead to a new companion piece.

When beginning a cold wax and oil piece, I have no thoughts or ideas in mind. I begin by laying down layers of color onto a prepared cradled wood panel. My palette is drawn from nature. I love the colors of the ochre clays found in Rousillon, Provence, France. I lay a few layers down first so I have a cushion in which to impress textures. Then I leave it overnight and come back to it the next day and continue adding layers of color applied with a brayer, squeegee or palette knife. Along the way I add more textures, scratch and scrape the surface and at some point it starts interacting with me. An idea will begin to form.

Working in cold wax and oil has so many benefits. For some reason, the oil paint mixed with the cold wax has less offensive odor. The finish is a lovely matte, that when buffed has a silky look to it. And the most wonderful thing about it is it dries to touch in 1-3 days. When I finish a painting, I can take it to the gallery in 3 or 4 days, rather than 3 months waiting for an oil painting to cure. The cold wax and oil painting will continue to cure, but it is dry and odorless in a few days.

The cold wax and oil painting, Last Fruit, is now in the exhibit 22 SQUARED at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, 121 N. Churton St., Hillsborough, NC. 919-732-5001. Come GET SQUARED. Jan 27 – Feb 23.

Click image to visit site.