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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HORSE: Born to Run

HORSE: Born to Run, Oil on linen, 30X30.
 

Michelangelo was quoted as saying ‘Every block of stone has  has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” This painting indeed made that impression on me. 

My intention was to paint a picture of horses running wildly across a prairie kicking up sand. I worked on the painting changing colors and images for quite a while, but it just didn’t seem to work for me. One day I just sat down in front of it and began talking to the painting. “What do you want me to do?” I feel the spirit of the horses joy in and freedom in taking off running while at my friend’s horse farm and want to translate that on this stretched linen.

I got up and grabbed some charcoal and just began making gestures on the canvas with the intention of wiping it all out and beginning from scratch. However, as I sketched, I was compelled again to pick up my paint brush and mix up my favorite colors of siennas and ochres of which Roussillon in Provence is so famous, and a few hours later this painting of horses emerged.

Sometimes you have to stop thinking and just let feelings take over.  That can be a lot harder than one thinks.

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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.

 

the ART OF FRAMING

MOORED, Oil on masonite by Jude Lobe

MOORED, Oil on masonite by Jude Lobe

An artist’s hardest decision is deciding on a frame for the artwork. For a time, I didn’t frame paintings and they looked pretty good as long as they were deep canvases. However, I always thought the frame enhanced the art and brought the viewer’s eye more directly to the painting.

Why frame: Frames make the artwork look more professional. They protect it and make it more sturdy. A proper frame can enhance the visual allure of the artwork. And finally, what would convince most artists is framed art sells more easily.

 An easy no-brainer for deep canvases is the Floater Frames. They are fabulous for canvases and cradled boards, like the ones I use in my cold wax and oil paintings. The have a clean, contemporary look and don’t fight for attention with the art. 

My quandary: My dilemma  comes when I’m looking for a frame for a oil painting, like Moored, the oil painting of a boat moored at Hilton Head pictured above. It was done on masonite. I don’t want a too decorative frame that will detract from the artwork, but I also don’t want it too plain so that it doesn’t add anything. There lies the perplexity. And then there is the consideration of who would buy the painting and would my expenditure for an expensive frame pay off in a sale.

Why to not Frame: Then there is the idea that perhaps the frame would effect the viewer negatively. Suppose the viewer is a light maple wood person and dark mahogany has them running in the opposite direction.  It is certainly impossible to find a frame that matches every decor. And if an art buyer wants their frame to match the decor, well, that’s money the artist spent paying for a frame that flows down the drain. 

What to do: Well, for the art above, I’m asking you to give me your opinion of the three considerations I have above for the frame for Moored. Which do you prefer? I really want to know.

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.

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WATERLILIES SEDUCTION

Ponderings, by Jude Lobe, Oil on linen, 30X40, $1250

Waterlilies will always be synonymous with Monet. Every time we see a painting of water lilies we can’t help but be reminded of his works. And so artists try and stay away from painting them, however, they seduce us with their perfect beauty. Not only their beautiful shapes of foliage and wide range of colors depending on the place in the sky from where the sun shines but also the place where they dwell. That amazing water that reflects the colors of the flowers, sky and trees. 

How can an artist hold back from trying to capture the beauty of those scenes. I certainly cannot. And so the artist unfairly risks the viewer commenting, “oh, copying Monet”. Of course, we are not. We are just as awestruck as Monet. As are photographer artists, yet lucky for them, they are never compared with Monet.

Water lilies not only are beautiful themselves, but they choose to dwell in the most serene and lovely surroundings. I suspect I will be painting them for many more years. There are different perspectives to choose, and times of day to confront and explore.

They also inspire poets and writers. Like this quote from Jacqueline Close Moore:

“A pristine waterlily undiscouraged by its surroundings, rises from the depths of a murky pond. It’s lotus petals perfume the air, as it flowers and blooms brilliantly, purely, divinely, despite and probably because of its origins. Becoming a spiritual person does not mean you to leave your prior life behind, but instead you integrate, learn, remember, and respect what brought you to this point  in the first place.” 

And Henry David Thoreau wrote,

“But it chanced the other day that I scented a white water-lily…. It is the emblem of purity…. What confirmation of our hopes is in the fragrance of this flower! “

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