Monday, March 7, 2011

Last Week in the Studio - Fusing and Adding Resin to Wax.

Last week was another huge learning curve for me in terms of encaustic painting!

I have been learning more and more about the art of using wax in my painting and gaining knowledge about the techniques and correct procedures for encaustic painting.  Last week, thanks to some helpful advice and guidance by Kylie Marie Stevens from Chasing Purple Dreams. I discovered the term fusing and encaustic medium and also further investigated the use of Acrylic with wax.

As I mentioned last week some people say yes to using Acrylic with wax, and others say not to mix them.  I've decided to air on the side of caution and I got my oils out this week! I will still do my under painting in acrylic and add a layer of clear oil before adding wax to the painting. This way the wax has something absorbent to adhere to. 

Here is what I found out about Fusing:
Fusing is an essential part of the encaustic process, it ensures that each layer of wax or group of brushstrokes is securely attached to the ones beneath them. Without fusing you have the encaustic version of phyllo pastry—lots of delicate individual layers. This video explains the different tools that can be used, which are a blow torch, an iron and a heat gun. I went out and got a heat gun last week and did my first fuse!  I ended up with a huge puddle of wax on the surface of my painting, as I am still getting used to using the gun and working with wax.

Here's what I found out about Encaustic Medium:
The week before last, I was just using melted beeswax on my paintings and there was some concerns about the longevity of using beeswax in my paintings, especially in the heat of a Queensland summer. I had massive fears of the image melting while it was hanging on the wall. I found out that Encuastic artist add Dammar Crystal (resin from tree sap) to the beeswax to harden the wax (it also gives the surface an added sheen). The usual ration of Beeswax to Dammar is 8-1. The more dammar you add, the harder the wax and higher the melting point. But more than one part of dammar in four parts wax will make the wax too brittle, while using just a few crystals will have a negligible effect on the wax.1 Here is a great video on making Encaustic Medium. So with this information in hand, I went out and got a kitchen scale and some dammar and did my first coat of Encaustic Medium.

I also backed two other painting with thick wood ready for when I'm up to painting with wax. The image on the left and the right below will be worked up in acrylic and then coated with oil ready for the wax. 

This is where I am up to with my first painting 'Fish Whispers to Bird Lady' I still have more to do on this painting. Though I'm yet to finish a painting using this new (to me) method, I feel like I have progressed in leaps and bounds. And I'm loving the translucent quality encaustic is adding to my paintings.

Have a productive week all!


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1 comment:

  1. I think it is testament to how beautiful and versatile to encaustic surface is that we are willing to go to such lengths to learn everything we can and master the tricky bits like fusing! Glad you are having such fun with it and very happy played a small hand in your learning curve.