Those of you who don't know my background, here's a brief wrap-up of my art experience. I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Fine Arts, many full moons ago. My concentration was in printmaking, the old fashioned, Albrecht Durer kind. I did lithography, engraving, woodcutting, linoleum cutting, embossing, etchings, and more. I loved it. Especially the photo transfer techniques in lithography, grinding the litho stones and carving the linoleum blocks. I've always been a bit of a doodler, not a portrait drawer, so carving lines was fun. But after college I was a bit lost on how to incorporate this printmaking degree into anything worth making a living at. I still had not quite developed my niche in the art world either, especially my subject matter. So, here I am 12 years out of art school and have found a new niche and love my subject matter! Oh how I wish those professors at AU could see me now. I think I could handle a critique 100% better than then! (Boy were those critques brutal back then!)
I've been working with acrylics and oil pastels for a couple of years now, and really like how they handle certain compositions. My best buddy and business partner Valerie started about 3 years ago painting in encaustic after taking an RF Paints workshop in Atlanta. She came back way enthusiastic about the medium and quite honestly, created some amazing works of art. Over the past few years I've watched her art mature and have been intrigued by her technique. The way she layers, then carves away, and creates these illuminating compositions is wonderful! (check it out at www.artbyvaleriedumas.com) So, when RF Paints offered a class this summer, I tagged along with her to check it out for myself. I still love my acrylics and oil pastels, but there is something about these waxes that is addicting to work with. And my favorite part? I love to build my board with wax so that I can then carve it with my trusty wood carving tools from my college days! This is my wax heating system, yes it's a pancake griddle. The wax melts and I use a natural brush to coat the panel with beeswax, medium and then colored wax.
After I get my background layer just like I want, I fuse it like crazy with a propane blow torch, manipulating some of the colors to mix together. Then I draw one of my little doodles on top with a pencil.
Once the composition is in place I dive in with my woodcarving tools, just like on a linoleum or wood block! It's so fun!
After all the marks are carved I stick it in my refrigerator to harden the wax quicker. Then I take it out and start the filling in of the marks with these really greasy oil sticks. Then just like preparing a printing plate for the press, I wipe and wipe all the excess oil stick off until only the lines are filled. My last step is coloring areas like the flower petals and leaves with oil sticks. Because I've used the oil sticks pretty heavily it usually takes a couple of weeks to really dry and be ready to sell. I forgot to take a final picture of this little flower field, but check back, because I will! I've not made too many encaustics, and the ones I do tend to be pretty small, but I use this medium as a great escape from the brush and canvas technique. And it gives my subjects a whole new texture, which I really love. It's also a bit cold in my garage studio right now so it keeps me warm!