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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Encaustic Painting



I've spent a couple of days working with encaustics, it seems a good idea when there's snow on the ground and a nip in the air. Apparently, like many other wonders, encaustic painting began in ancient Greece. Since then, it has gone in and out of fashion, but now seems to be picking up interest. One of the first things I did in Norfolk was to take a workshop in encaustics, and I'm really glad I did.

Encaustics involves wax and pigment, heated til it melts, and applied to a suitable ground. It makes wonderful, translucent colour with much depth, and the medium is hugely flexible, allowing the artist to use it for collage and image transfers (for instance), as well as straightforward painting. Its great advantage is perhaps also its great drawback: it dries almost as quickly as you take it off the heated palette. It also can be quite fragile, unless treated with care in the making. For the book fiends among us (and I know who you are!), I'd recommend The Art of Encaustic Painting by Joanne Mattera, a good read with wonderful photographs. And if you want to try it, take a look at R&F Handmade Paints. Actually, go look anyway, it's the artist's equivalent of a seriously good toyshop!

So, what have I been up to? Well, for those of you wondering what the 'other' encaustic looked like, the one I hoped was exciting, it's at the top of today's blog! I did have fun with it. Messy fun. And I'm here to say that you really want to be wearing gloves and long sleeves to do this...wax flying through the air is fine until it hits your bare skin!

I thought I'd add a couple of images of things I made earlier (in true Blue Peter fashion. For those of us who didn't grow up watching BP, it is a UK childrens programme famed for its craft projects. At some point, a presenter would pipe up...and here's one I made earlier')
All of these pieces are roughly 12" square, and are encaustic on hardboard which I covered with watercolour paper. I hope you like them. Either way, expect more tomorrow!

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