Introduction to the Program
“If oil paint is the prose of painting, then encaustic is its poetry.”
Hello and welcome to the introduction to The Wonderful World of Wax: Encaustics 101. For those of you that don’t know me I’m Nancy Crawford. Having been an artist and educator for all of my adult life, I found my voice with the encaustic medium about 5 years ago. I love its ability to obscure and reveal and the way in which it plays nicely with many other media including assorted drawing materials, watercolour paint, many printmaking processes, photography, oil paint, collage and more.
I created this program for those people who want to get started in encaustics, whether they have experience in other art forms or are just starting to explore their creative side; also for those that want a refresher with the medium and would like to deepen their creative process. I will start with the basics including:
- how to set up an encaustic studio
- health and safety concerns
- selection and preparation of substrates
- edges and how to protect them
- the creation of a “Practice Pot” to learn how to fuse well and
- the application and fusing of multiple layers of wax – the core skills of any encaustic project
Throughout the videos I will make reference to several design elements, compositional concepts and terms that you will find in the printable glossary. Thinking about these early and often will make the difference between student and advanced work.
As you carry on through the video content of this program you will find lessons on:
- using a sketchbook as part of your creative process
- thumbnail sketches and their purpose
- a lesson on the impact of formats and shape symbolism
- conceptual development – thinking about the ideas of your work
- applying colour fields in wax
- creating texture
- using masking techniques for assorted purposes
- applying metal leaf
- the varied effects of an oil rub
By the end of the program you will have a solid grounding in these processes and will be on your way to developing your works as an encaustic artist. We’ve also included a wrap-up video that reviews some “Next Steps” as you consider ways to keep growing and developing your encaustic practice.
In addition to the videos and resources listed above we have also included a series of videos that demonstrate::
- ways to prepare your works for hanging
- techniques for applying paper and photographs to your substrates and processes to prepare them for encaustic paint and
- a special feature called “Problem Children” where I attempt to resolve a piece that has remained unfinished as I wasn’t sure how to proceed
For your printing pleasure we have enclosed the following (please click on red link):
- a glossary of commonly used encaustic terms
- a pictorial supply list showing materials you will need for your encaustic practise
- a framework for original voice that I will discuss in one of the video lessons
There is a great deal of content in this program and I hope that you enjoy learning, exploring and creating with me – I wish you hours of joyous creating!
How to Participate in Our Private Facebook Community
The Facebook group is an integral and exciting part of this online program. It’s a place where you can check in and see what others are doing, upload your work simply to share or for critique and feedback and give feedback to others.
There is an art to getting useful critique on your work and over the years I’ve been in a great position to see what works best when asking others what they think. Let’s start with what doesn’t work (and what most people do) which is to ask a big open ended such as…“What do you think?” What follows is usually either in the “‘atta boy” category, the “interesting” category or the well intentioned person who loves everything you do, none of which is going to give you anything that you can use.
What I’ve seen work very well is a specific line of questioning regarding a technique, how to progress, whether the work looks finished or how to resolve a problem. This will solicit answers that may surprise you and will give you some strategies that you can decide whether or not to implement (no pressure – it’s still your work). If you want critique from others you have to ask for it and please be specific. If you DO NOT want critique simply post your works with no questioning attached. You might share your concept or process and then leave it at that. No problem…we’ll love to see what you’re doing.
When providing feedback it’s important to keep a few things in mind. While we are all nice people and want to support each other we also want to make sure we are not falling into the “very nice” style of commenting. There may be something you can share with the artist that is looking for input regarding their work and how you would proceed, whether to leave it alone, etc.
It’s important that we are respectful, both of each other and of the space. Phrasing your comments with openers like…”Have you considered trying…”, “You might want to think about doing…”, and other such suggestions.
Perhaps it is needless to say we will not be using this space to advertise anything – other than participating in an encaustic art exhibition. We are hoping to foster a safe place for participants to share their work and receive useful critique from their awesome peers. Please post only your original works.
If you haven’t already done so, you can join our Wonderful World of Wax Facebook group using this link. Please respect the fact that this Facebook group is for subscribers to this program only. We would love to see your friends here but ask that they buy the video workshop. Also, if your Facebook name is something other than the name you subscribed with please send us an email at email@example.com so that we can approve your membership request.
Setting Up Your Studio Space
“I see my studio like a laboratory, where I work like an investigator – it’s almost forensic. I love the discovery process in painting.”
One of the key elements to your success in encaustics is to have a space that you can leave set up where you can quickly be up and running in the time that you have allocated for your encaustic practice. This means that you have at least part of a room that has light, ventilation and some table space for your work in its various stages. You do not want to use your creative time and energy setting up and tearing down each time you want to work. Instead, you will want to make sure that you have all tools and materials at hand and ready to go when you are ready to go, minimizing the unexpected or unproductive. I have enclosed a PDF file showing the materials you will need to get started.
Review of Additional Materials
In addition to the supplies listed in the above video there are a seemingly endless variety of materials, some of them from your previous art life, that can be incorporated in your encaustic practise. Here I review the ones I use in the creation of the featured art work.
Health and Safety
One of the things I am often asked about is the level of toxicity of the fumes emanating from the molten wax. I think that because encaustic contains the word caustic people are concerned about what they are inhaling. In reality, having an open window with a box fan nearby will give you adequate ventilation. Encaustic wax is one of the more benign art mediums, especially when compared to powdered pigments, resins, volatile flammable liquids such as acetone and more. The key to working safely as an artist is to know your materials, and know how to work with them in a safe and responsible manner. This video reviews all aspects that you need to consider when working with encaustics such as the appropriate melting temperature of wax, use of gloves and aprons, and more.
Additionally, anytime I am working with an open flame, such as a propane or butane torch I …
- have a fire extinguisher nearby
- ensure that there is nothing flammable in my working area
- that I have access to adequate ventilation
- check that I am not wearing any loose clothing, and
- that I have my hair tied back
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