Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hot wax


Winter is a lovely time to dabble in encaustics, as there are always elements of heat involved.  Melting wax on a hot griddle and fusing the layers with a hot air gun aren’t often things you want to do in summer’s heat, but they warm up me and the studio nicely in the colder months.

I don’t have a lot of experience using encaustics, but I do enjoy experimenting with the process of blending colours and more currently, embedding objects into the wax.  These are two small pieces 6” x 6” on encaustic board where embedding is used.  In the first, I’ve used a print of one of my paintings under layers of transparent wax.  The fish and their circle is an original coloured pencil piece that I’ve only now made available for sale.  The circle and its eternal, yet opposing directions reminds me of life and with that life, its origins, represented by the embedded ‘eggs’ on the lower half of the piece.  In reality they are pink peppercorns.

Eye of the Forest

The second piece ‘Eye of the Forest’ was inspired by the wooden layer of bark that I found discarded by some felled trees, the remnant of a knot where a branch arose.  The patterning and placement flowed from there, as I wanted it to fit into a natural, yet somewhat dream like place.

Look for more encaustic from me this year, as time allows.  I fully intend to test this medium and push its limits.  Next step:  burning surfaces, but not til I can get a clear day and a dry patch of driveway!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Alternate watercolour techniques

Jobson_Frozen Pond
                                                                 Frozen Pond
                                                          Mixed Media     6” x 18”
Its good to flex my artistic boundaries and play around with the interaction between the real world and that which is on paper.  One way to do this is through frozen watercolour.  Of course being in a northern climate, it makes it a little easier during winter to be able to test this out.

Frozen watercolour is a technique of exposing very wet watercolour pigments on a paper surface to freezing temperatures.  The result is unpredictable, always different and quite unique.

In the painting at the top of this post, Frozen Pond, I wet just the water section of the painting before freezing so I would only obtain the patterning on that section of the piece. The majority of the frost patterning is on the right of the painting, just where I wanted it. I used optimal temperatures for this piece and in the image below, it was much colder.  You can see the difference in results for the formation of ice crystals.  They are longer and sharper then in the lower temperatures.

ice 2-1 sm      fish 2

I hope to create a full  tutorial on the subject, but will share what I have learned here if you would like to try this technique yourself.

1.  I have found that optimum temperatures are between –5C and –7C (23F – 19F) that produce the classic feathery frost patterning.  If very cold (-12C – 10F plus) the patterns formed are random sharp crystals.

2.  A domestic freezer will not produce temperatures low enough to affect the water on the surface.  It will freeze but with no resulting pattern.

3.  Wind and humidity play a role in the pattern formation and you have no control over the end results.

4.  The paper must be flooded with water, then very strong pigment washes dropped onto the surface, then quickly placed outside on a flat surface.

5.  Allow about 30 minutes for the freezing process to take place.

6. The best watercolour paper to use is 200lb if not stretched.  140lb MUST be stretched prior to the freezing or it will buckle when wet and the crystals will form in the wetter areas.

7.  Each and every time will provide a different result, based on weather, wind, humidity, paper, pigment, amount of water, etc.

8.  An image can be painted and let dry then glazed with wet washes that freeze over the original painting. (see fish above)