I'm fascinated by the creative process and how inspiration ebbs and flows. I tend to have a low ebb during the winter. I want to make art but I feel uninspired and inept. Even though I'm always working with people to mobilize the muse, I am not exempt from roiling with frustration when she takes a vacation. As spring returns so does my inspiration, and I now have a series I'm working on and another percolating.
The above cropped images shows the newest in my series of encaustic faces. I tried something really different this time--something I've long been curious about but afraid to try. This bold move involved adding some microcrystalline wax to the beeswax I use for encaustic painting. I melted the micro wax along with the beeswax. I was relieved that the delicious beeswax smell wasn't compromised (I've heard micro by itself smells awful.) I was also relieved to have an exhaust fan in my new studio, as micro wax is more toxic than beeswax.
Why did I want to do this, you may wonder? Why make my already challenging life more difficult? (Aside from many personality quirks that could provide explanations.) For one thing, one of my favorite encaustic painters for many years, Tony Scherman, uses micro wax exclusively. He creates haunting, atmospheric portraits that I've loved for years. In one of his books he states that he is able to create more detailed work with micro wax. So, I've wanted to try it but feared the toxicity and felt disloyal to The Cult of Wax Lovers. I mean, beeswax is IT--it is the bee's knees. It smells delicious and natural. I love it. But it was interesting adding a bit of the micro. Microcrystalline wax is also less expensive than beeswax, so there's another, though lesser, consideration.
The micro was more plastic and moved around more, for want of a better way to put it. I did feel like it made the medium work more like oil paint. The micro-enhanced medium took longer to set, which took some getting used to and it set very strongly when it cooled. I'm going to try some more experiments and I'll report back!
The image above was scanned, so it shows more details than a photo. I usually like photos better, as you get a better sense of the whole that way. But, since we're focusing on technique here, it's good to see the details. The subject of the painting reflects my fascination with the Victorian's fascination with spiritualism. Hence the somewhat creepy medium shown here. And of course, I can't resist puns--something my 10 year old grandson and I have in common.
Here's what Deb wrote in response to this piece:
Deb totally "got" the narrative in the collage and added layers of emotion and immediacy. I'd love to do some teaming up with writers, prompting each other with poems and stories on one hand, and art works on the other.
"This is your chance to fall in love with the aromatic, luminous, and versatile properties of beeswax in the form of encaustic painting! We will cover basic techniques such as building up layers, fusing the wax layers, adding color, including collage elements, and incising. We'll explore various heat tools and many design elements. No previous art experience needed, only lively curiosity and a willingness to risk addiction to painting with wax! "