Tag Archives: encaustic

Wednesday, 4/20/11: Acey Thompson

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

Acey Thompson says she has almost always had a hard time staying still. Now in her final year at PNCA with her thesis proposal staring her down in just a few short weeks, the field of study she has chosen hits, literally, close to home. She is OK with being a dog artist amidst conceptual art students at PNCA, and for her thesis she has chosen to artfully depict a dog’s ability to be completely idle and zen-like, docile, blissful almost to the point of catatonic. She hopes to conduct this study starting with her two dogs at home, her pit bull Maggie and Catahoula leopard dog Jasper.

But there’s another reason the docile nature of dogs captures Acey’s heart and imagination; when she graduates this fall, she hopes to throw time and energy into softening the stigma against pit bulls. She hopes to do this through art, with exposing people to images of pit bulls with a partner out of LA, appropriately named Diamonds in the Ruff, a no-kill pet rescue shelter:

Last year, Acey’s painting of a Great Pyrenees dog lovingly arched over the shoulders of a woman fetched $250 at the final auction for An Artist a Day. One person liked it so much because it reminded her of her own dog, and when she was outbid, she later commissioned Acey to do a similar watercolor and ink rendering.

Today’s painting is her pit bull Maggie, who accompanied her on the journey to Portland five years ago. In the photo, Maggie, now nine, wears an expression that Acey loves and knows well. A recently finished watercolor of Maggie  is also on Acey’s homepage, and so realistic and detailed that many often mistake it for an oil panting.

Acey chose today’s photo for her Maggie’s expression as well as to capture two things she loves in her life: one is a sheer curtain with gold flecks and patterned with fleur de lys, giving the portrait a regal air. The other is an Afghani pillow that was once a dress her father brought back from the Middle East. The repurposed pillowcase, with its tiny mirrors and webby patterns, contributes to the colorful foreground of the painting.

Last summer, Acey took two classes at PCC that she says really broadened her horizons in her artistic adventure. One was a watercolor painting class taught by Theresa Redinger who shows at Blackfish Gallery. Redinger took students through technical basics such as color theory using a color wheel, stretching paper, and taking the palette from small primaries to larger ones. The other class was a soapstone carving class, which gave her newfound respect for rocks and polishing.

The supplies Acey uses are: Synthetic brushes from Da Vinci, Escoda, and Raphael. Her large porcelain palette is from Muse. Watercolors are M Graham and Sennelier, and paper is Arches 140 lb watercolor. The gouache is M Graham. Her elegant bamboo brush wrap is from Muse, and she is trying out a new wax crayon to save whites, a technique she gleaned from John Singer Sergeant. She’ll use pearlescent liquid acrylic for the details in the curtains and Maggie’s collar.   UPDATE:  The last picture shows Acey’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

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Monday, 4/4/11: Kimberly Kent

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post

Encaustic art  is painting or sculpting with heated wax. Encaustic painting uses using wax mixed with pigments as paint. Kimberly Kent is an encaustic painter; she has 15 years experience and decided to demonstrate her skills by painting a cherry blossom scene using a technique called monotype. Monotype is performed by painting on a hot aluminum surface and placing rice paper on top to absorb the pigment. The paper is peeled off to create the  first “print” or monotype, then paint can be added or reworked again on the heated surface. Kimberly did this 4 times until the image transferred to the paper was what she called a “ghost,” or what’s left of the pigment on the surface.

Kimberly wanted a look of layered colors so after she made a number of monotypes, she began painting on a wooden panel to which  she would later add one of her monotypes.  Her panel was primed with R&F encaustic gesso, a primer especially made for encaustic paint because it is absorbent and textured enough to “grab” onto the wax. Kimberly used R&F paint blocks and watercolor crayons for the painting and PanPastels for the background color on her gessoed board. After the PanPastels (powdered pastels in a cake form) were put down, she coated the board in wax by pouring it. If she had brushed the wax on, the brush would have smeared the pastels. She prefers to do an underpainting using watercolors, but the painting would have to sit out overnight to be able to set well with the wax. A heat gun or torch is used to smooth the first layer of wax, but if too much heat is applied, the gesso could blister. An iron can be used to smooth out the wax without blistering the gesso.  Kimberly placed the monotype on the surface in the desired position and used a heat gun to fuse the wax in the paper to the wax on the board. A torch or iron cannot be used here because they would burn the paper or smear and rip it. Additional layers of wax and pigments are added to blend the paper into the background, creating a lovely scene of spring.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.


Friday, 4/1/11: Manuela Kalestiantz

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post

Today’s artist, Manuela Kalestiantz, created an encaustic piece, primarily using carved relief rather than painted color to build and define her composition. Encaustic techniques have been around for thousands of years. The method was first used to plug the holes between the boards of boats to make sure they were buoyant.  Encaustic as an art form has been rediscovered relatively recently and is a favorite  for Manuela Kalestiantz. She works with purified beeswax. The wax comes in white (bleached) and the natural color (yellowish) in a granulated form. It’s mixed with damar resin that’s collected from trees in India and East Asia. This resin looks like rock candy or crystals in solid form. Manuela mixes her medium using a 1 to 8 ratio (2oz resin to 1lb wax). She first melts her wax at 160 degrees and then adds the resin and raises the temperature to 175 degrees. This is mixed until smooth and blended together. The mix, or medium, is then poured into tins or cake pans to await use. In the solid form, the medium is called a “cake” which can be set on a hotplate to be melted and mixed. The melted version can have pigments added to it. Pigments come in powder or solid bars and are mixed to the desired opacity.

Birch wood panels of any desired thickness are used as the base. Treating the panels with encaustic gesso allows the wax to really adhere to the board and prevents breakage. The medium is either brushed on slowly in layers or poured on using a frame and set to dry overnight. Each layer that is brushed on or added needs to be fused using a heat gun. “You know it’s fused when you see the shine,” says Manuela. Lots of things can be done to the medium like adding thin pieces of napkin with a design on it or even yarn or leaves. Wax is layered over the material, creating a translucent effect. You can cover or expose the material as much as you want.

“I want my work to just get up and talk to me,” explains Manuela, “I love letting my imagination flow.” She uses sculpting tools to carve out pieces and adds more medium to build up other parts. She also uses oil pastels to color over the grooves to add an aged look. Using a combination of carving, adding pigments, and multiple layers, Manuela gives her work life with depth and texture that capture light and create shadow.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

5/6/10: two more paintings!

Two more finished paintings are on the walls of Muse:  an encaustic painting with layers of rich transparent color by Rebecca Shapiro, and an amazingly detailed Portland bridge scene in oils by Christopher Mooney(Click on names above to go to posts with pictures.)

Wednesday, 4/21/10: Bridget Benton

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s post

Bridget Benton started today with an image that was floating around in one of her many sketchbooks. This image was a pen and ink drawing of a heart superimposed with a beehive. Bridget also came armed with at least 2 dozen brushes of all sizes and a new caddy/holster torch system attached to her hip which was quite impressive to a number of passers-by. This new system allowed her to move freely, lay down between 20 and 30 layers of wax and sketches, and talk articulately about her craft.

The first few layers of her encaustic assemblage work, she explains, need to be very smooth, and she will add in texture later. When I mentioned her rib-cage torso encaustic piece with bone (pictured on Bridget’s artist page at AnArtistADay.com), she said she liked incorporating 3D elements in her work (one of her influences is shadow box pioneer Joseph Cornell), and in this case was a weasel bone.

In 1992 Bridget moved to Portland after completing her undergrad at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, home to where she draws her inspiration of color. The natural orange or clay color of the famed Garden of the Gods, frozen lava that juts 10 stories in the foothills of the Rockies and Pikes Peak have a disctinct lichen upon them. The lichen is often a spring green, and this color scheme of bright green and orange is often repeated in her works.

Bridget began working with encaustics in 2003 after she took a beeswax collage class in Portland. While she enjoyed it, the practice really took hold while taking an encaustics class with Linda Womack. For Bridget, doing encaustics is combining many of her loves. She says, “I can still do assemblage work but get the subtleties and luminosity qualities that traditionally are only found in working with acrylics.”

Bridget is a self-described process girl and she finds fusing the many layers of wax to be meditative, similar to her work with fibers in batik. She says she likes the surprises that the process of both methods present, as well as the effects that happen as she creates dialog with each piece. She loves watching the effects unfold as they form the next step. “I love not being completely in control,” she says.

As she layers today’s pieces in wax and paints the oranges and greens ,small pops of red also begin to peek through. She loves to see the orange and the green interact with each other. After a solid base of wax, then paints, she lays down sewing patterns. Oddly enough, the word BODICE shows under her piece, which she then covers with a sketch of arteries and the heart on rice paper.

Bridget teaches mixed media art classes, encaustics and she works in the small business development center at PCC. She attained her Masters in Creative Studies from SUNY which she harkens on a regular basis in helping entrepreneurs with creative problem solving.

A number of people come in as she works, fellow encaustics rock stars, former and future students as well as fellow board members of Portland Open Studios. One comments that she loves her website name: EyesAflame.com, which Bridget explains captures that glow students get when they see their finished artwork and their eyes light up.

The last image shows Bridget’s piece at the end of the day Wednesday.  We will post an update with a picture of the finished piece.

Saturday, 4/17/10: Rebecca Shapiro

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post:

Rebecca Shapiro paints in a medium that may be unfamiliar to some, but is far from unfamiliar to history- the 3,000 year old art of encaustics. Derived from the Greek enkaustikos, meaning “to heat” or “to burn”, encaustics is the manipulation of beeswax to create paintings that can capture light beautifully. The beeswax gives the medium a surprisingly wide range in terms of approach. One minute Rebecca was painting in a vibrant cadmium red onto her piece, and the next she was carving into it with a sculpture tool, treating it almost as if it were a linoleum block. Temperature is key. You have to move slowly, and be mindful of how the heat is going to affect what you’re going to do. Paint too quickly, and the colors will run together. Carve too soon, and you’ll drag the wax around instead of getting a clean line. The beeswax itself is colorless; you control the vibrance and opacity of your palette with pigments that you mix in.

It’s this closeness with beeswax that drew Rebecca to start painting encaustic over two years ago. Her focus on plants for the inspiration of her abstract paintings is another aspect of her connection to nature. It’s a process of investigating the connection between method, material, form, and content. Put another way, she paints nature with nature. It’s fitting: her paintings all come from a deep appreciation of nature and its medium.

Such a relationship with fields and flowers invites visions of Rebecca in quiet contemplation in a forest, or sitting in solitude on a hillside. She quickly dispels the notion of a hermit by the articulation of her conversation, and her willingness to talk with everyone who stops inside to watch her paint. “We get so used to being alone with our work that we forget to talk to about it,” she says. “I think it’s important that artists share their creativity with everyone else.”

In this spirit, she encourages artists to join the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Not only will they help with grants and grant writing, but it’s also a great community with workshops and peer reviews. “It really helps to have a peer group, and you need other artists to share thoughts with and bounce ideas off of.”

The last picture shows Rebecca’s piece at the end of the afternoon.  We will post an update with a picture of her finished piece.


Friday, 4/16/10: Amy Stoner

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s posting

Watching an encaustic artist work is almost like viewing a performance; there are all sorts of layers and vignettes that keep the process moving in bite-sized episodes. A few minutes of drying here, some scraping there, and you’ve got great entertainment. Watching someone as talented and patient as Amy Stoner is no exception. It’s easy to spot her predilection for teaching, too. On her afternoon of working the wax, she had a nice steady stream of spectators both inside and out. Each one who ventured inside asked questions, many jotted notes, and Amy answered with enthusiastic and articulate explanations.

Amy began her encaustic adventure 4 years ago. A printmaker with plentiful woodblock printmaking experience, she became tired of the regimentation of the process and editions. One day she took one of her woodblock prints and covered it with a clear wax. She immediately liked the effects the wax had over her acrylic paintings and woodblocks and began using pigmented waxes. Today, encaustic is her favorite medium because she can still make use of her first love: drawing, painting and prints. “I love working with all the art supplies,” she says while scraping away shapes with her ceramic carving tools. “Plus there’s so much you can do with wax.”

Amy moved to Oregon with her family at the age of 12. Now with a small family of her own that includes a toddler, finding time to work with wax is a juggling act. Mid afternoon while her little one is napping is often her best time to make art. She finds it easiest to turn on the wax to let it melt, put her daughter down and then go paint. Evenings are also a good time to find Amy working. She spends anywhere from 2 to 3 hours working on her encaustic projects and is largely self-taught. She gained her BFA in art from U of O in 1998 and has since taken courses from artist such as Jef Gunn at PNCA. She also teaches introductory and advanced encaustic courses in textures, patterns, painting and collaging with beeswax.

Today’s artwork began with a 12 x 16 panel. The first layer was pen and ink drawing. Then a clear coat of wax, then blocks of colored wax. Then she adhered her woodblock print with a small bit of glue. Then clear wax, then watercolors and gouache. She fuses the layers together with a torch to remove brushstrokes and air bubbles. She then scrapes back the wax to expose the vibrant orange hues, blacks and greens.

Amy’s artwork is largely influenced by propaganda prints from the 1920’s and 30’s. Her favorite artists include Frida Kahlo and art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha as well as art, architecture and design from the Bauhaus and Arts and Crafts Movements.