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encausticgrowing04

Okay, that’s the very last wax pun, I promise. :) I tried encaustics — the art of painting and collage with wax — for the first time a couple of months ago, and I was instantly hooked. I love the depth and texture added to paper and fabric by the waxy, slightly opaque layers of encaustic medium. As a collage enthusiast who owns at least two dozen types of adhesives ranging from hot glue to glaze, tacky tape to epoxy, I am also fascinated by the endless potential for embedding objects in and on beeswax.

March was a fruitful season of learning and growth for my family and I, but it wasn’t one that allowed for much time in the studio. I decided to celebrate my return with a second encaustic piece. As with my first, this one is on a 4″-square piece of watercolor paper mounted on masonite. I made the abstract pastoral background by applying wrinkled plastic wrap to still-wet watercolor washes to add texture and grain. I sketched and cut out a few small paper trees to give the scene a little more depth and detail, then added a bit of yellow patterned cardstock to the center of the sun.

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The final touch was tiny text that reads “keep growing,” snipped from the pages of a 1938 farming magazine. I painted on several coats of encaustic medium, warming the surface with a heat gun between each application to help fuse the layers. After applying the last, I floated a smattering of miniature resin daisies in the hot wax. I love how the liquid wax drifted up and around them, almost enveloping their delicate white petals.

I am already at work on a slightly larger scale encaustic piece, and this time I want to experiment more with achieving patterns in the wax. My studio smells musty and sweet, perfumed by watercolor and heated wax that seems faintly scented of honey. It is how I imagine the inside of a beehive must smell (don’t tell me otherwise — I like the romance), and it makes me feel inspired and busy. More to come!

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