Encaustic with Alcohol Inks and a Dry Shellac Burn

It’s been a long time since I’ve created an encaustic with alcohol inks, but I was inspired recently to take them out and play with them again.  It is fascinating to watch the way the inks interact with each other.  The alcohol gives so much movement, creating a look within your painting that you don’t have much control over.  You simply have to watch the way everything settles, and try to add or take away little bits at a time.  At least, in my experience.  But watching the way the alcohol moves across the surface is totally worth the extra effort that’s needed.

 

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The Dry Shellac burn is much easier, in a way.  I simply let the shellac I’ve sprayed on the surface dry for about 10 minutes, then I use a small blow torch to “burn” the shellac to create those awesome open cells on the surface.  It works so great with alcohol ink, especially the metallic ones because those produce these amazing glittery trails when you do the shellac burn.

 

 

I love using bright colors, but sometimes you just need to go a bit more vintage, you know?  So I used a mix of browns, golds and yellows for this set of little wax paintings.  What do you think of the ink?  The colors?  The burn?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions!

 

Here’s a breakdown of my process:

  • Start with a bare wood board.
  • Brush your encaustic medium on the surface- I’ve done two layers of white so the colors of ink really stand out.
  • Add your ink.  You can use isopropyl alcohol to move the colors around, blend them, and even lift them from the surface in certain places.
  • Use spray shellac to keep from moving the colors around with a brush.  Let it dry for around 10 minutes or so.
  • Use your torch to do a dry burn to create cells on the surface.
  • You can add more ink, or leave your painting as it is.  I like to do a final fuse to solidify the colors a bit more.

 

encaustic painting with alcohol ink

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the shellac burn, check out my new online course- Painting with Wax- The Shellac Burn TechniqueIt’s great for beginners to encaustic and shellac burns, and includes a lot of great bonus content that I keep adding to…  We’d love to have you join us!

Either way, go try painting an encaustic with alcohol inks and see what kind of beautiful mess you can create!!

 

 

Encaustic Map Cube

I’ve been so obsessed with maps lately that I can’t stop painting them.  I think it’s mainly because they have so much meaning.  A map is essentially just a picture of straight and curved lines.  But if you recognize the place it represents, you can find your home, your old school, your best friends house, and so many other meaningful pin pricks on this otherwise innocuous picture.

I’ve lived in a lot of places throughout my life, and when I stumbled upon the idea of doing an encaustic map cube, I knew right away I had to put a different city on each side.  Though, I do think it would be pretty cool to try and do one city and have all the sides blend into the other.  Not sure how that would work, but it would be fun to try.

Would you like to commission a cube for you and your family?  Contact me at classicanj@gmail.com and we will discuss cities, colors, and timeline for delivery.  This painting would be a fabulous Christmas present for anyone on your list!

Encaustic Map Cube

I know it looks a little messy.  What doesn’t show in the video is that I actually messed up a bit on this project.  Usually when I fill in my lines with oil paint, I wipe the excess paint away immediately with a paper towel and some linseed oil.  This time, I was working on a few projects at a time, and once I added oil paint to 3 sides, I laid the cube down and didn’t come back to it for a couple days.  By that time, the thin layer of oil paint on those 3 sides had dried to the point where the linseed oil wouldn’t take it off.  I had to scrape it away with a clay tool, and that’s why some of the sides look a bit messier than they should.

So, important tip- don’t let your oil paint sit on the surface of your encaustic painting for more than a day if you want to be able to wipe it off.

Despite my mistakes, though, I love the way this map cube turned out.  What a fun way to commemorate the special places and memories in your life!

Using a Stippling Technique to Build Texture in Encaustic Art

This painting was a study in problem solving for me.  I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know how to get there.  However, through my brainstorming and experimenting, I found and used some new and effective techniques that I absolutely fell in love with, including a stippling technique that made the texture in this piece just pop!!

 

   Paintings are currently only available for purchase in the United States

My Process

I wanted to create a realistic map of the Outer Banks, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to transfer the image to the surface of black wax in a way that would be easy to see.  Carbon paper wasn’t going to work.  I didn’t want to trace the map, either, and hope that the faint indented lines were easy enough to see.  I finally decided to use a perforated hole technique.

  • I laid the map over the wax surface, making sure the lines were where I wanted them to be.
  • Using a needle, I punched tiny holes through the paper into the wax along the edges of the map and up the rivers, outlining the barriers of land and water.
  • Once I perforated all the edges I wanted, I peeled the paper map away from the surface of the wax.  This was a bit tough- the paper had a tendency of sticking to the wax, but with a little finagling I go everything loose.
  •  I retraced my perforated lines with the needle to make them plain lines I could add color to.
  • Wearing latex gloves, I rubbed white oil paint into all the crevices.  This is called an “incised line” technique, and you can also do it by painting over the lines with wax.
  • Once the lines were filled as much as could be, I used a linseed oil soaked paper towel to wipe away the excess paint.

With my map outlined in white, I fused the surface lightly to bring back the lustrous look of the wax (oil can smudge things up a bit).  Now, the texture!

 

stippling technique



Stippling Technique

The texture I added to the land portion of my painting is really the highlight of this piece.  It gives the map a topographical look that is just awesome.  I seriously love it soooo much.

  • I used a tiny stencil brush, with course bristles, to add wax to the surface with a stippling technique.  The definition of stipple is “to paint, engrave, or draw by means of dots or small touches.”  I used small touches (up and down over and over again) with my course brush to create a build up of wax.
  • Fusing is SUPER important when you’re doing this.  If you try to stipple layers over and over without fusing, the brush will pull them apart and you won’t be able to build very much.  In fact, I would say that the more often you fuse, the better.  Just remember to do it lightly.  Don’t melt all that texture you’ve just made!
  • I would also say, that the top layer is the most important.  You can paint and fuse to build up layers if you want some height, and then simply stipple the top layer.  For big sections, this may be the most efficient way of doing it.

Well, there you have it!  What do you guys think?  Do you love it as much as I do?!

 

Raleigh Past and Present- Encaustic Map

In this Encaustic map painting I’ve combined two maps of Raleigh.  The first is a map from July 1797- “Plan of the City of Raleigh with all the improvements & all the Numbers july 1th, 1797”.  This is a plan for Raleigh’s downtown.  I printed it and used gel medium to adhere it to the wood board.  Once I added a few layers of wax, I used a clay tool to make lines in the wax over the block squares, then filled them with burnt sienna oil paint.  This step can take a little while, since getting the paint all they way into the crevices over the entire piece take quite a bit of elbow grease.  It is super fun, however, to see the sharpness of the lines you’ve created as you wipe away the excess paint with paper towels and linseed oil.

I will usually let the paint dry a little, typically overnight, before adding more layers of encaustic medium.  Several more layers, and it was time to freehand Raleigh into the top layer using google maps.  Once again, I filled the lines with oil paint (Raw Umber), then wiped away the excess.  The lines still needed a bit of cleaning up, so I used the other end of my clay tool to scrape a little bit of the wax build up from the lines, leaving a sharper image.

The last step was to use one of my favorite script stamps with some india ink to stamp text over the surface.  Since the surface of the wax is rather wavy, the stamp is really dark in some areas, lighter in others, and totally misses everywhere else for a spontaneous look.

 


  Paintings are currently only available for purchase in the United States.

I love the symbolism of historic Raleigh buried beneath multiple layers of opaque encaustic medium, while present day Raleigh is embedded in the top layer, clearly visible.

Don’t forget to check out my video of the process.  I did make a mistake with the lighting in this video- there are shadows all over the place as I’m working, and I apologize for my mistake.  However, I thought I’d post it anyway in case it interests any of you.

 

 



Thank you for reading and watching!  I’d love your feedback, as always!

Abstract Encaustic Maps with Layers of Color

There are so many artistic possibilities that are unique to encaustic painting. Achieving these kinds of transparent layers would be difficult, if not impossible, with any other painting medium.  It’s the main reason I love encaustic painting so much.  These encaustic maps have grids that are layered on top of one another.  They appear to be floating almost, and are noticeably at different levels within the painting.  Love it!

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing this set, it’s listed here.

 

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Abstract Encaustic Maps

If you read my last post (also about abstract maps) you’ll know that I love the idea of the history behind the streets and grids that maps display.  How each city developed into what it is today fascinates me- the changing neighborhoods, the forgotten infrastructure, and all the hidden stories that these lines represent were constantly in my thoughts as I created these pieces.

Have any of you ever seen those shows that take you underneath the streets of a city?  They show you catacombs and sewers, modern infrastructure and historic, hidden places.  I love watching those shows, and I always wish that I was there with them.  The idea of touring beneath the streets of some of the most historic and famous cities in the world, learning the history and imagining the lives of the people who once stood where I would be standing, is so fascinating to me.

 

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Although these small 6×6 encaustic maps are not representative of any specific city, I imagine those hidden streets and sewers each time I see these pieces.  I created them organically, drawing the lines and shaping the grids quickly without references.  They really just represent possibility- how everything is created a piece at a time, and is constantly evolving.  Once thriving places will decay and be forgotten over time.  Maybe in the next life I’ll be able to understand the truth of what happened in so many of these places.  That would truly be awesome.

 

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Interested in purchasing this set?  Click here!