Abstract Encaustic Maps with Layers of Color

Abstract Encaustic Maps

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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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!

Mini Encaustic Paintings using a Shellac Burn

My last encaustic video, in which I used a shellac burn technique to create layers of color in my paintings, has become the most popular video on my youtube channel.  So, I thought I’d feed all of you hungry pyromaniacs and post another one!  (Also, I’ve added an overview on encaustic painting, essential tools, and awesome tips to my Encaustic page, if you are a beginner and need help getting started.)

This time, I created a few mini encaustic paintings, using the same techniques, and the outcome was so amazing!

Disclaimer- I apparently forgot to take pictures of one of the mini’s, which I can’t rectify since it’s been sold.  Sorry!  But these close up shots show the texture and final look that the shellac burn technique brings to encaustic, and I love it so much.  Such a cool effect!!

mini encaustic paintings

Just a few reminders when working with these mediums-

  • Always fuse between each layer of wax.  That means each time you add a layer of wax to the surface (whether it’s wood, canvas, or something else) always use your heat gun and heat up the wax so it fuses to the layer below it.  It doesn’t take much- just enough to make the surface a bit shiny so you can tell the wax is starting to melt.  That’s it!
  • Be very careful when you do the shellac burn.  Always do this step outside, and always make sure there is nothing flammable anywhere near where you are.
  • I have been using the spray, but you can also use shellac from a can so you can paint it onto certain parts rather than the whole piece.
  • Use a paper towel to daub the surface after you burn, to absorb as much of the sticky shellac residue as possible.

Mini Encaustic Paintings after the Shellac Burn

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The subtle effects in these mini encaustic paintings are perfectly delightful.  Have you tried this technique?  If you have, please share yours in the comments!  I would love to see them!

Encaustic Art with Contrasting Texture

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I have an encaustic piece for you today, with a new video of course!  There is so much awesome contrasting texture in this piece, I love it.  And looking at these pictures, I can see I’ve been working with blue and white a lot lately…  Maybe some green or red for my next project, eh?  Sounds about right.  🙂

I cut a lot of things out of this video, for the sake of time, but mostly because there were a lot of things I tried initially that didn’t work.  For example, at one point I tried to outline some of the shapes I created with lots of lines drawn with ink into the wax.  I’m not sure if it was a lack of talent on my part, or the wrong tools, or just bad technique, but those lines turned out pretty awful.  No biggie, though- I gently scraped them off the surface of the wax, and used the excess to make a few more of the round wax balls I adhered to the surface.

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  • I began with a square block of plywood, and painted it with white gesso.
  • I added a couple layers of clear wax, fusing with my heat gun between each layer.
  • Starting with the darker of my R&F pigment sticks, I added a bit to the cool wax surface and smeared it around, making sure I was wearing gloves.
  • I fused the oil into the wax, then carefully added another layer over it and fuse it again.  If you get some excess color on your brush, clean the hot brush with a paper towel.
  • The lighter of my oil sticks came next.  I smeared some over the surface, then went to town with my heat gun.  All the layers mixed, and created a smooth wax surface.
  • Using a sharp tool, I drew some lines into the wax, all the way to the wood surface.  In the process, I saved the extra bits of wax to use later.
  • Certain sections got a layer of blue india ink.  Of course, I decided afterwards they were a bit too blue, so I scraped a lot of the surface, took the excess wax and roll it into little balls and added them to the surface of those sections.  Can’t forget to fuse!
  • I added several layers of clear and white wax to those textured sections, fusing in between each layer.
  • The last step was to fix all the lines (multiple fuses made the lines meld together in some places) and add india ink into the grooves.

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Done!!  Not exactly what I had in mind when I started this piece, but it’s always a learning experience.

I hope I’ve inspired you today!!  Thanks for stopping by!

Shellac Burn Encaustic Paintings with India Ink and Calligraphy

encaustic mixed media calligraphy painting

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Good day!  It’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything with you- sickness has been visiting my home and sapping all my energy.  But I’m so excited to share these new encaustic paintings, especially since I’m using a technique I’ve never used before, but been dying to try- Shellac Burn.

  • I began with two pieces of craft plywood, both 6*6.
  • I start with white encaustic medium and then began layering clear wax on top- white, clear, white, clear.
  • After each layer of wax, it’s essential to fuse the piece with a heat tool.  It doesn’t take much to fuse each layer- you need to at least make sure a wet sheen begins to appear- this will let you know the heat has done it’s work.  I usually go a lot farther than that.
  • After several initial layers, I added some purple india ink to the cooled surface of the wax.
  • Shellac Burn!  I took everything outside to the cement slab on my back porch, sprayed the pieces with a generous amount of shellac, and lit them on fire.
  • The Shellac on the surface was very sticky after the burn, and to make sure the colors of the ink wouldn’t run or stick to my brush, I dabbed the surface with a paper towel.
  • Then, it was repeat mode.  I added another layer of clear wax, some more india ink in a different color, and did another shellac burn.
  • One more layer of wax, one more color of ink, and one more shellac burn.
  • Once I had all the colors I wanted, I added some trails of white ink, and fused them heavily into the existing layers of wax.
  • After everything cooled, I used my calligraphy pen to add text in different sizes and colors.
  • I’m using PH Martin’s Bombay India Inks here- there are two full sets and I have both for a big range of colors.

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For my next step, I need to do some more experimenting.  I want to see if I can achieve a floating effect by adding more layers of wax between the colors.  Also, I’d like to use the fluid shellac instead of the spray, and let it dry as well before I light it on fire.  Maybe I’ll use some oil sticks or pastels instead of ink to add some color. We’ll see!!

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Have any of you done this technique?  I’d love to hear your process!  And if you have any questions, just shoot me a comment.  Thanks so much!!