Yesterday I began a workshop with one of my most treasured teachers, Caryl St. Ama. Sponsored by R & F Paints, the 3-day workshop is being held Aug 8 - 10, 2014 in the art studio at Glendale Community College.
After day 2 the best description for the class I can come up with is "Wow!" Encaustic is a captivating process.
In the picture above my palette is cleaned up and ready for tomorrow's painting (during the day it's far, far more chaotic than this.) The metal plate is 3/8" anodyzed aluminum, and beneath that is a heating element that aims to keep the plate at about 200°. The rectangular tin in the middle of the palette is filled with R&F's encaustic medium, a mix of beeswax and damar resin. The other tins are filled with R&F's encaustic paints mixed with the medium.
One thing that was liberating about the workshop is that every color in R&F's line (of both encaustics and later in the class pigment sticks) was available; which gave us the freedom to try colors we might not ordinarily use. I for one didn't stray much from what's comfortable, but tomorrow's a new day! There was a color palette a classmate was working with that really piqued my interest and I think I'll try that tomorrow.
This is the first piece I accomplished. Included in the swag kit that was waiting at our workspace from R&F was a much-needed apron, a dvd of tips and techniques and three 5 x 7 Ampersand encaustic panels. Our first challenge (following careful instructions on safety, i.e. "yell fire if you see one") was to make a smooth surface by building up layers, which isn't as easy as it would first seem. How difficult can it be to melt wax? Not at all if you don't care about little air bubbles, uneven color gradations or peaks and valleys.
Throughout the first two days Caryl gave demos of the astounding array of techniques that can be used with encaustic. I'd signed up for the class with the clear intention of creating new work that I could electronically manipulate for prints and patterns. I was initially intrigued with the textural potential, and with the contrast of matte and shine. Having accomplished my first piece with relatively even layers, in the next piece I pretty well did everything I could to make that not happen again. My second piece became a contrast of a highly polished, shiny surface and a really rough, uneven textured surface. One of the greatest things about wax is that with a quick blast of a butane torch it goes soft and you can manipulate it in endless ways. And then you can throw on a bit of R&F's metallic paint and it all sort of glows.
I'm feeling like I sound a bit like the latest member of a cult, glorifying encaustic as only someone who is new to the practice can. But as of today, I'm a full-blown convert.
Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.