Friday, September 10, 2021


 In the past when you wanted to make a copy of an image or text most of us would go to Staples, the library or the office where you worked. You could make multiples, change the size, maybe even reverse it. B & W and color. Nowadays when you ask a student to bring copies to class many questions arise since now we all have more options to make copies-like ink jet printers.

So lets clear up the confusion. We use copies to transfer images into the encaustic surface (this also applies to acrylic painting but the technique is different). But the copy needs to be made by a toner/laser printer or copier. This is a different technology than an ink jet printer with the main issue being that the ink is not waterproof. When we do transfers water is used in the process so you can see why the ink jet copy will not work.

Ink jet copies are fine for collage where they are layered beneath medium and no water is used.

And remember when doing a transfer with text that the copy needs to be reversed-also called a mirror image-to read correctly once transferred.

Transfer is a fantastic technique with so many creative applications. More to come...

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Texture, part II, Acrylic

 There are almost too many acrylic products to choose from! It can be confusing to know what to use.  But because of acrylics fast drying times it can be the quickest way to create texture-even under an oil painting.

Many are confused about the difference between gels and pastes. The main difference is that gels dry clear and pastes dry opaque. Both can be tinted or colored with acrylic paints and worked with a variety of tools. Beware-most are impossible to sand. The "almost too many" category comes from all the various types of gels and pastes: fibre paste, glass bead gel, sand, pumice, etc. So ask yourself how much texture you want as a heavy body acrylic paint may also

give you just enough.

It is recommended to work on a rigid surface instead of stretched canvas when using a lot of texture. A panel can hold the weight and more tools can be used for texturing.

Golden Acrylics also has a toll free number for technical help with their products-1-800-959-6543

Monday, August 23, 2021

Creating Texture-Encaustic

Encaustic paint is great for creating texture -that was one of the reasons I was first drawn to it. As it is a solid paint that becomes liquid by heating, temperature is the key. At cooler temperatures the paint will have a paste like consistency. By layering this thicker paint, a technique called accretion*, various textures can be created. Working subtractively on a painting with a warm surface can also create textures that would be recessed instead of raised. Adding collage elements or casting shapes with impasto medium are other choices for adding texture. Several detail images from my paintings illustrate different textures. In one the actual honey comb was incorporated into the painting's surface.

*check out Martin Kline's early work for examples of this technique

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Blank Canvas

 It stares back at us, waiting for that first brush, palette knife, drip or splash of paint. Especially if you are new to painting, the process of beginning a painting can be challenging. In 1993 Anna Audette wrote The Blank Canvas-Inviting the Muse. Even though almost 30 years old this book (available on Amazon) offers many straightforward and practical suggestions for artists. Audette worked in many different types of 2-D media and taught college students for many years so she knew what she was writing about.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Sometimes its a Positive to be Negative

 Here the word negative refers to the process in painting where instead of adding more paint to the surface you remove=subtract. When working with encaustic paint this can be an important part of the process that many artists neglect to use. One can remove many layers at a time (don't like what you did, wrong color, want to start over) by warming the surface and using a variety of blades and scrapers. But we also have a fine degree of control over this process just by having a cooler surface temperature. The surface being harder, very thin layers of paint can be removed.

The original border of this painting was scraped off, tape was applied to protect the inner layer and a new border was painted. It still needs to be lightly scraped to even out the surface and let more of the base color show through. 

Like any other technique this one also takes practice. You might be surprised with what you unearth!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Let's Fix Art History

 There's a T-shirt* printed with the question "can you name 5 women artists?". Can you? Janet Sobel had no MFA, was a mom and housewife-we're talking the 1940's, 50's here-and created so called "drip" paintings before Jackson Pollack. Peggy Guggenheim gave her a solo show in 1946 and one of the viewers was no other than Jackson Pollack. No real surprise but the news media back then referred  to her first as a grandmother then as an artist. She also had a low key method of dripping paint onto a canvas while laying on the floor. Pollack, on the other hand, was a dramatic painter who also fit better with the public's view of a painter. She was mostly forgotten. None of this is really news but lets try to give credit and recognition where it is due.

Here is a detail from one of my favorite of Sobel's paintings titled Milky Way. Owned by MOMA but currently not on view.

*National Museum of Women in the Arts gift shop    

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What to See

 Currently on exhibit in Boston is an installation by artist Firelei Baez at ICA Watershed through September 6. I have not been yet but it looks amazing with its elements of painting, sculpture, history and contemporary concerns. One walks under a blue tarp with shapes cut out that appear as stars or fish. There is a huge painting and structures that are textured with what look like barnacles. During these difficult times I do hope many people get a chance to see this exhibition in person.