MIXED MEDIA AND ENCAUSTIC PAINTINGS:
On a wooden panel I begin to paint layers of encaustic. Using a heated palette, I warm the paint until liquid, building up to 15 layers of encaustic (pigmented beeswax and resin). After applying the layers, I begin to alter the surface with a variety of techniques. I use a heat gun and stamp the heated wax with wooden carved blocks, score the surface with dental tools and fill the indentations with oil sticks. I make impressions with pieces of lace and metal stamps. After scoring the surface I repaint with more layers of encaustic to fill in the markings. Once the wax cools, I scrape back the surface with razor blades to reveal inlays of color upon color and reveal under-layers. This process prepares and smooths the surface to receive my drawings. Before beginning to paint, I’ve drawn detailed colored pencil figures and faces on rice paper and cut them out. Once the drawings are ready, I heat up unpigmented encaustic and soak the back of the drawings. I sew into the figures with the lurex thread I use to indicate a ‘heartbeat’. The cut drawings are then placed in position on the encaustic backgrounds. I gently heat the drawings and rub them down into the wax, gently but firmly, with a bookmaking tool. I then sometimes add small collage elements. I then heat beeswax on my palette until liquid. After it’s melted, I pour the beeswax over the painting. Afterwards, I leave it to cool for awhile. I scrape the poured beeswax surface of the painting with blades revealing what’s obscured. The pouring makes the wax smooth and cloudy. I scrape down and stop before I rip the delicate drawing just beneath. The top layer might have goldleaf, printing, or stenciling and is fused with an all-over heating to harden it.
Silverpoint drawing is done with a metal stylus (real silver point embedded in wood) on a prepared gesso surface. The gesso is a rabbit skin glue and chalk based one that has to be heated on the stove and applied to the paper or board surface while warm. I heat the gesso and apply 15 to 20 coats in order to prepare the surface to receive the markings from the silverpoint. I wait for it to dry between coats and alternate directions of the coats as they are applied. After the gesso is completely dried (at least 72 hours) I lightly sand the top surface with an extra fine jewelers sandpaper to make it as smooth as possible. I then begin the drawing. I have to work slowly and carefully because unlike pencil, silverpoint cannot be erased. After the drawing is finished it eventually will tarnish as it oxidizes due to sulfer content in the air much like silverware does in the drawer in between polishing. That is part of the unique quality of the line and the fully oxidized drawing will have a softer burnished sepia tone to it.