Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring on the Hudson River Encaustic Landscape Painting, Simple Woman's Daybook Entry 4/27/09

Spring on the Hudson, painting by Jan Blencowe

About This Painting:
Hudson River Series. This painting is part of the Landscapes by the Hudson Valley Daily Painters Show, Rhinebeck, NY June 5-July 15, 2009. Part of the Hudson River Quadricentennial Celebration.

Media: encaustic ( what in the world is this?? Read on...)
Size: 12 in X 9 in (30.5 cm X 22.9 cm)

Whoops! I've done it again, I gone and gotten involved in a new painting medium, encaustic. LOL. I find learning a new medium to be one of the best ways to encourage growth, experimentation and creativity. It's also very helpful for getting out of, or even preventing a funk or rut.

For someone who generally likes to keep things simple and runs screaming from the room when someone suggests printmaking, with all of it's complexities, proceedures and equipment you might think it strange that I'm now working in encaustics, but here I am.

So you're wondering what encaustics are exactly. Here's the short answer, pigment mixed with bees wax plus damar varnish equals encaustic paints. You heat them and paint with the melted wax. It's a paint and process that's been around since the 5th century BC. The varnish mixed in with the bees wax creates a harder more durable surface when the painting is dried.

Encaustic paint can be used in an astounding array of techniques, traditional painting, collage, inlay, image transfer, monotype and a few other printing techinques, relief carving, embedding objects and dipping are just a few.

How and Why I Chose Encaustics

There are two qualities to encaustic paints that I found very desirable, luminosity and texture. If you've been following the blog at all you know that those are two characteristics I'm always pursuing. Encaustic paints allow you to easily and quickly build up thin layers of translucent colored wax and create awesome texture very quickly.

I attended a workshop on Saturday at Jerry's Artarama in West Hartford, presented by R&F, makers of encaustic paints. I had been researching encaustics and talking to encaustic artists since last November and after the workshop decided to give it a try.


Since the paints must be melted, and then heated to fuse them to the layer of paint below there are some equipment requirements. Since I'm a beginner here's what I started with. R&F makes a starter kit that contains, ivory black, titanium white, cad. yellow med, cad. red. med.,cad. green pale, cobalt bluue, and brown pink. It also comes with a block of painting medium, that is bees wax and damar varnish that is clear with no pigment added. I also purchased a block of burnt sienna and an extra block of medium. I bought an electric skillet for $20 to use as a heated palette, a bunch of cheap bristle brushes and a high wattage hair dryer (1875 watts) for $12. Now I know that it's recommended that you use an actual heat gun, but 1.) they're expensive and 2.) they can easily burn you or burn your house down. They are industrial strength and not to be taken lightly, and scare me to death. The main complaint I've heard against a plain old hair dryer is that it doesn't get hot enough and that they burn out with constant use. Well, so far I've found the 1875 watt hairdryer does a great job for fusing even thicker layers of wax, and at $12 if it burns out in 6 months (which I actually doubt) I'll just replace it. I'll keep you posted on this.

Painting Surface

Encaustic is best painted on a rigid, porous surface. This painting is on masonite, wood panels are also great.

So the creative journey continues! Exciting isn't it! I'm planning a few more Hudson River paintings in encaustic for the upcoming show in Rhinebeck, NY in June. Stay tuned.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY April 27th, 2009

Outside my is a beautiful, sunny spring day (finally!)

I am thinking...about what a busy but good week-end we had. Sold two paintings at the art show. Youth group at church for Shannon, lock-in at school for Pete. Took Mom and Shannon to museum and art lecture, went shopping with Shannon, and to a painting workshop with her. Nice to spend time with my daughter.

I am thankful for...all the new business opportunities that are coming my way.

From the's clean thanks to my wonderful husband who cleaned it while I was out with Shannon this week-end. I love you, honey! Chicken tenders tonight in some kind of marinade....still deciding.

I am wearing...crummy sweats for now, then changing into crummy jeans because I'll be painting today lol.

I am creating...encaustic paintings, that's bees wax paint, you melt it and paint with it. It's a very ancient technique dating back to the 5th c. BC

I am go out plein air painting today, first time this year. Can NOT Wait.

I am reading...alll about encaustic painting and The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

I am hoping...that our bid on the Pleasant Hill property is accepted.

I am many song birds, it's lovely.

Around the house...I'm going to box up winter clothes and get out the spring/summer stuff.

One of my favorite a lesiurely breakfast on Sunday morning with my husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week:teaching, painting, lecture at museum, hopefully dinner out with my husband.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... Happy Daffys

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