Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tuesday - The Start of Creativity

(Griddle with a palette of wax colors.)
The last time I was at Anderson Ranch, I created portraits of each of the four of us. Each image featured a photo of the person, along with some other images, text and textures, that gave you an idea of that person's personality, or at least the kinds of things each person liked. This time I decided I would make a new set of portraits. I originally thought I would include much of the same kind of images, text, etc. However, I have decided to be really brave and push past my usual comfort zone, as well as forgo the usual kinds of things I use in my art. I am breaking out of my own imposed boundaries. I hope it goes well. My fingers are crossed. I have made each of our images black and white, then printed them on rice paper. I have attached them to a base that has 1 1/2" thick sides. I will decorate the backgrounds with colored wax and who knows what else.

On Tuesday, we began to get to the creative stuff. I was excited for this part since it would help give me an idea of what I could do with my images. In the world of encaustics, some of it is the art of altering photos and some of it is about painting or creating images with colored wax, transferred images, etc. I really have very little idea about how I wanted to treat the images I had mounted so far.
(Mia's Sample - Color overlay, graphic image transfer, script added by scratching/gouging and filling in with oil stick color, gouging and filling with colored wax)

On Monday we dealt with super smooth Epson paper that created very crisp, clear and saturated images - just the kind of thing I love. I printed up a photo Ellie took from the local amusement park, and photos of Ellie, as well as Ethan, painted for Day of the dead. On Tuesday, we began printing on a specially prepared rice paper. The images are warming, softer, a very different look.
(An unaltered image of Ethan that I created using techniques in Photoshop.)

The first stage is to prep the cradle (wooden frame or box (often with thick edges, such as 1 1/2", piece of wood, etc.) by taping the edges with painter's tape and painting the main surface with regular gesso if you are going to use an image (so that the color of the wood does not show through) or with encaustic gesso if you are going to paint a picture with the wax and no base image. Using regular gesso will not allow the wax to adhere well enough. Then, if you are using a photo or image, you need to glue it to the substrate (the frame/box). This is done by applying a very thin layer of Noro paste to the back of the image, letting it dry, and trimming it a bit later. If you are using rice or mulberry paper it needs to dry for at least a half day.
Next, you prepare the main surface by painting on a layer of medium which is composed of 8 parts bees wax and 1 part Damar resin. You start this process by making sure your piece is level. In our case, we used small levels and old pieces of matt board to achieve this.
After you apply the medium you let it cool and then fuse it using heat from a heat gun or a torch. (Using the torch the first couple of times was a bit scary. Mia promised that after you've used it about ten times, you will become comfortable with it; she was right.)

We learned about several ways to transfer images and then we set to work. Mia had more wonderful and inspiring samples of what we could do.

I love the bits of color at the edges of the Jesus and Barbed Wire Heart pieces you see above so that is what I went for.

I used my lino cutting tool to gouge random lines in the base medium, painted wax color on top of those marks and fused them. I did several layers of this process.

Then I took a clay working tool and removed the excess on the surface.

It was interesting to see the way various people use their time. Some folks prepped every base they were given, purchased more and prepped those, too. Then they began finding images. Some people prepped a few surfaces, picked, printed and mounted images and then started the whole process over again. A few of us prepped, printed and began altering just a few pieces. That is what I opted to do. I wanted to get my hands into the creative stuff. By the end of the night (which was about midnight - I want to make sure I get as much done as I can humanly do) I was feeling like I was lagging behind. I still have so many prints that I could make, and I have not even picked the images yet. I want to make sure that I get that done soon.

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