Time is marching on and 2020 is winding down with as much disruption as it began. If angst is the food of the artist then this year we have feasted. My studio life is so constant that I rarely know what day it is any longer. Life has become an endless stream of coffee, music ,paint, and endless hours of thoughts about how much I love this life and watching paint dry.
A year ago in January, I lost my ability to work with hot wax due to the rising river water in my world. The waters came in the night and flooded my studio and all electrical appliances were rendered useless. I had to throw out my hotplates, electric skillets, and griddles. It was sad to see them in the trash after so many years of service in my studio. I also had several unfinished hot wax paintings, so I packed them up and took them to my garage, I could not bear to just trash them at first. Many days I would stare at them wondering if I should just free myself and throw them out, since I no longer had the space to work on them. Perhaps I should march them to the pitch in and move on, but something in my frugal mind kept telling me no. I kept working on other oil paintings in the garage, and dreaming of finding a good space once again so I could work in hot wax without worry. In the heat of the summer I could smell the beeswax wafting from the corner everytime I got near it. I love the sweet smell of the wax and decided to just let them stay in the periperal of my garage space for a while longer.
I was working on a piece in oil and cold wax and wanted to add more texture that would mimic the depth of paint I could achieve with hot wax, then I remembered I could use cold wax over hot wax. After all wax is nothing but a medium for the oil. The main key is to not heat the cold wax on top of the hot wax in a closed space as it will give off some pretty strong fumes. I had learned about the ability of working in cold wax over hot wax in a workshop with Rebecca Crowell years ago. I had not thought of it until now. It took no time to grab one of the unfinished encaustic paintings and begin to experiment. I was so happy to work on these panels that seemed like little hopeless misfits at this point. And there is literally nothing more freeing than working over a painting that has not been fully finished. The ability to experiment while doing this is one of the best learning experiences available to an artist. It is a great way of shedding skin and growing.
I wanted to share the experience and the incredible surface you can create with this practice.
I completely changed the original unfinished painting in the over painting but it was irrelevant, this was an experiment in seeing how far I could push and pull the surface and I found it became richer and richer with every new layer and like when working in hot wax you could always go back into the surface with light scraping or some form of abrasion giving it a very complex surface. I would note also that the cold wax and oil pigments seem to glide across the surface much like when you run your hand over velvet, it kept begging me to keep working it. It was a great way to reinvigorate the unfinished paintings.
These detail shots show the hazy transparency of wax medium as well as the depth of the surface which is actually physical and visual. If you are into surface and texture you might truly enjoy this mode of painting.
I hope in some way this blog post will be of some help to someone in their studio. I am purposely posting less and less on the social media platforms due to the changes in the Terms of Service. I think the safest space maybe the blogosphere these days.
Thank you for taking the time to read and share your time with me. I hope to be blogging a lot more in the coming year. I look forward to sharing my work and thoughts with you.
I wish every a Merry Christmas! Happiest of Holidays! May 2021 bring us all good health and peace!
All artwork and writing on this blog are the property of Cathy Hegman. Please do not copy or distribute it without the written consent of Cathy Hegman.