I took an Encaustic Painting workshop from Rae Broyles at Studio b.last fall and I had a lot of fun, so I signed up for another workshop by Rae a few weeks ago, again at Studio b. Rae demonstrated a number of techniques, and I tried a few. I used stamps and stencils on the first piece, above left. In the second piece, center, I built up texture by accretion, and in the third painting, I put the hot pigmented wax on top of the background to make the foreground stand out in relief. At the end, I used gold leaf on the seahorses to give them a little sparkle.
I enjoy doing something like this, every once in a while, just “playing”. It’s entirely different from my usual art. It’s great fun, and maybe a little dangerous too, playing with hot wax and blowtorches!
I ventured into new territory today, taking a workshop on encaustic painting at Studio b. The closest I had come to encaustic painting was when I was a child, melting crayons and drizzling the molten wax onto paper. I don’t remember very much about my childhood experience, but I’m sure that what I loved most about it was playing with the candle. Today we traded the candle for a blowtorch, which was infinitely more exciting!
First we used a paintbrush to put hot bees’ wax onto the board to make a background, applying multiple layers, scraping each layer smooth. Then we added pigment to the wax and brushed colors on, building up textures, carving into the wax, cutting and scratching into it, stenciling, stamping, embossing, adding collage, and even writing into the wax to create powerful, colorful 12″ x 12″ encaustic paintings.
Instructor Rae Broyles demonstrated many different ways to work the wax, and then she worked alongside us on a painting of her own. We were surrounded by some of Rae’s recent work on the walls at Studio b.
With every medium, there is a craftsmanship that must be mastered before one can be freely expressive, but we all had a lot of fun trying, and we were all pretty successful, I think. Part of it of course was Rae’s excellent instruction, but part too was her relaxed, and even playful, attitude. After all, creativity often is playfulness.
I pressed a plant into the soft wax and then filled the embossing with colors, layering additional cover layers, so that some parts are in sharp focus and others appear to be further away. I tried to put a fish in it, and he disappeared, and I decided I didn’t have enough control to put a small scuba diver in the background, which was my other idea for an underwater scene. So it ended up being a picture of some kind of flowering plant.
For my second piece I wanted to experiment with a figure, and I used the general pose that we had at figure drawing last week, dividing the background with simple geometric shapes. I tried making lines with a hot drawing tool, but that didn’t work very well, so I carved lines using a clay sculpting tool, and then filled the lines in with black wax, scraping off the excess.
Will I do more encaustic work? Maybe so. It’s fun, it forces me to accept looser, less-controlled expression, and all I would need to buy, that I don’t already have, is an electric flat grill-pan to heat the wax in aluminum bread-tins. (Oh, and I would need that neat trigger starter for the blowtorch, that was pretty cool.)
Our guest instructor at Studio b. this week was Rae Broyles, here for an Encaustic Workshop that she will be teaching on Saturday.
Tonight Rae took us through some exercises to help us build space and volume in our drawings, in part by including shapes and values around the figure, which creates depth. She showed us some of Richard Diebenkorn’s art, and talked to us about his method of drawing and rubbing out and erasing and redrawing, a process of finding lines and shapes he wanted to keep. The results are interesting in that you can see a lot of the original lines, so the final product is witness to the process. The drawing at left is his. I certainly put more stuff in my drawings than I usually do, but I failed to achieve his simplicity, which in my opinion is the real beauty in his work. But I was successful in creating more space by including some of the setting in my drawings.
We drew by the pool at “The b”. Colleen had set up a swing for a prior event, so that added something different. Rae asked us to use charcoal to draw the figure and to draw the background or surrounding shapes, and after we had worked on it for 10 minutes, she said, “OK, now rub it out and start again.” As a result, each drawing was reworked a couple of times, taking on a layered effect.
The drawing on the left was one of my warm-up drawings, in conte on manilla paper. For the drawing on the right, I was using very soft brick charcoal on gray paper, rubbing, erasing, and redrawing, and then following up with some white charcoal. I was pretty far out of my comfort zone, so the result was very different from anything I usually do. But that is the value of continuing to take instruction. I have to stretch more and grow faster.
I also remembered why I hate brick charcoal — it is so messy — pretty soon it is all over your clothes, your face, the walls, and on clothing you weren’t even wearing. In fact, brick charcoal shares top billing with cadmium red oil paint for messiest media on the planet. Fortunately Colleen was ready with the handi-wipes at the end of the session.
The guest artist series at Studio b is such a treat. This week we were privileged to have Rae Broyles as our guest artist for the figure drawing session. Rae is a likable, enthusiastic, and engaged professional artist and instructor. In between instruction and critiquing, she drew along with us. Our new model was irresistible.
Rae Broyles will be presenting a workshop on encaustic painting at Studio b. on July 10, 2010. She showed us some of her work, and talked to us about the process of painting with hot colored wax, scraping, scratching, and re-painting.
Rae started our figure drawing session with warm-up gesture drawings using wax crayons, with the model changing poses every 30 seconds. Then we did a few 5-minute poses, and then some 15-minute poses. I think the final pose was 30 minutes, with a break midway through. We started each drawing with light-value colors, and then refined it with darker value colors. I drew with the wax crayons up until the end, and then I switched to white nupastel on black charcoal paper.
We drew in the pool courtyard at Studio b., with the pool behind the model, the water features providing the background sound. Colleen Duffley, the owner of Studio b., offered wine or beer or water to the artists, and spent a little time with each one, talking while they worked, or just complimenting and encouraging. Then she tried out some sparkling lights in the pool, getting ready for the studio’s part in the annual Digital Graffiti event which will be throughout the village of Alys Beach this-coming Saturday night.
The whole setting was very intimate, perfect for what we were doing. There is nothing like being absolutely comfortable during the creative process.