Mastering the Medium before Tackling the Message

I almost give up the encaustic process because I could not control the medium. I packed up all of my supplies and put them in a box and placed the box in the corner of my studio. I have been away from my studio this past week just thinking about the encaustic medium, techniques, themes to use, etc.  I can not get encaustic out of my mind and have been looking at other artists’ works, blogs and YouTube videos for ideas and inspirations.  (See my Pinterest page on Encaustic Adventures at

 I guess I am a control freak and want to control all of the steps and not let the medium become the message.    I am stubborn and want a glass surface and not bubbly or cloudy surfaces. I also do not want these pin holes imbedded in the wax.  When I see the wax distorting or clouding an image I just don’t like that result.   I have been looking for answers on the internet, books that I have on Encaustic and YouTube videos and have not found any answers explaining how to control the wax for different effects.   I do not want the wax to take over at this point.  I want the images to be the message and not the wax.  I did try to take my clay scraping tools, iron and my blades to scrape off the surface to get the results that I was looking for and I almost got a smooth surface on some.  The more I scraped and reloaded the surface with wax the more I had to scrape.   It was a vicious cycle.  The irony of all this – I have decided to not give up and  when I get back to my studio on Friday will take those supplies back out and set up the area to continue making encaustic artworks.  

I have come to the conclusion  to forget about getting these “finished” pieces and, instead, have made a list of techniques that I will attempt on small 8″ X 8″ birch plywood. I will explore one technique each week and end with a final product on a larger birch panel by the end of that week.  These samples will then be used as references.  So, over the next few weeks will take myself (and my blog readers) on an encaustic technique gathering journey and share the processes.   Hopefully, this journalling will help me keep on  track.  When I have finished my first technique I will explain the ups and downs of doing that technique and post a visual of the steps and the end product.    Your comments will be greatly appreciated. 






Author: Anna

I am a painter and sculptor and have a studio beside a beautiful lake. For the past 40 years, I designed and built puppets, masks and sculptures and had solo exhibitions of these works. In 2013, I went back to painting and started working in encaustic. I am interested in issues of identity in terms of weavings as coverings to protect or to hide. The intersecting lines that I create over landscapes create an internal conversation versus the external between nature vs. nurture. Or how actual or psychological barriers erected in an environment can disrupt a cherished place. My engagement with woven structures speak to complex dialogues between identity and psychological barriers. My second passion is teaching. I try to encompass more than teaching my students art techniques. I encourage students to, not only learn the language of art, but to also engage in critiquing art. Additionally, we continually explore ways to enhance one's voice through art in relation to contemporary and historical issues. Encaustic adventures is a blog where not only processes and techniques are taught, but hopefully this sites will engage in a dialogue about the making of art, notions of voice, identity, themes, and ways to establish a body of work within an historical contexts.

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