Hanging by Threads

In this blog, I take you on my journey through the ups and downs of creating my “Hanging on Threads” painting

The inspiration for this work became the water view with white clouds in the distance, grey clouds coming in from the side and a deep red horizon line.  Then dark blues, greys and white reflections on the lake.  I wanted to capture this waterscape image for the background and then add a gauze-like structure to the surface.

In a sauce pan I melted the wax balls that I saved from scraping the previous artworks. I painted the brownish wax onto the surface of the panels.  The key for these first layers was the fusing.  Lots of heat with the heat gun until the wax melted thoroughly.  Using  these balls of wax  is a great way to save money by not having to use clear medium or clear beeswax on the foundation layer.   Once these layers were done I then started to paint the background with pigmented wax and clear medium.

I had decided to paint the image onto a long horizontal two panel surface.  The panels were joined on the back and did not shift.  As you can see in my studio photograph there is a table that I work on and on the other table I keep my heating tools and wax.


I begin all of my paintings in the same way.  I heat the wax and apply the colors with a brush.  Not concerned at this point with details, but just to put down the colors in a loose way.  This building up of the surface is important.   I scrape, add more layers to get an interesting surface treatment.  I use a big ratio of medium to wax because I want to achieve transparent surfaces of colors.   The process is very intuitive at this point.  In the next pictures I show the evolution of the different surface and color treatments.  As you can see, I tried creating this cloud like surface of the sky, water, and the red on the horizon line.


I am continually critiquing my work.  Looking at it from a distance and up close.  I saw that the red was over powering so I just kept on painting by adding layer after layer.  The above version was too colourful so muted down the surface with white cloud formations.


Was I finished?  Is this surface treatment and color relationship ready for the gauze drawing?  In my opinion I had lost the landscape feeling so became obsessed with revising this landscape.  I added more colors and textures and the following image became the next version.  I also changed the orientation of the panels so that they were joined vertically and not horizontally.   Oh my gosh, this was too busy so I needed to scrape down the surface and added the white back.


Now I had a lot of interesting surface treatments but I was adding a gauze surface and the background was too busy and would compete with the woven structure.  So, my final background had a softer tonal feeling for the gauze curtain. As you can see below, I brought back the top red and simplified the white blue clouds.  Additionally, I scraped the bottom and painted geometric-like shapes.  The gauze was painted onto the surface.


I decided that this painting was finished.  When I looked at it over a few days I kept thinking that there is no movement except for the bottom of the gauze and I saw a draped piece of woven fabric that appeared stiff.

Using my IPad, I took a photograph of this painting.  In my Procreate Application I used the tools to play around with the work and then the painting morphed into this gestural interesting image.  The painting was totally transformed and had its own personality.

The following image is the IPad version.


I loved it and wanted to use the IPad image as a reference.  So the challenge  was – Could I reproduce this work in pigmented wax? I used drawing and painting tools in Procreate on a smooth glass surface so I wasn’t sure if I could replicate the IPad drawing.   With complete abandonment, I took my brushes and liquid wax and painted in the same way as I did on the IPad.   Here is the final version in encaustic on a 30″ X 44″ panel.   The work is called “Hanging by Threads.”




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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