Marsh Studies

Here is the next shoreline study that has possibilities. It still needs a bit more work on the reeds because I think there is too much wax which makes that area too thick and dense. Some more burnt sienna, yellow and green around the middle. I love the way the light comes through the dark incised lines but I need to bring in more of those white lines to make the top section less dense. I don’t know if this is finished yet. I may have to work on it some more and will share the final results.


As you can see below I scrapped away the top half of the painting and simplified the composition. I just did not like the thick application of those reeds. I felt that the previous painting had no life and it was too busy. I reworked the water and added water plants below the top reeds. I like the circle affect that I created. I think the water is too white and needs to be a lighter blue because the white suggests ice instead of water.

Marsh Study 3

Another marsh and shore line study. I think this idea has many possibilities so now I want to make a bigger 24” X 24” marshland painting and use this #2 painting as a starting point. I want to continue with creating a sense of distance and will also continue to add water lilies at the bottom of the next painting.

DSC_4852 copy


After viewing this painting for a while there was something in the painting that kept bothering me. I saw the straight line of the back weeds and the front weeds being too straight so I worked on this study again. I broke the top line and made it move in a wavy line. I also broke up the bottom line as well. I think the final composition is much better.

P1040972 copy


Getting Confident with Encaustic Medium – Shore Line Series

Now, that I feel somewhat confident with the medium, I have decided to begin my Shore Line Series. My goal is to create 10 encaustic artworks of our shoreline around the lake where I have my studio. I have tried different techniques over the past month and have concluded that the paint needs to be added to the surface similar to a pointillism technique. Through experimentation, overlapping small brushstrokes and a layering of different colored oil paint/wax are needed. Then over the waxed surface use an iron and blend very carefully. The problem with the iron – too much wax could be melted in areas and the edge of the iron can leave grooves that expose the back water colour paper layer. This can be used to my advantage as well if the bottom layer coming through the surface is exposed. I have to plan the layers of colors so that one can see the bottom layer and it is integrated into the foreground.

In the first 12 “ X 12” shoreline work I used my imagination and first created a water surface treatment with the layering of colored wax and then took may iron to incise the surface into a waving pattern to represent the water. Then, I took strips of fabric and waxed them down to the surface. The fabric represented the reeds. I added a bit of dark color to the edge of the reeds to suggestion a light source.

The following image is my first attempt at water.



Back to the Basics: The Elements of Design

For13 years at California State University in Sacramento I taught students how to use media, techniques, tools, and the elements of design (which are line, shape, form, texture, colour, value and space) before creating “finished” artworks. Once students had confidence with the elements of art, their art making tools and a variety of art media, then he or she tackled a personal style of painting or sculpting to explore specific topics or ideas. I designed curriculum materials with a focus on sequential learning through skill building steps.   Since I am learning a new medium, I have decided to go back to the basics and use my sequential learning step-by-step packets and connect those ideas with encaustic art.  Then, after exploring each element of design and practicing the variety of encaustic technical processes, I will pick a theme and explore this theme through larger encaustic artworks.

 Elements of Design: The language used for all art works

Week 1: Line

Week 2. Shape

Week 3. Color

Week 4 Form/Value

Week 5 Texture

Week 6 Space

 So, for example, in week one I will create a picture with just lines and use different drawing, painting and sculptural surfaces when creating lines. Then, I will pick encaustic tools and wax coloured media to reproduce the drawings on small 8” X 8” birch panels. Finally, my culminating artwork will focus on line with encaustic media. This process will be repeated for shape, colour, form/value, texture and space.  

 After reading two books “Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax” by Lissa Rankin and the “Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed-Media Art” by Daniella Wolf; looking at many encaustic artworks on the internet; and visiting some great website blogs on Encaustic, I have narrowed down the following techniques that I would like to learn and eventually incorporate one-by-one into my final studies. This list is in no particular order. I hope to complete all of them by the end of the 6 weeks.

  1. Embedding images and objects into the wax such as buttons, seed beads, etc.
  2. Painting on different paper surfaces such as tissue paper, cartridge paper, napkins, tracing paper, etc and glue and wax these to the panel.
  3. Using Photo transfer techniques.
  4. Incising into the wax.
  5. Building up relief with wax.
  6. Doing smooth surfaces with brushes and pouring the wax, and creating rough textural surfaces by altering the surface.
  7. Adding just smooth paper to the surface and then wax the surface to get a smooth ground. Fuse between the layers.
  8. Drawing images onto white paper surfaces  and using watercolor to finish the painting.   Cover with wax medium.
  9. Using plaster drywall compound and add stencils into the drywall. Use trowel tools, plastic cards, and incise lines into the wet compound.
  10. Making stencils and integrate the stencils into the medium. Repeating the steps by fusing in between the layers. Doing rubbings and prints and integrating them into the background.
  11. Layering with stamps and prints. Stamps that can be done on the white paper bottom layer and then continue with the different stamps using ink, or water-colour. Creating a sense of space with the background, foreground and middle ground.
  12. Fabric collage.   Using stitched pieces, or felted surfaces, etc. Waxing the surface once the collage is imbedded into the wax.
  13. Collaging papers such as tissue paper, wax papers, paper napkins, etc. fusing between the layers. Adding inks to the tissue papers first and then adding to the wax surfaces.
  14. Textural scoring and adding coldish wax onto the surface to keep layering with the wax. This texture can be done within smaller areas to contrast between areas that are smooth and others are textured.
  15. Transfers – drawing on paper, such as parchment paper, and transferring the image onto the surface of warmish wax. Also, using wax or parchment sheets of papers for transferring onto the surface. Use photocopy or laser printer to make the copy. Add the picture face down and burnish the back. Take water and pull the paper off the back after it has been soaking for a bit. Rub with finger until all of the white paper comes off.
  16. Building up layers with metal cookie cutters. Pour into the containers. Also incising line shapes with different metal cutter type tools and filling in with oil pastels.
  17. Simple printmaking techniques such as collaging leaf prints right on the pallet and then printing onto the surface of the substrate.
  18. Blocking out part of the painting with painter’s tape and then waxing over the areas where I want more wax and other areas with less wax.  Aim is get vibrancy within the painting and more areas of depth. Within each part demonstrate the blocking techniques.
  19. Cutting shapes out of the wax and putting images within the shapes


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. 





My First Attempt at Encaustic Painting

It did not turn out as I had hoped.  I had an end product in mind and that was my first mistake.  I am a sculptor and an acrylic painter and have been doing both for over the last 40 years. See images of my work on‎  So, I thought that I could just take an idea, my water plant series, and reproduce this series in encaustic.  What a big mistake I made.  What a struggle with the wax.  Acrylic paint is so fluid and one can easily overlay one colour over the other colour.  But, I have to remind myself that I have painted for so long and have never worked with this wax medium.  I have to keep reminding myself that my acrylic paintings were awful when I started them.  So, this will be a learning curve and I have to just go with the flow.  What I am after, I think, is a smooth coat of wax over another smooth coat.  My first attempt was so messy, waxy and lumpy.  I added oil paint as a wash over the surface and more layers of wax.  No way was the wax going to perform for me in the way that I wanted.   So, here is my first attempt at the process.   


Another issue is the size. My paintings are large and I am working on a 7″ X10″ surface.  The wax is contained in that small space.  The encaustic iron will be used next and will see how that works.  I think the trick is to just use a few thin layers of wax that I build up on top of each other and not use so many layers.  The other option is to use a light handling of the brush, heat gun and iron.  I think I am pressing down too hard.  Will just keep at it.