My First Encaustic Painting

Originally published January 12, 2013

Well, it’s not a masterpiece, but you know what they say. You’ve gotta start somewhere. The thing was, I didn’t just take baby steps. I dove right in.

Porridge, 2012

Behold, my first encaustic painting. On the first day of my workshop at the Pullen Arts Center in downtown Raleigh, I was introduced to the materials: the hot wax in various colors, held in little tin cans that crowded the heated palette, a brush in each tin. Incising and scraping tools of various sizes and shapes were scattered around.

Already, the preselected wax colors were too bright for my neutral palette but making art at this stage wasn’t the point. It was about making mistakes. Dabbling undecidedly about, it was porridge right from the start. Some people call it abstract art. Even so, I continued with a frivolity like never before, summoning Jackson Pollock with a little splatter here, a little there.

Then came fusing, the best part. Armed with a heat gun and wearing an apron, I was ready for action. I think we’re all secret pyromaniacs by nature, and watching wax melt – while not exactly the same thrill as seeing
a house up in flames – also satisfies with that same feeling of destruction.
To be sure, it’s dangerous. Hold the heat gun too long in the same spot and colors co-mingle in non-too-pleasing ways. In the blink of an eye, your masterpiece can flow like lava from Mt. Vesuvius. Not happy about this dalliance? That’s where the scraper comes in. Quick! Get rid of the evidence! But I digress…

I was so thrilled to paint, to be in the act of painting, that it brought out the child in me. How about a white square? Presto! Notice the “baboo” in the painting, as well as the tic tac toe? Silly, I know, but I was mastering the art of incising here… I loved layering, the textures, and the quick drying time.
It was immediate gratification. I was smitten from the start.