Thursday, May 16, 2013

Revisiting An Old Friend

When I moved from crafting to making art many years ago, I was silly and stupid and didn't know a thing about art or how to create it. I had a lot of silly, stupid ideas in my head, never having gone to art school, that now make me cringe. One of them was that (I thought) there were hard and fast rules to making art. (There are a few, and I highly recommend that once you learn them, you go on to break them as often as possible.)

Another, and this one makes me laugh now, is that the best art is always created in one layer. If you couldn't get it right in the first layer- I was certain- it was because you were a bad artist. You should see some of my earliest work. It's not bad, but it's so naive- all simple colors, straight out of the tube.

Working this way was educational, because I had to teach myself how to get depth and texture into my work while never going back into a piece and putting another layer on it. Yeah. Educational. But amusingly naive.

Now I realize that layers are my lifeblood. I need them, crave them, won't stop until I have them. Complex, deliberate, intoxicating layers.

So one of the very first things I worked with as a budding artist was wax. I used not only professional encaustic wax, but also crayons. Box after box of gorgeous, creamy, meltable crayons. I'd create a layer of wax on a sheet of paper or a piece of fabric, set it aside, and call it done.


Today I have a little more experience- not only with layering, but with color mixing and with art theory in general. So I'm revisiting my old friend, wax.

The work I'm doing this week is still fairly simple, mostly to reacquaint myself with old techniques, but layering is most definitely on the menu this time around.

I'm using tissue paper, copy paper, newspaper, and book pages.

Using an electric pancake griddle, I melt encaustic wax and crayons in monotone colors (all blues, all greens, etc.) directly onto the hot plate, and then lay paper down directly into the wax, allowing it to absorb into the paper fibers.


Each paper is set aside to allow it to set up (only takes a few seconds), and then, using the same technique but with another set of colors, I place already-waxed papers on top of the new colors, lift, and set aside to dry.

I had forgotten just how vibrant the crayons really become on the paper.

Even though I go through one crayon very quickly, there are many more in my box to use.

And fortunately, good crayons are inexpensive, come in a huge variety of colors, and even come in fluorescent and metallic colors!

If you try this technique, be sure to get name-brand, quality crayons. Inexpensive, store-brand crayons are usually more wax than pigment.


Next week, I will begin exploring more advanced techniques, as well as using oils and oil pastels to enhance the designs. 

Remember what it feels like to be a kid again! 

Happy creating!


Jeannie said...

Oh Judi, these are gorgeous!!! I love the organic marks the melted was has created. It makes me look at my box of 64 in a whole different light. Thanks!

Chandra Merod said...

I loved melting crayons in preschool! So fun I would love to try it again we did it on tinfoil so it's good to know you can do it on other paper.

Unknown said...

Wow...and in my oil painting classes in high school and in the art history courses, I was taught that the creations of great depth and vibrancy was through the use of many layers of thin color....and transparent colors~ I love your wax work (and regret donating the large box of crayons which my daughter took out of her boxes which included pieces, etc. and donating them to the Sunday school)!

HollyM said...

I love lushness of these. They remind me some of the ones we did with crayons and an iron as kids. Did ou ever do that?
I wonder how it would work on fabric? You'd have to iron out the wax. Might be fun to experiment.

elle said...

This a very cool technique. Hmm,I need to find a frying pan! Thanks for reminding us to play!