Always looking to expand my repertoire of creative options, I signed up for a summer workshop at R & F Handmade Paints in the Hudson River Valley. The building is in a rough area of Kingston, NY, but you can find it easily due to the colorful array of wildflowers blooming across the front length of the building.
The first part of my workshop was a short history of encaustic painting and a tour of encaustic cakes production. Because each pigment has different qualities, the pigments are individually milled before combining to make blended colors. Watching them flow like liquid silk between and over the rollers is mesmerizing.
After hours of being tended to by the paint makers, the pigments, beeswax and resin are poured into molds. Once they’ve cooled, they’re popped out, like candy molds releasing their succulent treasures. Then they’re tested by the paint makers and if they pass inspection, they’re labeled and either put into segmented wall units in the studio, put on the shelf for sale, or packed and shipped to eagerly awaiting artists.
Next, I watched demonstrations of basic encaustic techniques: surfaces and how to prepare them; painting cold; painting warm; collage; fusing; imbedding; mixing; layering; buffing; and more. Then the artist told me the studio was mine to use as I wished, to create my first encaustic piece. I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store!
I decided to try collage and layering as a foundation for some mixed media pieces I’ve been thinking about creating. I quickly learned that each pigment has its own personality when it comes to being heated. Some separate, some granulate, some rise to the surface through other layers of color, and you can create new colors by layering them, an option to mixing them. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Here is my sample, below. I didn’t try to create anything specific, though interestingly, I’ve been told it’s reminiscent of Starry Night, or the deep-sea. For me, it was experimental fun!
There’s something so sumptuous about rich pigments mixed with beeswax and the way they melt into an encaustic painting and softly glow in the light. (R & F also makes gorgeous oil pigment sticks, which I look forward to experimenting with in encaustic painting, and, on their own.)
The folks at R & F are fantastic, helpful, knowledgable and friendly people. Stop in and explore!