Monday, February 20, 2017


Image Size 22" x 20"

Rondo is a beautiful town in Spain that is perched above a very deep gorge.  These buildings are right on the edge, which is so dramatic.  Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable being inside one of them, but this town has been around since the 15th century so I guess the buildings are not likely to fall off of the cliff.  Still, cliff dwelling is not for me.

The white buildings probably look too white to be that old, but in every town that I visited, I saw someone painting a building white.  The towns were so pristine!  I've never seen so many white buildings!

I drew this over 5 years ago and decided it was time to finish it.  The actual size of the painting is 22" x 30", but after painting it, I noticed that the tree was right in the middle of the painting.  I am usually aware of placing something in the middle, but it's amazing how many times I end up with a major element right in the middle, which is a no no.  I don't consider the tree to be that major, but because of the value contrast between that and the white buildings, that's what happened.  Below is the actual painting so you can see what I mean.

If this was painted on a canvas, I would be stuck with it, but since it's on paper, I can crop it to any size I want!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Big Sky

"Big Sky"
Image size 11" x 15"
The reference photo for this painting is from 2000.  We used to go to Big Sky, Montana at Christmas each year to ski.  I am not a skier, but I was content to sit by the fire with a good book and coffee (or wine).
I love the look of shadows on snow and wanted to try to paint a snow scene this week since it is winter.  I started this painting as a poured painting, but when I removed the resist that I had used to preserve my different values, most of the blue pigment came off.  I thought I was using Arches paper, but I don't think the pigment would have lifted off on that paper.  Paint sits on the surface more with some of the other brands and will lift too easily.  It wasn't a big deal to continue painting it in the traditional manner, but it does give a different effect.  At least the base color continues throughout the painting and gives it a cohesive look, which is one of the results that I love with poured paintings.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Metallic Motion

"Metallic Motion"
Image size 5.5" x 6.5"

I have some metallic leaf (not gold leaf) that I've had for years and never tried it in any paintings.  It is chopped up in a plastic bag and is a combination of colors - copper, burgundy, charcoal, gold - you get the picture.  

For this painting,  I placed my wood support (that had been gessoed) face down on the hot pancake griddle that I use as my palette.  The melted wax on my palette from previous paintings transferred onto the wood as would happen if you were making a mono print.  That mingled color became my background.  Then, I started adding the metal leaf.  I wasn't sure what would happen to it when I used my heat gun.  I was afraid that the heat would cause it to shrivel up, but it really didn't change at all.  I added some black and rust colored oil paint in certain areas as I continued to layer wax and metal leaf.  I also added clear shellac with white powdered pigment added.  I knew from past experience that my white mixture wouldn't catch on fire as nicely as plain shellac does, so I used a long lighter to heat each area of the white until it moved and took on the texture that I wanted.  I think my proportion of pigment powder to shellac is too heavy with pigment powder and not enough shellac for it to burn nicely.   I wanted the color to be very opaque, which is why I had the mixture heavy on  powder.  Next time, I'll add more clear shellac to my existing mixture and see if the white is still opaque enough and if it burns better.

The metallic element of this painting adds a nice texture.  The first layers that I applied have more wax covering them so they are less reflective, but having additional layers on top of each other adds different levels of shine and gives a real sense of dimension.

I'm looking forward to trying this on a larger painting.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wave Break

"Wave Break"
Image size 8" x 8"

I painted this on a bisque (unglazed) tile.  That should be the perfect surface for encaustic since it is porous, but I think it's almost too porous.  It takes a lot of wax to build up a nice, smooth surface because it keeps sinking into the tile.  I like the square shape and I have a couple of boxes of these left over from a previous craft project, so I'll probably use them for encaustic again.  I think I will begin with a layer of encaustic gesso next time to control the permeability of the surface.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cloudy South Carolina

"Cloudy South Carolina"
Image Size 8" x 10"
We've been having some crazy storms this week.  Well, crazy by California standards anyway.  I always enjoy the rain, but we really need a week or more to dry out now before we get any more storms.  
The reference photo for this painting was taken several years ago when I was visiting friends in  Charleston, South Carolina.  We visited a Middleton Plantation and I took a lot of pictures of the beautiful grounds.  This was one of them.
I tried pastels again this week, but handled them in a different manner.  Last week's painting was almost completely blended and this week, I didn't blend the pastels at all - at least not with my fingers.  There is always a certain amount of blending done when you layer colors on top of each other.
The support I used for this was a rust colored sanded pastel paper.  I'm sorry I don't know which brand,  because I've had it a while in my stash of pastel papers.  I didn't blend with my fingers because I wanted the bits of rust color to come through in the finished painting.  I think that adds a bit of energy and cohesiveness to the painting.  It probably would have looked nice to have a fully blended sky with the clouds, but that will be for another painting.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Untamed Wave

"Untamed Wave"
Image size 6" x 8"
I'm back to waves.  They are so much fun to paint!  This one is done in pastel.  I haven't used pastels for almost 2 years.  I can't believe that!  I really do enjoy working with them and have so many pastels and supports to use for pastels that I should be using them for a painting every week for the next 10 years!
Of course, you know I'm not going to do THAT, but I think I will concentrate on using them more often.  I love the variety of texture that can be achieved with them. 

For this painting, I applied fine pumice gel on a mat board using crisscrossing brush strokes.  The texture doesn't show very much in the finished painting because I blended most of the color with my finger.  Some of the final additions of white and gray are not blended, which gives a bit of variety to the painting. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Vail Creek

"Vail Creek"
Image Size 6" x 8"

I tried working with the Ceracolors again.  This time, I didn't plan to heat them.  I worked on Bristol board with a plate finish, which is a very smooth surface.  I usually don't work on papers with a completely smooth finish, like bristol or hot press, but I do like the looser feeling that I am forced to get using this finish.  It's very hard (for me) to get smooth washes on this surface, which is good, because it forces me to work in a different manner.

It was fun working with the Ceracolors, but I was using them by painting thin veils of color,  which doesn't really show the waxy appearance for which they are intended.   Next time I won't thin them so much and will paint more layers to see what results I can get.  Also, I still need to try mixing them with my encaustic paints to see what happens.

So much to do......

Monday, January 2, 2017

Silver Linings

"Silver Linings"
Image size 6" x 6"

We've been having rain lately with lots of interesting clouds and skies so I was inspired to play with abstracted cloud shapes in encaustic for my painting this week.  As I was working on it, the title popped into my head.  That made me think of how blessed I am in my life.  I plan to keep that in mind as one of my New Year's Resolutions.  It's so easy to let day to day irritations intrude on our sense of thanksgiving.  Staying more focused on the present and appreciating everyone that is in my life is going to be a priority in 2017.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Jumbo Kumquats

"Jumbo Kumquats"
Image size 7" x 5"

I had been hearing about a new 'wax' paint called Ceracolors, so when I saw that there was going to be a demonstration at a local art store using these paints, I signed up.  They are described as wax and pigment emulsified in water and are supposed to be compatible with encaustic since both are wax.  I found that intriguing and bought a sample set of the three primaries plus white and a small bottle of medium.  I thought this would be the perfect way to get more detail in my encaustics. 

This painting is done on an Ampersand textured claybord panel.  The Ceracolors paint comes in a tube and has a smooth consistency that is similar to watercolor tube paints.  It was interesting to work with these colors.  I guess I would compare it to working with acrylic paints.  The paints can be thinned with water, but when I thinned them too much, there were bubbles and it was hard to get a nice wash.  I think that had more to do with the surface on which I was working than the paint.  On the lower background in this painting, I did a wash of very pale yellow over the blue.  I wasn't getting the smooth wash that I wanted so I created a random texture and I think that looks better than it would with a smooth wash.  I think that layering these paints to get more texture would be a fun way to work with them.

In the demo, we were told that the paints don't have to be fused like encaustics, but that they can be heated.  I was excited to see what results I would get when I used my heat gun, but nothing happened.  So then I took my palette with the leftover paint blobs to see if they would melt and they didn't.  I am going to do some more experimenting and try mixing these paints with my encaustics to see what happens.   Also, I'm going to do some research into the ingredients of this paint, but at this point, I don't think they are only wax, pigment and water. 

Monday, December 19, 2016


Image size 6" x 6"
This cute building is in Old Town Tustin, CA and was originally built in the 1800's.  I've always loved this building with it's interesting facade and was so sad when it burned down several years ago. Fortunately, the facade, which gives this building so much of it's charm, was mostly undamaged in the fire.  Many people in the community helped raise money to rebuild this historic landmark.

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