Monday, April 24, 2017

Below The Surface

"Below The Surface"
Image size 12" x 12"

I wanted to work more with layers and textures this week and get a sense of atmospheric depth.  I used a variety of transparencies of wax and some layers of alcohol inks in the lower part.  My surface was an cradled board that I didn't gesso. The unfinished wood gives a bit softer look than if the background had been the bright white of a gessoed surface.

The striations in the top light layer in the bottom portion were achieved by using a cheap, thin brush that is missing half of the bristles.  That gave a nice texture that shows more in person than in this photo.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

California Oranges

California Oranges
Image size 6" x 9"
Watercolor on TerraSkin

Several decades ago, we moved into a house that had 12 mature Valencia orange trees.  Where the house was built was originally an orange grove and they left many of them. I was so excited to start juicing fresh orange juice every morning (I was young and much more motivated then).  It was December and the oranges were a beautiful, deep orange color so I was sure they were ripe.  I picked a bucket full and with my new juicer I was able to fill a large pitcher of fresh juice.

I filled a glass with ice, poured my fresh juice and took my first sip.  YUCK!!! It was so sour!  I started adding sugar as you would with lemon juice.  As I was doing it, I was a bit concerned that my healthy fresh juice was becoming a sugary mess.  Also, I was wondering what I was going to do with so many trees full of horrible tasting oranges.

I found out that even though the oranges look ripe and ready to pick in December, they actually aren't fully ripe and ready to juice until about June.  I'm not sure why the flowers and new fruit, which are on the trees in early spring, are on the tree at the same time as the orange fruit, but that is how my reference pictures show.

Now, I have 5 very small valencia orange trees that I'm hoping to get fruit from this year for the first time.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

This painting was done on TerraSkin, that surface that is a mixture of stone dust and non-toxic resin.  The paint sits on the surface and the paints mingle in interesting ways.  I love this surface, but haven't worked on it for a very long time.  I simply forgot about it.  That is a sure sign that I have way too many art supplies.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Stormy Canyon

"Stormy Canyon"
Image size 21" x 4"
Encaustic and ink
I used the OSB (I call it chipboard) as a support for this, hoping that the texture of the layered pieces of wood would show a lot.  I put one layer of clear medium and then rubbed burnt sienna oil paint onto the surface, filling all of the depressed areas.  I left several areas with very little wax so that the wood could show, but it really doesn't as much as I had hoped.  I do like this color palette and the layers of wax and ink though.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Metal Threads

"Metal Threads"
Image Size 5.5" x 6.5"
I experimented a bit more with the metallic leaf pieces that I have and I added some gold threads as well.  The first layer of thread doesn't really show, so I added the second layer as the last element of the painting and coated it with a thin layer of clear medium to protect it.  I have several layers of the metallic chips and they give a very nice sense of the layering in the piece.  I also did a little bit of shellac burning which ended up as the little dots - a different effect than usual, and added some alcohol inks for some transparent color in the early stages.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experiment.  It's nice to work small to try things out, but I think I need to do a large abstract using these techniques.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Image size 8" x 9.5"

I didn't intend to paint another wave, but that is what came out of my paintbrushes.  I do so love to paint water.  I also like to play around with the spray from a crashing wave.  My finger is a little bit burnt from doing that, but it's temporary.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Image size 11" x 14"
Encaustic, oil, ink

I really love the textural quality of the paint and the colors mixing in this painting.  I worked on a cradled board and didn't put any gesso on it so I applied the wax to the unfinished wood.  Some of the wood is peeking through the colors and I think it gives a softer effect than having the colors sitting on a bright white surface.  

After applying some of the leftover color from my palette along with clear medium, I rubbed some oil paints in some areas.  Then I applied another layer of clear medium and heated it to move the oil paint around.  This is becoming one of my favorite techniques in encaustic painting.  I also added some alcohol inks in the lower portion including some gold ink, which gives just a little bit of an accent.  I also did a little shellac burn with amber shellac, but it doesn't really show and didn't react as I wanted.  There is also a bit of oil pastel in one of the layers.  

A little of this and a little of that makes for some interesting results.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Image size 7.5" x 11"

I worked on saturated paper for this painting and played with the push/pull of color and value.  I got the background too dark so I used white watercolor to lighten it up and really like the effect.  I don't usually used white watercolor because that is considered a no no to watercolor purists and that is how I was taught to paint, but I don't think we should be constrained by such rules when creating.  It was very freeing to do something that goes against what I was taught to do.  It makes me feel like such a rebel. 😉

Monday, March 6, 2017

Arid Landscape

"Arid Landscape"
Image size 8" x 16"
Encaustic and Metallic Leaf

This is another encaustic and metallic leaf painting.  The layers of metallic leaf looks a bit like rocks to me.  It was another fun experiment.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Image size 8" x 12"
Mixed Media
We have a local art supply store that has classes and demos each month.  Last week I went to a demo for Akua printing inks.  I am not a printmaker, but had heard about these inks and wanted to learn more.  We were able to play with the supplies and we each made a mono print.  Once I got home I added to it with colored pencils.  I don't really need another medium, but I can see that printmaking could be a really fun artistic outlet.

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.

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