|Hot Air : Blow, tilt & pan using clear wax to aid coverage.
The basic approach to covering a card surface with wax colour is demonstrated in this image. On the DVD "From Hobby to Art" by Elisabeth Van Uden you can watch the live demonstration.
These types of wax coatings enable large areas to be covered without actual tool contact, which means that there are no tool marks in the wax & it is smooth.
Blends of colours are naturally formed, so provided you begin with harmonic colours like blue, yellow & white, then you will end up with shades & combinations of these with some blending to the intermediary colours too. In the case of yellow & blue that means some greens.
Learn how to approach coating a surface successfully. This approach also works well on boards and panels provided they are sealed to limit the absorption of wax into their structures.
In this demonstration the under-board is a foam core board that is light & rigid. The A3 card is taped carefully to the surface, ensuring a neat overlap on each edge. When the tape is later removed this will remain white, so take care to create a pleasing border overlap.
Masking tape is a low tack disposable & economic product for this.
|Clear wax is first applied over the entire area that will become coated during the blowing process. The iron makes it easy to cover the whole area. AVOID ANY HOLES in this under-coat of clear wax because this is what enables the colours to flow readily into every part of the surface. You may need to turn the iron up to a medium heat to cover larger areas smoothly.
|A fast way to get the wax colour in the right areas without merging other applied colours into it is to use the iron in a vertical position & let the wax dribble off onto the prepared surface. In this piece the lightest colours are kept in the center; white is first on. Later, during the blowing it is best to move the lighter colours out over the darker ones as this will create a stronger impression of light in the image.
|Further colours are added in a similar manner, working largely in a concentric pattern, so that the light is in the middle surrounded or framed by the darker hues. It is often not necessary to clean the iron since the colours being used are going to merge during blowing anyway.
|Finally add the last colour, here it is dark blue. Allow a few seconds after breaking contact between the wax block & the iron's surface, so that the remaining molten colour can dribble off and not be wasted on the cleaning tissue. Notice the proximity of the blobs of wax. This amount of wax is about what is needed to ensure the molten colour is fluid enough to blow and move during the heated stage.
|Time to switch on the hot air gun, which will get HOT.
If there are a choice of settings then use one that is quite high initially, so that the whole piece can quickly be warmed. Once the wax starts to glisten you know that it is beginning to melt, so then turn down the temperature to a more moderate heat. Using the hot air gun with an open ended tube (no restricter) gives a wider softer blast which is good for general coating of a surface.
Now that the wax is up to temperature & beginning to melt & move in the working area it is time to control the air direction & watch the wax carefully as it flows & blends.
At first, just concentrate of getting colour to flood the surface, covering up all the clear wax under-coat.
Blowing the wax colour is one way to move the encaustic paint around. Already you will discover the blends occurring & if you have chosen the colour well, you will see the harmonic mix emerge - here it is a green.You are now working in a molten puddle of coloured wax where things can happen quite fast. If you feel it is running away just move the hot air gun further out from the work surface, creating a greater distance between the wax & the nozzle - calm it all down!
As the waxes blend & flow together it is often advisable & best to work in one direction. This will avoid over-mixing which can result in all the wax becoming much too uniform in colour. Watch out for any signs of holes being blown - KEEP THAT NOZZLE ON THE MOVE.
* If you see SMOKE reduce the heat setting immediately.
The time will arrive when you need to pick up the under-board & begin to use the tilting & panning to force gravity to pull the waxes as you choose. This is a bit like rubbing your tummy with one hand whilst patting your head with the other - practise enables dexterity. If you are at all ambidextrous it helps! The light weight of the foam core board now pays off & the wax colours start to follow your command.
|At this stage it is still important to work hard ensuring all areas of the painting surface get covered with wax colour. To achieve this, flow the waxes in small areas, out towards the edges of the image, then once they have created a covering there, pan & tilt the board the other way to flow them back inwards again.
|The higher the angle of tilt then the faster the wax liquid will flow around & down the painting surface. You will learn to gauge the fluidity of the wax & adjust the tilt of angle accordingly to create flow yet prevent loss of control.
Greatest movement of the wax can be caused by lifting the board into a vertical position & blowing downwards at the same time.
First from one end....
|... then switching to the opposite vertical position by rotating the board 180 degrees so that the wax is now all flowing the opposite way at the bottom & in toward the center from the new top.
|Work on like this until the entire painting area is covered with the coloured & blended wax. Tilt & pan the board, direct the air to blow the wax, monitor the heat to ensure it remains molten & fluid but does not overheat or smoke. Move the gun closer or further out from the piece to increase the blasting force of both air flow & heat intensity.
|Have a scrap piece of paper already lying on the work table so that as you get in to the edges or corners with the final coverage of fluid wax there is no concern if it drips off. This is expected & the wax that runs off the image area has done its job. It has helped keep the whole encaustic artwork flowing & enabled all areas of the surface to be suitably covered.
|Once this stage is reached you can simply complete the process by concentrating on any areas that you feel still need to be changed or re-worked...
|... then, when you are satisfied, or at least willing to accept the result as it stands, turn the work piece flat....
|... & whilst it is flat, allow it a few seconds to cool. The under-board material is also heated up, so now feeds heat back from below the actual painting card. Sometimes it can take quite a while for it all to cool down into a solid state. Even then it can still be fragile, so don't touch the surface with anything until is is totally cool - best to remove it from the under-board first before any further surface contact.
|To do that just peel off the tape. It is better to do this whilst there is still some warmth in the wax as the wax will then tear easily along the edge of the tape. If the piece gets totally cold then tape removal can cause some flaking & damage along the edge, especially if the wax is thick there.
These holes are areas where no wax colour flowed. They are probably due to the under-coat of clear wax not being sufficient or even perhaps absent on these small parts. Preparation is the key, so ensure ALL areas are well covered with the clear wax initially. A quick fix is just to use the hot air gun & a small corner of tissue to re-melt & pull molten colour into those places. It is always best to do this at the end of the initial heating whilst the whole piece is still workable. Once it has cooled it is far more tricky to blend it in well!
Now that the tape has been removed the white edges are apparent. These act as an initial frame for the piece.
If there are thick areas of wax then beware of the danger of cracking or flaking. On any flexible card or paper type surface this can occur, so once completed it is best to fix the work onto a rigid surface.
Finally the work is cool & completed.
Ideal for fantasy backgrounds & often also used for skies, in which case only part of the card needs to be coated with the clear wax & then worked with colours. See the other section pages for more....