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Hotplate : Landscape approaches in encaustic wax

Encaustic landscape is one of the most practised techniques. After abstract effects have been understood then landscape is an obvious progression for expression of interest and understanding about the environment in which we exist.

Below are some quick pointers for beginning this exploration ...

Place your card on top of the hotplate which should be set around a medium working heat.. This one is running a little bit hot (it was a public demonstration). The card can either be taped along the edge to hold it in place or a small amount of clear wax can be scribbled onto the hotplate surface. The card will then adhere to this and stay reasonably stable in the original placement position. However, the card can become saturated in the waxed area using this approach, making it translucent and possibly buckled slightly.

There is no right and wrong approach, although it is easiest to begin with the sky area and work downward, then add detail (foreground) up over the background (distance).

Here a blue wax colour is applied direct from the block to create the initial hue for the sky.

Now a white wax block is being used to over-work the initial blue colour, toning it down and adding a variety of shades, ranging from white to the darker blue.

The whole sky will be created now and not worked into again, so all the area is covered until a satisfying sky is achieved.

There is quite a lot of wax on this sky, but due to the heat of the hotplate some evaporation of the wax will occur over the remaining time taken to complete the rest of the painting. It is important to provide a ventilated atmosphere for working constantly hot wax like this piece. You will see that slight buckling distortion of the card has occurred due to the hotplate temperature being a little high.

The horizon can be created in a number of ways. Here the iron is being used to apply the wax ...
... and work it across the card. But it would be equally valid and more than often a normal thing to apply the horizon colour direct from the block wax.
Now a tissue is being used to begin to bring more control into the shape of the background mountains. Excess wax is also being removed be absorption into the tissue.
The mountain horizon edges became blurred as the grey colour ran into the sky colour. Both sets are very liquid in this example! So now the horizon is being re-done by tissue dabbing. This has the effect of removing excess wax by absorption as well as defining a clearer line between mountain edge and sky.

Some new colour is added where there could be a development of water.


This is then worked in with a tissue ...
... and all the time the piece is being reacted to as it unfolds its nature in the moment of creation.
Further colours and contrasts are added ...

... and worked in ...


... with tissue ...

...or again ...
... with a rubber stamp as the mark making tool.

Highlights, foreground details of interest, the dance goes on and on.

This particular image development has indicated a rough outline of approach, but nothing is fixed or final. As you begin your own exploration of this fascinating subject you will soon realise that the best way to progress is to explore and react....

... building up your own approaches and styles, finding your own shapes, tools, colours, compositions and so forth.

Encaustic hotplate landscape is a wonderful subject through which to learn, to discover, to explore, react, design and compose; all the time gaining a deeper understanding of this outstanding wax medium.

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