Daddy's Christmas Angel

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cold Wax Medium - A Great Choice for Mixed Media Artists

"Love and Light: Rising from the Ashes" ©MM Sikes
Are you familiar with cold wax medium? I wasn't until last year when I started to notice the work of several artists using this material. I liked what I saw and wanted to learn more.

In galleries and museums, mixed media work has always spoken to me and lured me to study it more closely. That's what most of cold wax paintings I saw seemed to be.

Some of my earliest paintings featured plaster on canvas. I suppose that was an early version of mixed media. Later, I worked with a product called Celluclay Instant Papier Mache and created both paintings and sculpture using this 3-dimensional medium. Several years ago, I discovered encaustic (hot wax) painting in workshops with Karen Eide. More recently, I have used a variety of acrylic materials, including very thick Utrecht Professional Gesso, to build depth in my mixed media paintings.

Throughout it all, I have stayed away from oil paints because I never liked the smell of turpentine and oil in my upstairs studio. When I work with oil paint and encaustics, I take the materials outdoors to heat.

Then I found a new world of painting with cold wax medium. In April, I took a three-day workshop with Lisa Boardwine, and immediately I was hooked. Using a Gamblin solvent with odorless mineral spirits, I lost my fear of bringing oil paints back to my studio. Cold wax appears to be the medium for which I've been searching. I can experiment in many directions, even using some of the techniques I've learned over my acrylic mixed media pieces to soften harsh flatness where it bothers me.

Because, using a soft cloth, encaustics can be polished to a dazzling sheen, I still love them and
"Starry Nebula" Encaustics ©MM Sikes
want to continue experimentation with that medium. The cold wax has a matte finish and can be incorporated into work with the encaustics. The possibilities are endless. I can scrape, incise, scribble, print, and much more. It's exciting to consider the new opportunities cold wax offers.

Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin have published a comprehensive book about the cold wax process. Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts and Conversations is probably the best art book I have ever purchased. I will keep it nearby and take it into my studio when I go there to work in cold wax.

Serena Barton has published another excellent book, Wabi-Sabi Painting with Cold Wax. "Wabi-sabi is a philosophy and aesthetic that honors the imperfect, the transitory, the humble, and the handmade," she explains. Creating work intuitively, the Oregon-based artist considers making her cold wax art like "taking a journey...without a map."

With my own many years of art experience, I can testify that cold wax medium is a wonderful choice for artists who want to experiment. It is a perfect medium for intuitive artists. I will continue to explore and enjoy Yupo synthetic paper and the Robert Doak watercolors, but now I have a new medium for sculptural painting.

Thank you, Lisa Boardwine, for introducing me. Thank you, Karen Eide, for bringing me back to oil and much more.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine Draws Interest

"Transportation Museum in Bangor" ©Mary Montague Sikes
It seems like it's located in the middle of nowhere, but the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine is amazing. Housed in a building large enough for railroad cars, snowplows, tractor trailers and much more, the museum features over 200 Maine-connected vehicles, fascinating old photographs, and other artifacts. Visitors there should come prepared to spend a long morning or afternoon studying vintage cars and tractors, climbing into train cars, watching videos, and much more.

"The only meaningful legacy we will leave this world will be the difference we make in others especially in the life of a child." That slogan from the outside of the building says it all. What a lovely gift and interesting destination for school field trips.
"Military Exhibit" ©Mary Montague Sikes

"Farmall Tractor" ©Mary Montague Sikes