|"Love and Light: Rising from the Ashes" ©MM Sikes|
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|
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.