hot wax/cold wax
This past fall, I met painter and workshop instructor Jeff Hirst
, first through Facebook, and then in person at his studio in Minneapolis. I enjoyed seeing his richly patterned and expressive encaustic paintings, using techniques involving molten, pigmented wax. It was also interesting to see the set-up needed in the studio for this process. I've visited several other encaustic studios in the past few years, including those of Kathleen Waterloo
(in Chicago) and Ally Richter
(in the Bay Area) and in each case, their beautiful pigmented waxes and well-used, heated palettes were intriguing. I find my interest in the encaustic process growing through exposure to these artists and more, and the work they produce with its seductive surfaces and rich layering of color.
The workshops that I teach are about how to use cold wax medium, where no heating of the wax takes place. But I've always had quite a few participants whose primary methods involve hot wax. Artists who are drawn to working with wax tend to be interested in both encaustic and cold wax techniques (as one put it, "wax is wax.") Some are interested in combining the two approaches, others in learning a new way to use wax; others lack proper ventilation in their studios for dealing with the fumes of hot wax.
I haven't had much experience with encaustic painting, myself. Back in grad school, I fused a wax-medium painting or two-and managed to set one of them on fire. A few years later, I took an encaustic monoprint workshop, but the process didn't seem to fit with my work at the time, and I did not pursue it. And last spring, encaustic painter Kathryn Bevier
kindly let me play around with her materials when I was in Rochester, NY to teach a workshop (I produced some lovely mud.)
The time has come for me to learn more about this sister process to cold wax. The day that I visited with Jeff Hirst, we decided to exchange workshops...and yesterday he came to mine (that's him in the photo in my studio, above.) This coming Saturday I'll attend his in Minneapolis. I'm interested in how the processes are alike and how they are different, how they may be combined (and also, if given a day of instruction I will be able to do anything other than make a mess....stay tuned!)
Hot wax has also been on my mind because encaustic painter Shawna Moore
and I are beginning to organize a combined workshop in Santa Fe in October--a one day introduction to each process.
(By the way, besides Jeff, three other artists came yesterday to my workshop here--including Ginny Hertzog
, who experimented with a very interesting collage approach that is related to her work with the same imagery in water media.)