The descriptive term I most often use in labeling my paintings is "oil and mixed media" and I am sometimes asked what this means. I choose this phrase because I use a variety of materials besides straight oil paint...to those familiar with my work, the most obvious of these is cold wax medium, a thick, room temperature beeswax paste that adds body, increases drying time and enhances the brilliance of the oils. But there are other materials that I rely upon, including:
Dry pigment, graphite, and charcoal: these powders add texture, color and body when mixed into the wax and oil on my palette. I also apply them directly to the surface of the work when it is semi-dry to the touch, or mix them with solvent and apply with a brush for gestural marks.
Various solvents: selectively applied, I use these to make textures and marks, or to wash out entire areas to expose underlying layers.
Drawing materials including graphite, wax pencil and chalk pastel: I use these for mark-making on the surface when it is in a receptive state, either semi dry or fully dry.
Powdered marble: this substance is colorless when mixed into paint and wax, and adds body--a light, almost fluffy quality, making the paint easy to spread with a palette knife.
Metallic leaf: I use this very sparingly and with subtlety in some paintings.
Sand: again I am quite selective and sparing with this material since it can be a bit intrusive in a subtle painting. It can also easily clog up painting tools like brayers and brushes. But in small doses it creates a beautiful textural layer.
Painting with cold wax medium and oils is a process that lends itself naturally to experimentation, and anything that will not conflict with the basic chemistry of the wax can be incorporated into the work (for example, dried leaves, bits of paper or cloth, plaster...)I love this aspect of cold wax painting--that the medium is so compatible with various other materials.
But however spontaneous and experimental I may be, the decisions about which materials end up in the work are carefully considered. Along with everything else--from the scale of my paintings to the decision to add or take away a panel in a multiple panel work--I am looking for what will make meaningful contributions to the work. In the case of mixed media, I gravitate towards substances that interact with the paint and wax to form complex textures, contribute to the richness of layers, or provide visually striking contrasts.