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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cold Wax Work Galore at Art and Soul in VA Beach: First Installment

Student Work

Just over a week ago I was at stormy Virginia Beach, teaching at Art & Soul Retreat. One thing that relieves my usual post-retreat letdown is going through the photos I took at my classes. In the next few posts, I'll share some of the stunning work that students did in the two-day "Transformations in Oil & Cold Wax."

It's fascinating to introduce oil and cold wax painting to people for the first time. Some students take to it immediately, but most struggle a bit with the long drying time and it takes a while to figure out how to best use the unique qualities of this medium. One student, an experienced artist, asked a great question. She wondered why we would use oil/cw when she could paint the same pieces much more quickly with acrylic. It's a good question to address!

One reason we came to in discussion is the quality of transparency that oil/cw can create. Start with transparency and alternate transparent and opaque layers. Scrape back the opacity to reveal the transparency and create a glow from within the painting. Other reasons include the depth of texture you can create, the organic surface, the ability to work wet on wet and the general deliciousness of the medium.

Early layers

I told my students from the outset that their pieces won't always look good at each stage. The idea is to experiement, add on, take off, until the piece begins to suggest a way to resolve it. In this post you'll see beginning or middle stages, that don't give much clue to the finished product. 

Scraping back to an earlier layer to produce lines

The key is to keep going on several pieces at once. That way you can get a lot of pieces completed by giving each piece a chance to set up while you are working on another. It also keeps us from getting too precious and overworking a given piece. When I went through the photos I took, I was amazed once again at the quality of the students' work and how many of them there were! So this is only Part One of photos from this class.

This piece has set up enough to add oil bar marks

The edges of this piece on oil paper are taped, waiting for the Big Reveal


  1. thank you for the very helpful info Serena! I actually just posted a comment on my blog about how I am working on several boards at a time in order to keep adding layers-and use up leftover mixes:) I also mentioned having patience for drying times- mine seem to be taking a week and more in between-and having acrylics and watercolors to play with in the interim.

  2. Working on acrylics and watercolors while waiting for your wax to dry is a great idea, Linda!