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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wild Workshop in Oil and Cold Wax

Shelly's painting in oil/cold wax/graphite on Arches Oil Paper

Wild women met recently at my studio for "Expressive Abstraction in Oil and Cold Wax." They produced wonderful completed work and work in progress. 

Very early stages left to dry.

All the students were experienced painters but had not used cold wax before. They had to learn to let layers dry and not to overwork the pieces in the early stages, which we all tend to do when we're starting out in this medium.

The trick is to work on a lot of pieces at once to let layers dry and also to become looser.

By the second day, all the artists had loosened up wonderfully and explored a lot of options in color, composition, incising, scraping back, and texturing. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful weekend!

Adding and spreading paint and wax with a palette knife

Using a brayer to spread paint and texture

 A beautiful and dynamic finished piece.

Closeup of above

More of the lovely finished pieces from the class:

Detail from the piece at the top of the post. The piece was inspired by a painting of a young woman carrying another on her back.

Gold transfer leaf makes this piece sing, and the next few as well.

Covering over a piece in progress, then scraping and incising back produces complex simplicity.

Lively works in progress:

Monday, November 9, 2015

What Paints Work with Cold Wax?

Undersea    Oil/Cold Wax on Arches Oil Paper

Since my book on cold wax painting came out, I've been getting queries about whether cold wax can be used with acrylic or watercolor. As I mentioned in a previous post, cold wax can be used as a sealent over water-based media pieces. However, it just doesn't work to mix up the water based media with cold wax.

I am experimenting with mixing Ceracolors with cold wax. Ceracolors is a new wax paint, which is water-soluble. I'm thinking that because the paint is made of wax that it will mix okay with the cold wax medium. So far, it looks good, though I don't know anything about whether it will be archival or work in the long run. I plan to run questions by the experts at paint companies and see what they say.

Quite a few artists, especially mixed media artists, seem reluctant to use oil paint. Of course there are some with allergies, so that's understandable. I suspect some people are concerned about toxicity. Certainly in the Old Master days, many commonly used pigments were highly toxic, like Lead White. Some artists still use Lead White. I don't because I am very messy and would likely ingest lead somehow. I use Titanium or Zinc White which are not toxic, unless you eat them. 

The cadmium colors are also toxic. I make sure to use gloves when I use them, and not to smear them on my skin.(I do usually smear a fair amount of paint on my skin, unintentionally.) Most paint companies make very nice colors called Cadmium Yellow (or Red or whatever) Hue. The hue designation means that the paint is close to the color of the cadmium paint but does not contain cadmium. The same with Cerulean Blue, which is so expensive that many prefer to buy the "hue" version anyway. So if you are worried about toxicity, learn online about what colors are toxic and which are safe. Wear gloves when using oil paint. Use odorless mineral spirits, such as Gamsol if you use a thinner and wash off any oil paint you get on your skin. Yes, this is more complicated than using acrylic, but it will soon become second nature to use oil paints safely and happily.

I'd love to hear from readers--If you are reluctant to use oil paint, comment and tell me your concerns. We can have some interesting discussions!