I have always been intrigued by beeswax as it is used in painting and looked into encaustic painting but found just the start up kits way out of my budget. So I came across an article on Wabi-sabi aka cold wax painting. The more I read the more I was intrigued. So when I saw that a 16oz of cold wax was $16.95 I had to give it a whirl. A few things about painting with cold wax. The standard proportion mix of wax to paint is 50/50. It extended the paint without diluting the color so you may save some money on paint, however if you are like me you will find that it also loosens you up and I managed to actually use more! That brings me to the most positive at least for me. You may start with something in mind but soon enough the piece takes on a life of it's own. It actually softly speaks showing you where it wants to go.
So let's get started, Here is a list of materials you will need:
A Hard substrate: I used MDF Board. A stiffer base is preferred so you will be able to easily strape away layers and the cold wax is not in danger of cracking.
Cold wax medium (I used Gamblin brand) http://www.dickblick.com/items/00456-1006/iOil paints I did use an assortment all worked with the possible exception of transparent water mixable oil. These worked but did not respond to the painting process as well
Oil paint sticks (Optional): I found these particularly useful for making quick, opaque marks thought they can be mixed with the cold wax also. http://www.dickblick.com/items/00456-1006/
Bamboo Sticks I purchased mine from the grocery store in the meat isle.
Palatte Knives: an Assortment the more the merrier.
Steel wool (optional)
Pottery scraper: http://www.dickblick.com/products/12-piece-basic-pottery-tool-set/
Any good marking tool you find around the house can be repurposed to the cold wax painting process. (note once used it is a good idea to relegate to art use only)
Step 1: Cover the substrate with gesso. Oil ground is preferred but acrylic gesso will work. Coat your substrate with 3 or 4 coats (this prevents you from scratching into the substrate when scraping off paint) let each layer dry completely before adding the next.
Step 2: Mix the colors for you substrate base using a 50/50 proportion paint to cold wax. (you will notice this renders the paint to mat finish immediately.
Step 3: paint desired colors over the substrate (it is ok to have a set picture in your mind to use as inspiration, just don't get married to it)
Step 4: Let this dry 1-3 day depending on the temp and humidity in your work area. I will feel dry to the touch soon after you apply it but it usually takes at least 8 hours to dry.
Step5: Now is when you can let loose and let the piece take you. add paint, graphite powdered or scratched in,scrape away areas to reveal the underlying color and pattered. Just let yourself go...there isn't anything that can't be done over and over again until it is the way you want it. There is no limit to the layers to can add.
Step 6: Work this way adding and taking layers away,scratching, marking even adding collage materials (this is done by laying down cold wax, setting the paper image on top and covering it once again with clear or colored wax. let it dry and then proceed as you would any other paint/collage.
Step 6: when you are finished let it get good and dry and you can either leave it in matte finish or use a light soft cloth to buff it to a satin sheen. Your done!
I have decided to include a WIP of my Hot Time in the City, cold way painting.
This is the first base layer. I took care not to overblend the colors as this is what will add interest into the final piece. I was inspired by a pastoral scenic photograph in rural Italy.
In the Second layer I used fewer colors so that they would compliment the colors below that would emerge after the scraping.
In the third layer I noticed a theme emerging and it looked nothing like what I had originally envisioned, but I liked it so I kept going. Here is wher I really starting making marks, Following whatever felt right at the moment. Again I didn't get to caught up as I knew any mistakes could be hidden under multiple layers. What I was concerned about was "over "doing anything at this point, that mistake can rarely be solved to any necessary degree.
Layer 4 gave me my final image, And you can quickly see that I lost my original idea of a rural pastoral scene which is fine with me I prefer this image anyway. Her are some close ups that let you see how all the wonderful textures come into play here. That in a nutshell is the beauty of Wabi-Sabi.