Thursday, February 16, 2017

Build It And They Will Come

Fix the road, I should say.

We live in a lovely house about a 15 minute drive from town, San Miguel de Allende; however, when students or clients finally get here, they usually comment, "Oh my god, that road is terrible" I did agree; there were gaping holes filled with jagged rocks that could cut car tires and destroy shocks.

A while back we put some money in a community fund towards repairing the road, but nothing happened. Although we are the only renters in our neighborhood, I decided I had to do something about the abominable road. My all-around handy man and studio assistant ordered a 1/2 truck load of gravel and he spent a good part of the day filling in the most treacherous, dangerous hole. Later, that evening, I received thank you notices from 8 of our neighbors.

I also put a map with directions to the house on my website.

Yesterday, I received some delightful people for a studio visit, and sold 2 paintings. They did come! Two paintings sold. I now have a fascinating commission that I look forward to and a suggestion that I show my art in Paris.

Next, perhaps I can convince Google Maps to include our address.
Sold, Transitions #2

Sold: Cold wax on paper

Saturday, February 11, 2017

There Is No Such Thing As Cold Encaustic!

encaustic on board
Encaustic on board
cold wax and oil on panel

cold wax and oil on paper
You may think that I am extreme in my insistence about the difference between encaustic and cold wax painting. but it is like saying that watercolor and acrylic is the same; both wonderful techniques, but not the same.

When I first arrived in San Miguel de Allende, MX, over 12 years ago, I faced Mexican artists who learned wax painting in school and their teachers called it encaustic.  They also heated it!! I was horrified to learn that was what they were teaching at the local art school. "What's the big deal?" you may say. HEATING COLD WAX is very dangerous to your health. It contains solvents. Wearing a thin paper mask is doing nothing; the fumes are still being breathed.

I saw a posting from a local artist about a recent class she took, saying she was working in cold encaustic. There is no such thing.  Below is the explanation from The Encaustic Art Institute in San Fe, New Mexico

detail of encaustic texturing
"What Is Encaustic?
Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. Pigments may be added to the medium, or purchased colored with traditional artist pigments. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer.
History of Encaustic
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks, who used wax to caulk ship hulls. Pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships. The use of encaustic on panels rivaled the use of tempera in what are the earliest known portable easel paintings. Tempera was a faster, cheaper process. Encaustic was a slow, difficult technique, but the paint could be built up in relief, and the wax gave a rich optical effect to the pigment. These characteristics made the finished work startlingly life-like. Moreover, encaustic had far greater durability than tempera, which was vulnerable to moisture. Perhaps the best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st through 3rd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt. A portrait of the deceased painted either in the prime of life or after death, was placed over the person’s mummy as a memorial. These are the only surviving encaustic works from ancient times. It is notable how fresh the color has remained due to the protection of the wax.

Fayum burial portrait
The 20th century has seen a rebirth of encaustic on a major scale. It is an irony of our modern age, with its emphases on advanced technology, that a painting technique as ancient and involved as encaustic should receive such widespread interest.
Earlier attempts to revive encaustic failed to solve the one problem that had made painting in encaustic so laborious – the melting of the wax. The availability of portable electric heating implements and the variety of tools made the use of encaustic more accessible. Today it is gaining popularity with artists around the world.
Care of Encaustic Art
These paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving a painting in a car on a hot day would not be advisable or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun. They are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.
Some encaustic colors tend to “bloom” or become cloudy over time. If your painting appears indistinct, simply rub the surface with a soft cloth or nylon stocking. Over time the surface retains its gloss as the wax medium continues to cure and harden for up to 1-3 years."
cold wax and oil on panel 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

30 Paintings

Here are all the paintings I used for the 30 day challenge. At least as I remember posting them. Many of them were not done in one day. Is that cheating? I did work in the studio almost everyday.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Almost Like Magic

This is the last day of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, and this is the painting I am posting. Usually there is no way that I can complete a painting in a single day, but this one still surprises me. It was as if every brush stroke of the hot encaustic paint knew exactly where to go.

My heritage is Hungarian. I am a first generation American. The only time I visited Hungary was many. many years ago. At that time Budapest was drab and under the communist rein. The only thing colorful I saw was the National ballet. The drapes in the theater were dilapidated, but the costumes were blazing with color and the dancers passionate.

Not long after my return to the U.S. , the same dance troop came to Scottsdale AZ, where I was living at the time. Naturally, I attended the performance again and afterward I danced my way to the parking lot, much to the embarrassment of my daughters.

Several years ago ,an other Hungarian Dance troop came to San Miguel de Allende MX,  my home for the past 12 years. Of course I joyfully went. This troop performed modern interpretations of the traditional dances as well as the classics.

I bought the DVD and began my series of Hungarian dancers. This is the one that happened almost like magic. It is from one of the traditional dances.
24" x 32" encasustic on cradled board.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 27 of the Challenge

I have been posting a painting a day for the last 27 days on the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Most of these can not be done in a day, but this one was. It is cold wax on board. The technique leaves a matte finish and it is easy to build up textures. Unlike encaustic, it takes a day or two to dry. I am working back and forth from straight oil to abstracts in cold wax. I have gathered a bunch of tools to apply and move the cold wax. The one I use the most is an old credit card. I like the flexibility.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Back To Cold Wax

I made a second batch of cold wax yesterday using encasutic medium, linseed oil and turpentine.
It turns into a paste quickly and is ready to add to oil paint.

I posted a couple of cold wax abstracts on the last post and here is the process of a new one:

I think this is finished. I will check it out in a couple of days
It is all about layering and building, and scraping. It is completely different than working in encaustic.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Rant About Encaustic.

I started working in encasustic a few years before Joanne Mattera wrote the first how-to book; The Art of Encasutic in 2001. I probably did everything wrong before I got the correct formula for making the encaustic medium and paint. I tell my students that I can save them mistakes in their work since I already made them all early on and know how to avoid them.

Over the years of working in encaustic and teaching over 90 workshops I believe that I had tried all the advanced techniques used in painting with wax and I stayed excited about the medium for years.

I created online classes and continued to teach, especially to artists who have had some experience in the medium: Check out the classes here:

Meeting new people at social events, I still hear, "Oh you are Ezshwan, the encaustic artist!" Often I respond, " I am Ezshwan the artist."

In my not so humble opinion, painting encasustic has become a cult-like fad. There is so much bad work being shown on social media. Of course there are incredible, talented artists creating beautiful paintings in encaustic. These artists know composition, values, and how to make a painting that has a reason for being. Some of them know how to draw and paint.

I still love to teach my private classes and show other artists how to take their encaustic art to new levels, not just a shiny surface that sometimes looks like colorful vomit.

Is that nasty? Perhaps. It is how I feel. Of course I am still using the medium; mostly combined with oil and it does what no other medium can do.

Last year I used just oil paint, wonderful, luscious oil paint for my series, Reverie 
Another series, "Memories", I used encaustic over ink washes and added oil glazes.

 More painting in these series can be seen on my website.

I have started an new series, Metamorphosis and in 2 of the 3 paintings completed I have used encaustic over oil and built the butterflies with encaustic.

While still working on Metamorphosis, I am going back to abstracts, in COLD WAX. I made the cold wax medium and am having an adventure mixing it with oil and using old credit cards to move the paint. My mother told me to learn something new everyday. Thanks Mom.