Archive for March, 2011

By Michael Bossom: Making Cards your Art

March 25, 2011

My wonderful friend Michael Bossom writes regular updates about Encaustic and He gave me permission to post his latest essay on my blog!

Making Cards your Art

A6 musical abstract, Ironed background, Stylus musical notes

Encaustic art is just one form of encaustic work. There are many approaches to the use of wax for creative imagery. One of the beauties of the encaustic art range is the relative simplicity of it’s approach. It can be used in fine art ways, but it is more often used by those who just want to melt into a creative state and lose themselves in those creative moments. Often the words hobby, craft or therapy are considered removed and unconnected with real art. But the truth suggests that most of those involved in art will have began in one of those regions. A hobby is something of enjoyment. A craft is something of skilled application. A therapy is something soothing and constructive, something that helps us live fully.

Making greetings cards is not the same as painting imagery for a fine art gallery display. And yet, in many ways it is just as meaningful to those involved. And at some point these card images will be given to another to express some particular idea; to communicate and share emotion. That can be a very valuable thing. I know of many people who keep original hand made cards when they would probably let manufactured cards be recycled. There is a great value in creating something especially for giving away to another. And from this exchange the echoing response is usually one that contains gratitude, respect, and an increased emotional connection. It feels good to give, it feels good to receive and it feels good to share those things together.

When we begin something new we are innocent and usually pretty naive. We ‘splash about a bit’ as we start to explore and usually we bump into what doesn’t work and what we don’t like as well as what does work and what we do like. Slowly we discover some of the different ways to bring the qualities we seek and are satisfied by into the work. At this stage that in itself is the work. The techniques become repeatable and skills arise. Our colour choices and balance of compositions reflect our understanding and inmate artistic state; it can’t be random if we are making the choices. We progress, and where there is dissatisfaction we either get stuck or we change. Encaustic art allows change as the wax melts and remelts whenever we choose to rework it.

Making cards really is a great way to explore and discover. The changeability of our molten wax colours under the heated tools is empowering. It is exciting to try out an idea, a direction and then be able to alter course as the work unfolds. And it is fun so long as we don’t try to preconceive what our result will be before our skills are developed enough. So take time to play with the encaustic waxes and the tools when you first begin this activity. Make lots and lots of cards. You will be your own judge as you look again at what you have created. You will feel that some of the cards are good enough to share whilst others didn’t quite get there. These moments of choosing reveal your own tastes and reflect your own states. Being you IS your art. The cards are simply a way of expressing, exploring and reflecting how you are. And it is this personal power of creation that we share when we give the card away. So enjoy making each card something different, something unique, something unrepeatable.

Long may you create and share.

Be sure to visit Michael’s  extensive online gallery.


Working with photographs

March 20, 2011

Last December I had to cancel my workshop “Encaustic and Photographs”, but I now feel I might be able to schedule it again soon. I dug up my notes, rewrote the tutorial and did a couple of test pieces.

The first one was printed with my inkjet printer on heavy cardstock. I started colouring with coloured pencils, then coating with medium, using a brush. After fusing I added more colour with wax this time and finally rubbed the piece with copper magic powder, which sticks nicely to any texture, but this is hard to see on the photo!
The original photo was of a couple of birch tree trunks, but it has now a much more abstract feeling. I think I will get rid of some of the glaring green….

Encaustic on photo 1

The second photo was printed, again with my inkjet, on special paper: Arches Velin Museum Rag, which is a beautiful, smooth paper. I cranked up the colours a bit with a photo editor and by accident I printed the image twice, but it really was a nice effect, so I decided to run with it.
After printing the photo was dipped in a bath with medium and coloured with Panpastels. The Panpastels started to run and bead up beautifully while I was fusing, so I’m happy with this one. And I like the left side, next to the image, but could not get it to work so well on the right…;-(

Encaustic on photo 2

Encaustic on photo 2


The last one is a 4×6 photo printed on glossy paper.
I sanded the photo a bit, to make it more receptive to the wax, then coated it with medium. I rubbed several colours of alcohol ink over it, blending and lifting here and there to bring out the big flower to the right and the smaller one on the left.
In the lower left corner I added more medium and pressed some netting in the soft wax. After removing the netting the texture was enhanced with more alcohol ink.
The dark shading on the right is done with Panpastels.

Encaustic on photo 3

Encaustic on photo 3


I’ve prepared several other photos by gluing them on pieces of wood, so they are all ready for the workshop; now I just have to pick a date!

2011 RipOff project off to a good start

March 12, 2011

The RipOffs are a bunch of artists who get together once a year to copy a famous work by a well-known artist. We’ve been at it for four years, so this year, our fifth challenge, we wanted to make it a special one!
Speaking of challenge: try to get 10 head-strong artists to agree on one dead artist & one image….it takes several meetings, lots of coffee and goodies, provided by our great “clubhouse leader” Marion to come to a consensus (more or less!)

There is always groaning from a few artists, who lament “they would have NO CLUE how to implement this particular artwork in their own medium…And then, when you see their finished work afterward, it is always fabulous!


Grant Wood - American-Gothic

To lift the veil: for this year we have chosen the iconic image “American Gothic” by Grant Wood.

And that’s not all: every artist will choose a second famous artist and execute the work in his/her style.
So, you would get an American Gothic looking like a Picasso or a Van Gogh….

Of course I’ve been pondering which artist to use and decided on following a specific style, rather than one artist.
We have lived in Japan for 5 years and I was always fascinated by the beautiful woodblock prints. We have several books and a few original prints, so that’s going to be my inspiration!

Next hurdle: it might very well be that I will not be able to work during our studio week, which is from July 4 – 9, at the Quail’s nest Art Centre in Oliver, B.C.

My radiation treatments will probably start early July and then I have to drive to Kelowna every day. Luckily my fellow RipOffs are very understanding and said I could just try to get as much done beforehand, they would get everything set up and I would show up for the finale on Saturday.

Of course I’m hoping to convince the oncologist to start a bit later with my treatment, but just in case: I’ve started to work on my piece and did my initial drawing:

Nihon American Gothic

Nihon American Gothic

I’m pleased so far; now I still have to decide which size I’m going for and prepare my panel. The plan is to use original Japanese chiyogami paper embedded in the wax for the garments and perhaps real dried cherry blossoms in the background.

We will soon have our press release ready, but I do want to show you our fabulous poster, which was created by photographer RipOff Russell Work.

Please check out our RipOff website to see what we have been up to in previous years.

More tangles

March 8, 2011

I’ve been tangling away, so below are a few more drawings.

I now have three books about Zentangle and my friend Carol found this fabulous link with hundreds more designs. You can even sign up there and they will send you new patterns to your inbox. This is going to seriously cutting into my wax time…;-))


My favourite so far

As you can see I often don’t get it right the first time!
Some tangles have been developed by special Zentangle teachers and I’ve noted their names.


Back in the studio

March 6, 2011

Usually by the fourth day after receiving the chemo I feel pretty low. During one of  these “crappy” days last week I lay down on the couch and watched the DVD Encaustic + Paper.
What a treat! Daniella, Judy and Wendy, the girls from Wax Works West are such fun to watch. They know their stuff and present a ton of ideas with great humour. They even have a segment where they invite the fire department to the studio to give some good advice!

So as soon as I was feeling a bit better I headed down to the studio, started to cut strips of some nice papers I found laying around and switched on my neglected palette (I swear I heard the wax gasp!).

This is what I came up with:

Abstract landscape

Abstract landscape on mid weight printing paper


Collage with tissue papers, teabag, dried tea on handmade paper

Bleach pen

Bleach pen on handmade paper

Detail of bleach project

Detail of bleach project

Alcohol inks / heat foils

Alcohol inks / heat foils

More alcohol inks / wax resist

More alcohol inks / wax resist with grunge board overpainted with black printing ink

Stencil on watercoloured paper

Wax resist with plastic stencil on watercoloured paper

If you have seen the DVD yourself, you’d notice that I kept close to the different projects shown. I first want to get a feel for the techniques, before getting to “artsy” with it…;-))

There is more to come, but I ran out of paper to work on!!