I don’t usually do this, but I am about to gush over a new technique book. The Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed-Media Art by Daniella Woolf is simply the best, most comprehensive, and most inspiring book on encaustic art techniques I have ever seen-and a video comes with it, too boot.
|Encaustic with found papers and India ink by Daniella Woolf|
I only began working in encaustic about a year ago, even though I’ve been entranced by the medium for years. The reason it took so long is because, by necessity books, videos, and workshops on the subject always start with a long dissertation on safety and equipment. And all that intimidates me.
The Encaustic Studio is no exception in its presentation of safety precautions and tool and supply gathering. However, all this is presented in a friendly, easy-to-read way. At one point in the video, Daniella compares encaustic art to baking, and it strikes me that the book is laid out like a very thorough and inviting cookbook.
While infusing the book with her enthusiasm for encaustic, Daniella manages to cover every single aspect of the process thoroughly.
But what I really love are all the simple yet creative ideas she has for preparing the substrate before you begin. One of my favorites is using mudding, or joint compound, to build up the surface and add texture.
- Nitrile gloves (or similar)
- Plywood, cradled panel, or other substrate
- Joint compound or drywall mud
- Trowels, notched and unnotched
|Joint compound applied to board grooves drawn into it with a notched trowel.|
1. Wearing gloves, apply the joint compound or drywall mud with the un-notched trowel over the entire panel.
2. Run a notched trowel across the panel, making grooves into surface.
3. Continue to make pattern in the surface with the notched trowel until you are satisfied. Let dry.
4. Optional: Paint directly on the textured surface inside the grooves you’ve made with watercolor paint, India ink, or other non-acrylic paint.
5. Allow the painted or unpainted panel to dry before sizing (applying the first, base coat of wax).
On the video, Daniella shows how you can imbed flat wooden doodads into the mud while wet, waxing over them once they are dry. Then you add collage and paint on top.
This is just one of the many ideas Daniella offers for preparing the substrate. Then it’s on to the collaging and painting. I love her suggestions for using shredded journal page strips in collage and mixing powder from pastel chalk into the wax for pigment.
|Wooden objects imbedded in mud before waxing create a textured foundation for collage.|
It’s wonderful having the book and the video together. You can flip through the book to find information or a project and keep the book open for reference, then go to the video to watch Daniella demonstrate, or vice versa. And did I mention there’s a section on setting up the studio, practicing, journaling, etc.?
OK, I’m done gushing. Now I’m off to make some encaustic art. If you are an encaustic beginner or even have some practice under your belt, I highly recommend you get your hands on The Encaustic Studio. It has everything you need to know, and then some, for creating original encaustic art.
P.S. Do you have ideas for preparing the encaustic substrate to add texture? Share with the class!