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encaustic art

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encaustic art

While redecorating my condo, there were many things to decide upon: Colours, furniture, fabrics and finishes. But the decision I most struggled with was what to hang on my walls. I'm a big believer in the notion that the art you hang on your walls should have some kind of personal meaning or at the very least, that it's something you absolutely love. Unimpressed with the stock art I was finding, I was thrilled when my designer Lisa Canning suggested we create a large scale piece of encaustic art, using a photo from my personal collection. Artist Becky Simpson from RLS Studios took my photograph, blew it up, mounted it on a canvas and gave it a hot wax treatment to turn it into a truly eye-catching and personal statement piece to hang on my wall. I loved the result (pictured above) and was curious to learn more about the process. Here, Becky shares her technique: Encaustic painting is actually the term used for painting with hot wax. It's an old technique dating back to as early as the ancient Egyptians, who used melted beeswax to do mummy portraits. The wax is usually applied to wood or any other surface that can handle the weight of multiple wax layers. The beauty of this medium is that it can be scraped, carved and molded, as it creates such amazing texture. Different colours of wax are obtained by adding pigment powders, or oil paint to individual tins of heated wax. Most commonly today, the types of wax used are clear micro crystalline or beeswax (which tends to be more yellow in colour). I became interested in this technique when I was at an art show about two years ago, when I saw a few encaustic pieces for the first time. I was immediately drawn to the texture and the medium and became very curious about how to create this myself. Up until then, I had really only enjoyed oil painting. I did a bit of research online and found an encaustic night class at the Toronto School of Art, which I enrolled in for a semester. After the 13-week course, I was hooked and decided to do encaustic paintings on my own in my apartment. I was fortunate enough to have the space to spread out my materials as it can be messy and cumbersome once you get into the groove of things. I'm obsessed with taking photos and never leave home without my camera; I find I'm very inspired by the colours and scenery of nature. Most pieces I have done reflect these inspirations, especially from trips over the years to the Caribbean and the East Coast. One of my favourite places is by the ocean and find that I am very inspired the rich colours of teals and cobalt blues. I've also taken an interest in painting poppies and other flowers, inspired from my mom's love of flowers and gardening. Aside from the water and flower pieces, which I usually paint freehand, transferring images into the wax is also another cool encaustic technique. This approach is great for using your favourite photos, illustrations, or any image that you want to give a bit of character to. One of my favourite image transfer pieces was a black & white 9x3 ft transfer I did for a friend of the Manhattan skyline. Having lived in NYC for a summer, this piece was fun to do because I could visualize myself standing on the shore of NJ, looking across the Hudson River to one of the most magnificent skylines in the world!
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encaustic art