Last time I talked about a very simple adaptation to the encaustic medium recipe we all use. Instead of the standard 8 parts beeswax to 2 parts damar resin, I suggested using a 5 parts beeswax to 5 parts resin formula. This Half and Half recipe can be used as a thick finishing glaze. Read more about this recipe here.
Turning back to Francis Pratt and the artists she interviewed for Encaustic Materials and Methods, I learned about another Boston Expressionist and student of the great Karl Zerbe, David Aronson (1923-). The piece on the right makes me wish (yet again) that encaustic work photographed better. Photos don’t catch the impasto, tool marks and surface treatment that gives this medium such depth.
Aronson used the following recipe as a glaze for his encaustic paintings. I can’t speak for what he was trying to achieve with a final surface treatment but I know that when I use this glaze it has a clarifying and leveling effect on the underlayers, especially if I’ve used layers of both hot and cold wax.
David Aronson’s Hot Glaze
1 part damar varnish
1 part linseed oil
8 parts beeswax
Place all ingredients in a melting container and heat on your palette. Use it at slightly higher temperature than your regular wax paint–it should be very thin and liquid. While you can brush it on, it’s better to apply the way Aronson recommends, with a hot putty or palette knife. Applied too thickly, it will dry a cloudy white. If applied as thinly as possible, the glaze glistens and shines. Here are my results on the six-point scale:
1) Application method: Hot wax, applied with a knife.
2) Drying time: Up to two weeks.
3) Transparency: Clear if applied thinly.
4) Interaction with underlayers: None.
5) Appearance: Thin, gloss.
6) Bloom prevention: Very good
And yes, you read 2) correctly, the drying time IS two weeks. This is totally foreign to encaustic artists, the idea that you have to wait for paint to dry. The linseed oil, which imparts some of the lovely gloss, takes time to cure. You will start to see the shine after two or three days, but it will remain tacky for quite a while. If you have any spots where the glaze pooled thickly, it may take even longer. The advantage of this glaze is that it really does unify the somewhat chalky appearance of cold wax with the smooth surface of hot wax. It gives you a kind of window into the layers of paint.
Here’s one of mine where I tried the glaze. The black areas are hot wax and the blue areas are cold wax:
The image above was a scan, not a photo. I think I get better close-ups with scans but The Theory says photos are better. Next time, we will discuss a cold wax glaze recipe.