Archive for the ‘Free Box’ Category

Cover of Encaustic Materials and Methods: A facsimile edition.

Encaustic Materials and Methods is finally here! Long-time followers of this blog may remember that I’ve been talking about bringing the 1949 text of Francis Pratt and Becca Fizell’s influential but nearly impossible to find book back to life. And after three long years, the book went live on Amazon a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a link to Encaustic Materials and Methods on Amazon.

This is a facsimile edition, which means that each page of the original book was carefully scanned so that the new version maintains the look and feel of the original. Some images were reproduced, though not all. Special thanks to the late Esther Geller for allowing us to include a new photo of her encaustic masterpiece, Oriental Musician (late 1940s). Additionally, we thank the Menil Collection for the rights to reproduce Fleur de Sang (1943) by Victor Brauner, Bryn Mawr College for the rights to reproduce Young Christ Disputing with the Doctors (1945) by David Aronson, the Whitney Museum of American Art for Karl Zerbe’s Harlequin (1944), and of course the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the use of Portrait of a young woman with a gilded wreath (A.D. 120-140).

This book would not have been the labor of love that it is without the assistance of Hannah M. G. Shapero, daughter of Esther Geller, and Ben Aronson, son of David Aronson. They provided insight into the artistic practices of their parents, and it will surprise no one to learn that both are wonderful artists themselves.  Visit Hannah M. G. Shapero’s web site here and Ben Aronson’s web site here. Sadly, both Esther Geller and David Aronson passed away this year.

And finally, a special shout-out goes to Virginia Howard, great-niece of Francis Pratt, who generously shared information about her aunt, including the loan of important archival documents. She also wrote the brief bio of Francis that appears in the book. Thanks, Virginia!

Caution: Yes, Victor Brauner supposedly used gasoline in his encaustic process. But Victor was a Jewish communist hiding out in the mountains during WWII. He had nothing, he could go nowhere and yet he still made art. I love Fleur de Sang for exactly those reasons. Here’s a link to an earlier fan-girl post I did about Victor.

Artists familiar with art materials (flake white, anyone?) knows that most of these things will kill you, one way or another. So please, exercise caution even when using your commercial encaustic products.

And maybe it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: keep your gas in your tank.

Last word: Looking at the recipes and formulas in Encaustic Materials and Methods is to witness the birth of modern encaustic art. We wouldn’t be who we are now without the genius of these mid-20th century artists, most of whom are gone now.

Here's a cute photo of Esther Geller standing in front of Oriental Musician. Photo from the Boston Globe.

Here’s a cute photo of Esther Geller standing in front of Oriental Musician. Photo from the Boston Globe.

Free stuff
I loaded a pdf of sample pages of Encaustic Materials and Methods in the Free Box, the top box in the right-hand column of this page. Take a look.

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For Christmas this year (no doubt as part of his therapy), The Theory made me a little book of pictures entitled Caprice. The images are from our kitchen renovation and show details of old wallpaper, textures and other strange follies we found under the wall board. For instance, we found newspaper pages glued to the wall as insulation, which looked like photo transfers in contemporary mixed media art. In other places, we found layers of paint (probably lead-based) dripping and flowing over one another in fantastical shapes. In other places, someone patched holes in the original walls with old Folgers coffee tin lids.

You can just make out the words “drip grind” along the upper edge. What were they thinking, those farmers?

The Theory photographed these occurrences as they came to light not just to document the reno, but also in stunned amazement at the activities of our house’s previous owners. Who were these people?

About the title
A caprice is a kind of architectural fantasy tableau made up of buildings, statuary, archaeological remains such as columns, arches and  broken sculptures looted from ancient sites, all combined in a landscape setting to tell the story of some fantastical, imaginary past. Merriam-Webster also defines caprice as a sudden, impulsive, unpredictable and seemingly unmotivated notion or action. I’m not sure which definition I like best to describe what we found under the walls of the kitchen. Evidence of a mysterious world long gone certainly, but also it was just so random, so… capricious.

Some of the images in Caprice seem like art waiting to be made. I can see building up a dense layer of impasto on a board and working in layers of wax and sand and charcoal to make a grid of squares and circles like what we found under our kitchen tile. And if it caught my imagination, others might want to try it too.

Detail of counter substrate.

Detail of counter substrate.

So I asked The Theory if he would make a pdf copy of Caprice (with all the private bits removed; use your imagination) that I could share with other artists for inspiration. So here it is, take it and use it. I also have a link to the file in the Free Box on the upper right side of this page where it will always be available for download. Keep in mind that it is a large file, over 8 mg, and might be slow to transfer.

And before anyone asks (by anyone, I mean John) why I didn’t just save a step and keep the grotty old 1979 plywood and call it art, I confess, it did cross my mind. But what’s the fun in that?

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Remember when I did all the cold wax experimentation? I stumbled onto a very interesting way of preparing supports for encaustic painting. While I was pulling together my notes for the Encaustic Materials Handbook project, I found that information and rewrote it.

For those who don’t recall, you can use cold wax paste to super-saturate your encaustic boards, which creates a painting surface that is nearly pinhole- and bubble-free. Even though it is a cold wax paste, it makes a perfect ground for hot wax encaustic.

The cold wax board prep guide will be in the book, but for now you can grab a downloadable copy from the Free Box on the right-side column, or from this link: Preparing Encaustic Supports with Cold Wax. Here’s photo from an earlier post where I discuss cold wax paste:

Spooned out of the jar, this is what two-week old Fred Conway cold wax medium looks like. Photo by The Theory.

Spooned out of the jar, this is what two-week old Fred Conway cold wax medium looks like. Photo by The Theory.

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As part of the Encaustic Materials Handbook ebook project. I rewrote my basic encaustic medium recipe. Yes, that’s right. It IS the same recipe that appears in every encaustic book, and on practically every encaustic site. But they don’t have photos by The Theory (unless there’s something happening I don’t know about. Sweetie?)

We all use the recipe in much the same proportions—those of us who make our own encaustic medium. But what about those folks who’ve never tried to make their own medium before? For you guys I’ve put together a downloadable, printable recipe. It will be in the book, but you can get it here for nuthin.

Download from the Free Box on the upper right column.

As you read it over, keep in mind that there are other versions of the recipe around. Some mix beeswax and paraffin, for instance. Other artists use more or less damar resin. Still more artists skip the damar resin and do a beeswax-carnauba wax combo. Your job is to find out what you like.

Melting damar crystal in wax. You can actually see the splinters, wood debris and other junk trapped in the pitch. I haven't seen any insects filled with dinosaur DNA yet.

Melting damar crystal in wax. You can actually see the splinters, wood debris and other junk trapped in the pitch. I haven’t found any insects filled with dinosaur DNA yet. Photo by The Theory.

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