Creating Movement and Depth with Mixed Media
A Mixed Media Tutorial by Cynthia Mosser
My use of mixed media emphasizes color and movement through the building of many overlapping organic shapes. I am able to create visual interest through the use of a whole host of art supplies, all of which I can use on Ampersand Encausticbord™. The working process I incorporate involves drawing, painting and a final application of encaustic medium. This topcoat of wax creates a clear veil through which the painting can be viewed and provides the illusion of depth.
The ability to layer different media is my key to a successful painting. I almost always start with Encausticbord™, a wood panel with an absorbent ground developed by Ampersand and R&F Handmade Paints. Because of its special surface, not only can Encausticbord™ handle all my favorite materials, but it also readily accepts encaustic paint.
The cradled versions of Encausticbord™ are the best option for my work. I use two depths: 7/8" if I know I need to frame the artwork or the 1-1/2" cradle for a presentable, ready-to-hang work. For this piece, I used an 18" x 18" deep cradle.
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1 I begin by drawing directly onto the surface. My favorite pen for drawing fine lines on the smooth Encausticbord™ surface is a black, waterproof, lightfast, super fine Pitt artist pen from Faber-Castell.
2 (not shown) After finishing the decorative line work, I paint over it with a light wash of Golden® titanium white fluid acrylic paint using a 3" gesso brush. This white wash diffuses the stark contrast of the black lines and allows the patterns to show through. Sometimes, I add a hint of color to the wash to warm up the cool white background.
3 Next, I start painting on the board using a variety of Golden® acrylic fluid paint colors. I like their immediate flowing viscosity, so color mixing and application is a snap. Small paintbrushes are my absolute favorite for control and precision. The 20/0 script liner, along with many of the other Ultra Mini brushes suit my needs perfectly. I intentionally leave a multitude of unpainted spaces for the next final step.
4 After I am finished painting, I add a layer of transparent encaustic medium to create that extra bit of depth and interest. Generally, it’s not a standard practice to use acrylics under encaustic, but I use extremely thin layers and leave so much of the white absorbent surface of Encausticbord™ open, I don’t encounter any problems. I use a recipe of 1 tbsp crushed DANIEL SMITH Gum Damar resin to 8 tbsp DANIEL SMITH Beeswax Pastilles to seal the work. I heat the Damar and pastilles together in a metal pot on a heated palette until the two have melted, then stir well until they create a uniform consistency.
Once the mixture is ready, I strain it through a cheesecloth to remove any impurities. 5 Then, I apply it to the board with a 2 1/2" natural bristle brush. I fuse the wax with a heat gun until I have a glossy, evenly melted surface.
6 Finally, I incise designs into the warm wax with a sharp tool. 7 Once the wax is cool, I add either white or burnt umber oil paint thinned down to a glaze with linseed oil and mineral spirits, allowing it to sink into the incised lines for contrast. Using a soft cloth dipped in mineral spirits, I wipe away the oil paint leaving behind the color in the incised lines. On the paintings to which I add the oil paint glaze, I apply a somewhat heavier sealing layer of wax to prevent the wiping and rubbing from removing too much of the surface.
8 Once the oil paint has dried, I gently polish the finished painting with a chamois cloth.
AMPERSAND Encausticbord™ , Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens, Princeton 3" gesso brush, GOLDEN® fluid acrylics, DANIEL SMITH Brand Products: Original™ Oil colors, Mineral spirits, 2-1/2" flat Bristle brush, Cold-pressed linseed oil, Universal liner size 12, Gum Damar resin crystals, Beeswax pastilles.
OTHER: Ultra-mini brushes, heat gun, hot palette, metal pot, sharp tool, soft white lint-free cloth for wiping and a chamois cloth for polishing.