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Frequently Asked Questions and Some Answers

 

Questions

I've never seen this type of painting before, are you the only one doing it?

I've never painted before, how do I know I can do this?

Is encaustic painting suitable for children?

Where do you get your ideas from?

How long does it take you to paint a picture?

Why don't you like painting 'big'?

What's the biggest painting you have ever done?

Are all your pictures signed?

Why don't you charge extra for a commissioned painting?

What if I commission a painting and then I don't like it?

Your original paintings almost glow, why?

Why are the colours so bright?

What do you use the clear wax for?

If I only get two colours, which two do you recommend?

How many different painting patterns are there?

What are the three basic painting patterns?

Can you use coloured card with the normal waxes?

Can you use coloured card with any of the waxes?

Why does the card need to be so smooth and shiny?

Can I use water colour paper?

Can I use a steam iron?

Why can't I use wax crayons or candle wax?

Are there other painting waxes available?

I've tried encaustic painting before and my pictures all came out muddy. Why?

Can I use Dehan wax with the wax I'm using at the moment?

 

Answers

I've never seen this type of painting before, are you the only one doing it? ......Top
No, there are others, the person who sold me my first kit, for one.
It is still a very new way of painting and not easy to visualize when someone says 'they paint with an iron' so the idea is growing but growing slowly. Most people have to see it done to believe it. And convincing people that they can do encaustic painting, even if they can't do any other sort of painting, isn't easy.

I've never painted before, how do I know I can do this? ......Top
Anyone who wants to do it, can.
All you need is the will to try (and the materials and iron, of course). The
materials aren't expensive and are reusable. Because you can keep going over a picture until you get something you like, you can use the same bit of card all day, if you want too.
There are no hard and fast rules to learn, if you don't like something, go over it and change it. Eventually you'll get something you do like. Then stop!
Stopping is the hard bit, not painting.

Is encaustic painting suitable for children? ......Top
Yes, children find it easy. Probably because no one ever told them that you don't paint with an iron.
The iron shouldn't be hot enough for them to burn themselves. If it is, it will burn the wax and that smells disgusting so if they mess about with the temperature setting and turn it up, you will smell it.

Where do you get your ideas from? ......Top
Anywhere I can find them. I'm not proud.
If I see something I like, I will try and reproduce it with wax.
One idea often leads to another, so if you see two of my paintings you may not see a connection, but it you saw the five paintings in between, you would see how one had lead to the other.

How long does it take you to paint a picture? ......Top
The smaller ones, about 20 minutes. Longer than 40 and I'll have lost patience with it. When that happens I tend to put the iron across it and change it into something else.
At one time I used to paint very much quicker than that, the record is 35 seconds, but now I take more time and care, and it shows.

Why don't you like painting 'big'? ......Top
I hold the painting card in my hand while I paint, if it's too big for my fingers to support it from beneath, it flops all over the place and I've don't have much control over it. My hands are only small, hence the small paintings

What's the biggest painting you have ever done? ......Top
Four foot by two and a half

Are all your pictures signed? ......Top
All my originals are signed, both on the mount and on the back of the painting itself.
The mounted prints are all signed on the mount.
Things like baccy tins, bookmarks,
bottle openers, greetings cards etc aren't signed.

Why don't you charge extra for a commissioned painting? ......Top
Because I like painting, as much effort goes into a picture I'm painting for stock as it does for a specially ordered one. I don't class them as different so I don't charge for them as different.

What if I commission a painting and then I don't like it? ......Top
I will either send you an e-mail of it or post it to a separate page on the web site, so you can have a look at it before you part with any money. If you don't like it, tell me why and I will either alter it or paint a new picture. The first one will go into stock.
The only time I insist on payment first is if you want something in it, which means that I can't sell it to someone else, like putting a name in it.

Your original paintings almost glow, why? ......Top
The card I paint on is bright white and Dehan wax is translucent, the colours appear to glow because the white of the card shows through the wax.

Why are the colours so bright? ......Top
Because I like bright colours.
They were designed to be bright because you can easily tone down a bright colour but it is a lot harder to brighten up a subdued one.

What do you use the clear wax for? ......Top
You use the clear to dilute the other colours to get lighter shades.
It's the best wax to use for water effects.
You also use it to clean the iron.

If I only get two colours, which two do you recommend? ......Top
Black and clear. The result will have the look of a black and white photograph.

How many different painting patterns are there? ......Top
With the iron - three. The rest are variations of those three.

What are the three basic painting patterns? ......Top
1) Moving the iron across the card
2) Lifting the iron off the card
3) 'Skating' the edge of the iron over the card

Can you use coloured card with the normal waxes? ......Top
Not for the standard colours. Apart from the white they are all translucent, if you use them on a coloured card they don't show up well and some don't show up at all.
The ones that work best are the black and the white, white shows on a dark card and the black on a bright one. Try black on a red, blue or metallic card.

Can you use coloured card with any of the waxes? ......Top
Yes, the pearl and the metallic waxes show up well on coloured card but use slightly more wax than you would on white card.

Why does the card need to be so smooth and shiny? ......Top
Basically the smoother the card is, the less absorbent it is. You need the wax to float on top of the card, where you can move it around and change it's patterns. If the card is absorbent, the wax will sink in as soon as you put the iron on to the card. You can't change anything and you loose the shading / 3D effects the wax usually gives.

Can I use water colour paper? ......Top
Not for the sort of encaustic painting I do but that doesn't mean you can't try it and see what sort of effects you get.

Can I use a steam iron? ......Top
No. Steam irons are NOT recommended.
Use a steam iron and you will spend most of your time cleaning the hole out, every time you want to change colours. You will also gets lots of nice peacock's tail type patterns, which look fine, but not in every picture.

Why can't I use wax crayons or candle wax? ......Top
You can if you want to, but they are harder to work with. They are very watery when you melt them and wont hold their shape AND they fade.
Have you noticed how a candle left near a window soon turns white at one side? Well that is what will happen to your picture. It will slowly disappear off your wall.

Are there other painting waxes available? ......Top
Yes, there are three other brands that I know of. All of them German.
Stockmar. This is the one I learnt on, but found limitations with. The colours have a tendency to turn muddy, if you go over them too much. It was developed as an environmentally friendly child's colouring crayon, before being environmentally friendly was in. These are the crayons you see advertised as beeswax.
AArtzWax. It was developed for encaustic painting but I find them powdery and they have a duller finish.
Art Crafts. These waxes are very similar to Dehan wax but they have a very strong, introduced, smell of beeswax. I find it overpowering and can only use them if I work outside, but then I don't like the smell of beeswax.

I've tried encaustic painting before and my pictures all came out muddy. Why? ......Top
The wax you were using had been absorbed into the surface of the card you were painting on. This tints the card and makes the colours look muddy. It wont happen with Dehan wax (at least I've never been able to make it happen). Dehan wax has a high surface tension so it doesn't sink into the card. You can mix colours and end up with a grey or brown that you didn't want, but it will be a clean grey or brown, not a muddy one (unless you mix it with white.....well sometimes you want something to look muddy, so there has to be a way of doing it).
The muddy effects are due to the wax you are using, not because of something you have done.

Can I use Dehan wax with the wax I'm using at the moment? ......Top
Yes. You can mix Dehan wax with any other painting wax. You may see a difference when they dry. Dehan wax dries shinny and some others don't. Polish the picture's surface by buffing it with a folded piece of tissue and they will both shine the same.

Where Now?

Encaustic (wax) Painting - How to paint with an iron

Encaustic Paintings by Chris Carrick

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