Scraping off the junk

As artists, we all should experiment a little. Or a lot if you want.

My previous painting was an experiment in darks, contrast, and color. It was also an experiment with a relatively new product for me: cold wax medium.

When my wife and I were in Santa Fe, gallery hopping along Canyon Road, I was admiring a palette knife painting. I think it was in Casweck Gallery, and the artist may have been Lorraine Alexander. The gallery staff told me that this artist used wax in her paint to give them body with a translucent effect.

That sounded neat. So I looked into it.

It isn’t unheard of for artists to melt wax and mix it with their paints. Alternately, there’s cold wax medium, which is a soft waxy substance you can mix with your paint.


The shadows and dark areas around the tree in the painting above are transparent colors mixed with cold wax medium and applied thickly. See how they glow?

That piece, you may recall, will be entered into a juried show in Taos, NM. I’m happy with it, and I’ve moved on to creating my second piece to enter.

I tried something different. I tried blocking in the foreground first, dark and heavy. It’s dark purple mixed with the cold wax. image


Then I set out to do the background, soft and muted. So far so good.image

Then I tried to squeeze and squish the foreground colors around the dark shapes. Dumb! It was a mess! How did I think I was going to get the grass, shrubs and dirt around that agave? I hated it, so I scraped it off.

Never keep what isn’t working. Scrape it off. Wipe it away. Don’t waste time trying to shine a turd.

I scraped off just the foreground. The rest I still love. I got as much off as I could. Then I wiped it off with paint thinner. Then I applied a thick layer of titanium white over my goof, followed by a bit of color. Now it looks like this:wp-1464903485402.jpeg

Once this dries, I plan to apply some shaded areas with color and cold wax, similar to the tree painting. I’m going to approach it like I would a watercolor; working in layers from light to dark.

I’m hoping it’s ready by the weekend! Stay tuned…



      1. It’s a good start. My eyes start at the brushes and grasses and look down through the canyon following the water and then follow to the back mountain and out of the painting. I like the flow.

  1. I’ve heard of cold wax…interesting to hear from someone who has actually used it. And thank you so much for your advice about getting rid of what’s not working. It’s fascinating to see how you were able to make changes to “make it work”. And good luck in Taos.

      1. It’s interesting. Every time I pick up an artist’s magazine, I read about new techniques and new methods. It’s part of the joy I’m finding with art. I know that no matter how much I learn or how much I might develop my own abilities, there will always be something new waiting to be discovered.

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