Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Work With Paper

Encaustic painted on paper instead of wooden panels is another of the New England Wax projects we are currently undertaking. (I seem to have signed up for nearly everything - silly me.) This project has some restrictions (which I am choosing to view as guidelines) and it has a theme. The paper is supposed to be 300 lb watercolor paper, the size is 10" x 10", we are supposed to do four pieces and the theme is "Cycles." (The other theme proposed was Bugs. I liked that much better.)

I started right off by deciding to work very differently from the way I usually do and have some fun with ink on the paper.

Between Sea and Sky #1

Confession No. 1: I did not use 300 lb watercolor paper.
I used what I had, which I think was Rives BFK print paper, and I don't know what the weight was. First I cut some paper into 10" x 10" squares and then I messed around with brushes and pens and had a fine time. Then I cut up a bunch of old book pages and stuck them down with encaustic. Then I tore up a bunch of painted paper and stuck it down with encaustic. Then I painted over the ink with encaustic. Then I saw what I had and it was... not good.

Between Sea and Sky #2

Confession No. 2: I had no idea what I was cycling.
Well, I thought, if the whole is not good, maybe it will be good in parts. So I got out my knife and started cutting those 10" x 10" squares into strips. It was fun to arrange them in different sequences and maybe go back to the encaustic and paint a bit and maybe go back to the ink and paint a bit and move them around more.

Between Sea and Sky #3

Confession No. 3: I glued everything down on another piece of paper.
So I had all those strips and had to join them together somehow. First I thought of sewing them together, then I was going to overlay them with a thin piece of paper or cheesecloth. Then I thought of glue. Back to the cutting board I went to make more pieces of BFK, this time 11" x 11" so I could assemble the strips into the required 10" x 10" squares and have some room to overlap and let the glue seep out at the edge.

After I had glued down the four panels (a total of 20 strips), I weighted them down with the several copies of Jansen's History of Art that I keep for that purpose. The panels were mostly flat. I did have several strips that were pretty thick next to some that were pretty thin and this caused some problems, but I weighted them down again and left them overnight.

Between Sea and Sky #4

The next day, I removed the Jansen's and began filling in a few cracks between strips with encaustic. Then came my biggest and most tasking task - discovering the direction in which the panels should be shown and which sequence; I just had to find that Cycle.

I know you will concur that I have discovered the perfect sequence for these panels. I am calling it #1, #2, #3 and #4. Since they contain a lot of blue and white, I am calling them "Between Sea and Sky" and this is a perfect name for all the cycling.


Donna said...

I would be a bit like you in approaching this project - except I wouldn't have the nerve to go against the 'guidelin' on the paper. Well, maybe I would if I know the other artists well.
And working to a theme is difficult for me, so I enjoyed how you worked torward finding the theme in what you were doing.
Finally, the final panels are very interesting/engaging. I would love to see them in person.
You've inspired me to go melt some wax and MAKE something!

Anonymous said...

I love the freedom you were feeling when you created these, Nancy!

CMC said...

I really like these, Nancy. I've been considering paper quite a bit but have been put off with the mounting/framing. How are you going to present these?
I hate themes but love collage. That was one of my reasons for getting into encaustic besides the wonderful surface quality.

Nancy Natale said...

Hi Donna, Lynette and Cheryl. Thanks so much for your comments. I was feeling kind of ironic when I wrote this but my excuse is that it was very late and I was tired.

The good part about these is that since they were glued onto a plain piece of paper, the backs are totally wax free and I could just mount velcro on them if I wanted to hang them onto something. Or I could use some of the fancy pins and clips that Cynthia Winika showed in her paper and encaustic demo at last year's conference.

CMC said...

That is interesting. I'm going to the conference this year so I look forward to learning a lot of new things there. AND meeting so many new artists.

Four Seasons in a Life said...


Thank you so very much for sharing the process and revealing the different stages for one to study and examine more closely.

It is one way I not only learn and expand my knowledge, it also allows me to appreciate your work more.

Warmest regards,

layers said...

nice to see the progressions and love all your confessions

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

I know this work is on a theme but I confess I was surprised to see these colors on your page. It was great seeing the process photos as I still do not have a good grasp of how the encaustics work. Actually, I have been to two excellent shows of encaustics in less than 1 week so I should be 'getting' this better. Thanks for sharing your work.

Tamarise Cronin said...

Really fun to read how you approached this project!

Nancy Natale said...

Thank you Egmont, Donna, Terry and Tam for your comments and enthusiasm for this work - or at least the process. I think it was worthwhile because it gave me lots of ideas for continuing the process of bringing together paper and encaustic. I've also been working with dipped pages from old books lately - but you'll see them when I post.