M. Stephen Doherty

M. Stephen Doherty
The editor of Plein Air magazine at work

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pigment Sticks and Encaustics

Cynthia Winika applies melted encaustic paint to an Encausticbord panel.

Cynthia using a heat gun to fuse RandF encaustics to the panel

Cynthia demonstrating a range of techniques possible with encaustics, including scraping into the wax and pigment, adding collage elements, and building up thick textures.

I recently participated in a one-day workshop in encaustic painting at the offices of RandF Handmade Paints (http://www.rdpaints.com/) in Kingston, New York. Artist Cynthia Winika gave me a tour of the plant where RandF Pigment Sticks and RandF Encaustic Paints are made, and then she demonstrated a range of techniques using the sticks made from wax, pigment, and damar crystals. Cynthia also introduced a new board made specifically for encaustic by Ampersand that is called Encausticbord.
Encaustic is one of the oldest painting materials and is usually associated with Egyptian mummy portraits painted on wood and wrapped with the bodies of noble persons; but there are a number of contemporary artists like Jasper Johns, Nancy Graves, Linda Benglis, and Richard Serra who use the medium to create paintings that can have either a matte finish, textured surface or a jewel -like polished finish. RandF makes their sticks by combining bees wax with pigment and a small amount of damar so they can be melted, applied to a rigid support, fused with heat, and then polished. The company provides literature to explain the process and also offers workshops in their offices and at other locations.
RandF Handmade Paints also manufactures Pigment Sticks, a solid form of oil color that can be used with tube colors to create paintings. I plan to use the sticks during the initial drawing stage of my painting process because they allow me to translate the direct action of my hand and arm to the initial lines on a canvas or panel, and I can then dissolve the paint to establish the big shapes within a landscape or figure painting.
I'll be introducing RandF Pigment Sticks to the students who participate in my upcoming workshop in Hawaii, and I'll be posting the results on this blog.

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