Challenge Complete: 30 Encaustic Monoprints in 30 days
Are you wondering why I took on such a challenge? I did it to explore encaustic (wax) monoprinting. In 2012, I took a class to learn the technique from artist, David A. Clark at the Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson. After class I didn’t take the time to hone my new skills. Well, I did now! If you are still wondering what encaustic monoprinting is watch my 18 second time lapse video.
What did I learn?
- Paper is really important. I worked with a thick acid-free mixed media paper and an ultra thin rice paper. I like the bright white of the mixed media paper and it does a great job of absorbing lots of color. I also like the delicacy of the rice paper and it’s ability to pick up every detail (brush stroke, etc.) from the metal plate. I had a day where I ran out of paper and tried some cheap paper I had in my studio. That paper didn’t want to soak up any of the wax from the plate. Lesson learned, stick with good paper. Btw, I know there are even better papers out there but I’m not ready to get that fancy yet…
- I love gold leaf. When I added gold leaf to my abstract prints it created a whole new layer of depth. The way the gold catches the light is also quite beautiful. Using it with encaustic monoprinting gets a little tricky. It only sticks to areas with thicker layers of wax. I also had to put the print back on a hot plate so the wax would melt just enough to adhere the gold. Lastly, controlling gold leaf is like thinking you can control a cat. It would rather stick to my fingers than my prints and sometimes no matter what I would do it would not stick where I wanted it too.
- Store bought wax sticks work better than the wax sticks I can make. Because I pigment my encaustic with oil paint I couldn’t get the same saturation of color as I did with the store bought sticks. At some point I could try making my encaustic sticks with powdered pigment to see if the saturation is better but for now I’ll stick with pre-made. I used a combination of R&F and Enkaustikos.
The most important thing I learned from this process is that encaustic monoprinting is a great counterpoint to my methodical style of art making. Typically when I work with acrylic or encaustic I know exactly what the piece will look like before I create it because I plan everything out. When I do encaustic monoprinting I come to my blank anodized aluminum plate free of ideas and let the colors and my mood lead me to make work. The process is very relaxing for me, like sitting down to doodle or sketch.