Using up the paint - Cold Wax Paintings

Last year, my mom gave me a bag of her old oil paints and I started playing with the paints on small canvases and paper. I quickly relalized I needed to learn more about HOW to use oils, so that I could get a flow to the paint and really benefit from the juicy quality of oils that is so different from  acrylics. Right away, the smell of mineral spirits and turpentine really put me off. I am working in my home and found the smell would easily take over the house. So I turned to the internet. I re-discovered Gamblin brand mediums, which are safer than basic mineral sprits and turps. I also came across Cold Wax, and was interested to learn more. Artists Pamela Caughey and Lisa Pressman have wonderful YouTube channels that explain a lot about their working styles. It looked so fun, and really drew me in.  I also discovered the new book: Cold Wax Medium by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin and promptly added it to my Christmas list (thanks BRY!). 

What appeals to me about cold wax, and what drew me in at first, is the textural, collage quality and working in layers. I have been looking for a way to bring my collages to “life” out of the journal format. What almost put me off is the cost of materials and feeling stingy with paint, canvas space, and wanting something to turn out like a masterpiece the first time around. I know this is impossible, and the free paint, gifted book (and subsequent gift of a few large wood panels - an essential substrate) helped me to break through this barrier that was all in my mind. Of course, I have since ordered more of everything and new colors of paint. Gamblin is the source I am using for cold wax and the less toxic additives and cleaners.  Blick is the cheapest source for wood panels and oil paint (at least compared to Amazon).

So, I now have three ‘series’ of paintings going in the studio in varying stages. I start with acrylic, much like Pamela Caughey shows in her videos. I don’t do quite as much as she does in the surface texture department, but I do layer and scrape into the pieces as I go. Something she said about her process (I’m paraphrasing..) is that each layer is fun, and she wants to have that fun for as long as possible. I am not sure exactly where these are going, but exploring the layers, having fun with the materials, and taking time between layers to let them set up and dry is something I am enjoying. With oil painting (which dries slower than acrylic) and cold wax (which slows the drying process even further) you do have to wait for layers to dry or you will muck up the colors. The paintings have to be walked away from. In life these days, I need more time for the pause, to take a break and intentionally think about where I am going. Most days I am running through my to do list and carpool duties, so the pause of this type of work has drawn me in. I dont know if I’ve fully explored everything there is to know about the cold wax techniques yet, but I am working on it and willing to waste a bit more paint.

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