I made some masks of Poppies.  Only two prints came out ok.  The rest will be used for other things.

Autumn Poppy Pods with Faux Encaustic


Autumn Poppy Pods  – Acrylic/Mixed Media on Canvas Board 10×12 inches

I know it is still summer, but Autumn is just around the corner, so to speak, as it has been a bit chilly in these parts lately.  As has been happening with me more often than not, the painting above didn’t quite turn out how I wanted it to.  This painting started out so vibrant and colorful that you would most likely have needed sunglasses to look at it.  I tried to recreate another poppy pod painting, but for some reason it wasn’t happening.  In order to tone things down, I made the background white.  You can still see a little bit of the color underneath.  Although the white made all of the other colors pop, it was still too vibrant.  I needed to dirty it up a little bit.

Rather than glazing straight onto my painting with dark paint, I used a faux encaustic effect.  I have been looking into using encaustic paint effects, and although it looks like a really cool thing to do, the paint is really expensive.  (It seems like all of the good ideas come from the USA.)  One way of dirtying a painting is by covering it in encaustic wax, etching into the wax, then using a dark oil stick all over and then wiping the oil paint off with linseed oil.  That will give the painting a lovely aged look.  Since I don’t have any wax, except for the stuff I use when painting furniture, I thought I would try faux encaustic.  I have a book (yes, another book!) called: Acrylic Painting for Encaustic Effects: 45 Wax Free Techniques, by Sandra Duran Wilson.  Faux encaustic uses gel and liquid mediums to create the faux encaustic effect.  I am trying out some of the techniques on small bits of canvas board to see how they work and to determine which method/s I like.  Fortunately, I have a nice little collection of gels and glazing mediums to hand.

There are some things I am not able to do, like use isopropyl alcohol.  They don’t sell it here in the UK.  I love how you can get that marble effect with the alcohol.  If someone knows an alternative, please let me know.  I have tried methylated spirit, but no dice.  If I don’t have something, I try and improvise if I can.  For my poppy pod painting above, I used a mixture of soft and hard gel, spread it all over the painting and used an embossing tool to carve out some areas to keep some texture and to see if the dark paint would settle there.  The gel dried clear and I was able to see everything.  At this stage I used a mixture of burnt umber and glazing liquid to make a dark glaze which I painted on in sections and then proceeded to wipe off with a paper towel as I didn’t want the glaze to be too dark.  I had to go over some areas a couple of times to get it just right.

Here is a close-up:


I think this glaze ties in with the background leaves and has taken the ‘edge’ off of the white paint.  Once the glaze was dry, I used a gloss medium over the whole painting as a varnish.  If I want to add more layers, I still can.  Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t give you an idea of the depth with the thick layer of gel as it has dried so clear.  I shall be putting this one to the side for now.  Off to try a pouring encaustic method now!  Happy painting!



On the way to Santiago: Poppies


IMG_3725 (Edited)
Poppies – Mixed Media on Paper – 8×8 inches

On the way to Santiago we saw many poppy fields.  It was springtime and the poppies were interspersed with a little blue flower that I don’t know the name of.  Some of the poppy fields were mowed for fodder.  I took loads of photos of the poppies on the way to Santiago.  Sometimes seeing a poppy would be the only thing to uplift my spirits on a long and tedious journey.  Red is such an energising color.

In Acrylic Expressions, by Staci Swider, she uses images in her work that mean something to her.  I have noticed how other artists that practice intuitive painting methods tend to repeat the same symbols and images in their work.  I have been thinking about what symbols that I would like to use in my art.  I love flowers, all kinds, but I particularly like poppies.  I am uplifted every time I see one.  The flower and pods are also easy to draw.   So if you see poppies showing up in my work, you will know why.

I have always been drawn to folk art and the art on narrow boats.  It reminds me of the embroidery that my Hungarian grandmothers used to make on my dresses when I was little and on the Hungarian dolls that were my first toys.  The designs are simple, yet effective.

If there is only one thing that I could take away from this book, it would be to paint images that have meaning for you.  If that means you use images that other people also use, then make them your own.  Such as, a fish, let’s say.  I love fish, and is why I scuba dive.  Nobody owns the fish shape.  My dad used to take me fishing when I was small.  I remember drawing basic fish shapes when I was young.  Do you know that I forgot all about drawing fish until I read this book?  If anything, reading Staci Swider’s book brought back so many memories for me and for that I am grateful.  Plus I learned a few tips along the way.