Monday, April 11, 2011

The Residency Report

Today, we put my paintings up on the wall of the studio.  Made me realise I had done a lot of work, especially as there are several that I started over.

I am teaching myself to make and use wax encaustic as a medium. Wax encaustic is a mixture of four parts beeswax to one part resin.  Melted slowly and poured into moulds.  The mixture is reheated and pigments are added.  I use natural pigments but you can also use oil paints.  You have to heat up the paint to use it and do the paintings on firm supports because of the weight of the wood.  Michael has been making mine from plywood and backing them with 15mmx15mm pine.  Am also using perspex pieces to paint on for some of the works.

Here are the paintings hanging in the studio.

And this is my work area.  I am using a portable oven with two cooking rings that I keep the wax hot as I paint.  Of course it dries quite quickly especially in this colder  climate.

And I have a little desk for my computer.  It is handy because I can easily look across at images I am using for inspiration. The piece on the wall in this pic, is a piece I did last time using woodcut prints with collage.

Craig and I are great fans of Swedish art glass. The artists use a variety of textures and finishes which I thought would be good to use to attempt to create different uses of the wax medium.  I needed to spend the first month just working out how to use the wax in as many ways as possible. 

Here are a few of the Kosta Boda pieces that provided inspiration.

The glass designers, especially the Kosta Boda designers are all celebrities in Sweden.  See

So, here are the pieces influenced by Kosta Boda art pieces.  We only have a point and shoot and as the pieces are very textural, getting a clear pic is not easy.  Sorry, some are a little out of focus.

When  was last here, I did some woodcuts of some of the Kosta Boda artists. This time I used some of the woodcuts and painted over them using tonal colours but also experimenting with techniques and adding a piece of glass for which each artist is known. I think that I might develop the technique into portrait studies back home.

Anna Jugnelius

 Ulrika Bertil-Vallien

Anna Nilsson

This last portrait piece is inspired by the trip to Turkey.  I was intrigued by the fact that the women wearing burkhas wore some makeup and that when they wore glasses they were quite striking frames.  Of course this is the only way they can express their style outside home.  I found that interesting. This piece looks better in the flesh.

And then there are the landscapes.  The square ones are only 10x10cms.  Just studies really but gave me the opportunity to try a number of techniques.

You can actually use pencil, charcoal or ink drawings on tissue paper and embed them in the wax, which gives several layers to the drawing.

Quite challenging to try to achieve the muted pallette of the Swedish landscape.  The Australian pallette is well and truly embedded in the brain.

You can also carve into the wax and embed the wax into the previous layer.  The tree trunks are carved into the wax and the plywood support.

Not entirely successful in being Swedish.  The birch trees are OK.  (But it is all practice so I have to let go) .  The problem is sometimes the scientific man who pushes me towards realism.  The painting above is a combination of many techniques and is about 35x45cms.  I am starting a series of bigger landscapes at present.

Hope you enjoyed looking at the work.


  1. Noel, I think you just have to go with the translation into Swedish! It looks amazing from this side. Remember that famous old Swedish saying!

  2. Looks like you're having a great - and inspired - time! I love the Swedish sculpture of the 3 heads in a crank ... it's how I feel a lot of the time, actually ;) (just the pressures of Mommy Me, Scientist Me, and Writer/Artist Me).

    On another note, I'm thinking of doing your charcoal course next month ... you know, to let Artist Me out of the crank for a bit ...

    Post more!