Combining Techniques, Materials and Ideas

Combining Techniques, Materials and Ideas

I am a person who likes to explore, experiment and discover with my art process. One of the things that I find most exciting about encaustic is the almost unlimited ways you can work with it. It opens up so many possibilities, and makes the process of making art, inspiring and interesting at the same time. 

In this post I will share some different techniques I use when combining organic elements with something representational, a Koi fish. 

My approach to creating a painting usually starts with a specific idea or concept and I strive to make sure that every element within the painting is worthy of being there. This includes the background, even if it will never be seen. The background of the painting is the foundation for the rest of the painting, and will typically evolve, change, and be recreated multiple times before it is "ready" to become a finished painting. 

I typically use a combination of accretion, (layers of colored wax, texture) to create the initial base, then pigment sticks to create dimension and depth in my paintings (my DVD "Organic Fusion" details this method and the related techniques).

 In the painting below I started by building even layers of texture starting with a layer of clear medium, then white and finally alizarin orange. Once I felt the texture was correct (not too much, but enough to create variation of color) then I fused it. After fusing and letting it cool down a bit, and I added pigment stick to the sides, but not the middle to create some depth and variation of color.

You can see in this image the difference between the middle yellow area and the edges, where I added the pigment stick, it helps to define the painting, and create "space" for the larger object that I will add later. Before adding the Koi I have added a number of visual elements using a metal dropper. I used clear, off white and alizarin orange medium to create the shapes detailed in the photo below. 

 Once I felt the background was complete, I used a sharpie pen to outline the shape of the Koi. When I finished creating the outline, I used a needle point metal incising tool to incise the lines. I like to use a incising tool with a sharp tip that can hold up to the wax, and is not too flexible, such as the one below which I sell for $1.99. 

Once I complete incising all of the outline, I softly fused the lines to remove the excess shavings from the incisions. Fusing also opens up the lines a bit, but you have to be careful not to fuse too much or you will fuse out all of the lines. 

I also used rubbing alcohol to remove any residual sharpie pen before fusing. In order to add some detail to the lines you can add a dark colored pigment stick, or oil paint, in this example I am adding Viva Inka Gold (which should not be fused) into my outline. 


The final step is to paint in the fish, I do that using pigment stick. I usually start with lighter colors and add the darker colors last. I apply the pigment stick carefully so as not too fill in the incised lines.

Once I am done painting in the fish, I will let it dry for several weeks, pigment stick takes a long time to completely dry.

Hope you enjoyed this post and  happy creating!


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Elizabeth, thank you for your generosity by sharing your beautiful work, tips and tricks with us!!! Your work has certainly inspired and uplifted my spirit!!! Blessings!!!

Deon Van der Walt

So lovely.


First thank you for all the comments. I am very pleased that you are enjoying my blog posts and getting something of value from them. To answer your question Pat, I did fill in the incisions (and do almost always) – in this case I used Viva Inka Gold which is a metallic product which contains some wax, although it is not a “true” cold wax product. Yes you certainly could use India Ink to fill in the incisions, or pigment stick and or oil paint. All of these options will work.

elizabeth schowachert

Thanks for sharing. Beautiful.


Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for letting us know the details of how you created this beautiful piece. Should we never fill in the incised lines? I have seen that some people put India ink in them.

Pat Bell

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