Combining Techniques, Materials and Ideas

Encaustic Fine Art Incising Metal Dropper Organic

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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  • Amy on

    Thank you for sharing your art and techniques. Your work is incredible!

  • Mary on

    I love this piece and the step by step directions and pictures you provided. Thank you!

  • Cathy Cattle on

    Excellent description on all points! Such patience in letting that koi dry. thanks

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