How to paint with encuastic, oil, photo transfer by David Gonville

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Lots of people ask me how I paint with oil, encaustic bees wax and photo-transfers. My technique is always slightly different but here is a basic rundown. I documented the process for creating my painting titled “Cold Water Classic”.

Supplies and tools:

  • masonite board
  • oil paint
  • bees wax encaustic
  • paint brush
  • household iron
  • standard office paper
  • laser printer or inkjet
  • scanner, computer, Photoshop

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STEP 1 First I start painting the base of the painting in acrylic or oil, using a sketch as reference I work quickly to build up layers and depth. This painting is on a piece of masonite board, the surface needs to be firm and non-flexible so the wax doesn’t crack later on.


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STEP 2 Using an old iron, I heat and melt bees wax encaustic directly onto surface.


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STEP 3 With the iron heat setting on medium, smooth out the wax, creating a flat surface. Be sure to work quickly, if you don’t like the results at first the great thing about this medium is that you can apply heat and rework the wax right on the surface.


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STEP 4 Sometimes I let the wax cool down, and then scrape the surface with carbide scraper to make an even smoother and cleaner surface.


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STEP 5 For this painting I wanted to add more colors in layers. I taped off an area using regular painters tape, so when I added the next coat of wax, it wouldn’t cover the entire surface.

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STEP 6 Again I heat up and apply wax to the surface this time adding more oil paint into the bees wax mixture, (you can see in this photo wax chunks I mixed prior)


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STEP 7 Next transfer an image. Using regular office paper print a black and white photo, text, vector etc. I use a regular Brother laser printer from Staples for prints, but standard ink-jet works as well.

  1. Reverse image in Photoshop and print black and white image.
  2. Use a blunt sharp object and press paper into wax surface, usually for about five minutes until entire area is flattened into surface. Then leave it for ten minutes.
  3. Pour water onto surface, then place wet paper towel on top of transfer image. Wait about ten minutes until bottom paper is saturated, then slowly rub paper until it begins to “peel” away from surface leaving the toner image or ink on the surface of the wax.
  4. Let it dry for a few minutes, then go back and remove the rest of the paper residue.

(For this painting I’m using text for the first layer image transfer. It’s the local weather report that surfers read. It works with this series of winter surf paintings…creates a mood and adds content)


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STEP 8 Next I taped off an area of the painting, and applied another layer. This time adding more color to build up layers, and add depth.

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STEP 9 Here you can see the progress of the painting so far! I added a wood frame using reclaimed wood and used gorilla grip to glue to masonite, which bonds really well.

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STEP 10 Next I scan or take a digital photo of the painting and load into Photoshop. From there I can visualize and try out different imagery and play around with colors and layering. In this painting I’m using a photo I shot after surfing this winter in Rhode Island’s very cold water in Feb. That’s a local surfer and friend Phil Casey getting barreled. When I’m happy with the image I want to use I take that layer and reverse it, tweak the levels and contrast and print out a laser print.
(This is a screen shot showing greyscale photo and my scanned painting with image layered on top in Photoshop)

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STEP 11 After I print out the reversed image, I repeat the process as described above in STEP 7.

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STEP 12 Add finishing touches with a little oil paint and Darand wax and your done!

Comments and questions welcome! Sorry this one is Sold!

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