I celebrated my 41st birthday a couple of weeks ago, and it's been a 'birthday month' full of little celebrations and family parties. My birthday present to myself was an encaustic class up in Paso Robles.. a little trip away by myself! I've been wanting to learn encaustic for a few years now, but haven't been able to find a class in LA, so I was really excited to find one 3 hours away in a cute town I'd never been to before.
And Paso Robles is really cute. There's a pretty park in the center of town, lots of flowers, great restaurants, nice shops, and no parking meters. There are also wineries surrounding the town for miles, I will have to visit them next time I go.
I stayed at a hotel called The Paso Robles Inn... I spent hours in the jacuzzi... I ate at the bar at the same restaurant two nights in a row because the food was so good... I took pictures of my dinner with my iphone and sent the photos home to my husband, who was very jealous.
Heidi Franscioni taught the two day encaustic class, and I had such a blast. Heidi's art is amazing and she's a wonderful teacher. Her studio was bright and airy and there were only three of us students (Heidi's maximum per class is four) so we all got to spread out. The best part is that everything we needed was at the studio: other than personal collage materials, Heidi supplied everything else. It was show up and make art!
The first day we learned the basics: how to mix the encaustic medium with the pigments (below), then we tried pouring, dripping, scraping, stenciling and incising, we transfered images into the wax, and we attempted to master the balance of keeping the wax hot enough to paint with but not too hot that it smokes.
The second day was when the fun really started: it was St. Patrick's Day and we were next door to a pub called the Crooked Kilt that had been open (and packed) since 6 AM! The bagpipes started up around 10:00, and it made us all a little feisty.. in a good way..
Here's one of my pieces, above. You can see the hot plate with the encaustic medium top right. Some work by my classmates Karen and Suzi, below.
Above piece is by Suzi, a photographer, who wanted to learn encaustic to add another dimension to her photographs. I love this because the encaustic parts look like fish scales.
And here are my finished pieces:
I love how encaustic adds such a luminous, semi-transparent, almost *milky* quality to images. I've been exploring transparency in my own work with tape transfers and photo transparencies, and it was so great to add another tool to my box. I can't wait to work more with it.
If you're interested in learning encaustic painting, I would highly recommend Heidi's classes, they are supportive, fun, and affordable.