I have a thing for charcoal. The contrast against pure white paper. The velvety surface. The smoky transitions. This painting, A Bite of Moonlight, is a piece I did for a solo exhibition at Smith College in 2000. Lately, I’ve been enjoying working in encaustics so I was wondering if I could create a similar charcoal effect with a jar of Gamblin Mars Black Dry Pigment and an inexpensive angle brush.
After four layers of white wax and heat bonding between layers, I began to “draw” with black wax. I referred to some shapes I could see in the garden. I always look to something as I’m drawing. It helps me build bones for a strong composition. Then I drew some more with white wax. Being sure to fuse each color to the previous layer.
Here I’ve taken an angle brush dipped in the Gamblin pigment powder and burnished it into areas on the painting. I like the charcoal-y effect. When you’re happy with a layer, you heat fuse it and can save the area with a coat of clear wax. I’m starting to get attached to this painting. I like what’s happening. NOTE: wear gloves and a mask/respirator. Don’t work near a draft that can blow the powder around. And, don’t eat or drink around this stuff. Just be mindful, use it safely and enjoy!
Bummer! Covering the charcoal-y area with clear wax smeared the powder. I thought I had burnished the black powder deep enough into the wax. Guess not. Now a mistake has happened and I have to decide how to incorporate the accident. It’s workable but I really liked the contrast between the clean white wax and the black.
Hmmm…this is what I have created with the experiment and the accident. I like pieces of it but now I have to sit with this piece. Watch it. Listen to it. Discover what it is about. This is the hard part because I’m impatient. I absolutely love it when I crank out a piece and it’s obviously done. Immediate gratification! But most pieces require more TLC and patience.