My artistic process using colored wax with burned wood was initially the result of a happy accident.
When I was burning wood for an art piece, I used wax to camouflage a mistake in that process. That mistake soon became the doorway to the vast creative possibilities that the combined techniques of pyrography and encaustic offered.
The wax could be colored, layered on in different textures and then carved back out to reveal the wood burned image hidden below.
Though my subjects range from life in Venice, California to concepts from my imagination, the method of wax and wood speaks for itself. It is visual and tactile and engages directly with the viewer.
After laying out the image, I begin the burn. The hot pen essentially caramelizes the wood as it burns each line. The burning process takes time and patience. It is a web of fine lines taken together creating a story in image.
I use 100% refined Beeswax and mix it with Damar (the crystalized sap of a trees found in India and East Asia). The Damar gives added hardness and luminosity. The beeswax is heated to approximately 180-220F.
Laying down the wax has to be done quickly before the wax cools. It can be manipulated while liquid or once cooled into its solid form. The methods of wax manipulation are endless.
Working with wax is a bit like being a scientist in the laboratory. I mix my own colors from old oil paints I have both collected and inherited from my Grandfather Mischa Kallis.
One of the beautiful characteristics of the wax, is the suspension of the pigment molecules in the wax medium when it is cooled. When light shines on an encaustic painting the colors illuminate.
To understand my process at a deeper level, you might want to learn more about encaustic.
Each piece of art has it’s own set of challenges. As soon as I think I understand the wax, I realize that no two pieces are alike.
I have to trust that the solution will evolve. I lose myself in the process. The wax can be unpredictable and it is essential to give the process full attention.
This is the first release of my Wax and Wood artworks and compiles the collection created from January 2016 up to today.
I hope that you enjoy the artwork that you see in my gallery as much as I enjoyed making it.
Keep in touch and up to date by checking out the section of my social media pages on Facebook and Instagram where you will see photos of the most current wax and wood projects underway and where I might share bits of my obsession with wax painting and wood burning.