I have been painting with cold wax for several years now and in this art blog post, I offer advice on techniques and discuss how I use multiple layers of cold wax on card, tissue paper and various textured surfaces. I often work on 2 or more cold wax oil paintings, side by side, trying to balance the conflicting demands of perspective and compositional tension whilst retaining the integrity of the picture plane.
Of course, this is an impossible and unrealistic task, but occasionally, I catch a glimpse of a resolution ……. that’s the game we play.
Cold Wax Painting: Avoiding Self-Delusion
Additional layers of cold wax, deep black tones to build contrast and depth. More removal and reinstatement, travelling slowly in a direction I may yet be comfortable with. I am endlessly surprised by my sheer lack of insight into my own work, it takes a day or two of doing nothing before I can actually see clearly and understand what I have done and need to do.
If I continue working without a significant pause for a period of assimilation and reflection (preferably a few days or maybe even a week) I become delusional.
I can persuade myself that bad work is good, that a hackneyed composition is dynamic, fresh and original, that the colour relationships are sufficiently challenging yet harmonious, the misinterpretation and misreading go on and on.
Cold Wax Painting: Meaning behind the materials
This is an oil painting on a cradled wooden board using a cold wax medium.
The cold wax process favours rapid execution and energetic marks or gestures, encouraging the creation of layers of translucent colour, texture and impasto.
Perspective is deliberately ambiguous and suggested only by changes in scale and the intensity of colour values. This painting is influenced by abstract expressionism and the
deliberate flattening and simplification of forms.
This theme is a continuing exploration of landscape and nature, specifically the flat landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands, but in reality, all land. I have used the title 'Excavation' because I am interested in the history of the land, the accretion of time and changes wrought by man, the taming of nature, the exercise of control and the imposition of order. The division and subdivision, public and private, ownership and stewardship. But more than anything else, the land is an endowment, a gift from one generation to the next.
Cold Wax Painting: Building Texture
Building the impasto with palette knives, pieces of card, direct from the tube, the paint begins to take on a life of its own.
The close up images show the multiple layers of cold wax on card, tissue paper and various textured surfaces.
Cold Wax Painting: Making Judgements
As each successive layer of cold wax dries, additional marks and surfaces accumulate. An assortment of palette knives and tools are deployed, layering and scraping back where a colour or tone is too dominant. I didn’t know paint could be claustrophobic, but it can be intensely suffocating and airless, sucking out the very life we try to capture.
Knowing when a painting has arrived at a destination is never simple, all artists know this, it's a difficult judgement to make and we are invariably mistaken time after time. So many factors come into play, tension, harmony, contrast, compositional structure, this is especially true of work that is primarily abstract and doesn't conform to a particular code of realism. It is the elusive issue of ‘rightness’; knowledge, experience and technique will only take you so far, then you're on your own.
Cold Wax Painting: 'Soundstage' Completed Work
This is an oil painting on a deep edge canvas using a cold wax medium. The cold wax process favours rapid execution and energetic marks or gestures, encouraging the creation of layers of translucent colour, texture and impasto. There is an acid quality to the colour, lemon yellows clash with complementary violets and turquoise blues. The vertical 'dragging' of paint hints at a rain-soaked landscape with the mechanical division of fields and a patchwork quilt of crop rotation. Diminishing scale suggests depth and perspective and a road/river dog-legs to the left, reflecting a watery sun. All the while, the land rises and falls as the underlying peat loses its structural integrity and collapses in on itself.
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I am a British artist based in Ely, Cambridgeshire and my work is sought by collectors here in the UK and worldwide. I have exhibited recently at the Battersea Affordable Art Fair, The Babylon Gallery in Ely, The Art in East Anglia Gallery, in Bury St Edmunds, The Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, The Michael House Centre and The Locker cafe in Cambridge. I also have collections of my artwork in prestigious office settings in major towns and cities throughout the country.
I work in mixed media, oil, cold wax, acrylic, bitumen and on both medium and large-scale canvases. My techniques involve a range of techniques and processes including, drawing, painting, collage, printing and mixed media applications. My main subject matter is landscape and abstraction and many of my paintings are located somewhere between figurative and non-figurative approaches to image-making.