Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Things I can't live without... or at least I can't paint without.

Art stores used to be one of my favorite places to be (along with stationary stores, book stores, and cooking supplies stores) but I am finding that now that I have really honed in on a series that I like and want to continue to pursue, they no longer hold the appeal that they used to have. I used to spend hours looking at art supplies and fantasizing about what I could make with them. I'd buy all kinds of paint, paper (that area was my favorite!), pastels, pencils, etc.  I used to have storage containers of such a variety of supplies that if you asked me if I had something, say a woodcut tool or some gouache, I probably did. Now that my direction and goals are more defined, I no longer have a use for these things.

Nowadays, the supplies that really get me going, and that I find indispensable, are pretty simple. I need birch panels that are custom made for me by Ryan McJunkin (if I was a badass, I'd make my own, like Robin Luciano Beaty. She even built her own studio. Talk about badass! And yes, these are shameless plugs!). I usually go with either 12" x 12", 24" x 24", 30"x 30", or 30" x 40". Once I get those, I use Holy Grail on it, which is a water soluble "gesso" specially made by Evans Encaustics for encaustic paint (she also makes encaustic paints of which "Robin's Egg Blue" is my new favorite color). Regular gesso usually has acrylic in it which does not adhere well to wax so Holy Grail is a must.

Once my panels have their sides masked off and the fronts have Holy Grail, I transfer my drawing on them and use only two tubes of paint. Titanium white and raw umber. Not really exciting huh? I then cover it with clear encaustic medium (I make my own using resin from R&F Paints and wax from Sinopia) and blow torch it smooth. Now while my art supplies have dwindled to just two tubes of paint, birch panels, holy grail, and encaustic medium, I have to say that this is the most inspiring work that I have created. I don't need to throw in gold leaf or random things in just to be gratuitous. I have simplified my art and am very happy with it. While other artists who I admire and who's work I covet are using many supplies and get to have fun trips to art stores, my art life has become simplified. I do miss those shopping sprees and using those supplies, but I think I am going to stick to simple for awhile. Now if only my personal life could be simplified...


  1. Great post Jhina! I must admit, I no longer creep aimlessly around overpriced art supply stores either. BUT I do confess I spend many countless hours in the hardware isle of home depot...and Ive also been known to bury myself in the rusty basements of salvage stores and antique shops. (where the really great "art supplies" are hidden!;-)

    By the way ,anyone can be as "baddass" if they just learn how to use a table saw, a rockin' sliding miter saw, a passload nail compressor and a little bit of wood glue ;) Presto! You're in the bad-ass club of panel building. I'll show you when you come to visit my studio in June. Its fun...and carthartic!
    one more thing...I agree 100% on the gold leaf scenario. Just Say NO to gratuitous gold leafing!!

  2. hehe...just use a table saw, miter saw, and a passload nail compressor?? that's all it takes? yeah, i think i need bad ass lessons from you.

    oh i forget to mention that i do spend hours looking through vintage photos in thirift stores of people's basements. guess that's my new "art store"?