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Friday, August 28, 2015

Encaustic Wax

Beeswax
Where does Encaustic Wax come from and how is it standardized for artist use?

Beeswax is secreted by wax glands in the bee’s abdominal area and used to create the honeycombs of the hive. Pure beeswax is composed solely of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Its natural color when it is secreted is white. When beeswax is harvested from the hive it is often contaminated with impurities, which discolor it. At this stage it is called unrefined or crude beeswax. Unrefined or crude beeswax is colored in a range of earthy hues from yellow to black. This coloration is caused by pollen, propolis (resin), and dirt. If you use unrefined wax for its color, it is important not to assume that the color is permanent because the color is organic matter, which is not necessarily stable in light and is subject to fading, darkening, or a color shift.  

These are reasons why you would most likely want to use decolorized, white beeswax for encaustic. You may wonder how does the wax get whitened? Artist manufacturers avoid the term ”bleached beeswax” because it implies the use of chemical bleaches. But the wax industry uses the term for the mechanical as well as the chemical methods of decolorizing beeswax. 

Chemical bleaching is not the best choice for artists for two reasons. For one, chemical bleaching (which uses either potassium permangenate & phosphoric acid or sulfuric acid or various peroxides) does not always mean removing the colorant. In many cases it simply masks it. It is often used to whiten colorants that non-chemical bleaching can’t, but these colorants can later return to their original color. Furthermore, chemical bleaching can be harsh on the wax, creating free fatty acids and making the wax more reactive to pigments and pollutants. 
R&F Handmade Paints

Sun bleaching exposes the wax to the ultraviolet light of the sun, which breaks down the colorants. This is a gentle and effective method of decolorizing the wax. The process, however, is expensive on an industrial scale because it requires so much space, but it is also the most accessible method for artists who want to bleach their own wax on a small scale. 

Filtration is a process in which the wax is forced under high pressure through filters of activated carbon and clay that absorb the colorants and take out all foreign matter. Filtration is preferable to chemical bleaching because it maintains the structural integrity of the wax. It is also, in the long run, the least expensive and the most practical of the three methods. It is the best choice for artist material.

Pharmaceutical grade beeswax is a standard set by the government that certifies that the wax meets certain chemical requirements and that it is pure beeswax. The chemical standards (such as its ability to be saponified) are of importance to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical use of beeswax. For the artist, the real importance of pharmaceutical grade beeswax is that it is a guarantee that the beeswax has not been adulterated with other waxes (such as paraffin or microcrystalline), rosins, stearic acid, or tallow. However, the term pharmaceutical grade does not refer to the method by which it has been decolorized. Artists should seek out wax that is both guaranteed 100% beeswax and filtered or sun bleached. 

And, in case you’re wondering, R&F uses only pharmaceutical grade filtered beeswax.

Taken from the Encaustic Resource Center and written by R&F Handmade Paints.

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Featured Gallery Artist: Angel Domingo Fernandez

Angelo Fernandez
Centerhill Morning, 24" x 36", acrylic on panel

Tennessee artist Angelo Fernandez is a self taught artist with a lifetime of experience in all types of media.  He is a member of the Portrait Society of America and writer for their Literary Committee along with being a full time artist.  Angelo chooses his media for a work based on the subject matter and his vision, as in Centerhill Morning.  "This is a painting of the cool, placid tranquility experienced at dawn on Centerhill Lake, Tennessee. The acrylic medium allowed the textured expression, color, and beauty of the layered rocks along the shoreline," he explains.

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Featured Video: Priming on Hardbord™

Now that you have your Hardbord™ or Artist Panel Unprimed sealed completely, you are ready for priming.  Whether you choose to use an oil based primer or a water based primer is up to you, and we have directions on both on our website.  

One of the advantages to acrylic primer or acrylic gesso is a quicker drying time, and a primer that easily accepts any type of paint or mixed media on top.  Below, I have outlined the steps for priming a sealed cradled Hardbord panel in this quick video using Golden Artist Colors Acrylic Gesso.  Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions in the comments here or on our YouTube channel.





All things Ampersand,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Featured Video: Sealing Hardbord

One of our biggest questions here at Ampersand Art Supply is how to properly seal and prime a panel to accept paint.  This information is detailed on our website, but now you can also watch this video which outlines and demonstrates the process of sealing a panel.  In upcoming videos, I'll share how to prime with either an acrylic ground or oil based ground.

We recommend using GAC 100 to seal wood or Hardbord panels.  In the video below, I demonstrate how easy it is to use the product and protect and prolong the life of the artwork.    After properly sealing a panel, it is ready to accept priming.




All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Current Events: Diana Lee

One of our Scratchbord artist friends, Diana Lee, has a lot going on this year.  Having just closed an annual exhibition with the Silicon Valley Women's Caucus for Art, Diana's full year is just getting going.

Currently, Diana's work is hanging in the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, featuring the Bay Area Women Artists in a juried exhibition running through August 20th.  The opening reception is on August 4th along with a roundtable discussion of the participating artists on their creative process.

Diana Lee
Camellias Reflecting
Diana also had work in the annual International Society for Scratchbord Artists exhibition, where she was honored with the People's Choice Award with her work Camellias Reflecting.

This coming October, Diana will open her home studio give viewers a chance to see her art in person. This year during the Art Trails weekends, October 10/11 and October 17/18, there will be a sale wall where some of her work will be more affordably priced.  To keep up with everything that Diana is working on, follow her Facebook page or tune in to her website.

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.