Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Encaustic Hot Pen Fun

Encaustic hot pen - how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways
  1. blending colors on the surface of the painting
  2. fine line and detail work
  3. no need for extra fusing - it fuses as you go because its hot :)
  4. less wastage of wax
  5. meditative qualities 

hot pen face on 3x3 board
this face is blended entirely on the surface using the hot pen to work the wax and color
Now, let me tell you this love affair with the hot pen is new.  I have owned a hot pen since 2011 and totally discarded it as a worthless thing to take up space in my studio.  But, now - I understand how to use it thanks to Larry Calkins and the recent mixed media encaustic class I took at Pratt in Seattle. 
Unbeknownst to me there is a right hot pen and a wrong hot pen - I currently own the wrong one and I did order the right one which can be ordered here.  I believe this is the only place to get it in the US.  But, I may be wrong - so make a comment if you know otherwise.
The difference is heat.  The green one gets a bit hotter and makes it much easier to blend wax colors on the surface.  Although it can smoke and you don't want to breathe that, so take precautions.  But, for blending on the surface its really good.  The tip is designed to suck up the wax (easiest from a hardened block of wax) into a groove and then release it onto the surface on which you are working by touching the tip to the surface.
The trick to using the hot pen is a very light touch.  The way to get the feeling for the right touch to use is to imagine writing on the back of your hand and not burning yourself.  This was demoed to me, but I haven't been brave enough to try it and of course I do not recommend that you try for fear you may burn yourself.  But use your imagination and think along those lines when using the pen.  If you use too much pressure, you will find the pen will pick up the color of the wax surface you are working on and not lay lines in as you might wish - light touch... really light touch. 
I also find that really you don't need a thick wax surface to work on - in fact I think it works best with just a thin layer of wax on board.  One way to use it is that you can lay in your drawing on the board, cover with medium and then use the pen to fill in the drawing.  This is where the meditative qualities come in - just filling in little by little is like zen.   I tend to use it for small faces, good detail, drawing, and line work. 
Its a good tool for starting out in encaustic painting because it is an easy set up and easy to put away at the end of the day. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm just starting out with encaustic. I have the iron and have made a few muddy smudge paintings so far! I can't say I'm hooked ... yet! More practice needed I think!


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