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  • Joan

Cold Wax: Day 1

Last weekend I was very excited to attend a 2-day oil paint and cold wax workshop given by Sue Martin (Sue Martin Fine Art). I first became aware of this technique from artist Bonnie Griffith (Bonnie Zahn Griffith Fine Art) – she has worked with many mediums including encaustic and cold wax. When Sue was coming to Meridian, Idaho for a show at Initial Point Gallery, Bonnie decided to host a workshop at her studio.


Sue Martin at Initial Point Gallery


Cold Wax is an oil painting medium which is a soft paste made of beeswax mixed with a small amount of solvent and resin. The cold wax paste is mixed with the oil paint (and sometimes Galkyd medium) on the palette. It extends and adds body to oil paint, aids in drying time, increases transparency and workability, does not require special set-up or ventilation, and allows artists to build up textural effects and layers. Cold wax medium also combines readily with other mediums such as dry pigment, powdered charcoal, marble dust, chalk pastel, graphite and oils sticks.


The first day of the workshop we were just exploring the medium and what is possible with cold wax. We divided a sheet of oil paint paper into 4 frames and were limited to 2 colors plus black and white. We were to bring anything we could think of to make marks and patterns. We started applying thin layers of pencil, charcoal, and the paint mixed with the wax medium. The four panels allowed exploration plus a little drying time as you moved around working on each of the panels. My fear of overworking something, and therefore ruining a good thing, was put to the test this weekend. Sometimes I liked what was in a frame, but had to keep going and experimenting – which was ultimately a good thing. My four panels looked similar until the very end when I finally got the hang of it. I started out with too thick of layers so some panels I scraped almost clean and started in a new direction. Every once in awhile, we stopped and put a precut 4-opening frame on top of our work to clean up each frame and distinguish it – this really helped. Here are my experiments and layerings from day 1.


Follow Sue Martin on Instagram at suemartinartist

Follow Bonnie Griffith on Instagram at bonniezahngriffith


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