Monday, February 7, 2011

Paper Nerve Paintings - Step by Step

I love paper cut outs and wanted to try including them in my encaustic paintings because the wax holds paper so well. The first one went so well that I documented the process while making the second one, because I always like seeing how art is made and thought some of you would too. I used simple white paper from my sketchbook, traced my board on it, drew abstracted neurons on in the square, then cut them out with an exacto knife.
. I did this a second time with another piece of paper so that I had two layers of neurons, but I had to be careful that I placed the bodies of the neurons in different spots on the paper so they wouldn't overlap too much. Then I prepped my board with the background colors that I wanted, heated it again, and placed the first layer of cut outs on it.
Then I fused them into the wax and painted over them a little to make them recede into the background.
Next, I heated the board again, placed the second cut out on top and fused it into wax, and painted over it with mostly clear wax.
Once the cut outs were all in the wax I painted the sides with a slightly darker color to hide the edges of the paper, fused it all again, and buffed the piece after it cooled. I actually like the first painting of cut outs I did better because they pop more on the dark background.

Here is the finished painting, which looks different than the step by step ones because it turns out I painting it facing the wrong way! (the hardware I drilled into the back determines how it hangs)
Here is the first paper cut out painting I did:
Which one is your favorite? Any questions on the process or suggestions on how to improve these?



  1. I think I like the second one better. But looking at it again I like the first one too. Was the original (other side) grey? And these have a more blue? What size are they? I want to learn how to do this. I've been thinking of taking a painting class, but don't want to waste my time with something where I won't learn a lot. Do you think I can jump into this, or do you need to build up to it? Are there any books out there that will explain it?

  2. They are both 8x8 I think, and as far as the colors, I'm not sure what you mean by other side being grey...but they they're both some shade of a blueish grey. If you sign up for an encaustic workshop you'd learn a lot, and it's not that hard. The best two beginning books for encaustics are:

    The Art of Encaustic Painting, Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax, by Joanne Mattera

    Embracing Encaustic, Learning to Paint with Beeswax, by Linda and William Womack

    If you go to my post on "An Explanation of Encaustics" I even give links as to where you can buy those books. I have them both and they're very good.

  3. Thanks, I'll check them out!

  4. When you said you painted it the wrong way, I thought you meant it was backwards, that's why I asked about the other side being grey. I love the color!