Some days you really just want to paint but there is a lot of before and after that gets you to that place.  For example, I’m using cradled boards (birch on pine cradle – I’ll upgrade the cradle next time) which are sold for painting, so first step is to mask off the cradle and base so you don’t get wax all over it (some people like that but I’m not there at the moment).  Next step, 2-3 layers of encaustic gesso.  Wax works best on surfaces that are rigid and absorptive; encaustic gesso provides a white layer that is made for using wax.  I have painted directly on the boards and it is really a matter of preference and what you are painting; just as the decision to use yellow or white beeswax is a personal choice, again based in part on what you are painting and what effect you want.

Once the boards are ready, I’m all about painting and then they sit, waiting. They are only half-way ready. The cradles need to be stained (light or dark depending on the piece and the graining of the wood).  Sanding and filling might be involved; preferably BEFORE you mask off the board, but sometimes you find places you missed. Once the stain is dry, I put a coat of poly on it. Next we turn the piece over and add the hardware (Roy gets involved here), and the hanging wire, and finally, the markings on the back of the piece. I put the title, my name and year, and I’m going to start including my file number. Why, you might ask, do you wait until it’s finished to put the hardware on; the answer is you don’t always end up with the top at the top.

The piece is ready now to hang on a wall (or if small, sit on a shelf) but if I’m taking/ sending it somewhere to sell then I also attach documentation and care instructions.  And of course, there’s taking photographs and updating my data files. So, maybe it’s that I enjoy painting more but it sure seems like most of my time is spent doing “other,”

Waiting for the encaustic gesso to dry.