Charmed by the work of artists such as Rebecca Crowell, Janice Mason and Serena Barton, in 2014 I did some basic experiments with the cold wax medium made by Gamblin mixed with gold pigment, charcoal and alcohol ink. However, it is only recently that I took time to explore further the possibilities of painting with cold wax.

Cold wax is a tradition medium used in oil painting. It is a waxy paste made from beeswax, solvent and, according to the manufacturer or the artist’s preferences, oil, Damar resin and even microcrystalline wax. As its name suggest it, working with cold wax do not need any heating as encaustic (hot wax) do.

Below are photos of my first experiments mixing cold wax and oil paint. The goal was not to create amazing compositions and stunning paintings, but to test a few techniques to get to know the creative possibilities of cold wax and oil painting. The paintings have been created on small wood panels (8 × 10 inches) coated by three layers of gesso, then a layer of rust-brown acrylic paint. To add color to the cold wax medium from Gamblin, I chose Mr. Graham oil paint.

Experimental Cold Wax and Oil Painting 1 Wood panel 8x10 inches. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Experimental Cold Wax and Oil Painting 1
Wood panel 8×10 inches.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the experimental painting 1. Carving into layers of wax. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the experimental painting 1. Carving into layers of wax.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the previous cold wax painting. This time, the wax and paint mixture was painted through a window screen. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the previous cold wax painting. This time, the wax and paint mixture was textured with a window screen.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Another texture effect created with multiple layers of scratched cold wax. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Another texture effect created with multiple layers of scratched cold wax.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

What I like about cold wax painting

  • The colors do not change in drying as with watercolor or acrylic paint.
  • The texture does not shrink during drying as acrylic paint and medium do.
  • The finish is matte.
  • It is easy to create different texture effects by scraping, carving or polishing the wax.
  • The faint smell of beeswax in the product made by Gamblin.
  • Being able to rework the surface of the painting for hours and even for days.
Experimental Cold Wax and Oil Painting 2 Wood panel 8x10 inches. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Experimental Cold Wax and Oil Painting 2
Wood panel 8×10 inches.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup. Texture created with a little piece of window screen. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the previous experimental painting. Texture created with a little piece of window screen.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Another closeup from the previous painting. Here the texture is very smooth. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Another closeup from the previous painting. Here the texture is smoother.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the previous experimental cold wax and oil painting. Grooves were carved showing the multiple layers of wax and paint. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup from the previous experimental cold wax and oil painting.
Grooves were carved showing the multiple layers of wax and paint.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

What I’m not so crazy about

  • The wax and oil mixture make everything it touches sticky for a while (the working table and painting tools).
  • Cleaning is not as easy as with watercolor, but less problematic than I thought. Solvents are not absolutely necessary during the cleaning process; walnut oil, oil-based soap, newspapers, hot water and cloths are most of the time enough.
  • Waiting for hours or days between two layers.
  • To wait even longer before the paint is completely dry.
  • The room space required to store the paintings when they are drying.
  • The need for two distinct workspaces: one for cold wax and oil painting, the other for water-based mediums.

For now, my heart balance between the plus and cons of this medium, but the more I play with it, the more I like it. The cons are mostly me having to change my workflow. This is why I pursue the adventure, at least until I’m out of wax or oil paint. Then I shall see…

Thanks for your visit and see you soon,

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