Encaustic Christmas

Our family Christmas tree brought me much joy this year. We hadn't put one up the past two years because we traveled on Christmas Day and it seemed too much production to put it up only to take it down early. We always put up a "real" tree, and I didn't realize how much I had missed the tree and the joy that radiates forth from it being the centerpiece of our living room during the month of December. Most evenings I've been intentional about sitting for a few moments in silence and simply gazing at the tree and appreciating its beauty and the love and memories included in the decorations on the tree. Encaustic Christmas is an artsy reflection on this joy and appreciation which I've experienced through this seasonal decoration.
The mixed media piece is the last two/unused pages on an altered book that I started March 2013. The pages had been prepped with white gesso and yellow & blue watercolor which I covered with green art paper and then created a collage of six "Christmas trees" cut from different art papers. They represent
 the six different trees decorated throughout my house. I cut apart my last remaining Christmas card and scattered it about the pages. I coated both pages with two thing layers of clear encaustic wax and used a heat cut to smooth and seal the layers. I had decorated the tree with purple and turquoise with small silvers balls, and I wanted to re-create the experience of gazing at the tree with this art journal entry. I dipped the end of a wine cork in hot wax and pressed onto the collage-first with purple and then then turquoise. I filled in missing spaces on the imprint using a paint brush dipped in the hot wax. I used the end of a dowel rod (smaller) for the silver balls.  Technique Tip: To clean the brush, "brush" it on a paper towel which is resting on the heat source for the encaustics (I use a pancake griddle set on 200 degrees). I keep a "cleaning cup" of wax on the griddle; when I've cleaned off as much wax from the paintbrush as I can using the paper towel, I dip it in the cleaning cup (which gradually gets more and more muddy) and then wipe the brush clean with a paper towel. It doesn't get it 100% clean, but very close. Once the "clean cup" of wax gets too muddy, discard and start over with fresh wax.
 I'm not quite sure what it is about it, but I am fascinated with encaustics. Artsy theology mixed media art and reflection-is a great receptacle for experimenting with encaustics because the purpose of journal art is the process and not the product. In other words, there is no pressure to "produce" something worthy of hanging on a museum wall; rather the goal is the process itself of thinking, listening, and reflecting while doing art. It isn't the end result but the process.