Blooming Encaustic

I just spent about half an hour going around my house and polishing up all of my encaustic paintings. Because encaustic paint is wax, it does this thing called “bloom”, where some of the moisture in the wax slowly escapes and settles on the surface. It can make the surface of the painting look dull.

It's a subtle difference that a lot of people wouldn't even notice, but I really prefer a polished painting than an unpolished one.

Bloom is really only a problem on paintings with little to no surface texture. You generally don’t notice it on heavily textured paintings, and you never want to rub a textured painting because they’re pretty fragile.

If you have a pair of Hunter rubber boots, you’ve probably seen bloom before – especially on black ones. I clean my wellies every couple years to get rid of the cloudiness that happens because of bloom. I'd do it more often, but I wear them in the mud so it's not like I'm super concerned with how clean they are...

Anyway, back to the paintings. First, use a feather duster or something else gentle to brush any dust off the surface. I also sometimes just blow on a painting to remove dust.

Then, all I do is get a super soft, clean, dry rag (I use a cut-up old t-shirt or flannel) and gently rub back and forth across the face of the painting with the rag over my fingertips. You have to be careful not to gouge the surface or press too hard. But it’s pretty simple – just rub till it’s nice and shiny. The polishing will make the colors vibrant again and get rid of any fingerprints that have been left on the surface.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I love painting with encaustic paints. If you follow me on Instagram and see my daily posts, you may have noticed that I haven’t really been using them much lately. It happens every year. It’s not a conscious decision or even something I notice right away. But when the weather starts to turn cold, I turn off my griddle and don’t feel like painting with encaustics.

Why? Encaustic paint is wax + pigment + a few other things to help with melting and texture. It comes in solid blocks that you have to heat so it flows like paint. When it’s cold out, the wax hardens back up faster, which means it just doesn’t flow the same way on the brush. I could continue to use it and it’d be okay, but it isn’t as fun and doesn’t feel as nice to use. It’s not as inviting.

Obviously, I still want to paint, so I’ve been using watercolors and acrylics this winter. Both are pretty new to me, but I’m really enjoying them. It’s a challenge because they’re so different to oils and encaustic. I mean, it’s still painting, so there are plenty of similarities and it’s not like starting from scratch – I just need to remember a few key differences.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up (yay spring!), I’m getting the encaustic itch again. I have a few ideas of new materials I want to try in the wax, and some paintings are already floating around in my head. It shouldn’t be too long before I get started on them!

Art Inspirations

I grew up going to museums and art galleries, and it’s still one of my favorite things to do. But now, we have the internet and a ton of artists that I can check out without leaving the house. Nothing can beat seeing artwork in person, but I still get incredibly inspired by the amazing work I find online. Here are a few artists that I dug this week:

Henry Miller's 11 Commandments of Writing and Daily Creative Routine, via – "Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand." Some good thoughts on creativitity here. It would be beneficial for me to remember these...

Laser-Cut Wood Illustrations by Martin Tomsky, via – These illustrations done in layers of plywood are amazingly intricate and beautiful.

Leave me alone (free printable PDF!) by Adam J Kurtz – I absolutely love this door hanger, and I totally printed one out for myself, even though I live alone...


This week I felt like I got into a good groove with drawing and painting. I did end up taking Monday off – I felt like I needed a day completely off, with no obligations whatsover. Except for, you know, feeding myself and Roxy, and, like, basic hygiene. I took Roxy out for a hike, started reading a book by Isabelle Allende, and sat outside on the porch for awhile. It was really nice and rejuvenating.

For the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of watercolors with circles and shapes drawn over them. I’m really enjoying the series, and experimenting with how to use the basic elements in different ways.

Having a voice is having a self. –Carol Gilligan

I’m also still obsessed with tiny encaustic paintings. (If you’re not familiar with encaustic paint, read this.) I’ve done a bunch that are textural accretions, like these shown below. I’ve also done some that will be backgrounds for something else. You’ll see those later! At some point, I’ll get out of my tiny rut. Probably soon, since I’m almost out of the small panels :)