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Lately, I have been busy painting a bird series in encaustic wax. Along the way I have been posting examples of my work in progress on Facebook. Quit a few of my followers have asked me how to make a charcoal transfer onto the encaustic wax.
It is very simple…
Here’s what you will need:
- A photograph or drawing of the subject you wish to transfer.
- A ‘primed’ encaustic board.
- The board must be primed with a layer of wax medium applied to the surface. Make sure the wax has been fused and cooled to the touch before transferring the image.
- A charcoal pencil, or vine charcoal.
- Tracing paper.
- A tool for rubbing/burnishing the image onto the board. Below I am using a bone folder. You can also try the backside of a spoon.
Here’s how I do it:
- Using the charcoal, I make the tracing of the subject to be transferred – in this case it is an owl.
- Next, I place the charcoal drawing face-down onto the primed encaustic wax surface. Face-down means that the charcoal drawing is touching the surface of the wax. Keep in mind, the image will now appear in the opposite direction than your original drawing.
- Once the drawing is in place I use the bone folder (or spoon) to gently rub over the lines of the drawing. Be mindful not to press too hard and damage the wax surface.
- Lastly, I carefully peel back the tracing paper to reveal the transferred charcoal drawing. At this point I am peeking at the transferred image without completely lifting up the tracing paper. If the image is too faint, I can easily replace the paper, match up the lines and repeat the above process.
- Once I am happy with the charcoal transfer, I gently fuse the drawing before adding encaustic pigment.
This charcoal transfer technique is quite useful and helps me with my realistic approach of painting with encaustics. I hope you experiment with charcoal transfers and let your imagination expand!