Encaustic Artist Residency: Day 4, Muskrats and Rainbows

Posted on   ·   Categories Paintings, Travel

I am journaling a nine-day artist residency in Vancouver, Washington. Read the full series here.

Encaustic wax painting by artist Emily MillerWind Seeds I, encaustic wax painting with found objects and ink, 11″ x 18″. ©2016

Dec. 11

I took a chance and drove north to check out Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. In the winter season, only a 4 mile loop drive is open to the public and you can’t get out of your car. I didn’t need to get out of my car. It was a wildlife safari. Muskrats were everywhere, waddling across the road and playing in the streams. Herons and egrets ignored me from the marshes ten feet away. Flocks of geese and ducks kept up a constant commentary above the sound of splashing water and falling rain. I drove 2 miles an hour with the windows down, stopping every twenty feet to watch and listen.

White Egret photo by artist Emily Miller
White egret and muskrat (yes, he’s there!)

Halfway around the loop drive, the storm broke and a rainbow appeared in a gap between the trees. Sunlight poured in to a wet world, illuminating moss on the edges of tree trunks and making the yellow marsh grasses glow. With no raindrops to disturb the quiet waters, they returned to reflecting-pool calm, mirroring the swamp trees overhead. Every bend in the road brought a new landscape of tall grasses, water channels, and bare trees beneath shifting mist and clouds, blue sky and blazing sun.

Winter Forest photo by artist Emily MillerMarsh Reflection photo by artist Emily Miller

Last night I did a supply run to the nearest craft store for plain beeswax and oil-based markers. Today I polished a few of yesterday’s finished pieces and cut some new boards to size. I still feel like I’m producing sketches or vignettes rather than full landscapes, even with the larger format. Using the iron is like painting a whole piece with only one brush. So how do I make that work? (I could’ve bought a bigger iron, but I didn’t, and it’s kind of too late now. I am starting to see why most residencies start at 2 weeks minimum. It takes a week just to figure out what you’re doing.) I have some ideas for layering with wax paper. I also have two reference books that I haven’t even cracked open yet. Time to start digging.

Encaustic wax painting by artist Emily Miller
Detail of Wind Seeds I, encaustic wax painting with found objects and ink, 11″ x 18″. © 2016

A list of things to always bring, that I could easily have brought, but did not bring:

  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Drawing pencils
  • Brushes
  • Masking tape
  • Sketchbook
  • Computer mouse
  • Little cups for organizing little things

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *