I have not been able to try this paint yet; Natural Pigments seems a bit behind on the promised roll-out and a request for a sample didn’t result in anything. There is a very good video available on YouTube by Candice Bohannan, though, that gives me some ideas of how it differs from Cuni water-soluble encaustics. Ceracolors are “a blend of waxes micro-emulsified in water,” not a mixture of beeswax and potassium soap like the Cuni paint. There are some things the video describes that appear very different from Cuni:
1. She says Ceracolors should be used on a rigid support, with absorbent gesso. Cuni claims it can be used on non-rigid supports including canvas and paper. So far, my experience says this is true. This seems like an advantage of the Cuni paints.
Some interesting ideas from Amir, who has done some work with Kremer mediums to make his own version of water soluble encaustics:
One is called “Translucent Wax Wall Paint Medium” (Kremer item #79228) which need to be diluted with distilled water if one intends to use it as a medium. I simply mix quality gouache paint with it and voila, water-soluble wax paint! In addition to beeswax, this emulsion contains linseed oil and casein as binders. After a painting session, I leave it overnight to fully dry then I set the paint with a heat gun the next morning. To use it as a binder to make my own paints, I mix it full strength (undiluted) with dry pigment to form a paste, then use distilled water to dilute this paint. (The reason why I keep mentioning “distilled water” is because hard water contains calcium which reacts with the alkalis in the medium which results in poor drying, etc.)
I received a sample set of paints using the new formulation, which I assume will be the only type available from now on. The paint is quite changed in the speed it sets up on the palette. For me, this has not turned out to be an advantage, since it makes palette management harder (and it was already kind of hard). The old formula would stay loose and rewettable overnight if I covered it with plastic wrap; the new formula has to be discarded more quickly. I am not as clear on how the paint has changed on the canvas. So far, I find it can still be lifted if re-wetted, even after a day or more. It certainly doesn’t behave like egg tempera, which sets hard very quickly and can be overpainted without lifting. Cuni says the new formula cures more quickly. I’m not sure if he means this change is noticeable in a range of time that really affects painting technique. I don’t have enough experience with it.
Lousy photo but I don’t have a good setup. In most cases, to highlight texture, I dropped wet paint on the texture once set, let it dry, then rubbed off the high points or painted them. With the exception of the middle right, the technique was to put a blob of paint down, then work it with a small clay sculpting tool until it began to set up.
The top row is mixes with Cuni medium and oil mediums, left to right: Williamsburg impasto medium, Natural Pigments impasto medium, Natural pigments Velasquez medium. I would give the edge to the two NP mediums, but they dry much more slowly, the Velasquez very slowly, that is not dry yet in 3 weeks. Probably not worth it when similar textures can be achieved other ways.
Two water soluble encaustics. Still working on the one on the left. More unified than previously, I hope, but I may have lost some of that interesting translucent quality. It is on watercolor board gessoed with encaustic gesso. I am having a lot more lifting problems on this one, so I’m not sold on the gesso so far. The right one is from a modeling session with Edin.
I am seeing some info about Ceracolors on the Natural Pigments site. This will be the second water-soluble encaustic paint available, the first being Cuni water-soluble encaustics, which I have been using. Ceracolors are described as a blend of waxes microemulsified in water, while Cuni is a mixture of beeswax and potassium soap. Other wording in the description of Ceracolors is almost identical to Cuni’s. There are specialized wax products for the cosmetic industry called emulsifying waxes, and hydrophilic waxes like cera bellina. Is this something like those?
It’s not available until June. Update: I contacted Natural Pigments. George Hanlon says it does not include potassium soap, just waxes, and will have somewhat different handling from Cuni. It can be mixed with other water media, but they don’t recommend mixing with oils.
Two paintings of a Patagonia rancher who has been posing for me.
The right, completed, is done in egg tempera. The left, still in progress, is done in Cuni encaustics. I’m very proud of the egg tempera painting; it has a complex expression and nicer color, but… next to the tempera, the encaustic seems to have an inner light, to have some magic of flesh rather than paint. This new encaustic doesn’t always give up its secrets easily. I struggled with it, but it has great potential. I think oil painters have a run for their claim that oil paint is the king for painting flesh.
This is the result of a late night internet session; kind of silly but maybe it will save someone some trouble. I have read that these are made by Da Vinci, so I thought they might be a good way to get some of the Da Vinci single pigment paints at a great price in large tubes. These have a lot of crazy names that give you no idea what the pigments are, and they don’t seem to have a color chart. You need to click on each pigment to find out the contents. I did find a catalog page, posted at the bottom, but it’s out of date. I quickly learned that this is a strange line of paints, and it doesn’t map to the Da Vinci paints consistently. It’s a huge line, full of many multi-pigment mixtures, including a lot of mixes with white.
Here are the single pigment paints, a good list but missing some of the more unusual ones in the Da Vinci line, not to mention some basics like burnt sienna. I am not including any so-called iridescent paints). Check the website; errors are possible.
I have been using my Createx pigment dispersions with the Cuni encaustic medium, and wanted to get some more colors, so I tried Guerra Paints in New York City. I ordered 1 oz. dispersion jars (the most expensive way to buy them, but I figured it made most sense until I see the colors). The order arrived in about 5 days, but there were two mistakes, colors I hadn’t ordered in place of ones I had. I called them the next day and they were very courteous and immediately shipped out the replacements, plus told me to keep the two jars, so I was pleased with their customer support. They charge both shipping and handling, which is kind of unusual these days, but each jar arrived with tape around the cap to prevent leakage and came with an extra ball-type squeeze cap, so I guess that’s the handling charge at work. It seemed reasonable overall.
This is my copy of one of R’s late portrait. [Someone pointed out to me that Google Images now shows large numbers of student copies when you search for an old master’s paintings, so I am not going to identify the artist except by initial. I don’t want my copy littering up the internet.]
As always, it’s highly educational to try this. My goal was to try some impasto in the Cuni encaustics, but I really failed at that. I’m not good at surface texture and fat paint, and I didn’t succeed in anything more than very low impasto. But I learned a lot.