Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Encaustic Art with StencilGirl Guest Designer Linda Robertson

My name is Linda Robertson (formerly Linda Womack) and I'm thrilled to share this project with you! 

I work in mixed-media with encaustic wax and I'm the author of EmbracingEncaustic: Learning to Paint with Beeswax. In this post I'll share some of the ways that you use StencilGirl stencils with wax and other media.

The products I use in this project include the StencilGirl designs Gingko 6, Tribal Hand and Waves 6, watercolor paint, Enkaustikos Hot Sticks encaustic paint and medium, and Pearl Ex in Sky Blue, Super Russet, Reflex Violet and Carbon Black.

Tribal Hand is the Deal of the Day over on the StencilGirl Products website!

For the background I chose a stencil that would work well in overlapping patterns (Waves 6) and decided to use watercolor for a much looser style behind the more specific shapes that I planned add later with the wax. You can work with any kind of paper or board that you like but if you're using wax something fairly rigid will give you the best results.

I like to use a variety of colors so that they mix as I paint. As you can see I don't bother to clean my paint palette too often which allows for some very interesting color combinations. Make sure your background is dry before you move on to waxing.

I wanted to create an opaque layer that would obscure some of the background pattern so that the details in the Tribal Hand stencil would really stand out. I choose four different Enkaustikos Hot Sticks colors (Sage Green, Titanium while, Cadmium Yellow Deep and Citron Green) and just kept painting one layer on top of another, fusing each layer with the heat gun until I got the look that I wanted. The parts where you can see through to the watercolor pattern in the background were covered only with clear encaustic medium.

For this image I used a dry brush to apply the Pearl Ex through the stencil onto warm wax. The warmth of the wax grabs the Pearl Ex and makes it stay put. I like to use multiple colors for variety. After this is done I removed the stencil and fused the Pearl Ex with a heat gun to bond the powder to the wax surface.

I decided to extend the hand image to the edge of the board using Pearl Ex and the stencil from the background pattern because it looked a little bit like veins in an arm. Adding a repeating pattern on a different layer adds depth to your encaustic paintings. After removing the stencil I hand colored a little more with the Pearl Ex to fill in the pattern.

To create the leaves I placed the Ginkgo 6 stencil onto warm wax and painted through it with hot wax, using Enkaustikos Hot Sticks in Quinacridone Gold and Cadmium Orange thinned with a little of their encaustic medium. This is a little tricky but if you are patient you'll get a feel for it. Try to get the wax down as smoothly as possible with as few brushstrokes as you can, then fuse the wax with the stencil in place. This is only required if you want to keep a precise pattern. To fuse the wax you can use a heat gun or even a torch if you don't linger too long on the stencil.

Keep in mind that not all stencils are created equal! StencilGirl stencils made of are heat resistant Mylar which is vitally important for using them with hot wax. If you don't use a heat resistant stencil you will end up with a melted stencil on top of your painting!

While the wax was still warm I added a little more of the Super Russet Pearl Ex to the surface of the leaves so that it would unify the image of the leaves with the hand below.

Let the wax and the stencil all cool together on the surface of your painting until it's completely cool. This is very important! If you don't do this the background wax is likely to pull up from underneath when you pull the stencil off. As you can see here I got impatient and used my Boo-Boo Kitty ice pack to hurry things along. If you've been to a class in my Oregon studio , you've likely met this little cat. She's very useful!

After you pull up the stencil you may find that some of the wax has bled a little bit underneath it. This usually happens either when the wax underneath it is not very flat or if you overheat the wax while fusing through the stencil. Just grab your favorite scraper tool and scrape off whatever you don't want.

I think the most amazing things about StencilGirl stencils (aside from the fab designs of course!) is that because they're heat resistant you can clean the wax off your stencil by laying it right on the surface of your pancake griddle! Just quickly melt the wax, wipe it off with a paper towel and you're ready to go again.

Keep in mind that if you don't like the way your stencil came out in any of these steps you can always scrape it back off with and try again. Working in encaustic is extremely forgiving! Once you get everything the way you want it there's no need to cover anything with another coat of wax. Just enjoy your beautiful new painting and buff it with a soft cloth every few months to remove any dust and enhance the surface shine.

I hope you enjoyed this project and you'll be able to try this technique on your own soon. If you'd like some assistance I teach classes in my Portland Oregon art studio and I also offer video based online classes you can take at your own pace.

I'm also working with Enkaustikos to create the Linda Robertson Encaustic Kit that will include my favorite Enkaustikos colors, several tools, brushes, a StencilGirl stencil, and a PanPastel color plus an online video class showing you how to use all of it together! Please join my mailing list at at the first link below or "like" me on Facebook to be notified when the encaustic kit is available, and also to get updates on the release of my new eBook and online classes. Here is where you can find me:


  1. What a wonderful glimpse into this type of art process. Thanks for sharing and the project results are wonderful!

  2. Thanks for a terrific tutorial, Linda! I've been wanting to combine stencils and encaustics, and you just gave me the confidence to try!!

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  4. Thank you for choosing my 6"X6" stencil Gingko 6 for this beautiful project -- I love the colors you chose! I'm glad to learn that encaustics can be used with stencils without damage to the stencils. (I deleted my last comment because I found a typo in it.)

    1. I love your stencil Cecilia! It's been a big hit in my classes too. :) Linda Robertson

  5. Love those Enkaustikos sticks...going to check them out for sure...neat project :) Laura

  6. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your process. I can hardly wait for you kit to become available. I have always wanted to try encaustics and this is just the kick I needed to get more serious about it.

  7. is amazing and beautiful job!

  8. Love the doodles on the hand. This is true mixed media, Thank you

  9. Hummmmm!!! I seem to need more stencils.

  10. Who knew there were so many ways to make a card, learning everyday, thanks

  11. Love this project Linda! I always learn something from your posts and videos. And, I recommend your book to all my encaustic curious friends as the FIRST book they should buy. You're the best!!! :D

    1. Thanks so much Tristina! I really appreciate your support and am glad so many artists are enjoying the project. I had a blast creating it too! Linda Robertson

  12. Thankyou for the wonderful instructions and use of wax stencils and pearlex it was fascinating


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