Discovering Your True Artistic Self

Each sheet of twelve studies, began the same way.  All started on a 22” x 30” sheet of Arches Oil Paper.   All were sectioned into 12 individual blank spaces, and all used a limited pallet.  They usually started with mark making, using Art Graf, stencils, oil bar and Cray Pas and ended with Cold Wax and oil paint. Play in the beginning was very important.   The play progressed into them telling me what they wanted to become.

Nicholas Wilton, a great artist and teacher, uses this approach to creating.  He will be having a free workshop, that you might be interested in. Here is the link to sign up   While introducing the workshop, he had three questions to ask you.  Below are the questions and how I answered.  I think they tie really well into my journey of discovering what I love and where I am going with this series.

 1.  What are the parts that you love about your work?             

         a.  Arches oil paper

         b.  Cold Wax medium how it creates texture and transparency

         c.  black lines (on again and off again, heavy and light, marks)

         d.  High intensity and high contrast

         e.  oil paint (how it glistens and mixes; mixing is sensual)

         f.   movement (I tend to always have movement and rhythm)

2.   What is the reason you are creating this way?

         a.  more freedom

         b.  playful

         c.  expressing with no limitations

         d.  experimental

         e.  sensual

         f.  learning to fearlessly be myself

         g. with Covid in the background, it fills a need, physically, spiritually and emotionally

3.  How will your art look in the future, perhaps 3 years from now?

          a.   By letting go of control, I believe I will have more growth in a shorter amount of time.

          b.  I probably will be painting large 36″ x 36″ or even larger

          c.  I can imagine my paintings being more visceral, fearless and raw

          d.  I will be disclosing more of my true self

Please try asking yourself these questions, they are quite revealing and might increase your growth in a real way.

The painting above is called “Another Tomorrow” 36” x 36” Cold wax oil, and mixed media on Arches oil paper is the third painting of my Twelve of Twelve series.  Again, because of our need to isolate and stay home due to Covid, it has made my art more colorful and passionate.  I notice my work is becoming less inhibited and sensual.

Thank you again for your time.  I appreciate you.


About Arches Oil Paper

Let’s talk about Arches Oil Paper.  Since I’m going to be continually using this substrate throughout my Twelve of Twelve series, I thought you might want to know a little about this surface.  This paper comes in a variety of sizes. I purchase Arches Oil Paper from Dick Blick. 


  1. Weight 140 lbs, 100% Cotton, Acid Free and sized
  2. Needs no preparation prior to use, use paint or mixed media directly
  3. Slightly toothy
  4. Absorbant
  5. Archival
  6. Economical
  7. Can be framed without glass
  8. Can be varnished or sealed with Cold Wax
  9. Easy to store
  10. Great for transparent colors
  11. Allows quick drying, especially when you like to paint wet on wet like me
  12. Oil will not soak through paper
  13. Doesn’t curl or buckle when saturated
  14. Weighs practically nothing, easy to transporting during travel and Plein Air
  15. Colors don’t shift in value or intensity
  16. Very strong
  17. Can be used with a variety of mediums, including watercolor, acrylic, mixed media and collage
  18. Because of its verstatility there is no need to purchase different types of paper
  19. Arches oil paper is formulated to protect the paper fibers, without priming
  20. Framing is easy, just mount paper on board


  1. Paint can’t be scrubbed off like canvas; it will leave a stain to only be covered by opaque paint or medium
  2. May need to take some time to think ahead before painting, similar to watercolor
  3. Water abrades paper when scrubbed

I have never found a paper that shows off pigment with such clarity and purity.  It is such a sensual substrate, that allows such wonderful interaction between the artist and the material. Additionally, Cold Wax medium and oil paint is a perfect match made in heaven when combined.  Using Cold Wax and Oil paint with Arches oil paper, allows for the wonderful transparencies initially and in layers creating the most beautiful affects and pleasant surprises. And as the layers build one can see the visible work.  This paper is amazing.  



The true method of knowledge is experiment. (William Blake)

Lately, I had the opportunity to take a Cold Wax Medium workshop with Melinda Cootsona.  It was a perfect compliment to my previous workshop I took with Martin Campos.  CWM has changed my perceived way of creating by lending a process in which artistic play and experimentation occurs. Cold wax effects are created by using many layers thick and thin, transparent and opaque, using brayers, squeegees, pallet knives, etc. Through scraping and scratching you are able to discover the underlying layers of colors and affects.  Adding to and taking away creates an intuitive process that allows the artist and art to reveal itself. Reduction becomes as important as adding to.  What is underneath becomes as important as what is on the surface. Isn't that true about our lives as well? 

Currently, I'm aware of three brands of Cold Wax Medium; Gamblin, Dorland and Evans. Evans also makes a Cold Wax Paint.  Gamblin's CWM is simply a pharmaceutical grade beeswax, Gamsol and a small amount of alkyd resin.  As the Gamsol evaporates out of the medium the soft wax harden, similar to the consistency of wax of a candle.  The difference between CWM and encaustic is that CWM can be malleable without heat; the Gamsol is the heat substitute. There is a special medium for encaustic. CWM should not be heated. And it is wise to not mix the different brands of CWM, since the brands have different ingredients.  The advantage to using Gamblin brand is that the mediums that they provide are compatible with the wax.

Detail CWM
Detail CWM

Cold Wax Medium can be mixed directly with oil paint; usually a mixture of 30% to 50% wax.  When using CWM in higher percentages on stretched canvas it is best to first add to the wax 25-50% Galkyd Gel, Solvent-Free Gel, or for a more fluid mixture, Galkyd.  These mediums aid in giving flexibility to the CWM.   The more medium added to the wax the faster the layer will dry and the more wax added the more translucent the layer.  When using on rigid supports you can use a higher amount of CWM.  Although the rigid supports help, the more wax used the softer more dissolvable the paint layer. Using some medium helps strengthen the wax.  If you prefer a gloss finish you can add Neo Meglip and Galkyd G-Gel by Gamblin to the CWM.  For texture marble dust, sand, coffee, graphite powder, powdered lime, coffee ground, powdered pigment, and even dirt can be added to mixture.  I'm sure there are other grounds you can explore. 

CWM allows you to have a variety of layers.  No longer is it necessary to have lean first you can mix the thickness of layers using different ratios of wax to paint and grounds. 

A variety of supports can be used with CWM, although the more flexibility the support the more fragile the painting will be.  It is recommended to use thinner layers of wax on canvas and paper.  The various supports are Arches Oil Paper (doesn't have to be gessoed) and comes in two sizes, other types of paper may be used but it must be gessoed, Gessoed Canvas, Gessoed Boards, canvas boards and cradled boards. When using Arches Oil Paper it should be mounted on board and it should be framed under glass.  Priming your support first with a solid color of oil paint is advantageous to prevent seeing white of support when scraping. Also, it may be better to be working on more than one support to account for drying time.

Detail CWM
Detail CWM

CWM is not necessarily new, but the ways in which it is being used are. Thus there are new avenues to explore and discover.  Nothing is written in stone yet.

Because there is so much information I decided to have a two-part post on Cold Wax Medium.  Next week's post will be about techniques and tools. 

Below are some links in the mean time I think you will find helpful.

Rebecca Crowell will be publishing a book on CWM "Cold Wax Medium: Technique, Concepts & Conversations" that will be out late 2016, but sorry to say the first edition has already been presold.  She did mention that there would be an additional release in 2017. 

In the meantime, I found "Wabi Sabi Painting with Cold Wax, Adding Body, Texture and Transparency to your Art" very helpful, especially in techniques. 

Oil and Wax Resources for Cold Wax Painting 

Step by Step CW Painting by Sherril Kahn  

If you have any questions please add them to comments below.  I will then answer them in the next post.  Thank you!