stencils + wax

6×6 inches

I was asked to create three small paintings featuring butterflies for a special patron. I’ve never done butterflies in encaustic work before, but I didn’t think it would be that much of a departure. I had several ideas on how to tackle creating a butterfly image on wax. I didn’t want to use my usual photo transfer technique because I did not want black butterflies. I could paint the butterflies with wax, or collage butterflies into the wax, or stencil in the butterflies. I decided to try out stencils as I’ve never used that technique before. The above is the result.

To use a stencil, you lay your stencil down on top of the surface and then brush wax on top of the stencil. I fused very, very lightly before pulling the stencil off. It worked! But then, I was stumped because it was way too “stencil-ey” for my tastes. Not very subtle, you know? So I started exploring a bit by filling the lines between the raised orange wax with oil paint. It was looking better, but still I wasn’t happy with it. I was about to scrape the whole thing off when I decided to brush on some medium. The wax atop actually helped tone down the stencil-ey look that I wasn’t too fond of. I kept working on it with additional markmaking in the butterfly wings with a pintool until I was happy with the butterfly. I am intrigued by the stencil technique and I do want to create more stencils to work with in the future.

I created two more paintings, but with a different technique which I still have to document.

And who is this special patron? It’s my 3-year old niece! I wanted the pieces to be light and happy, appropriate for a 3 year old little girl’s room. But I also wanted the pieces to be not so childish that she would outgrow them as she got older. Maybe she will even want them when she is in her picky teen years.


  1. Was happy to see that you had posted this morning. I was thinking of you and your amazing paintings. I’m taking a two day encaustic workshop tomorrow and Wednesday so excited! Hopefully I’ll have something to share.
    I’m sure your niece will LOVE the butterfly.

  2. I was so happy to see the lovely lightness and the uplifting (so perfect for butterfly!) quality of this post…all of your posts have that affect for me yet these colors were so unexpected, not as earthy, if you know what I mean
    I am a complete and devoted fan of your interpretation of the winged one and I’m gonna guess that said niece will embrace this tresure for a lifetime.

    AND…like The Adventurous Art Teacher I am also off to enjoy an encaustics retreat…oh joy…oh rapture!!

  3. I love that your patron is your young niece! You came up with a clever solution to the butterfly and it really works in this piece.

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