My Experiment with Wax Painting

As a child and beginner painter, I started out in watercolor, but found my style when I tried acrylic on canvas for the first time.  I’ve tried painting in oil and pastels (and have never been good at drawing) but I always come back to acrylic because I love the way it looks and feels on the canvas.

However, it’s always great to try a new medium.  While visiting my family in Canada this month, I tried creating an image in wax, my mother’s medium of choice, and it was a great experience.  She started me in her chosen method of melting crayon chunks on a canvas with a heat gun, and let me figure it out from there.  I took photos of the process:

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It was great to try a less controlled approach, since I usually struggle against overworking and adding too much detail when I’m painting.  I did miss my brush, but I was able to influence the spread of color by tipping the canvas back and forth as I melted the wax.

I would call this one an abstract, but the general idea was to capture the old growth cedar forests near where I grew up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  We just got back from a trip to Vancouver Island, and I’m looking forward to doing some new paintings of these trees in Tofino:


Montana Valley after a Fire, Finished Painting

This is a painting from a trip I took several years ago to Montana.  We visited a valley ten years after a fire, facing the Beartooth mountain range:


Regrowth, 24″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

My former career is in forestry, so I have particular interest in forest fires and the changes they can make to landscapes and plant communities. This area was so beautiful and vibrant, and the open space supported a huge diversity of  wildflowers and small animals.

I took video of the painting from start to finish.  The quality is not the greatest since it’s my first video, before I got my new camera, but you can still get an idea of the process:

Here are some detail shots, since it’s a big painting:


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Snowshoeing in the Coast Mountains, Finished Painting

This is a painting from a winter camping trip I took in Garabaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia.  My husband and I snowshoed up a steep trail and camped in view of the Coast Mountains.


Alpine Trail, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

This is one of my older paintings, and I was still in a beginner phase where I tried to copy photos too closely without improving the composition.  However, I’m glad I turned up the intensity of the blues to capture the shadows on snow.  This is the original photo that I worked with when I got back:


This was another one of those trips where, due to bad snow conditions and overly optimistic planning, we arrived long after dark.  We did get to see this amazing sunset over the mountains, and I’m glad we stopped to take photos: Continue reading