Encaustic Process – Map 1 and Map 2

topcoat was a disaster

Thinking I was finished with the first encaustic piece, I liberally applied a topcoat that was specially formulated for hardness to protect encaustics. It did not work as expected, adding a warm tint to the entire piece and then resisting being scraped down since it was so brittle. I ended up having to scrap off half the 16″ x 20″ board, redoing the copy on the board and repainting half of the landforms.

Repainted with grey

The grey doesn’t look as good, but after I returned the hatch marks to its surface and re-applied the type, it wasn’t so bad. The bony scale on the board is one of a sturgeon’s scutes that a friend of mine in BC gave to me after hearing about my paintings. It has a enticing texture to it after being covered in wax.

collage undercoat and sturgeon POV

The second map I started includes a large illustration of a sturgeon. I experimented with collage to add  to the underpainting of the fish. I also played with the idea of including four sturgeon POV thumbnails, much like my earlier sketches of the prairies. But that felt like I was straying too far away from my intent of learning about mapping. The POV thumbnails got scraped off and the fish got a layer of white wax.

scrapped down and white coat on sturgeon

What I like about encasutic is the ability to add layers of wax and then work down into them, revealing details that are far more detailed than a brush coated with wax could render.

face details after adding grey layer and scrapping back

Starting with the lightest colour of the sturgeon, the white, I added more layers to get a full range of the colour of the skin. Scraping down enabled me to reveal the details of the scutes and skin pattern. I reshaped the head as it was the wrong proportion in relation to the body.

adding a map to the board

I engraved another map of the Fraser River and BC’s Lower Mainland for showing where the tracking monitors and the fall and winter habitat.


scrapping down the burrs on either side of the carved map lines

Engraved lines have burrs which need to be polished down.

sturgeon map with filled lines and filled land masses


darker grey layer on sturgeon


working into the texture on side of sturgeon


testing type and layout for a typographic title

I added a title, and will include a legend for the map along with sources and other map information.

first title transfer crooked, lost the n

Reversing the title before transferring was tricky to place, this one was too crooked so got scraped off!

details on built up face of sturgeon

Wax brushed around the nostrils melts into the depressions, looking more realistic.

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