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Posted by Hylla Evans on

Syllabi vary depending on subject matter and audience.  A class that lasts longer than one or two full days will expand more into some issues, possibly including critique and homework along the way.
This is my basic, bare minimum syllabus for Intro to Encaustic Painting.  I've put more notes at the end that reflect topics covered throughout the class.

  • Have each artist gesso a section of one panel (so it will dry and be available for comparison of primed vs unprimed wood)
  • Distribute any handouts along with name tags
  • Introductions around the room - light but informative
  • History of Encaustic: who, what, where, when, and why (reproductions or projected images)
  • Archival properties of encaustic vs other media
  • Safety precautions (burn treatment, ventilation, safe studio practices, when to see a doctor)
  • Supply list and resources list (see later blog post for the lists I use as example)
  • Discussion of materials being used in class (properties of beeswax, medium, hot palette, tools, brushes, supports, gesso, paints)
  • Explanation of additional materials that are not available in class
  • Here comes the How.  Demonstrate priming, taping sides if desired, applying base layer, fusing
  • Explain the role heat plays in decomposition of the wax, in fusing, in texture vs fluidity
  • "Gentle fusing" distance from surface and time between fusings to cool (You will return to this in talk and demo repeatedly. Distance + patience = gentle fusing.)
  • Keeping work at its best: photographing, shipping, labels and packing encaustic work
  • Transparency and adding layers
  • Using layers of clear medium within the painting
  • Scraping or subtracting partial layers
  • Many ways to achieve fine lines and clean edges 
  • Transfers (importance of using one's own imagery)
  • Collage
  • Mention further classes for works on paper, color theory, 3D, professional development, etc.
  • Frequent Q & A
  • Finishing work: polishing, bloom, hanging
  • In a clean area, artists talk about their works done in class and take questions.

Along the way, show reproductions of art that show a large range of what's being done with encaustic.  Make sure that each work referenced has copyright credit and full attribution under it.   Provide a handout of links and be sure each artist you've referenced is included.  The reproductions you show should be of high quality and they are for use in class only.  Do not distribute reproductions for students to keep.
As class progresses and students have attained skills, work individually to prompt thinking about how those skills will be put to use in their own work.  Are new doors opened?  Techniques support work at hand but they can also be the impetus for new content or a new artistic direction.  Supporting artistic growth has to include discussion of works in a larger art context.  Take the opportunity to have artists talk about their work, perhaps write about it, and encourage critical thinking about principles of design and meaning in their art.  Even in a technique class, you set the bar as high as possible for artistic growth.  If you don't do that during class, they may not necessarily think through those issues on their own.
After each class break (lunch or overnight), introduce the basic schedule for the day and review interactively the prior information as you perceive the need.

© Hylla Evans 2012 All rights reserved (do not distribute).

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