An Oil and Cold Wax Technique Pictorial

A gallon can of Gamblin’s Cold Wax Medium.

I am frequently asked about how to work with oil paint mixed with cold wax medium, especially on Instagram (you can find my Instagram at DaynaLovesArt). When I post videos of my process, I get a lot of interest and questions. Since I recently taught two four-day workshops in oil and cold wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, I thought I would post a series of photos of the process. Thank you to several of my students for taking photos and generously sharing them with me.

Mixing Gamblin’s Cold Wax Medium with their Galkyd (which helps speed the drying time).
Pulling out a bag of Fedrix powdered marble dust.
Mixing marble dust into Gamblin’s Cold Wax Medium and Galkyd. The marble dust acts as another agent to speed the drying time. It can also be used to thicken the consistency of the cold wax.
Ready to mix paint!
Mixing oil paint with the cold wax mixture. I mix 50/50: 50% oil paint with 50% cold wax medium (with the Galkyd & marble dust already added).
An early demo of applying oil and cold wax mixture to the painted cradled panel. I am using a flexible metal putty knife from the hardware store.
Using a brayer and wax paper, I am “lifting” paint and creating irregular texture on the surface of the board.
Applying a nice layer of paint to the painted surface (with words added before the paint). I then lay down a piece of wax paper to lift some of the paint to create interesting texture.
Showing the demo board with some of the techniques: applying paint, applying paint with a stencil, removing paint with a stencil, making marks.
Using wax paper to “lift” paint (and then that lifted paint will be applied to a different work in progress to move the orange paint around).
Using a brayer to apply a thin veil of white oil and cold wax (in the upper right corner) over dry oil and cold wax paint.
Applying a thin layer of cold wax in preparation for adding flecks of Pan Pastel.
Applying flecks of Pan Pastels using a small palette knife to scrape a tiny bit of the pastel onto the surface; a thin layer of cold wax applied so the flecks of pastel will adhere.
Tiny little flecks of red pastel add fun interest. Once the flecks have been added, I use a piece of wax paper over the surface and then brayer over the wax paper to embed the pastel.
Applying a layer of thinned out oil and cold wax (thinned with Gamblin’s Gamsol, oderless mineral spirits).
Spreading out the oil and cold wax with added Gamsol to thin out the paint mixture.
Spraying Gamblin’s Gamsol to thin out the swath of oil and cold wax to create drips.
The drips.
Scraping off a layer of oil and cold wax using Citra Solv and a metal putty knife.*
Wiping paint from putty knife onto paper.
Any questions?!?

A beautiful comment from Angela, who has taken my class several times:

It was amazing to see you obliterate a piece, reveal fabulous lower layers and ultimately create your incredible composition. Seeing you do this in class was huge? The lesson in itself was the best possible, teaching us more by showing, creating and telling us your thoughts throughout.           Angela

*This demo piece went on to become this painting:

“Storm Mounting,” the piece I created for an upcoming show, which I will be writing about soon.


If you are interested in more information about what I’m doing, books I recommend, techniques, shows, workshops, etc., please subscribe to my monthly newsletter by clicking HERE. In my September newsletter I will be sharing about my recent Personal Art Retreat, all the work that goes into creating art behind the scenes and sharing about the book Creative Authenticity.


Teaching at Sitka: Part 1

I had the privilege of teaching two classes at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. The first, June 30-July 3, was in the smaller of the two studios at Sitka, Smith, and with ten students, it was the perfect space.

I taught two classes at Sitka, the first class was in the smaller, lower studio and the second class was in the spectacular upper studio, Boyden.

Because I was teaching two classes and they were back-to-back (I had the 4th of July off between the two classes), I got to stay at Morley House, which was a first for me. I loved this space!

This is where I got to stay for ten days: Morley House.

Now to the good stuff. The class. I could babble on about it, but instead I’m going to share photos – a fraction of the photos I took, but it gives a good look into our four days of art making. The group was talented, energetic, spirited, and hard workers — and they wanted to know if they could sign up for my 2023 class on the final day!

Brand new overalls! Soft fabric . . . and WHITE. I’m ready.
How I set up the oil paints I bring for the class to use.
A demo board.
Picking up supplies.
Pink+handmade holey paper = beauty.
Making room for a beautiful ring.
Just a beautiful blob of paint.
An old wallpaper roller I bought at a flea market in Europe years ago was a huge hit.
All the colors!
Working, working, working.
Blotting with tissue paper, lifting paint, and moving paint around.
Spreading and scraping paint.
Mixing oil paint with cold wax medium.
Such a strong use of color!
Another lover of color!
Carol experimenting with using a solvent to create drips.
A lovely example of a grid composition.
Regina and Liz confer.
Beautiful swaths of color.
Jill contemplates her next move.
My favorite stencil: circles.
Colorful, powerful, and fascinating example of a grid composition.

R&F Pigment Sticks – making a monoprint.
Selecting pigment sticks to try out.
A beautiful, finished painting. Carol started this one in a class with me a few years ago, brought it with her, and brought it to a beautiful finish.
Work in progress.
Encouraging and supporting each other.
Experimenting with drips!
I love the variety of color and marks in this series.
This is a monoprint of the original oil and cold wax painting (Marc let me have the monoprint and it is hanging in my studio).
Looking in . . . .
A beautiful series of magical marks.
Paintings drying in the courtyard,
Mini abstracts.
Ripping off tape to reveal small beauties.
Final day show and tell.

And then I rested.

Restorative Painting: Sitka Workshop

I wrote a blog post on May 8 about how I was asked by Pat Wheeler if I would take over teaching her Restorative Painting: The Architecture of Memory class at both the Oregon College of Art and Craft and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, as she was unable to make her annual trip to Oregon. The OCAC class wasn’t a go, but the Sitka class was and it took place last week. What a week.

I arrived late on Monday, and got settled into McKee House, my cabin in the woods.

I spent Monday evening preparing the classroom, one of my favorite things to do. After getting it ready, I turned off the overhead lights and turned on the party lights. A magical space.

Tuesday morning, my students arrived ready to work. I was loosely following Pat’s syllabus, including the addition of her idea for the class to create small works of art on heavy watercolor paper. These pieces could be used as a warm up, as inspiration for bigger pieces, or just for the pleasure of creating small pieces of art. I decided I would start off with a timed warm up, where I quickly told students what to do on three squares of paper spread out across their table: Draw a line, add a swath of paint, make a mark using a color, using a sharp object, draw into the wet paint, make a mark with your eyes closed, ending with the instruction to do whatever they wanted for five minutes. It was a great ice breaker and got everyone ready to jump in with their big boards.

Samples from Pat’s “Art Box,” which she sent to me in advance of our class.


Pat mentioned that she had a couple of boxes in storage at Sitka, which the Studio Tech had pulled out. It was pretty exciting to see what she had left in anticipation of this year’s class. If only Pat had jumped out and surprised us!

Getting down to business, the first step was painting our boards, which was a great way to get our bodies moving. I bought Pat’s signature paint: Benjamin Moore’s Tomato Red and Carbon Copy, along with a periwinkle blue of my choosing. After all of the boards were painted, outside they went to dry.

It was then time to break open our buckets of mud, technically known as joint compound, but the fancy term for using on show cards, limestone clay.

And then the boards went back outside to dry. Fortunately, the weather cooperated for three of our four days.

On Wednesday morning, we began doing one of the messier steps: sanding.

A signature of Pat’s process is incorporating photo transfers onto plastered and sanded boards. I’ve never been very proficient with this technique and although I practiced at my home studio prior to class, I was less than successful. Todd and Kell to the rescue. Both have worked with transfers with great success and I asked if they would be willing to demonstrate this technique.

After their successful transfer demos, everyone jumped in.

Wednesday afternoon, and it was time to begin sharing painting techniques. How to do washes and stains with paint, add and subtract, push and pull, a little of this, a lot of that, writing, stenciling, scritching and scratching . . . .

Sometimes more plaster was needed either as an eraser, or to add interest.


On Friday morning, my final demo was adding a layer of cold wax to seal the layers. Here’s Kira adding cold wax to her beautiful painting.

I worked on a demo piece during the week, and on Friday morning I sealed it with cold wax as well. Here are a few of my favorite areas:

During the week, the studio was a hive of activity. I opened the doors an hour early every day, and kept the studio open into the evening so anyone who wanted extra studio time, could take advantage (and almost everyone did).

On our final afternoon, we created time for show and tell, sharing what we enjoyed about the process, as well as what was challenging.

I drove home grateful for a class willing to accept a substitute teacher, who gave their all and worked hard, and left with a beautiful series of art. Because their work was so beautiful, here are photos of the pieces they chose to share with the class.





Restorative Painting: The Architecture of Memory

I met Pat Wheeler at the Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) in 2009. I had signed up for her The Architecture of Memory: Paintings and Constructions class, using plaster, acrylics, and cold wax. I was hooked. I proceeded to take Pat’s class for several years to hone my skills, but also to be in Pat’s presence and experience her energy, passion, and welcoming spirit. Pat and I became friends and I view Pat as an important mentor in my art journey.


A week ago, I received an email from Pat, asking if I could step in for her and teach both of her Pacific Northwest classes: one at OCAC and the other at Sitka. I was humbled, honored, and a bit overwhelmed. Plans were set in motion. Pat wrote a letter to her enrolled students and class descriptions were revised. Pat and I were in steady contact, collaborating on how I could best represent her in the classes, while bringing my own interpretation and teaching style to the classes.

I was out of town during all of this, taking a class on Whidbey Island. Throughout the week, I was furiously writing myself lists, making notes, reading Pat’s messages and her sources of inspiration. My version of the class began to take shape, starting with Pat’s process, folding in the way I have used Pat’s original process, yet made it my own. I’ve taught my own version of the plaster class myself, but somehow, stepping in for Pat, has a certain reverence to it.

If you aren’t familiar with the process, it is a wonderful experience. Here’s a snippet from the class description:

Dayna works in layers, revealing color, texture, and what came before. Using paint, plaster, charcoal, graphite, scraping, sanding, staining, writing, concealing, and revealing, Dayna will take everyone on a journey of discovery, building up a surface, then tearing a portion away, never fully revealing what came before. Look closely and you’ll see word fragments and decomposing texture. Dayna intentionally utilizes the concept of pentimento, where traces and shadows of earlier layers of paintings are revealed.

A few shots from various stages of the process.


Registration is now open at both OCAC (class runs May 30-June 3) and Sitka (class runs from June 5-June 8). If you have any questions about the classes or the process, please email me:

I will miss seeing Pat this year, but I’m looking forward to her return to the Pacific Northwest next year.


What’s Your Story: Back-to-Back Workshops

Last October, I taught a one-day workshop titled What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black and White Photos. It was very successful and I had several artists tell me they wanted to take it if I offered again. I decided to turn the one-day workshop into two days and to hold it at The Art Studios at Mission Mill, where I have a studio.

I limited the class size to four participants so we would have plenty of room to move around in the smallish classroom. Both workshops filled quickly as I contacted everyone who had mentioned they were interested.

The two workshops were a blur of energy and activity. Rather than try and share the individual workshops, I’m just going to post a series of photos which represent the frenzy of creativity that took place the last two weekends of January.

On our first day, everyone created a series of backgrounds using acrylic paint, a variety of pencils, inks, plaster, and stains. On day two, mixed media collages were created using vintage letters, envelopes, and ephemera, and then a black and white photograph was added – either the photo of a stranger from my stash, or a photo of a relative, brought by the student.

Show and tell. Just a sampling of the collages created over the two weekends.


2017 Was a Wild Ride!

The past year has been the most exciting and exhilarating of my art career. It all stared in the fall of 2016 when I told people, I have nothing major on my calendar for the upcoming year. I plan to just play and explore. And then everything changed . . . .

I’ve blogged about most of these events, but here is an abbreviated summary of my 2017 art life.

Spare Parts Show at the Salem Public Library


Art Featured in New Book: Cold Wax Medium

Solo Show at Guardino Gallery: Waterlines

Salem Art Association Mentorship Program

Taught an Oil and Cold Wax Class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology

Private Master Class with Pat Wheeler

Two Person Show at Borland Gallery

11th Annual Day of the Dead Show at Guardino Gallery

Artist in Residence at the Salem Art Association Art Annex

Salem Art Association Panel Discussion

What’s Your Story Workshop

Symbols Show at the Art Annex

Guest on KMUZ Talking About Art

Sitka Art Invitational

17th Annual Guardino Gallery Little Things Show

BEST IN SHOW Something Red Art Walk

It was a great year. And I’m not making any proclamations about 2018. Mum’s the word.

Sitka Class: Abstracted Waterlines in Oil and Cold Wax


Happy are the painters,  for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day.  Winston S. Churchill


A dream came true last week when I taught a four-day class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, located on the Oregon Coast at Cascade Head. I have taken many classes at Sitka over the years and many of those classes helped shape me as an abstract artist, so it felt satisfying and exhilarating to be standing on the other side of the table.

I arrived at the forested campus on Sunday evening and got settled into my private cabin, located just a few steps from Boyden Studio, where my class was to be held.

A couple of people offered to help me get the studio set up, but this was something I wanted to do by myself. I was feeling emotional and sentimental about teaching at Sitka, and I just wanted to fully experience it in solitude.

Monday morning I arrived early, ready for the day to begin and feeling just a tiny bit anxious.

Students began to arrive and get settled in. . . . . and then the next four days were a glorious blur of demos, activating boards, spreading paint, discussing how to let go, experimenting with new techniques, and making brave, bold marks.

Throughout the week, some artists arrived early in the morning, some stayed a little late into the evening, but there were three hearty souls who arrived early and stayed very late into the evening.

One night several of us went out to dinner in Pacific City and stopped to visit Lynne’s studio.

Boyden Studio was a blur of camaraderie and activity with artists working independently at times, other times soliciting feedback and ideas from each other.

The weather was good for three of the four days and we were able to take advantage of the outdoors to eat lunch, lay out our boards, and occasionally relax.

I had fun doing demos every day (even when they didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned!).


At times everyone worked hard, other times they kicked back.

I went into the studio early every morning to prepare for the day and enjoy the remnants of the previous day’s energy.

For the majority of time, everyone got into a zone, the flow state of letting go and laying down layers for the pure pleasure of experiencing the paint.

On Thursday afternoon we did a show ‘n tell and walkabout.


Here’s a sampling of what was created over the four days.

Pam’s work in progress.


Casey’s work in progress.


Kelly’s work in progress.


Louise’s work in progress.


BJ’s work in progress.


Louise’s work in progress.


Jan’s work in progress.


Cindy’s work in progress.


Phil’s work in progress.


Terri’s work in progress.


Lynne’s work in progress.


Pam’s work in progress.


Terri’s work in progress.


Cindy’s work in progress.


Terri’s work in progress.


BJ’s work in progress.


Phil’s work in progress.


Kelly’s work in progress.


It was an amazing experience and the perfect mix of students.


Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.    Neil Gaiman



Big News: I’m teaching oil and cold wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology!

I began painting about 12 years ago, primarily in acrylic and occasionally in some form of mixed media. In 2012 I took a class that changed my painting life. The class was Abstract Oil Painting with Oil and Cold with Allen Cox and the class was held at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. It wasn’t my first class there, but it was when I learned to paint using cold wax medium, Galkyd, and oil paint, all mixed together into a glorious luminous concoction that was spread using palette and putty knives. It was also the first time I really figured out how to use oil paint sticks. I was hooked.


Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. It is a magical place located in the woods at Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast. This explains what Sitka is about:
Founded in 1970, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology fosters creativity, intellectual inquiry and education. By helping others discover more about their core creative selves and their connections to nature, the Sitka Center works to fulfill its mission of expanding the relationships between art, nature and humanity.

The Sitka Center offers workshops, residencies and community events, while maintaining a facility appropriate to its needs in harmony with its inspirational coastal environment near Cascade Head and the Salmon River estuary. Literally a center at the edge – where land meets sky, saltwater meets freshwater – the Sitka Center is a place where a diverse group of people and ideas converge, co-mingle and depart transformed.

Our Workshop Program (May through September) provides people of all levels the transformative and joyful experience of making art and exploring their connections to nature. We offer over 100 one- to five-day intensives on drawing, painting, music, nature, woodworking, encaustics, food, sculpture, fiber arts, kayaking, jewelry, metal work, photography, printmaking, and writing. Professional artists and ecology experts guide the instruction in one of the Center’s five studios or outdoors in the natural environment of Cascade Head and Salmon River estuary. The annual workshop catalog is available in print and online in February each year.


Which leads me to the heart of my news: I’m teaching an oil and cold wax class at Sitka next summer! Pinch me. It has been a dream for a long time. I’ve taken some amazing classes at Sitka, had fabulous teachers, hiked to the top of Cascade Head, roamed in the woods surrounding the Center, and made art that is hanging in several homes.

My class is called Abstracted Waterlines in Oil and Cold Wax. In determining the theme for my class, I wanted to incorporate the landscape as inspiration, so using the ocean, river, and estuary as a jumping off point, we will take where water meets land and abstract it into a series of compositions.

The class is scheduled for June 5-8 (four full days) and will be held in Boyden. Pinch me again. I’ve taken all of my classes in that large wood lined studio and to have the privilege to teach in that sacred place, well, I’m a bit verklempt. The cost for the four-day class is $400, with a materials fee of $20 (I bring and share a lot of supplies).

Registration doesn’t open until February, 2017, (February for members, but you can join for as little as $50 and have the opportunity to register in February), and registration for everyone opens in March (the Sitka website has all of the dates listed). The dates of my class (June 5-8, 2017) have now been confirmed.

In the class we’ll be working on several boards at the same time, along with working on Arches Oil Paper (or if you prefer, you can work exclusively on the miracle known as Arches Oil Paper). We will experiment with working in layers, building texture, scraping away, and then doing it all over again.

We will work intuitively and abstractly, exploring texture, layers, composition and design, and use of color through oil paint and pigment sticks. We’ll also work with various forms of mark-making, adding energy and interest through the use of lines and marks. The layers dry quickly and clean up is done with baby or mineral oil. You will complete several pieces during the four days and go home with several starts. The class is designed for all levels of expertise and no prior experience is needed.

I’m sharing all of this now so you have time to mark your calendars, maybe ask for the class as a holiday gift, or perhaps get a couple of friends rounded up to rent a house in Lincoln City, Pacific City, or one of the vacation homes right at Cascade Head.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the class, mediums, or the process. My e-mail is:

I’m Teaching! Four Days of Oil and Cold Wax

Lisa Pressman Class (36)

If you’ve ever been interested in working in oil and cold wax, I have a great opportunity to immerse yourself for four consecutive days of art making in a beautiful new space. I will be teaching my Abstracted Play class at the Salem Art Association’s newly revamped and remodeled Art Annex on October 6-9, from 9:30-4:30. There will be plenty of time to dive in, learn new techniques, experiment, be inspired, inspire each other, work hard, and, of course, play. But first, this is the bright, airy, new space, located in the heart of Bush Park, where we will be meeting. And my class is the very first to be offered!




This class is for everyone. If you have previously worked with oil and cold wax, this class will help take you to the next level, but it also works well for beginners with no experience at all. Oil paint mixed with cold wax is a versatile medium that creates rich luminosity and interesting surfaces. We’ll experiment with laying down paint, adding texture, scraping paint away, and then doing it all over again. And maybe yet again.


During the four days, we will work on multiple pieces, working intuitively and abstractly, exploring texture, layers, composition, design elements, and use of color through oil paint and pigment sticks. We will explore making marks using graphite pencils, twigs and awls, solvents to remove paint and leave marks, and oil pigment sticks. We will be working on wood substrates as well as Arches oil paper.


Oil paint mixed with cold wax allows the layers to dry quickly (and without much odor), and clean up is done with mineral or baby oil, so our use of solvents is very limited (or even unnecessary).

Lisa Pressman Class (47)
The cost for the four full days of class is $350 with a $20 supply fee. I provide some materials and share all of my paints and pigment sticks. To register, just go to the Salem Art Association website using this link.

Scattered By the Wind: Teaching at Hillcrest

dayna prayer flags

Last September, my Scattered By the Wind Prayer Flag Project came to a close. The project was sponsored by Salem Art Association through their Project Space program. If interested, you can read about the 2014 summer project by clicking here.

Hillcrest Sign 1 (1)

One of the outcomes of my project was that we raised over $2,000 by selling flags, and that money, along with grant money obtained by Salem Art Association, allowed me to buy supplies and go into  Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility to guide the incarcerated young men in creating a series of prayer flags. I invited my good friend Tory Brokenshire to join me in  weekly visits to Hillcrest.

Dayna prayer flags 2

Because cameras and phones are not allowed inside the secure facility, we had to rely on a corrections officer to snap a few photos of the sessions. Also, without permission and authorizations, we weren’t able to take photos of any of the guys.

Hillcrest Prayer Flag Project (6)

Hillcrest Prayer Flag Project (5)

Hillcrest Prayer Flag Project (4)

Hillcrest Prayer Flag Project (3)

Hillcrest Prayer Flag Project (1)Tory and I did two session per week for eight weeks and the guys created 82 flags!


Here are a few close ups of flags…..





In the middle of our residency at Hillcrest, Salem Art Association held their Young Artists Showcase and they asked that some of the flags created by the Hillcrest boys be featured. It was exciting to have so many flags on display at the Bush Barn Gallery.

Dayna prayer flags 4

Last Thursday, Tory and I went into the facility’s canteen and hung the 82 flags. Again, our photos are limited due to not having phones or cameras inside (we were tempted to smuggle in a phone as we felt a bit naked without one!).

HIllcrest Reception  (2)

HIllcrest Reception  (3)

On Thursday evening, the community, family, friends, along with the guys, were invited to view the flags.

2015 Hillcrest Reception Flyer

A nice spread of food was prepared by the manager of the canteen and a group of boys to celebrate the show. A few parents showed up and several groups of guys came through. One young man, who came every week to make a flag, had his mother and grandparents attend. He was so excited to share his flags, including the pink poodle he created. When he created that flag, under the theme of things found in nature (what!?!?), he said, “I can’t wait to give this flag to my grandma.”


PS The Oregon Youth Authority had a professional photographer attend the reception and he shot some amazing photos of the flags and the guys. If I’m able to obtain a few of those photos, I’ll post them here.