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What is Cold Wax – can I make it?

The ratios are 1 oz damar resin to 8 oz beeswax, melt and mix, then add 8 oz Gamsol: 1:8:8 damar:beeswax:Gamsol. If it is too soft, add more beeswax; if it is too hard, add more Gamsol.


Set up

Best results are achieved by painting on firm surfaces – these include panel, paper mounted on board, art board. You can paint on canvas but very thick layers may crack.

I use Multi media artboards which I buy from Jackson’s Art

Multimedia Artboard : Pastel Artist Panel : Sample : 0.8 mm : 320 Grit : 6x8in : White : 1 Per OrderZest-it Cold Wax Painting Medium


Working with Cold Wax Medium - CWM


Cold wax can be added in any quantity to oil paint but to maintain the colour value  a ratio of 50:50 works well. Cold wax adds translucency and can be thinned with solvent to make a ‘pour’ or mixed with dry pigment to make a paste. I use a layer of cold wax to finish my paintings as a sort of varnish – this can also be placed over acrylic paintings. Sometimes drying time with CWM can be slow in which case you can add a little dry pigment or marble dust to speed drying. Do not heat CWM as it will release toxic vapours. If you want a shiny surface you can add a little damar varnish to the final layers of CWM or wait till the painting is dry and varnish. The rule of ‘fat over lean’ does not apply to CWM and layers can be built up progressively with more or less wax. Most paintings take about 3 days to become touch dry depending on the humidity.


  • Oil paint

  • Cold wax medium

  • Linseed oil

  • Solvent

  • Palette knife

  • Roller

  • Squeegee

  • Any other tools for mark making

  • Baby wipes for clean up

  • Dry pigments – care must be taken

  • Oil Bars or pigment sticks

  • Grease proof paper

  • Boards or oil paper

  • Protective gloves

  • Inks

  • Masking tape

  • 10 Multi media boards – 12” x 12” or close to

  • A3 pad of Yupo paper


Recently I was approached to write a blog on Zest It Cold Wax Medium which you can find here:


Some ways of working

  1. Happenstance

Buff up the surface of your panel slightly. Randomly draw over the surface of your board using oil bars – you can also use ink.  Mix 3 colours a dark transparent warm, a cool mid tone and a warm light tone. Layer the colour on using a squeegee and get used to the feel of it as you are working flat on the table. Leave to dry off.


  1. Excavating

Quickly place down three layers of paint and wax using some dark colours.  Using a stick or palette knife try working through the different layers to create textures and marks. You may make a figurative response to the landscape or work totally intuitively. Cover the painting with a very light colour – work slowly and gently so as not to disturb the layers below.


  1. Collage

Place collage on your board and develop an image using ink. Integrate the collage by adding layers of cold wax and oil paint. Try masking off areas using tape.  Think of shapes and segments


  1. Textured surface

Make a textured ground using marble dust and primer. Place this down where you might want areas of greater texture. This is a very useful thing to do when you want to paint areas with an uneven surface. Use ink or oil bars to create an under drawing. When dry layer oil and CWM  using squeegee and brayer.


  1. Making a pour

Mix up 50:50 cwm  and solvent – to this add some marble dust. You can add dry pigment or oil paint or both to this mix and when amalgamated pour over your board.  The trick is not to move it once you have poured it and leave it to set. I sometimes add a little liquin to speed things up. This technique requires patience so take your time and play around with consistency.


  1. Build a painting using all the techniques

Working using the methods above, develop a painting in your style so that you can consolidate all the techniques. Think about in your terms what makes a good painting – composition, shape, form, tonality, mark, colour, contrast. A painting does not need to contain all these elements at once.  Have fun and play around.

If you need to contact me after the workshop go to

Useful resource: Cold Wax Book by Jerry McLaughlin and Rebecca Crowell


Zest-it Cold Wax Painting Medium

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