Shima’s Studio Journal – 4 – Painting with White


I’m ready to start painting. Time to create my color palette.

I have in mind to explore my new collection, Hikaru. The palette is tone-on-tone whites. While it sounds so simple, there are so many things to consider: Hue, value, warm or cool. With no color theory education – no art education at all really – except what I’ve gleaned from books, I rely on my eye and intuition. My intellect constantly presses me to seek higher learning. My Spirit tells me “no;” let It guide me. It’s a continual conversation between the two.

I am grateful for an innate sense of color. I credit this gift to growing up in Montana surrounded by nature. Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire are the guiding principles you see in my work. I use natural earth pigments and shy away from the man-made pigments that are so popular.

Streaming Light 36"x36" from the Lay of the Land collection
Streaming Light 36″x36″ from the Lay of the Land collection


An encaustic artist’s palette requires a heat source to keep the pigmented beeswax molten. My heat source is a pancake griddle and electric fry pan! With a natural bristle brush, I paint the pigmented wax onto the surface, similar to how oil painters paint on canvas. I use only natural bristle brushes as synthetic brushes melt.

Working with the color white has special challenges. It is an opaque color and blocks the wax layers beneath it from shining through. The beauty of encaustic is seeing through the many layers of wax: its transparency, depth, and luminosity. I best achieve these qualities by painting with transparent and semi-transparent pigments. I can thin the white with medium, which makes it less dense, but that never removes its inherent quality of opacity. I experiment with layering clear medium between each white layer, but even clear gives a cloudy effect. Changing the value and hue of each layer of white wax helps me achieve what I am seeking.

Similar to life, I learn to accept what it is and allow us to be who we are. White is white.

The Weight of Silence 24"x24" from the Wash collection
The Weight of Silence 24″x24″ from the Wash collection


With brush in hand, I am alone with the blank panel. In the absence of distraction, I am free. There are no boundaries from my creating a world of Grace. I consciously set my intention on goodness and deepen my connection within, allowing me to become One with the Source of creation and opening a doorway to Light.

Peace All Ways,

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