I was inspired by a few images of wild birds I saw in a U.K. newspaper, and felt compelled to paint them. What crept in while I did so were dark suggestions of disappearing wildlife habitats: ghostly tree branches, empty nests, holes in trees, eldritch bracken, abandoned bird houses... The bits of decorative "wall" paper appear through the wax, hinting at human domesticity; our relentless, invading progression into vanishing wild domains.
Early on, I realized my equipment and I were not up to the task, so I went online to seek permission (usually granted) from photographers to use their far superior images.
I do not paint over the photographic images (although I have done, with some of my other works). Rather, I use oil paints, pastels, inks, and/or colored pencils, over many layers of wax encaustic on small canvases or wood panels, incorporating gold leaf, bones, feathers, leaves, flowers, fabric, glitter, old wallpaper, and origami or decorative papers.
A luscious ground for oil paint, melting beeswax smells SO lovely (reminiscent of my Waldorf school), plus it lends an element of mystery to the finished work, both of which I find appealing.