Encaustic,

what is it???

A Brief Explanation of Encaustic Art

 

Encaustic means “Burnt in”.  This technique of painting with molten wax, traditionally beeswax, is a 2000 year old art form used by ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans.  Wax pigments and resins are applied in layers, with each new layer heat fused or “Burnt In”  to the underlying layers -  creating the completed piece.  Greek artists painted with Encaustic in the 5th century B.C. First century Romans used it to paint portraits, scenes of mythology as well as painting on marble, terra cotta and ivory.  Encaustic wax is durable to time and elements.  Many ancient works are still preserved in excellent condition today. However, due to the cumbersome process of painting with melted wax, Encaustic almost disappeared after the development of easier to work oil paints.  However, over the centuries Encaustic has continued to occasionally reappear and is today enjoying a revival.

 

 

Evolving My Encaustic Art

 

My painting techniques have taken a distinctive turn from those of traditional Encaustic Art. I use paraffin wax as my paint medium instead of the customary beeswax. I have found that the brown-yellowish coloring of beeswax tints the pigments, which are added to color the wax for painting. Using opaque paraffins keeps my colors true and bright. I have also developed a specially blended wax-additive base, which allows me to paint without the “Burning In” process. Wax paint freezes immediately when applied and can create wonderful paint textures on the surface. “Burning In” can cause the surface to smooth out, loosing these textures. Using my blended wax and not having to “Burn in” gives me greater flexibility and with some creative techniques, I’m able to achieve a wide range of textures, faux finishes, engraved and sculpted effects. My wax paint is applied with various hot styluses, hot brushes and irons, air guns and wax on wax appliqué. It is laid on as thinly polished glazes or as heavy encrusted impastos. I carve, mold, shape and scrape, building high and low reliefs. The wax used in my painting is very durable and stable and is finished with 2 coats of clear acrylic with a clear marine topcoat.