Encaustic What?

What is Encaustic…?

Encaustic is a term used for painting with hot molten beeswax…  (deriving from the Greek words ‘en kaiein’ meaning ‘To Burn’)

The word often confuses people, but in short, the wax itself is not encaustic, but the process of heating and applying hot molten wax, makes it encaustic…

The wax I use, is natural purified beeswax, often with a damar resin, or carnuba, or other waxes, added to it to raise the melting point, with added pigments.

It comes in a variety of grades, from pre-coloured Arts Encaustic Waxes, which tend to be applied in a single layer on paper, and start at around £1.50 each, through to R&F Artists Quality Waxes, which start at around £12 for a similar sized block of wax, and go up to £35 and beyond, depending on pigments used, which can be built up in multiple layers.   There are other wax brands, these are the two I tend to use, I also make my own.

I love painting with all these wax styles, they have their own unique qualities, and the versatility of each style is simply incredible.

Encaustic Wax painting has a fascinating history, it has been around for over 2,000 years, the Egyptians notably used it as a painting medium on the Fayum Mummy panels, and it was also used in early Iconography.  Due to the beeswax working as a natural preservative and binder, the colours and pigments of these panels often remain as fresh today as the day they were painted.

Encaustic has seen a resurgence in popularity amongst artists since the 1990’s, it’s quite well known in America and Canada, and becoming more widely recognised in Europe.

The question I’m always asked is… “Will it melt?”

These paintings have a melting point of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, 71 degrees Celsius, so no, unless stored or hung in extreme circumstances, your picture will be fine for many years to come!

As with any fine art however, always handle paintings with care, and never hang in direct sunlight, especially if framed under glass.

An added bonus with encaustic, is should damage occur, which can happen to any painting, it can often be repaired by gently re-fusing the damaged area.

To see examples of my encaustic work, click here, or go to my Frequently Asked Questions page for lots more information.


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