Some Encaustic Process

Painting with Wax: The medium used for painting varies among artists but generally consists of about 8 parts beeswax melted together with 1 part damar resin (the sap from the Canarium strictum trees of Malaysia and India). The addition of the resin allows the beeswax to cool to a harder consistency thus creating a more durable paint medium. Color is added to the encaustic medium in many ways. I prefer to add non-toxic powdered earth pigments to the beeswax mixture to create paints that are both lovely to look at and safe to use. 

This beeswax based paint is kept molten on a heated palette before being applied to a surface of a cradled wooden board using natural bristle brushes. Each layer of wax paint is then heated with a blowtorch or heat gun to fuse the new layer with the previous ones. This heating process is how the painting technique gets its name; "encaustic" comes from the Greek meaning to "burn in". The layers of hot wax fused together harden rapidly required no drying or curing time. Encaustic creates an enamel-like surface that can be left rough and textural or polished to a high gloss. The encaustic surface is impervious to moisture and does not darken or yellow over time, neither do encaustic paintings need to be varnished or protected by glass.


Working The Surface: One of the many wonders of encaustic is the amount of texture that can be achieved on the surface of the paintings. The topography of the surface can play a key role in both creating the character of the piece of art as well as in communicating meaning within the composition. The surface tells a story. Encaustic artists have many tools to work with that allow them to etch, scratch, carve, scrape, comb, crackle, melt away to sculpt the wax in a variety of ways to create pattern and symbolism on the surface. Wax can be added to the surface to create relief and substance or can be scraped away to reveal texture, and uncover layers of color and form in the substrate below. Other materials can be worked into the wax to entomb meaning and impart feeling including gold and silver foils, inks and oil sticks, carbon, charcoal, pieces of paper, metal, fabric, and wire.