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Encaustic Painting

What is Encaustic?

Encaustic is a blend of beeswax, damar (tree resin) which I concoct in an old turkey roaster in the garage.  Once the wax and resin combine, I pour it into muffin tins and create muffin sized wax cakes that stack on the surfaces in my studio.  My palettes are pancake griddles and my brushes are ones inherited from the artists in my family.  When I'm ready to paint, the wax is heated to 200F and applied to the surface with a brush.  I tint my wax using encaustic colors from R&F Paint, dry pigment (with care) and oil paint.

Once applied to the working surface, the wax can be further manipulated by dripping, incising, scraping, embedding, torching and building surface texture with additional medium and/or pigment layer by layer and fusing it together with a heat gun or torch.  The possibilities are endless and rely on the imagination to bring forth the final image.

Encaustic in an old and ancient form of art.  It is one of the oldest painting methods known, and has been dated to as early as the fourth century B.C.  Examples from A.D. 100-125 survive today in the form of portraits set into mummy casings in Greco-Roman Egypt designed to transport the deceased to a spiritual afterlife.  The Fayum mummy portraits are amazing and beautiful to behold.



How to care for your Encaustic painting.

The ideal temperature range for these paintings is approximately 40-110°F (4-44°C). The beeswax will begin to melt at approximately 165° so placement and storage in indirect sunlight and never below freezing is best. It is recommended that an occasional light buffing with a soft cloth, old nylon or palm of the hand will bring the natural luster back to the piece if it dulls. These pieces should never be covered in glass.  Proper care will result in years of enjoyment. 

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