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A 6th-century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai.For encaustic tiles see Encaustic tile
Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface — usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.
The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used — some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be purchased and used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.
Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted. Other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to adhere it to the surface.
We took melted colored wax and squirted it onto the canvas (some were already painted, some of the artists painted them AFTER the wax) and blowdried the wax, making it flow across the work before drying.
I had a ball with it, adding wax to my “WATER SERIES” paintings, giving them texture and sheen. It is definitely something I will try again.
Joan Ware and Kristen Drew had us flowing in wax from one end of the kitchen to the other, mixing up the wax, organizing it on a warming tray and keeping us flowing with medicine syringes (a great way to control where the wax goes on the canvas).
See the photos to see just how much fun we had!