Learn about Encaustic Art

Also called hot wax painting, it is one of the oldest, ancient painting styles, going back to the first century. Let us take a trip down reminiscing ancient times then, shall we?




HISTORY


'ENCAUSTIC' word is derived from 'enkaustikos', a Greek word. It literally means to burn-in. Without the heat being put in use, it cannot be called encaustic painting. Hot wax painting, the name itself, suggests the use of beeswax in the form of art. The hot beeswax technique of painting was introduced and explained by Pliny the Elder, a scholar of Rome. The oldest remains of encaustic paintings date back to the first century's Egyptian times wherein the art form was quite common.


The Romano-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt are one of the oldest and surviving encaustic art.

Coming back to modern times, encaustic art or hot wax painting has regained its significance since the 1990s. Materials like canvas surfaces, wooden planks, pottery, and ceramic items are also used for hot wax painting. It was also done initially by using electric irons, or hot plates. Here, iron was used not only because of its conducting properties but also due to its smoothness and agility to make various artistic designs and patterns.


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TECHNIQUE


In a way, encaustic paintings, on some level, can be compared to fluid art. Some of them even look quite similar. Yet, they are still distanced from a lot of differences and details. The hot wax painting's main technique is adding colors and pigments to hot beeswax and then using it on the base before it cools down. Besides beeswax, one can also use linseed oil, which is often used in oil paintings, and resin, which is used frequently for decorative items, decors, and even sculptures.


When the heated mixture of beeswax and colored pigments is poured, it can be designed, shaped, and molded by using a variety of metal tools, painting knives, and brushes. Abstract designs and patterns can be made accordingly since the wax is fluid when hot, and flows easily.


Nowadays, things like heat guns, heating lamps, and many other materials are quite commonly available to ease this process for artists. Encaustic artworks can be made into sculptures and displayed as a painting encased well after being dried completely.


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PROMINENT ENCAUSTIC PAINTERS


  • Benjamin Calau

  • Betsy Eby

  • Jasper Johns

  • Jenny Sages

  • Michael David

  • Thomas Pott

  • Esther Geller


Hot beeswax, resin, and wooden canvas boards are hopefully added to the list of your dream art supplies now, aren't they?


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