Proper Encaustic

On my last post you saw my first encaustic piece with unsuitable wax. Here is a piece I did by making the encaustic medium myself. It’s the traditional recipe with beeswax and Damar resin. The original substrate was pre-primed canvas so I had to glue paper onto canvas in order to make it more receptive to the wax (the wax will only have good adhesion to porous surfaces). Generally, a good substrate has to be porous and rigid.

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Above, you can see a vague ‘sea’ image. I forgot to mention that encaustics are notoriously hard to photograph, because of the texture and sheen. I don’t know if you can see the layers apparent to me, especially the white of the waves. They seem to float on top the other layers.

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In the side shot above you can see that I chose to cover the canvas sides with coloured wax. This is just my choice as some choose to varnish the wood, paint it with acrylic or just seal it with clear wax. The other great thing about encaustics is the way they feel, they’re so smooth and textured at the same time but not as cold as stone – does that make any sense?

Encaustic revisited

A while ago, I was really into encaustic paintings. For those of you who have never heard of encaustic painting, it’s a really old form of wax painting dating back to around 100 A.D. Typically, beeswax is blended with resin to form a medium to which pigment is added. The whole thing needs to be heated and applied onto suitable substrates and fused together to form a good bond. I don’t want to go into details as there are different formulas, techniques and so on (you can always google it).

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The above piece is the first encaustic painting that I made. Without proper wax on hand, I used regular paraffin wax. It looks ok but you can really see the difference in that the wax is more crystalline and the texture is slightly tacky, even after a few years.

Since I am interested in many different mediums, talking about encaustic now allows me make a gentle segue into the rekindling of my interest in encaustics lately. Encaustic paintings are beautiful in their vast array of texture and translucency. They are usually buffed to a beautiful sheen and layers are visible underneath. This is the reason I originally fell in love with them. Expect more waxy things to come…