Encaustic (meaning to heat or burn in) is a wax-based paint composed of beeswax, resin and pigment. The term “encaustic” is often used to describe both the paint itself and the method for using it.
Heat is used throughout the process. First, wax is melted into multiple trays. The artist adds pigment to each tray for a variety of colors. Using the artist’s desired tools, the liquefied wax is then applied to a sturdy and absorbent surface such as canvas or board. Next, the wax is fused or re-melted using a heat gun to create a variety of effects. As a final option, the cooled paint can be buffed to bring up the luster of the wax and resin.
Encaustic art has exploded in popularity in the last few decades although the technique is ancient. From the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st to 3rd century A.D to Jasper Johns in the 1950’s, the wax preserves the vibrancy of the colors.
There are many different ways of utilizing encaustic. “Leafing” is one technique. Fragile gold leaf is cut and carefully placed before being fused into the wax. Artist, Lun Tse combines encaustic paint with gold and silver leafing in his series Metallic Silhouette. The result is a dream-like scene with layers of luminous depth.
Encaustic is a versatile medium. Pezhman uses encaustic in combination with his photographs to create contemporary yet realistic pieces such as In Flight. The encaustic adds an atmospheric quality to this piece. Pezhman captures a graceful moment in time and nature.
T.L Lange uses encaustic paint in his Wax Drawings, layering various mediums to create expressive and nostalgic compositions.
The greatest attribute of encaustic is its exquisite surface quality. Beeswax is impervious to moisture therefore it will not deteriorate, yellow or darken. Capturing the true depth and luminosity of encaustic takes experience, knowledge and skill. The outcome is a unique and original piece that stands the test of time.