What exactly is encaustic painting?
The word itself has a Latin origin from the Greek "enkaustikos", meaning, "to burn in". Also known as hot wax painting, it involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments and damar resin are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface such as prepared wood, canvas, and masonite. It is one of the most ancient painting techniques and longest lasting with examples by Egyptian artists dating back as far as the 1st century B.C.
Dorothy's Technique & Materials:
In the following example, Dorothy will explain the basic materials and techniques that she uses with her impressionistic style.
Basic Materials List:
"You can create luminous and richly textured works in this time-tested medium".
After coating your panel with gesso, begin sketching the subject with light colors. In this piece, a close-up view of a field of flowers. I generally prefer working on a dark surface because it helps me understand the values of my colors better.
Start filling in with color. Much of encaustic painting is very much like sculpting with color. Don't be afraid to to layer your colors, experimenting with darker colors like deep purple and alizarine crimson for shadow areas. Since the wax cools very quickly, you can easily work and rework your color layering. You might be surprised by the range of opaque and translucent effects you can create with encaustics.
As you continue working the colors, alternating between darks and lights, you'll start to see things take shape. When subjects start to become more defined, you can begin focusing more on details and balance. Try to keep the strongest contrasts away from the edges, drawing more attention to the center of interest. Adding more variety such as dark strokes to surround the flowers and define the centers creates areas of visual interest and texture.
Many changes take place in the final steps. This is when you add small touches like more contrast and intensity to brighter colors to compliment underlying darker colors. This adds excitement and is also when my personal impressionistic style really comes through. At this point you can establish more of a literal interpretation of the subject, keeping in mind that fusing with the heat gun will further alter the colors as well as the appearance.
Use the heat gun to not only fuse the painting, but also as a means to create more texture in some areas. Which will add even more visual interest. Fusing allows the hues in the underpainting to rise through the wax surface, and it gives a more vibrant look to the color. After the painting cools for about four minutes, polish the surface with a lint-free cloth until the whole surface glows. The painting now has the same appearance as enamel.
Keep in mind however, that if you intend to have your work photographed or scanned, it is much easier to do so before polishing.
More Encaustic Resources Recommended by Dorothy Masom:
Enkaustikos wax paints, Hot Tools, & accessories
• AMPERSAND ART SUPPLY
Boards and art supplies.
• FINE ART STORE
Encaustikos, wax paints & tools.
• R&F HANDMADE PAINTS
Encaustic paints & more.
• DANIEL SMITH ART MATERIALS
• INTERNATIONAL ENCAUSTIC ARTISTS
Support and like-minded souls!
• ENCAUSTIC ART INSTITUTE
• The Art of Encaustic Painting, by Joanne Mattera
• Encaustikos! Wax Art, by Ann Huffman
• Embracing Encaustic, by Linda Womack
• Encaustic Workshop, by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch