Introduction: Beeswax Painting Aka Encaustic Painting
Encaustic wax art is pure organic beeswax and dammar resin. The pigments are high quality cakes of wax made with natural ingredients like oil paints. The word Encaustic is Greek which simply means to burn in. The wax is melted on a hot pallet and applied to the substrate hot, it cools instantly, then each layer is then reheated and the next layer is applied. This fuses the layers together and gives it integrity.
Encaustic painting is like nothing else it has depth and luminosity that other mediums cannot achieve. Because the wax is malleable there are infinite possibilities. Each painting is a one-of-a-kind work of art.
Encaustic paintings require simple care: The melting temperature of wax is 160 degrees F so do not leave it in a car in the summertime. In extremely cold temperatures the painting becomes vulnerable to cracking so keep it inside and if the edges are not protected the paint can chip off. If that happens, I will gladly repair the painting for you. One more thing; for awhile the painting will get a cloudy appearance called a bloom: Simply take a soft cloth and buff the surface of your painting and it will glow.
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IN this example of an encaustic painting I am using an already painted oil painting, usually I go from scratch. The canvas painting is removed from the frame.
Use rabbit glue to adhere the Painting to the sub-straight. This is an old glue container from WWII with new glue inside.
Mix up the glue in a pan used only for art, one cup of water to one quarter cup of glue.
Warm the glue stirring the whole time.
Now it's thick and ready.
The sub-straight is ready (hardboard on a wood frame).
Spread on the rabbit glue with a disposable brush.
Put the canvas on the sub-straight and smooth out the bubbles.
Pull tight and staple the canvas to the frame.
I keep the raw beeswax in the freezer until I need some it makes it easier to break when it is frozen. Put the cold wax in a bag and break it with a hammer.
Set the painting on the sub-straight aside while you do other things.
The wax weighs about a pound and a half.
Pure damar resin from South America,
Mix one part damar resin to 8 parts of beeswax (less wax for more hardness).
Melt the beeswax in a crockpot.
While waiting for the wax to melt I am giving the painting some details and attention.
When the wax is melted add the damar resin to the pot.
The beeswax and the damar need to be stirred constantly until the damar is incorporated this may take awhile.
Use a wide hake brush to spread the wax onto the sub-straight.
The first layer of medium is spread onto the sub-straight, cover the whole surface with a layer of wax.
Next take a propane torch or heat gun and reheat the entire surface, this makes it ready to accept subsequent layers, this process is why it is called encaustic, which is a Greek word that means to burn in. Without careful fusing the paint will be weak and lack integrity. It is very important to pay attention to fusing each layer of the painting every step of the way.
Add a second layer of beeswax medium and repeat the fusing process, now you have a base to paint on.
I am using this scraping tool to remove some of the wax around the girl, this will give it added dimension. Put the scrapings back into the melting pot.
My palette is a simple hotcake griddle. Ventilation is very, very important and so is heat, if the beeswax smokes then it is too hot, when it is smoking toxic chemicals are formed which are bad to breathe, for safety sake some people use a respirator that filters chemicals and in case of fire always have a fire extinguisher close at hand.
To clean the palette use soy wax or canning wax because petroleum based wax does not mix with beeswax. Use rubber gloves and a soft absorbent paper towel to wipe the palette clean.
These are high quality encaustic paints from R&F and Enkaustikos.
I am using some tissue paper for a wall paper pattern.
The tissue is soaked in the medium, put on the painting and pressed into the painting, wax paper helps you get this done.
Use a spoon or another tool to burnish and rub into the substraight.
Now melt some encaustic paint onto the palette and begin painting the background.
Paint a layer.
Fuse each layer along the way (very important for integrity).
This is a can of amber shellac.
Take the painting outside for safety and apply just a little of the shellac.
Light the shellac on fire, it will burn clear and when it's done you will have some interesting patterns.
Using only natural bristle brushes, melted paint, paint the other parts of the painting and as always fuse with the heat gun.
The paints are mixed on the heated grill just like a regular palette, the horn and the temperature regulator and various carving tools are all used in encaustic painting, anything that will get the job done.
The skin colors consist of white, mars red, mars yellow, and mars black. The very same Palette of the ancient
Greek Fayum portraits. Fuse, refine, paint and fuse again.
Keep on painting and fusing until the portrait takes shape.
Eventually we will have to call this painting complete and sign it.
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