It's been a while, but I'm experimenting with encaustic paints again. Encaustic is an ancient hot wax medium, with paintings 3,000 years and older still surviving in museums and private collections. The hot wax can be worked and applied in a myriad of ways. It can be used in addition to many other mediums such as oils, oil pastels, clay (bisque ware) and graphite. It can be done on wood, paper, and many other grounds. And you can employ combinations of many art methods to the basic encaustic method, like collage, embedding, printing, scraping and carving.
Needless to say, I am having a great time exploring this fascinating and versatile medium. I'm just getting started.
The 6" square paintings on this page were done this week, at my little apartment studio, using a combination of hot beeswax, encaustic paints, and oil sticks. It isn't easy finding room to work with hot wax and the necessary heat tools in an apartment. I have found that if I push my little red metal cart by the back door, which I have to leave open, I can get decent ventilation. Then I have to do some of the painting in the studio, where I have a palate set up. Also leaving the windows open, and using a fan to keep the air circulating. It's complicated!
There are some serious precautions you need to know about before embarking on this adventure. One of the greatest concerns when using encaustics is ventilation, as heating wax and the other mediums and paints can release toxic and caustic fumes into the air. This can cause all kinds of health issues for the artist and studio guests. Another danger is that certain chemicals some artists use when painting with encaustics, as well as the wax, itself, is fire. The wax must be maintained at a temperature no greater than 175 degrees, or it can literally burst into flames, spattering everywhere, including on the artist.
For these reasons, I would advise those of you interested in this exciting medium to take a workshop on encaustics before venturing off on your own. But if you must do this on your own, do invest in some information and materials. I bought a video ($10.00 at Binder's Art Supply) called "Heat Up Your Art! Exploring Encaustic Techniques", with artist Kathryn Bevier, by Enkaustikos! Wax Art Supplies. I have also found "Encaustic Art, The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art With Wax" by Lissa Rankin, to be an excellent source of information and inspiration.
There are many other books you could check out, as well. Also available are videos and on-line demonstrations that are quite informative and useful.
Well, back to the studio. I am going to try applying the medium to some bisqued beads which I made a while back. This should be interesting...
PS: Encaustic can't be used with everything. The surfaces and other materials must be pourous so that it can bond with them. It cannot be used with acrylics, acrylic gesso, or other non-pourous surfaces.