What is Encaustic?
Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). An encaustic painting is created from layers upon layers of wax on a hard surface. Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. The wax can be used alone for its transparency or used pigmented. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer. Carving and various other methods can also be used to add texture and detail. The end product is a sculptural piece of art with layers of depth and variation. Photo Encaustic (the majority of my work) begins with a photo printed on archival paper as the base underneath or fused within the layers of wax.
How do I take care of my Encaustic artwork?
These paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving a painting in a car on a hot day would not be advisable or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun. They are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.
Some encaustic colors tend to “bloom” or become cloudy over time. If your painting appears indistinct, simply rub the surface with a soft cloth or nylon stocking. Over time the surface retains its gloss as the wax medium continues to cure and harden for up to 1-3 years.