I realize that many of you who stumble across this blog may be wondering, “what in the world is encaustics?” So, here is my short explanation:

Encaustic, which means “to burn in,” is, put simply, painting with beeswax. The encaustic medium is made from natural beeswax with hardener, and pigment is added to create the paint. When the wax is melted, it can be spread with brushes and other tools across a surface. Each layer must be fused to the layer beneath it. There are several different heat tools used for fusing layers (the latent pyro in me prefers the propane torch).

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This process of layering wax, fusing, layering, and fusing can be further developed with some pretty neat techniques. Because the wax acts as a binding agent, objects (paper, fabric, and even 3-d objects like buttons) can be embedded under or between layers. The wax can also be carved into, scraped back, or built up to create textures.

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My favorite part about encaustics is how versatile it can be; encaustic artwork spans a wide range of styles and approaches. One of the first artists to bring encaustic to prominence in the art world was Jasper Johns. Thanks to his work, encaustic is on the rise, and more and more people are trying out this fascinating medium. For more information on encaustic painting, I would recommend Joanne Mattera’s The Art of Encaustic Painting.

If you are in the Indianapolis area and are interested in learning how to paint with encaustic, I am available for private lessons or workshops (see how to contact me here).

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