Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Encaustic Wax Painting

Painting Methods - Equipment & Materials - Preparing the Colors - Binder - Supports & Grounds - Burning-in / Equipment - Care & Display

Encaustic Wax Painting

Encaustic Wax Painting The Classical Greek painting of the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. is said to have been a wax technique. Portraits made in the first century A.D. with wax paints have been found in the Fayoum district of Egypt..... They are in excellent condition today. Techniques involving the use of melted wax as a binding medium for paint were in common use until the eighth century A.D. Although they were displaced during the Middle Ages by painting methods that required less complicated equipment, the wax techniques have been revived periodically during the last century and have interested many contemporary painters because of their distinctive character and their several advantages over the other techniques....

In encaustic painting, hot melted wax, usually combined with small percentages of varnish or linseed oil, replaces the more familiar tempera or oil binders. The pigments are combined with the wax while it is in a warm liquid state. The colors are applied to the support with brushes or spatulas and harden immediately as they cool. Heat is often applied to the picture surface to remelt the wax colors so that the various layers of paint become fused to the ground. Such pictures do not darken or yellow at all with age. They remain resistant to moisture damage, decay, and many of the chemical agents that cause the deterioration of oil or tempera paintings. Surfaces in encaustic painting may be developed from highest impasto to the thinnest glaze, from matte effects to burnished brilliance, from clearest transparency to complete opacity. In short, encaustic wax technique is adaptable to a very wide range of stylistic effects and is highly permanent medium.

[Kay, Reed. The Painters Guide to Studio Methods and Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983.]



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