'The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.' Jacques Cousteau
Wax has captured my imagination in much the same way the sea, water, and nature in general have.
For collectors or anyone else, here is some general information on encaustic paintings I've collected from various sources.
What is encaustic?
Encaustic translates from Greek as 'to burn in' and refers to the requirement of fusing, heating each layer so it becomes part of/or fixed to the layers below it.
Molten wax (190F) is applied layer by layer and fused between each with a heat gun or blow torch. A painting is made up of 8-40 separately applied layers.
What is encaustic paint?
beeswax + damar resin + pigment ...pigment (color) can be in the form of oil paint, oil sticks, pastels, dry pigments, graphic, charcoal.
• Damar resin is a tree gum tapped sustainably from trees in Asia. Like beeswax, it has been used by painters for centuries.
Are encaustic paintings durable and archival?
Yes, this technique has been dated to as early as the fifth century BCE.
• The Fayum mummy portraits painted from 100BCE – 200 ADE survive today, in the form of head and shoulder wax portraits set into mummy casings, they were painted on veneer-thin wood panels...over 600 portraits have been found so far.
• Archival quality pigments, materials, and procedures are used and followed by the artist, just as with other fine art mediums.
Why is encaustic not widely known?
• It largely fell out of favor by the 7th century replaced by less labor intensive painting methods that did not require heat – especially tempera, fresco, and oil painting, encaustic became a footnote in art history.
• It remained in obscurity until 1954 when a 24 year old painter, tired of waiting for his oil paint to dry, picked up encaustics: Jasper Johns, encaustics' most famous artist.
• Spurred by the availability of electric heating devices the 90s saw an exponential increase in the use of encaustic.
Why use encaustic, if it is so labor intensive? What is its appeal?
For admirers of encaustic painting, its luminosity, translucency, texture, versatility and durability are unrivaled. Also it is made from natural, sustainable products; petroleum waxes smell unpleasant and most are brittle. The honey-like smell is a bonus.Here is an incomplete list of methods, to demonstrate its versatility for an artist: Layering, Scrapping, Incising (“Intalio”, Sgrafitto, Intarsia), Gilding, Image Transfer, Collage/imbedded objects, Monotypes & Collagraphs, Accretion/Sculpture/3D work, Patterning/stencil work, Covering/painting photographs or water media paintings, and Shellac burns.
Is special care required?
Paintings are best kept in a home between 40 - 120F (to prevent possible cracking or melting, no true melting can occur until 150F is reached).
You should know that during the first 6 months the painting is in a curing process. The finish may become matte (called 'bloom'); the glossy, enamel-like finish can be easily revealed by rebuffing the painting's surface with a clean rag of lens cloth material, soft lint-free cotton, or a microfiber buffing rag. After this time the piece will be more resistant to scratches and dents. Somewhat similarly, an oil painting is not truly dry for 6-9 months.
Framing is not required or necessary but can help protect corners from chipping if a painting were handled roughly or dropped. Glass is not needed or recommended as it hides surface features and increases heating.
Encaustic is not vulnerable to mold and mildew as most other painting mediums are. Like other fine art, encaustic paintings should not be hung in strong, direct sunlight.
Packaging, Transport and Shipping:
Preferably, wrap paintings in wax or freezer paper before placing them in bubble wrap, paper, or plastic bags.
While it is best not to ship in the hottest or coldest weather, most shippers do have climate control. Expedited 2 or 3 day shipping is recommended.
Do not store paintings in a hot or sub-freezing temperature car.
The above information was collected from various authoritative sources including Joanne Mattera's book The Art of Encaustic Painting.
Thank you for your interest in my encaustic paintings. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.