What is Encaustic?


The opening for "Waxing Women" is tonight at Carroll County Arts Council.  I am looking forward to meeting some other encaustic artist and viewing their work.

I get asked a lot about this medium, so I thought I'd give a little explanation.  Encaustic is an ancient medium. The use of it can be traced back to ancient Greece.   It is enjoying a big come back now, and I really enjoy working with it.  The basic medium is beeswax, it can be worked with refined or unrefined depending on the clarity you are looking for and has the added component of damar resin.  The resin helps harden the wax and raises the melting temperature.  From there you can add pigment to the medium and the possibilities are endless.  While applying encaustic it is in liquid form and dries rather quickly.  Then, you reapply heat with either a heat gun or blow torch to fuse each layer. 

The way I approach a painting goes something like this:  I either start a ground with a white encaustic gesso or work directly on cradled birch panel.  I begin building up layers and then scraping back with a razor to create a smooth surface. For my most recent body of work I have been creating dot houses.  By using a template or a coin I carve out the circles and then clean out the inside of the sphere to create a negative space.  Next I fill in the space with another hue.  Then I scrap down the excess wax and it reveals my composition.  I try to get the image smooth and then buff with a soft cloth to add a bit of sheen.


** There are endless possibilites when working with encaustic.  It works great with image transfer and collage.  You can paint objects or create sculpture as well.

Heather GerkinComment