About Encaustic Painting

Encaustic was first noted in the Egyptian-Greco times as early as 12 AD. Greek shipbuilders used beeswax to waterproof the hulls of their vessels and caulk the joints. In Egypt, wax portraits were found on mummy casings, designed to transport bodies of the deceased to their spiritual afterlife. History has shown us that the Egyptian culture did not fear death the way many other cultures do.

In 1954 Jasper Johns put pigmented beeswax on a rigid surface and from that day forward encaustic was back on the map. The medium is well known for its transparency and translucent density and it is a delight to paint layer after later and watch the colors appear through the layers.

Encaustic is a mixture of beeswax, Damar resin crystals and dry oil pigment. It is kept warm at approximately 220 degrees on an electric griddle or palette. The wax dries almost immediately so the painter must work quickly. After each layer of medium one must apply heat to fuse the surface so the wax will not separate over time. Sources of heat may be a heat gun, torch, or tacking iron.