Look, Touch, Smell-but don’t put it too close to the woodstove!

IMG_1650What is encaustic painting?  It is also known as hot wax painting.  This technique was used by the ancient “Greeks” in shipbilding and they called it “Enkaustikos”, meaning to burn in.  Colored pigments were added to paint pictures.  In Egypt around 100-300 AD mummy portraits were painted.  Some of those paintings are still available for viewing today in museums.  In the middle of the twentieth century Jasper Johns reintroduced encaustic art.  Today’s encaustic artists are producing luscious, sensual art in many forms ranging from sculpture to  traditional wall mounted pieces.

Many artist today come to this medium from other disciplines like sculpture, printmaking or mixed media.  I am a mixed media artist who has fallen in love with working with wax.

Encaustics is visual as well as tactile.  I love working in layers, scraping, carving, stamping, painting, molding and fusing.  My fusing mechanism is a torch but some artists are more comfortable with a heat gun.  Many of the supplies I use for mixed media pieces are also valuable additions to my encaustic art.  For example I will include hardware, sewing notions, photographs, glass, seaweed and bark.  Sometimes the piece will be topped with tar, glue or shellac and lit on fire to provide and extremely interesting design.  The colors I use in encaustic art seem to be more subdued and soft and the pieces are more textural, translucent and sensual.  There is no end to how this medium can be presented, so learnng opportunities are always at a premium.

I am attending the seventh International Encaustics conference in May.  Spending this time visiting with the other approx. 500 attendees from around the world will add so much dimension to my work in this field.  There will be vendors, classes, presentations and shows.  I hope to bring this information back to Maine and use it in my own work as well as in my teaching.  I hope this article helped and if you have any questions please contact me here.

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