a paint made from pigment mixed with
melted beeswax and resin and after application
fixed by heat
You’ve never heard of encaustic before? Believe it or not it’s been around for over 2000 years. This technique was widely used in Ancient Greece to adorn pottery and add color to sculptures, murals and even boats and architecture. The Greek word encaustikos literally means “to burn in”. Encaustic soon spread to Egypt where the application of wax was used for beautiful portrait paintings as memorials that were placed over mummies. These durable portraits called Fayum portraits, are incredibly well preserved and are on display in museums around the world. Despite being over 2000 years old they have not faded in color and have minimal cracking. They truly showcase the talents of the ancient portrait artists and the unique qualities of the wax. Encaustic painting continued to be popular throughout the reign of the wealthy Roman Empire. Because of the laborious heating methods needed for wax, artists around the dawn of the Middle Ages turned to other media like tempera and oil painting. Since then the use of encaustics declined sharply but the technique was never forgotten. Since about 1990 encaustic painting has had a resurgence in popularity. This sensual medium has attracted many artists due to its incredible versatility, beauty and forgiveness. Papers dipped in wax become beautifully translucent, wax can be layered to achieve veiled depth in a painting and any number of marks can be made in the surface to show fine details and textures. A mixed media artist’s dream come true.