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Encaustic Painting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using a heated encaustic medium to which colored pigments have been added for creating artworks. Molten medium is applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are sometimes used. The simplest encaustic medium could be made by adding pigments to wax, though recipes most commonly consist of beeswax and damar resin, potentially with other ingredients. For pigmentation, dried powdered pigments can be used, though some artists use pigmented wax, inks, oil paints or other forms of pigmentation.[1]


Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the medium as it cools. Also, heated metal tools, including spatulas, knives and scrapers, can be used to manipulate the medium after it has cooled onto the surface. Additionally, heat lamps, torches, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat are used by encaustic artists to fuse and bind the medium. Because encaustic medium is thermally malleable, the medium can be also sculpted. And/or, materials can be encased, collaged or layered into the medium.

The word encaustic originates from Ancient Greek: ἐγκαυστικός, which means "burning in", from ἐν en, "in" and καίειν kaiein, "to burn",[3] and this element of heat is necessary for a painting to be called encaustic.


The wax encaustic painting technique was described by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder in his Natural History from the 1st Century AD.[4] The oldest surviving encaustic panel paintings are the Romano-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt, around 100–300 AD,[5] but was a very common technique in ancient Greek and Roman painting. It continued to be used in early Byzantine icons but was effectively abandoned in the Western Church.

Fayum mummy portrait 100-300 AD

Definition of encaustic

: a paint made from pigment mixed with melted beeswax and resin and after application fixed by heat

also : the method involving the use of encaustic or a work produced by this method

"Nude in Encaustic"

I started painting encaustic  images about 15 years ago. I use beeswax and oil pigments. The two paintings here called "The Nude In Wax" and the "Road," are two examples of my encaustic work. The styles of these two paintings are different. I also have some wax collages which I will post soon.