Thursday, September 24, 2009

Encaustic Painting: Hot Wax Makes Cool Art

Encaustic painting + collage by Rosa Phoenix

Colorful hot liquid wax goes drip, splatter, drizzle from my brush onto the wood panel . . . and I'm delighted with this careless chaotic way of painting.  

I'm at an encaustic painting workshop, and I'm discovering the medium of Jasper Johns.

An ancient painting medium, encaustic paint is beeswax mixed with pigments and resin. It can be used with oil paints and oil pastels.

detail of a collage element

It isn't just painting that can be done with the wax. The surface can be built up with many layers of paint to create sculptural relief.

Encaustic painting by Rosa Phoenix

The wax can be carved and scratched, revealing the layers below.

detail of encaustic drips and scratches 


Collage and photocopy image transfer can be incorporated, because the wax can embed and preserve small objects.

The paint can be mixed with wax medium for more transparency. 

Transparent layers let light move through the painting, creating depth in the work. 

series of 3 shadow box style encaustic collages

I use a blowtorch to fuse each layer of wax. 

The blast of heat can also move the paint, melting and blending the wax colors together. 

leaf embedded beneath a layer of wax

The process of creating encaustic art is magical. 

There are so many surprises.


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