encaustic painting n+1


if you’ll remember from last time, i melted the shit out of the left side and only added some clear wax medium to the right side, over the laid stripes.

this time, i used up all the rest of the old paint off the palette, drawing straightish lines with my palette knife. the wax was much harder this morning and i didn’t bother thinning it out with wax medium (like budda), i just used it hard and smooshed it on as best i could.

then i melted the left side and left the right side to dry on its own, which is the SOP in this painting.

i’m both trying not to change the appearance at all as i seal the one layer down on top of the one beneath, and i’m trying to fry it to cinders.

but in this layer, i’m mostly trying to seal the wax down without much loss of definition. which is easy when i’m doing white. but hard as hell when i’m doing blue or umber. the darker the color, the fster it absorbs the heat, and the longer it retains it. white just sits there like it’s painted on.

to the touch, after a night of drying, both sides are set. the burned-in side is harder, but the evaporated side is only a few points softer, and still ripening, or curing, or whatever.

so, the encaustic question is – do the layers of wax fuse as well with solvent based pastes, or do you actually have to melt it to get the layers to stick together?

i’ll only know after i’ve done a couple and let them sit around for a couple of months, and then i don’t know, whack them with a hammer and look at the pieces under a microscope.

the problem is that the section on encaustic in the doerner, and in the mayer, is only a couple of pages, much of it taken up with quibbling. joanne mattera’s book is inspirational but doesn’t answer all those newbie questions it would be great if i didn’t have to humiliate myself by asking.

not that i’m afraid to ask stupid questions. it’s the path of wisdom.

but i can’t seem to find an encaustic forum. or an encaustic webring. there iis however, a conference, and an association.

well. i’m wrong about no forums. there are still no webrings devoted to encaustic. but i found this.


i didled around for awhile. i took a razor blade and scraped all the old crusty paint off my palette. i stirred my beeswax and now citrus thinner,  concoctions, i melted a jam jar of wax and damar on the pancake skillet.

i was going to save the wax shavings, put them in a jar somewhere, melt them down eventually and use them as dark paint. but i got a better idea.

i stuck the shavings on the painting, just dribbled them on. the previous coat of wax medium was too dry to stick, so i had to run the light over both sides. i used all my laughable skill with a heat lamp to melt the shavings on the rifht as little as possible, but i went ahead nad melted the ones on the left to blobs and runny blobs.


isn’t that cool? don’t you see a girl looking to the left with her left arm raised, her right arm crossing over into unmelted territory, and a red braid flying out as she spins around? maybe it’s a book in her left hand. she’s even got a skirt on. it must be my kid, i make pictures of her all the damn time.


ooh ooh ah eee. i’m going to try to do a panorama of jupiter’s surface with this technique.


One thought on “encaustic painting n+1

  1. Hi there,
    It sounds like you’re really struggling to figure this out. Have you tried the forum at R&F Paint? You can ask all the basic technical questions you want and people will answer you and/or you will probably find answers to questions you have that are already posted. Here’s the link directly to the forum http://rfpaints.com/forum/ . You should give it a try.

    One thing about your post above, mixing solvents in with the wax and then heating the mix is very dangerous because you release fumes. Encaustic paint should be made of wax, damar resin (not the same as damar varnish) and pigment. It should not have solvents in it. Encaustic medium is just the wax and damar resin without any pigment.

    Cold wax medium (such as Dorland’s) is not to be used for encaustic but only used as-is mixed with oil paint and not heated. With encaustic painting, you apply a layer of melted wax (heated on an electric skillet in little cans or pots – at less than 200 degrees F) and then each layer is fused to the underlying support with a heat gun, an iron, a torch or some other tool. Some people do use heat lamps but this is a much slower process.

    You can take a look at all the various examples of encaustic painting by our members in New England Wax at http://www.newenglandwax.org and you will see links there to their own websites.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to email any questions.

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