Encaustic art is something that is relatively unknown in Cape Town, South Africa. I discovered it accidentally on Pinterest whilst browsing through some art and started doing some research.
Trying to find someone to teach me proved impossible as the only x 2 teacher available in CT are both more into the decorative use of encaustic.
For those of you not already familiar with encaustic painting, you should know it’s a spontaneous medium where hot wax is applied to wood panels. It is typically layered to create more opaque, or more translucent effects, and can be combined with colored wax. Each layer of wax can also be scraped, textured or polished for a variety of finishes.
History of Encaustic
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks, who used wax to caulk ship hulls. Pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships. The use of encaustic on panels rivaled the use of tempera in what are the earliest known portable easel paintings. Tempera was a faster, cheaper process. Encaustic was a slow, difficult technique, but the paint could be built up in relief, and the wax gave a rich optical effect to the pigment. These characteristics made the finished work startlingly life-like. Moreover, encaustic had far greater durability than tempera, which was vulnerable to moisture. Perhaps the best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st through 3rd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt. A portrait of the deceased painted either in the prime of life or after death, was placed over the person’s mummy as a memorial. These are the only surviving encaustic works from ancient times. It is notable how fresh the color has remained due to the protection of the wax.
The 20th century has seen a rebirth of encaustic on a major scale. It is an irony of our modern age, with its emphases on advanced technology, that a painting technique as ancient and involved as encaustic should receive such widespread interest.
Earlier attempts to revive encaustic failed to solve the one problem that had made painting in encaustic so laborious – the melting of the wax. The availability of portable electric heating implements and the variety of tools made the use of encaustic more accessible. The other problem is melting the wax to a smooth surface. I have resorted to using a blowtorch to get a glossy translucent effect. It is a hot, laborious and difficult process.
As yet, I do not have anything to show you as I am still trying to control the medium. The 2 paintings I have been working on has been over painted about 5 times each. I am still trying to find my muse in this medium. I have great hope and trust that something amazing will happen soon.