Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: The Wonders of Encaustic Art by On a Whimsey

Encaustic art?

What is it?

The name encaustic derives from the Greek for” burnt in”.

It is claimed that the art of encaustic wax painting is at least over 2000 years old and that it was practiced by the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Since it has lasted, in some cases, over 2000 years it is considered a very durable form of Art. Around the world there are ancient examples of portraits which have been painted on wood often depicting iconic images from the Church.

Examples of encaustic tomb portraits from Roman Egypt bear witness to the durability of the medium, which is thought to have been widely used in ancient times. Pliny describes the process in which hot liquid colors were applied to the wall by means of heated irons. It is believed that the waxes used to be heated in containers over a charcoal fire until molten and then applied to the wood with brushes or perhaps heated spatulas.


Nowadays, artists have the use of modern technology and thus are able to produce beautiful works of art with electric tools.

True encaustic painting is produced through a process in which the coloured wax is permanently ‘burned’ into an absorbent backing such as plaster, canvas or some woods. However, today, the technique of laying wax on a non absorbent support is generally regarded as encaustic art.

The amazing attribute of using the molten wax is that whenever the hot implement such as a hot iron touches it, the wax will melt and thus can be re-worked. So, you can alter the image until you are satisfied.

The waxes can be of many types. However, they are usually specially formulated to provide art quality colours in a safe non toxic form which is designed to be used when melted. This wax melts at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or just over 60 degrees Centigrade. The most popular for the beginner is wax made into manageable blocks or sticks. Otherwise, wax can be melted, different pigments added according to requirements, and so forth.

The main tool is the painting or encaustic iron. The base plate is used to smooth and texture the wax whilst the edge can be used to scrape or to slide through the medium. Again, the tip of the iron can be used to draw in details. Encaustic art painting card is specially impregnated and enables the wax to slide around the surface without allowing too much absorption. The card resists heat damage and is tough and flexible.

Other tools can include an encaustic art stylus, scribing tools, hot air guns. Whatever comes to hand, even tooth brushes, tissue, etc.

Other supports can be used creating different effects such as wood, fabric, plastic or metal.

It is an exciting medium which is not difficult master with limitless boundaries. Only the imagination can stop you!

So, having discovered this fascinating medium with which to work I then looked around and started to delve into the world of ACEOs or Art Cards, Editions and Originals. These started out at ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) similar to the ones collected by football fans, or the cards you used to find in cereal packets and cigarette cartons. ATCs were never allowed to be sold only traded one for another. That sounds great! So, how is an individual supposed to start? Well, here the bright idea of creating an ACEO came into being, which really was the same except this could now be bought and sold as well as traded; problem solved!

There is only ever one rule regarding ACEOs and that is that they must measure 3.5” x 2.5”. They can be created using any medium so what better than to start experimenting with encaustics? This meant that folk would be able to purchase original art at affordable prices, and not just encaustics!!

At first I worried about creating such small works of art but found after a while it was harder, for me, to work on larger supports! Now, I do both. However, I do love creating ACEOs and have been very fortunate in being able to sell quite a few too!!!

For further information on my encaustic art do go along to my blog where I show my other works of art:
http://onawhimsey.wordpress.com

To see my shop on Etsy, click the link:
http://onawhimsey.etsy.com

IMAGES (from top): Tidal Movement, A Beleagured Raft at Sea, and View out of the Cave




10 comments:

Beth said...

Wonderful feature on Onawhimsey. She's a very talented artist. I love all her work.

Rose said...

Love this feature about OnaWhimsey, a very talented lady for sure!!

Spa Therapy Works said...

Wonderful interview!! Beautiful work!

maryeb said...

Lovely blog!! So many interesting photos and posts.

Rosebud Collection said...

What a wonderful job you did..It is a very interesting medium and one I have never heard of..I will tell you, you did a beautiful job with it..The pictures are great..

Camille said...

Absolutely beautiful works of art and very informative post.

Carnival said...

Thank you all for visiting :) This was a great article by On a Whimsey and I'm glad I had the opportunity to post it!

On a Whimsey said...

I would just like to thank Carnival for the opportunity to write this article and for publishing it.

In addition, I was humbled by the wonderful comments left by the readers.

Thank You!!!

Sew Bettie said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this form of painting. I had never heard of it. Reminds me a little of batiking.

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