About Encaustic Art
The Painting Process
Encaustic is a wax-based paint composed of beeswax, damar resin, and dry pigments. The damar resin raises the beeswax’s melting point and is responsible for curing the painting. During the painting process, encaustic paint is kept molten on a heated palette and applied to a surface in its melted state. Every layer of wax applied to the work surface is fused with a heating element such as a blowtorch to bond the paint layers together.
Encaustic painting is very process-intensive — from the alchemy of preparing the medium to heating, layering, scraping, and fusing paint. But it’s well worth the effort. The unbeatably luminous property of beeswax gives encaustic paintings an ethereal quality that just can’t be achieved through any other medium. It’s tactile and aromatic properties allure and captivate the senses. And the ability of encaustic to conceal and reveal adds a sense of mystery to the artwork and offers viewers a unique experience.
Encaustic paints are probably the most durable of all art media. Because wax is impervious to moisture, encaustic art will not deteriorate or discolor over time. As proof, hundreds of encaustic paintings from over 2,000 years ago still exist today – well-preserved and still exhibiting their brilliant colors.
Proper Care of Encaustic Art
All fine art is fragile to some extent and, even with its archival qualities, encaustic art is no exception. But with proper care, your encaustic art should last more than a lifetime.
The most common fear about encaustic’s perceived fragility is of the painting melting. And I assure you, unless under very extreme conditions, you have nothing to worry about. A typical indoor environment, even on a sweltering summer day, is not hot enough to melt encaustic art. It takes 160°F for encaustic medium to melt. Under that condition, you would already be suffering from severe hyperthermia to even worry about your art. The important thing to remember when displaying encaustic art is to keep it away from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will soften, and eventually melt, the painting.
Encaustic art can be wiped clean with a soft cloth. If you find your painting getting hazy, which often occurs when the painting is new and hasn’t had time to completely cure yet, just gently buff the surface with the soft cloth to bring back its natural sheen.
Shipping Encaustic Art
A safe but economical way to pack encaustic art for shipment is to cover the surface with wax paper and wrap it in bubblewrap (with the bubbles facing out) before placing it in a box big enough to fill all sides with packing peanuts or other protective packing material. It is also best to time your shipment so that your package doesn’t sit too long in transit.