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Encaustic paint is a combination of beeswax and damar resin that must be heated at 200 degrees Fahrenheit to begin to work with. This mixture is referred to “clear medium” and is applied to a hard and absorbent surface such as wood or paper, but it cannot be worked on canvas unless it is glued to a rigid surface. Pigment color can then be added to the clear medium to create colored wax.


A blow torch, heat gun and/or irons are applied to the hot wax, which is the equivalent of a paint brush to the canvas. The wax then goes from hot to cold and cold to hot as the artist reheats and reworks her piece. The versatility of encaustic wax allows it to be worked in two dimensions as a complete shiny beautiful flat surface as well as three dimensions bringing to the piece delicious texture and last, but certainly not least, encaustic can be sculpted. 



People often ask what would happen to their encaustic paintings if they are exposed to direct sun.

Any extreme heat over 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 90 degrees Celsius can melt the encaustic wax or extreme cold can cause the painting to crack.

Your painting would do fine in your home as long as the sun is not hitting it directly, the same goes for any fine art painting, as they will fade if they are exposed to direct sun for an extended period of time. Never leave your painting in a car and keep it at a normal room temperature. 


Encaustic paintings are extremely archival and will last for a very, very long time. It will not deteriorate, yellow, or darken over time due to the beeswax providing a good barrier to moisture.


Encaustic paintings take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to completely cure, until then your painting might develop a certain “Bloom” and look dull, this can be fixed very easily by wiping it lightly with a soft lint free cloth or a panty hose. It is recommended to lightly buff the surface of your painting a few times (4 or 5 times) until the painting is fully cured.


If you need to transport your painting make sure you cover the surface with wax paper, DO NOT cover it with anything that has texture such as bubble wrap because it might leave an imprint on the surface. You can then cover it with foam core board and place it in a box if you wish to be extra careful. 


Last but not least, you do not need to protect encaustic paintings with glass if so you will not be able to enjoy the texture of the wax and how the light plays with it. 


The word Encaustic has its roots in the Greek language meaning “to heat, or to burn in”. 

It was greeks that 3000 years ago first began to use encaustic techniques to repair and seal ship hulls and when they began to mix the wax with pigments, they also used it to decorate their warships and tombs. 


The Fayum Mummy portraits (1-3 century A.D.) were painted by greek painters in Egypt by using the encaustic techniques and it is remarkable that to this day their colors still appear fresh even after more than two millennia and they are the only large body of art from that tradition to have survived. These portraits were painted only for the affluent upper class of military personnel, civil servants and religious dignitaries and placed on the face of the mummy to honor their lives. 


Around the 18th century encaustic art began to fall in popularity due to it being laborious and difficult. The production was costly and could not compete with the emerging of the tempera paint.


In the 20th century encaustic art began its renaissance and its popularity has returned! The techniques have become easier and easier to work with. The difficulty of maintaining the right temperature to work with the melted wax is now controlled by electrical devices such as hot plates. The wax dries quickly and can be reworked again and again if necessary. Artists like Diego Rivera, Jasper John, Robert Delaunay, and Karl Zerben have repeatedly use the encaustic technique. 


Jasper John’s Flag encaustic painting.

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