Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That Waxy Buildup

There are so many mediums in which painters can express themselves. There’s watercolor:


and oil:

which none of those are.

This is encaustic art, painting done with colored wax. You may not have heard of encaustic art before, but it’s far from being a new technique. Some of the earliest extant examples are Fayum Mummy Portraits, dating from around the second century C.E. Some sources cite the ancient Greeks, who sealed and decorated their ships with colored wax in the fifth century B.C.E.

Modern conveniences, like electric irons and heated styli, have made encaustic art easier to learn than ever, and there is a surprising amount of information and suppliers at your fingertips right now. Just ask your favorite search engine about “encaustic art,” but make sure you have plenty of time to spend surfing the results. :)

Here are a few links to get you started:

Arts Encaustic: This is the source of those lovely paintings above. They offer very nice tutorials with clear photos, and free online videos for beginners to get you comfortable with the techniques. They sell everything you need to get started and then some, including videos, pre-cut cards, and rubber stamps. Be aware that they are in the U.K., so if you’re not, you’ll either need to pay extra for shipping or find a local distributor.

Joe’s Introduction to Encaustic Arts: This is another excellent tutorial with large, clear pictures. Perhaps the real gem here, though, is the website on which it’s posted, Wet Canvas, which is an online community for painters and illustrative artists of all sorts.

And if that really whets your appetite for wax, here are the “encaustic art” results for Amazon.com and Powell’s Books.

Wax on; wax off. ;)

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