Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some Encaustic Art & Info

Fayum Mummy Portrait
Encaustic is a beeswax/resin medium mixed with pigment.  Used in its molten form during the painting process, the paint is applied using brushes and is kept on a heated palette at 200 degrees.  Each layer of wax medium is allowed to cool and then fused using a heat gun or torch to create a lustrous enamel effect.  Fusing serves to bond each layer to the previous layer, creating a durable, moisture resistant surface.  Its exquisite visual properties make it perhaps the most opulent paint ever known.  It is also the most durable of all artists’ paints since wax is impervious to moisture.  The wax surface of an encaustic painting is a protective  finish, nothing needs to be added to preserve the paintings; they will not deteriorate over time.
The encaustic medium remains one of the most difficult mediums to work with.  It takes a great deal of patience and skill since the medium is so unpredictable and hardens immediately upon contact.  This is also the undeniable beauty of the encaustic process.  Its spontaneity and versatile sculptural quality adds intrigue and dimension that cannot be achieved with conventional artists’ mediums.
The historical roots of the medium are intriguing. The best known ancient encaustic works are the Fayum Portraits from the Greco-Roman Egyptian civilization that were set into mummy casings over 2000 years ago.  Encaustic painting was resurrected as a medium in the 1950 and 1960’s by the famous New York artist, Jasper Johns. Since then, it has been gaining popularity as a modern medium with artists.

St. Cecilia w/Flies,  Encaustic Collage, 5" x 5"


 Some of the abstract pieces I made recently. 
 The blue wax is hard to photograph because of the high reflection. 
One of my favorite things is 'signing' (or carving)
 my name with a tiny stick pin and then fusing it.

I often make diptychs or triptychs - they're more interesting than 
a single panel.   Also I'm not much into titling my abstract work.  
I don't want to 'spoil' what someone else may see in the image....

 And an interesting thought for the day:
"Worrying is like praying for what you don't want." 


  1. Reminds me of my final art exams, it was about mummy portraits.
    What an interesting technique!

    1. How interesting that your final was about mummy portraits! :) Hope you did well.

  2. THAT'S how you do it. And thanks for mentioning the patience part. I won't be trying this technique any time soon. ;)
    I like how you don't title these. Before I read that, I was staring at the green and blue ones, thinking how much I see underwater activity, the barrier reef, swirling seas, and then I'd change my mind to topo views of the earth. It's all very one of a kind art, isn't it? You are a true artist in every sense of the word, San.

    1. I "see a lot of sky or sea....or topography too." :)

  3. I've always loved those Fayum Portraits... your abstractions are engaging... Since you like carving your name so much, I wonder if carving elements in the surface would be fun for you, too.

    1. I've been keeping my panels very smooth - but would love to experiment with actual texture soon. :)

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