Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Encaustic Wax Painting

Painting Methods - Equipment & Materials - Preparing the Colors - Binder - Supports & Grounds - Burning-in / Equipment - Care & Display

Encaustic Wax Painting
Painting Methods

If the surface of the support is kept warm by means of a heat lamp, it is possible to apply hot wax paint with a brush and to rework it wet-in-wet, although with much less facility than is possible in oil techniques. When the heat is withdrawn, the support cools, and the paint sets immediately.

Alternatively the paint may be applied to the unheated support. In this case the paint hardens as soon as it touches the cool surface, and so handles more like a fast drying gouache or tempera. However, in encaustic the artist is not limited to thin layers and the extremely low impasto of tempera. Glazes and scumbles may be applied in rapid succession without waiting for the usual drying period to elapse.

Corrections may easily be made by heating an area and removing softened paint with a spatula, or the hardened paint may be scraped away with a palette knife or flexible razor blade.

Although the color is liquid and brushable on the warm palette, it may be thinned further with pure turpentine or mineral spirits. As in all techniques, the artist must take care to avoid thinning the paint to such an extent that the pigment powders off the surface because it has not enough binder to hold it.

Colors left to harden on the cool palette will become liquid when the stove is switched on again and can be used during the next working session. But it must be remembered that the oil content remains fresh for only a limited time. Brushes, knives, and palette can easily be cleaned by warming them on the palette and then wiping off the paint with a clean rag. They can be given a final rinse with mineral spirits. Heated solvents and paint fumes require ventilation [see document on Binders & Diluents - toxicity]. [p. 163]

[Kay, Reed. The Painters Guide to Studio Methods and Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983]



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