Encaustic wax paint is a wax-based paint that is produced after mixing beeswax, pigment and resin.
It is usually bought in the form of chunks, granules, flakes or cakes. The color of the wax base for the paint can be either clear, white, dark brown or yellow.
All beeswax is clear during production but the activity of the bees makes it turn in color.
Encaustic paint has a mixture of resin and beeswax which makes it resistant to scratches. It is also impervious to water therefore long-lasting.
How to use Encaustic Wax Paint
Using encaustic paint is believed to be more intimidating than it actually is. It works best when applied on wood panels and canvas. When applied on canvas, a thick layer should be applied as canvas absorbs some of the wax.
The first step to using this paint is to buy premixed encaustic wax paint blocks of the desired color. The solid wax is then melted in a heated griddle at temperatures that should not exceed 220°F. After it is melted, the wax should be put in a palette. The temperature should be reduced to 150°F to 180°F once melted which is enough to keep the wax molten. The wax should not be allowed to get too hot as it produces toxic fumes.
Traditional techniques of painting with melted wax simply involved applying the wax with an object directly on the surface. To allow for better fusion, a heated surface is placed close to the painted surface to enable the pigment to fuse well. This method is old and does not produce results as accurate as modern methods.
One of the modern methods is the brush technique. In this technique, the molten wax in a palette is applied on the surface to be painted using a brush. If one wants to achieve a better texture, they can dab the wax on the surface being painted. This wax may be plain or mixed with pigment. A simple option is to buy readymade paint of the desired color.
Glazing is another modern method which results in a glossy finish. A thick bottom layer of wax is applied on the surface. This layer doesn’t need to be pigmented. A second layer of pigmented wax which brings about a glossy finish is then applied.
The ironing method of applying the paint uses an iron to heat the wax. Wax is placed on a hot iron where it becomes molten. The iron is rolled across the surface and leaves the wax attached. This method is suitable mostly on canvas and other areas that are porous.
To use Encaustic Pancakes, one should first melt colored wax and leave it to cool to form crayon-like blocks. The surface to be painted such as paper or canvas is then placed on a heating surface. This may be a hot plate or griddle. The surface is then heated which makes the canvas become hot. Afterwards, the ‘crayons’ that were made from molten wax are used to draw on the heated canvas. The wax melts into the canvas creating a pattern as you draw.
Hot air is also used to create encaustic paintings. The canvas or other surface to be painted is first set with pigmented wax and hot air is blown at it. This is usually done to create a softening of the edges of wax or to create a dripping effect.
Hot Iron Pen
A hot iron pen is a tool like a pen that is filled with pigmented wax. It has a heated tip with a regulator to control the temperature. This pen is used to draw on areas where small details are to be painted, usually on canvas.
Encaustic Printing Method
In the encaustic printing method of application, a metal plate is used to heat wax. The wax is set in the desired design as a reverse image. A paper is placed on the plate and rubbed along the surface to print the image on it.
Another way to use the paint is known as scratching or Sgraffito. In this method, several contrasting layers are first applied on a surface. These layers may vary in thickness and color. After the painting has dried, a person uses sharp tools to scrape off wax on the top layer(s). This creates a three dimensional painting with optical illusions. Only very skilled painters use many layers of wax using this method.
Another method is referred to as decoupage. In this method designs or paintings on paper in any medium are placed in layers in a style similar to a collage on a base paper. Wax is then applied on the surface to mix the two mediums together, which creates a unique art form.
Uses of Encaustic Paint
Encaustic wax paints are used primarily to make pieces of art. These may be drawings, paintings and decorations on materials such as canvas or wood planks.
Encaustic paints are also used to decorate ceramic items.
Best Brands of Encaustic Paints
Encaustic paints come in a variety of brands. These brands either come in premixed form with various colors or it may come in form of base ingredients. These include plain wax which is either white or clear and separate pigment.
Professional painters prefer to mix their own paints themselves. Painters who are new to the art may prefer premixed paint.
Tools needed to do Encaustic Painting
To do encaustic painting, the proper tools and surfaces are needed. They should be strong so that the wax doesn’t crack or wear off. The materials used for encaustic painting include canvas, wood, clay boards and other platforms. Stronger bases ensure more long-lasting results.
One also needs a pigment to color the wax. These pigments can be water pigments, powdered ones, oil pastels and oil colors. Special brushes are used to apply the paint to create the design. A griddle plate or hot plate is needed to melt the blocks of paint and keep it molten. For the application of paint, one may need a hot iron plate or a hot iron pen. Hot guns may also come in handy for finishing purposes.
Tips on how to make Encaustic Paintings look Awesome
Encaustic wax paint looks best when they are textured using a dabbing method of application. A hot air gun is used to blur edges of the painting. If a person gets more creative with hot air, they may heat the paint to a point of creating a dripping pattern.