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What is Encaustic Painting?

At their basic level, encaustics are paints made from pigment and/or oil paint, melted beeswax and damar resin. After application, the paint is immediately dry but has to be fixed by heat/flame. Encaustic paintings are durable and archival, due in great part to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture and insect resistant. Because of this, although they can dent and scratch, encaustic paintings will not yellow or darken with time unlike oil paintings. There are many examples of encaustic paintings that have survived from ancient Greek and Roman times. They are as vibrant and fresh as if they were painted yesterday.

There is quite a learning curve before one can begin to create in encaustics and, even then, the paint can have it's own agenda. It’s worth the effort, though, as the luminosity of an encaustic work is unmatched in the art world. Uniquely, encaustic paints emit the aroma of bees, honey and nature that it nonpareil.

Care of an Encaustic Painting

There are many examples of encaustic painting which have survived from ancient Greek and Roman times and which are as vibrant and fresh as if they were painted yesterday. However there are some things to be aware of when caring for an them painting.

An encaustic painting will develop “bloom” (a naturally occurring hazy white residue) during the first six to twelve months of life as the wax cures. It may also occur if a painting is exposed to cold. Bloom can easily be removed by wiping the surface of the painting VERY GENTLY with a soft cotton lint-free cloth. Buffing SOFTLY can be repeated as necessary throughout the life of the painting to maintain luminosity. That is all the cleaning that is required. Do not use chemical cleaners on your artwork.

As with all art forms, encaustic paintings should not be exposed to direct sun light or extreme temperatures – they do best in temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees F. Beyond that, paint will become very soft and will start the melting process.

Be aware that the surface of an encaustic painting can get scratched, dented or chipped. The edges of encaustic paintings are especially vulnerable to chipping. If this occurs, contact the artist for direction.

Framing is usually not necessary as encaustics are usually done on ridged surfaces suitable for hanging. If needed, a floating frame is good protection for the edges of your painting. it is the best option for a framing presentation as it protects the sides and still allows the edges to be viewed. Encaustic paintings do not need to be varnished or protected by glass. Glass is not recommended.