|WHAT IS ENCAUSTIC PAINTING?
All the backgrounds to the encaustic pictures featured here
were painted using a technique called encaustic painting, that
is they where painted with wax using an iron. Figures where
added either from photographs, using a computer ( the coloured
ones) or drawn in using ink or wax (the black silhouette ones)
or stuck on (using black vinyl).
Where And When It All Began
The Ancient Greeks and Egyptians developed encaustic painting,
using coloured pigments mixed with beeswax. This mixture was
heated, usually in a metal bowl and then either poured onto
a design or used as a paint. To use it as a paint, their tools
had to be kept hot, so that the wax would stay in it's liquid
form, long enough for the artist to use it.
The Modern Way
The principals I use are the same but I use slightly more modern
tools. My main tool is a domestic travel iron, it sounds clumsy
but you can get some amazingly detailed work with it. The other
things I regularly use are a soldering iron and a hot air paint
stripper, (try explaining to Black and Decker what you do with
their paint removing equipment). I have used other things like
a hot plate, a gas blow torch, curling tongs and a hair dryer.
In fact you can use any tool, as long as you can control it's
heat. Some are easier and more controllable to use than others.
Why You Can Do It Too
The basic idea is that you melt the wax on the base of an iron
and then literally use the iron as a paintbrush. I know it sounds
bizarre, but it does work. It isn't as controllable as a conventional
paintbrush or pencil. You have to guide it rather than trying
to tell it exactly what to do. This makes each painting both
unique and a pleasure to paint. The other thing it means is
that you don't have to know how to paint or draw to be able
to do it. It is the perfect medium for frustrated artists like
me who always wanted to draw or paint, but just couldn't! An
eye for colour and the will to do it, is all you need, apart
from an iron and the wax that is, (and before you try it, wax
crayons and candle wax don't work).
How To Do It
Different ways of moving an iron will give you different patterns.
This means there are two ways of creating an encaustic painting.
1) You work out exactly what you are doing with the iron in
order to produce a particular pattern.
That way you can repeat it. Once you have learned a few patterns, all you do to produce a picture is put different patterns and colours together. There
are only so many basic movements with the iron, but there are
endless ways of putting them together.
2) The second way of encaustic painting is to put a couple of
colours on your iron and just play with it. Move the iron over
the card you are painting on and see what happens. When something
turns up that you like, STOP. This gives much freer designs,
usually with a lot of movement in them. Strange images turn
up, things you have little or no control over. It is often referred
to as 'spiritual painting' and is certainly very therapeutic.
I actually find the second way more relaxing but also more frustrating
than the first, because I never know when to stop. Each time
you touch the iron to the card, you alter what is there, and
it is very easy to change something you wish you hadn't. Unfortunately
it is a lesson you can only learn the hard way. The wax I use
is called Dehan Wax and you'll find details about it and why
I use it on my website. Dehan Wax was the first wax designed
especially for Modern Encaustic Painting. It was designed by
an Encaustic Painter, for Encaustic Painters to paint Encaustic
Paintings with. It is still the most controllable and the most
versatile painting wax I know off. For more information about
Encaustic Painting, see www.almostabstract.freeuk.com.