Encaustic is my primary medium for painting. It is an ancient medium that is currently undergoing a revival. Most artists apply heavy layers of built up wax creating a semi-transparent layering effect that is quite beautiful. My processes are different from this. I do watercolor painting on canvas and then apply a clear wax overlay to make the painting permanent. I call this method "watercolor encaustic". For straight encaustic, I make crayons by suspending artist grade pigments in melted wax. I work on a heated surface (a sheet metal table) and use the crayons to burnish the color into canvas or paper. This is very similar to pastels but permanent.
When I first started to work with the encaustics I did quite a bit of research into how it had been used in the past. It is an interesting story. Encaustic was used by the Ancient Greeks and Early Romans. They used it on wood and canvas to do portraits and they also had a process for applying it to walls to do large scale murals. I have been working with the wood and canvas process. Various artists, starting with Leonardo D'Vinci have attempted to recreate the mural process. They were semi-successful. Perhaps Diego Riviera was the most successful to date.
The Greeks were reputed to have been able to paint so realistically with wax that a viewer sometimes could not tell the difference between a painting and reality. That got my curiosity aroused and for 35 years I have carried out experiments to see if I could discover how to use the medium in a realistic manner.
At this time we do not know for certain what materials the ancients used in their paintings. But that does not mean we cannot experiment and test the viability of theories. I have been conducting experiments based on concepts and methods and materials archeologists and museum curators theorize to have been used by ancient painters.
Following are some methods I have used in my work.
For a more thorough discussion of all of the experimentation I have done, please visit the
separate site I created at www.ancientartmaterials.com