What is Encaustic?
Encaustic is an ancient painting medium, also know as hot wax painting, made of beeswax and damar resin crystals to which colored pigments are added. The liquid wax is applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials can be used. (All of my paintings are created on cradled birch wood panels.) Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material.
Encaustic paint offers a distinct luminosity, semi-gloss surface, and sense of depth that is unique to the medium. Other materials can also be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to stick them to the surface.
How to Care for Encaustic Paintings
Indirect sunlight is fine for encaustic art, however, direct sunlight it is not recommended. Extreme cold can make the wax more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Avoid any location that acts as a direct heat sources, such as near fireplace, oven, microwave, heating vents, etc. Direct heat or temperatures in excess of 130 degrees may begin to soften the work.
If your painting looks dull, or gets dirty it can be wiped clean with water and buffed (gently, firmly but not overly vigorously) to a high gloss using a soft lint-free cloth such as cotton. This sheen dulls over time and can be brought back by repeating the process. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass. The painting is stable under normal temperatures.
Always protect the surface and edges of the encaustic painting when moving it. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be easily scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly. Overall, encaustic paintings are extremely durable due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture.