Cathy Nichols’ encaustic art is whimsical, colorful, dimensional, and we can’t get enough of it. You can discover Cathy’s incredible secrets, tips, and techniques for creating encaustic art in the Storytelling with Acrylics & Encaustic Digital Collection, and you can download it today! You’ll get all four of Cathy’s videos: Encaustic Collage Techniques: Storytelling Art, Encaustic Painting Techniques: Mark Making and Color, Acrylic Mark Making for Encaustic Effects, and Collage and Painting Techniques for Storytelling Art, plus her book Storytelling Art Studio: Visual Expressions of Character, Mood and Theme Using Mixed Media. You’ll also get the September/October issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, which features Cathy’s artwork on the cover and her encaustic collage project inside. I asked Cathy how she got hooked on this art form, and she sent us a list of five reasons why she fell in love with encaustic. I hope you get inspired by this beautiful art form as much as she did! ~ Jeannine
5 Reasons Why I Fell in Love with Encaustic Art
by Cathy Nichols
1. Encaustic art transforms your collages into slightly cloudy, mysterious worlds. The first time I covered one of my collages with a layer of hot wax and watched it harden, I sat back and said, “Wow!” Suddenly my pencil drawing and patchwork background had depth. It was no longer a collage; it was a slightly yellowed memory made tactile. It felt like I had brought my imaginary world to life.
2. It’s three-dimensional. Beeswax, which is a component of encaustic medium and encaustic paint, has properties that are unique in painting. Much like a candle, encaustic paint is solid at room temperature and liquid when hot. So you can apply it like paint when it’s hot, but when it cools it becomes solid, allowing you to cut, carve, stamp, or even sculpt it. In many ways encaustic paint has the consistency of translucent clay. I adore writing words and doing fine line work with a metal stylus in my encaustic paintings.
3. Encaustic paint dries instantly. Many years ago, I switched to acrylic painting from oil painting because I couldn’t wait for the beautiful oil colors to dry. With acrylics, it takes a few minutes for the paint to set, especially if I apply some gusts from my trusty blow dryer. For years, I was happy drying my art this way. Then I discovered encaustic painting, and I fell in love. To my amazement, encaustic paint just took a few seconds to set. This is because it’s not actually drying, but cooling. Encaustic paint doesn’t smudge, and the colors don’t bleed into one another because of the quick dry time.
4. I feel like a rock star blending colors with a blowtorch! Blending with heat makes encaustic painting truly unique. Encaustic layers must be fused with heat so they don’t come apart. The fusing process can unify a series of brush strokes, create a glassy surface, or melt the wax and make marks and designs in your painting. You don’t have to use a blowtorch—a specialty heat gun will work perfectly—but I must admit I feel pretty cool painting with fire.
5. Encaustic paint colors are intensely vivid, and come in blocks that transform into paint after melting. Something about looking at my collection of encaustic paint reminds me of being a child in a candy shop. I know it’s silly, but this may be a big reason that I fell in love with encaustic painting in the first place.
Cathy Nichols is a full-time encaustic artist, oracle card and stencil designer, and the author of Storytelling Art Studio: Visual Expressions of Character, Mood and Theme in Mixed Media (North Light Books) as well as the host of the Storytelling Art Collection of DVDs (ArtistsNetworkTV). She lives in North Carolina and teaches workshops. See more of Cathy’s work at joi-ful.com.
Intrigued by encaustic art? See our 10 Tips for Working with Encaustic!