Encaustic Week Day 2 – Encaustic Painting Techniques

Until you have seen how encaustic medium transforms a piece of paper or fabric, creating translucent layers and giving your artwork a warm glow, you might not be able to appreciate the draw of encaustic art.

encaustic collage patricia seggebruch
'Pink Party Dress,' encaustic painting and
collage by Patricia Seggebruch.

Once you do witness the magic of encaustic, you will not only want to use clear encaustic medium, you'll want to start playing with wax and colors, or encaustic paint.

Encaustic paint is made from medium and pigments. You can purchase it pre-mixed in cakes or small tubs or you can add pigment in dry, powdered, or stick form (such as an oil stick) and mix the colors yourself. Commercially made encaustic paint offers consistency in color over time, the convenience of different sizes, and ease of having the paint right at hand. However, experienced encaustic artists often like to mix their own paints to vary the amount of pigment and for artistic individuality.

You can apply encaustic paint with a natural bristle brush, a stylus, or an oil stick. You can drip it or brush it on.

Encaustic artist Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch likes to add color by forcing oil stick pigment into incised lines. This is easier than you might think.

1. First, prepare the substrate by using a heat gun to warm the board. This will allow the wax to flow onto the board easily.

2. Brush on a layer of plain encaustic medium. Allow the wax to cool.

3. Use a thin, sharp tool (such as an awl or even a cookie cutter) and press into the waxed surface, creating a groove.

encaustic painting with stencil
Patricia paints over a punchinella stencil to
create a pattern.

4. Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the pigment, rub a pigment stick (oil stick) over the lines liberally. Then, rub off the excess on the surface with a paper towel.

Patricia also like to add color with a pigment stick by preparing the substrate as above and then rubbing pigment stick directly onto the cooled wax medium layer, blending it into the wax with her fingertips, and then rubbing the color back with a paper towel to highlight the wax texture.

An interesting way to add patterned color is by working with stencils and melted encaustic paint. For example, Patricia layers punchinella onto the surface, then dips the encaustic brush into the melted colors, allowing the wax to cool on the brush for 30 seconds or so before lightly stippling or dry brushing the color over the punchinella. Pull up the punchinella and you have a kind of honeycomb pattern.

Once you begin working with encaustic paints, you will want to try endless variations. Don't say I didn't warn you!

To learn more about encaustic art techniques, I highly recommend Patricia's Seggebruch's books. Beginners will find a wealth of basic and intermediate information and techniques in Encaustic Workshop while artists who want to take encaustic farther into mixed-media territory will be inspired by Encaustic Mixed Media: Innovative Techniques and Surfaces For Working with Wax.

Plus, leave a comment on each of the blog posts, and you will have a chance to win one of our five prize packages, with products from Interweave's Cloth Paper Scissors Shop, North Light Shop, Jacquard Products, and Ranger Ink.

And, we'll be giving away an additional five Interweave/North Light Shop/Jacquard Products packages on Pinterest. To be eligible, create your own "I'm Hot for Encaustic" board and include a minimum of two encaustic-related pins from our CPS community or store. Then, email your Pinterest link to socialmedia@interweave.com with the subject: I'm Hot for Encaustic.

Blog and Pinterest winners will be announced October 22, 2012.

Don't forget to leave a comment below in the form of a question, tip, or experience so you can be eligible to win!


Blog, Encaustic, Mixed-Media Techniques


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