Encaustic Mixed Media Paintings and Prints
by Toronto Artist Jane Cousens
What is Encaustic?
This ancient technique uses melted beeswax, oil paint and dammar resin, applied in layers to a wood substrate. The oldest encaustic paintings were done in the second century BCE by a Greek community that had settled in Egypt. Except for a couple attempts by painters to mix wax and oils in the Middle Ages and the 18th century, there isn’t much evidence of encaustic painting until the 1950’s when encaustic artist American artist Jasper Johns used it for his Flag collages. Since then it has increased in popularity.
In practice, it’s a fluid and responsive medium. Once the beeswax-based medium is heated to 200F it’s painted in layers. The artist needs to fuse each layer with an iron, heat gun or blow torch and can easily add collage elements or textures or carve into the wax to build the painting.