The Art of Wax Encaustics

Wax encaustics, also known as encaustic painting, is a style of painting used as far back as the 1st Century BC.

(Take-Out by staff member, Sarah Miller-Totten)

With encaustic painting, an important element that is added to the process, which separates it from other styles of painting, is heat. By mixing different pigments with hot, liquid beeswax, an artist can manipulate and paint with the wax before it has cooled. Due to technological advances, particularly in the late 1900s, encaustic painting resurged its popularity into the mainstream art world. With heat lamps, hot plates, as well as heat guns, modern artists have found it easier to prepare their wax and extend the short period of time when they are able to shape and move their wax before it cools. Even after the wax has hardened, it is possible to reheat and remanipulate a piece as many times as one desires.

The beauty of wax encaustics is the artist's ability to create texture unique to this medium. With more or less pigment added to the beeswax, the artist has control over the opacity of the piece. With that, this medium allows for the embedment of found objects, giving the artist endless opportunity for incorporating and mixing mediums with the wax.

Here at the Katonah Art Center, we offer a class that allows our students to explore this ancient, yet ever-evolving art form. Our students will not only leave the class having understood this interesting medium, but take home their own one-of-a-kind pieces.

Sign up for Xerox, Monotype, & Wax Encaustics today!

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Olivia Ferreiro

Olivia Ferreiro Author

Growing up with parents that are artists has surrounded me with a constant feed of creative energy. As a child, every day was a new project, allowing my older brother and I to use the walls of our every home as a blank canvas, whether we were aware of it or not. Spending my younger years in California made me a flower child that could never lose her youth, even with the passing of time. Coming back to New York as an adult made me discover my roots, beyond café con leche for breakfast and Cuban music always playing in our car. And going to the University of Colorado: Boulder to study writing kept me bold and curious, reminding me that the world is a lot bigger than I ever could have imagined.

I'd like to think that I have my father's obsession with precision, and my mother's desire to be free-spirited. And although I did not study to pursue art on a professional level, I have always been an artist in all that I do.