Hot stuff

Painting with hot wax (Encaustic Painting) is not always without risk, burn blisters became part of my life since I started experimenting with encaustics. I realised how important it is to KNOW the composition of the art materials that you are using and to know HOW to work safely. In Joanne Mattera’s book I read very useful tips and on the internet I found an Art Safety Training Guide from Princeton that I like to share with you.  (see below)

My yesterday’s experiment:

(again I started off from a hardened fabric shape on which I applied pigmented hot wax)

All there is to know about (contemporary) encaustics you can find in the following book (available via Amazon)

The ARt of Encaustic Painting

The Art of Encaustic Painting
Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax 

Author: Joanne Mattera

From the book’s introduction, “The Apian Way”: 

“When I interviewed Jasper Johns in 1986, he remarked rightly of encaustic, “It’s an archaic medium, and few people use it.” Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he was virtually its sole practitioner, and at the time we spoke, just a handful of artists had gone beyond experimenting to create a serious body of encaustic work. Yet now, a decade and a half later, thousands of artists — impelled by the zeitgeist, the luminosity, or perhaps simply by the recent availability of good tools and materials — are exploring the possibilities of expression in pigmented wax. What a sweet irony it is that at the beginning of a new millennium, when cyber images are generated at the speed of light as pixels on a screen, a laborious medium that flourished over 2000 years ago should once again become a hot commodity.

For more information about this artist:

The Princeton Training Guide at provides basic information for working safely with chemicals and operations in Visual Arts.



Encaustic experiment



The base is made from an old shirt, I gave it some shape with the help of Powertex, after hardening I applied hot wax, pigments, oil paint and rose stems. I need to make better photos, it will look better on a white background….

Organic encaustics

Apart from sketching daily I also keep working at my encaustic project. I call it ‘organic’ because I’m using mainly natural materials such as cotton, beeswax, pigments, parts of plants, seeds, beans, chickpeas… etc

For this work  I first made a base from hardened cotton:

Then I waxed it, adding colour pigments. To see appear the textures is very exciting, difficult to control but that’s what I like about it . It still needs a ‘finishing touch’ but I leave it to dry & harden for a while now.. :



Preparing for encaustic painting

A new blog look… hope it will lead me to some fresh ideas for new encaustic experiments.


I know it looks like a failed cake, but this is a big piece of beeswax (1.25 kg).  All my encaustic materials are still in another country so I decided to collect and prepare some simple basics to start painting with hot wax again, because I miss it!



You don’t need much to make encaustic medium- The basic ‘stuff’ is made from Beeswax and Damar resin (85/15 %). The damar resin comes in crystal form, and is actually hardened tree sap.



It takes a while to melt, especially the Damar, but in order to speed up the process I’ve put the wax as well as the Damar into a plastic bag and gave it a few good whacks with a hammer. I used oil paint to pigment my medium and prepared 5 colours + transparant.



And now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m off to start pouring, painting and  scrubbing!


“Sisyphus” 2009 Encaustics 21×30

What more is there at the end than the harsh wind of words to recall the climb the myth a burden drives into bones as deeply as a life of work, the falling and the gathering up, the falling and the gathering up of hope and always something farther beyond the topmost rock I have known the withering and the giving in, the withering and the giving in to weakness always and the breath that comes easier after rolling back down into valleys, and the fog a child loses himself in purposely for the need to be unguarded, what I grope through even now, blindly downward, scrambling with the balding weight I carry for a time, drop and let roll, carry for a time, drop and let roll

Gary J. Whitehead

Shellac burn

This is the result of my first experiment with burning shellac into encaustic. An exciting experience. Safety measures required! The shellac is being mixed with alcohol, you apply it on the desired spots of your painting and then lighten it with a match. Immediately it starts burning. Fascinating textures are being developed.  

Flower Power

‘Flower Power’  2011       Encaustic on wooden box  50×50


Frieda’s art experiences


Two years ago a friend gave me a starters kit for Encaustic painting. I felt like Alice in Wonderland and soon became a big fan of this technique.  It has unlimited possibilities and the more ‘bold’ I became, the better results I got (as well as a few burn blisters). Just let it flow, it’s an adventure and you can take as many detours as you like. That’s life, isn’t it?

“Artemis” hot wax on paper, 30 x 21 cm  2009

Encaustic is a beeswax based paint that is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to a surface and reheated to fuse the paint into a uniform enamel-like finish. The word encaustic comes from Greek and means to burn in, which refers to the process of fusing the paint. Encaustic has a long history, but it is as versatile as any 20th century medium. It can be polished to a high gloss, it can be modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with collage materials. It cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked. The durability of encaustic is due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Because of this it will not deteriorate, it will not yellow, and it will not darken. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass. Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C. It was used in a variety of applications: the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, the coloring of marble and terra cotta, and work on ivory (probably the tinting of incised lines). The best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt.