What is Encaustic Paint?

Encaustic Hot Pallette
Encaustic paint uses the same pigments at oil paint, but it is in a Wax medium instead of an Oil medium.  Refined Bees Wax and a natural Dammar resin (used as a hardening agent) are used to create a permanent art form with a melting temperature of 170 degrees.  The Encaustic Paint is sold in blocks of solid wax colors from R&F Paints.  The blocks of colors need to be melted on my hot plate (shown above).  Then I can mix the colors together on my hot plate and apply them with special brushes.  Each new layer of wax must be fused to the previous layer with a heat gun or torch.  The way the new layer of wax is heated can create different effects from smooth to textured.  Then I carve back into the wax to add detail and reveal previous layers of color.

How an Encaustic Painting is Created in Layers?

With Encaustic (wax) paintings I paint from the background to the foreground; this allows me to reveal background colors when I carve into the wax.

With the first layer of colored wax above, I am blocking out colors and layout.  You can see a test section on the center left that I used to find the perfect dark blue for my upper right sky.  The blue in the sky had to be just right because I couldn’t change it after I started applying layers on top of it.

With the second layer of colored wax above, I blocked in the sun glow and clouds. I changed the blue on the center right, and darkened the foreground snow with more Ultramarine Blue.

With the third layer of colored wax, I added more detail to the clouds, and carved into the clouds to show some of the blue below.  I smoothed out the glow from the sun in this third layer.  I changed the color of the middle right blue sky.  And I also did a little work in the foreground snow.

Now this picture jumps ahead, I have continued to work the sun glow and clouds.  I have added my dark middle ground trees and did some carving on them to get them to look like trees.  I have also added the background trees in the mist and glow from the sun.  I have also added two or three layers of wax to the foreground snow to make it have more texture, and more interesting colors.

For the finished painting, I reworked the trees and added show on the branches.  I reworked the clouds, and sun glow. I darkened the trees that the sun is shining through.  I applying another four layers of wax on the foreground snow to lighten the colors and smooth the texture and color transitions and add more depth (texture) to the snow.