Encaustic Art Lesson Abstract

Acrylics, Beginner, Painting, Wax | 10 Jun, 2013

How to produce encaustic art pictures using hot irons and wax blocks.

Encaustic art is art which is made by melting wax and using it as a pigment medium. The result is a rich, vibrant, textural work of art which can be endlessly manipulated with an assortment of tools. While many people associate encaustic art with melting crayons as a young child, the art form is actually thousands of years old. Several museums and art galleries have examples of encaustic art from places like Ancient Egypt and medieval Europe, for people who would like to see historical examples of the art form.

To get started you will need the following:

Blocks of wax designed for encaustic art

Special heat proof paper A6 postcard size for your wax pictures

Special heat proof (Throw away) paper A4 to set on the table before placing your postcard on top

Encaustic iron

Brushes

Tissues

Acrylic Wax Sealer

The next stage is to prepare your work area, by ensuring that you keep your wax blocks on one side and your iron on the other, as these items are hot and not only will melt your wax blocks, but also may burn you. Ensure you cover your work table and the surrounding floor is fully covered to protect all surfaces from hot tripping wax. Place a throw away card on the table and then place your A6 heat proof paper on top. Once you are all set up and have heated your tools on low you are ready to start.

Take your first coloured wax block hold the iron flat and cover all of the iron. Then start to spread the colour over the card and then wipe off the excess wax with a tissue. Repeat with another colour remembering to wipe the iron each time.

There are 4 basic types of effects that can create abstract pictures very quickly, they are:

Smoothing, lifting, points of the iron and edges of the iron, another effect is a backward wriggle, wriggle the iron from side to side.

When you have made your cards, you may want to protect them, so polish them first and then take a soft brush and an acrylic wax sealer and cover the whole surface and leave to dry.

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    1. Would you recommend using crayons in this technique? I’ve played around with them in the past and came up with very interesting textures however, they maintain a “waxy” aroma. Do you think applying a layer of gesso will help curb the odor?

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    2. I can’t see that gesso will curb any odour. All waxes have a smell relating to their content. If resins are involved then these will also be smelt. Beeswax itself is quite sweet in odour, but any of the petrochemical waxes have that “chemical” smell. Over heating creates more fumes and also possibly releases less desirable characteristics chemically as well as possibly damaging the wax structure in the longer term. Best just to work in a well ventilated area,

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    3. I can’t see that gesso will curb any odour. All waxes have a smell relating to their content. If resins are involved then these will also be smelt. Beeswax itself is quite sweet in odour, but any of the petrochemical waxes have that “chemical” smell. Over heating creates more fumes and also possibly releases less desirable characteristics chemically as well as possibly damaging the wax structure in the longer term. Best just to work in a well ventilated area,

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    4. Thanks for answering so quickly. I can tolerate the odor while creating but it seems that the completed piece also retains an odor that some might find offensive. I might try a thin layer of gel medium or some sort of furniture or floor wax.

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    5. Be careful in applying any wax which contains a solvent.in case it dissolves the surface of your artwork. Test a sample scrap first maybe? Also try to determine the quality of pigmentation in the crayons you are using. If cheaper waxes are being used then dyes or low quality pigments might also be the case. They may fade so it is wise to check out the content if possible.

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    6. Thank you for a great tuturial just what I needed. I have had my set for years and also one of the books but still didn’t seem to get it right. A couple of weeks ago I introduced my nephew (17) to this and we had lots of fun so I bought him a set for Christmas. He will enjoy this tutorial much too. The great thing about Encaustic Art is that you don’t need to be a great artist to make something that looks stunning:) Thanks again!!

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