How to care for an encaustic painting
About Encaustic Art
Encaustic painting is a process of heating wax mixed with a resin and pigment to between 65 to 100 degrees celsius, applying it to a sturdy substrate such as wood, and then fusing with a heat source such as a heat gun, iron or propane torch. It's possible to scrape and incise the wax, as well as to collage materials into it, and to paint on it with oils paints. Layers are built up and fused, scraped back and incised and built up again. Each layer is fused with heat. the final painting is buffed with a soft cloth to bring out the shine of the wax. This ancient and durable medium has a mystery, a luminosity and an organic quality that give the final pieces a spiritual quality.
How to care for an encaustic painting:
An encaustic painting is durable and archival. There are encaustic paintings from Greco-Roman Egypt that have survived in good condition. Encaustic paintings also need care. They will melt at 65 degrees celsius so storage in a hot car trunk is not an option. Below freezing, the wax can crack. So, the encaustic painting needs to be kept between 1 and 48 degrees. Normal indoor conditions work best. No strong direct sunlight.
If the surface of the painting becomes cloudy, it can be buffed with a soft cloth and it will regain its shine. Since it can harm the surface to lean something up against it of to put cardboard on the surface, I carry my paintings flat in my car with the painting surface facing up, it hot weather I turn on the AC. The edges of an encaustic painting are especially vulnerable because they extend beyond the wooden substrate. An encaustic painting doesn't need to be framed, but framing one will protect the edges from damage.
I always take the upmost care when shipping encaustic paintings, making sure they are well packaged for their journey. I also insure every painting I ship, so any possible damage is covered. If you purchase a painting and then damage it by accident, I will do small repair work for free.
For as long as I can remember, I have been able to effortlessly and accurately sketch or draw an object or persons likeness. I had an innate ability to look at a person or object, and accurately gauge the size, shape and colour, and distance, memorise that information and put it down on paper. As a child and teenager, I particularly loved to draw faces to obtain a realistic likeness to that person. This love also extended to drawing animals, and a lot of my teen years was spent drawing both from magazine photographs and from life. This expanded both to drawing from life and using my own photographs as reference.
Later, when I wanted to paint a landscape, building, or portrait of a person, I would complete a charcoal or pencil work as a preliminary study to work out composition, light and shade, and get a feeling for the subject. This enabled me to see things as they really are. Most of the time, my drawings were complete artworks in themselves.
Drawing dates back to pre-history and was the earliest form of non-verbal communication between humans. Drawing is a way to communicate thoughts and feelings, and enables us to see the world as it really is.
As Leonardo da Vinci once said,
“Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eyes, that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”
Some artists live in one part of the Universe of Art and explore a theme or themes. I have been strongly attracted to the exploration of different mediums, across the whole Universe of Art.
My early years involved mostly oil and charcoal, with forays into watercolour, pastel and acrylic. With these mediums, I explored landscapes, portraits, abstracts and surreal.
Recently, my life changed to allow more time for art, leading me into vigorous exploration of new areas of art. My two major new areas are encaustic art using hot beeswax and resin art using epoxy resin. At the same time, my life also changed with my marriage to a scientist with an interest in astrophotography and, with him, I have explored combining star images with charcoal drawings to convey the meaning of the Universe of Stars.
Painting with hot beeswax:
The ancient Greek art of encaustic painting with hot beeswax is another major realm in the Universe of Art. Moving into a new house with a new husband gave me the opportunity to explore this exciting new art realm, since this form of art needs considerable work in establishing a dedicated studio and developing new and unusual art techniques.
From 2014 to 2016, I developed abstract, image transfer and realist works, the latter focussing on a shipwreck series, which culminated in a solo exhibition called “The Last Fleet” at the Gold Coast City gallery in 2016.
I have also used the image transfer variation of encaustic painting to produce a series based on Australian native birds.
Painting with resin:
Over the last year, I entered yet another new realm of the Universe of Art: painting with epoxy resin. Like encaustic painting, this art form needs a dedicated studio, specific equipment, new techniques and a new approach to art. I am still exploring new variations of this exciting new realm of the Universe of Art but this exciting new area has already led to another solo exhibition called “New Beginnings”, at the One Arts Gallery, Isle of Capri, Gold Coast Queensland in the month of May 2017.
What is resin?:
Epoxy Resin used in art is an adhesive, plastic material made from synthetic polymers and mixed with a hardener in a specific ratio which varies for different brands. Coloured pigments are added, and the mixture is generally poured onto a surface, mostly MDF, but sometimes other surfaces. When cured, it becomes a very tough and hard surface.
When resin, hardener and coloured pigments are mixed, it is in a fluid form and extremely sticky – a bit like honey. An artist has to work very quickly to achieve their art with resin as it starts to cure after about 40 minutes – although it is possible to work a little longer before it becomes more like toffee. Then it must be left undisturbed until at least the next day before progressing further with it.
Frequently I work with multiple layers to achieve incredible depth, so depending upon how many layers I use, a good artwork can take several days to develop. The affects achieved with resin depend upon various ways that it is applied to the surface, and each artist develops their own techniques for manipulating the fluid medium to get the effects they want. There is much more involved than just “throwing coloured resin onto a surface”. An artist needs to develop a lot of skill to develop a unique and beautiful work.
Applying heat either with a torch or heat gun is an important step for proper curing of the resin and hardener mix. Proper mixing and exact volumes of resin and hardener are required for adequate curing. Whilst it becomes quite solid to touch within 5 to 7 hours, it requires up to 48 hours for a complete cure.
Epoxy Resin requires a moderate level of safety precautions to avoid contact with the skin and eyes as well as avoiding the accumulation of vapours in the room. I wear protective clothing, nitrate gloves, and work in a room with cross-flow ventilation and when using solvents, a carbon mask.
If you like my work, my website, or one of my blogs, please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or add a comment.
My artwork can be purchased in my Gallery page, or through #bluethumb
I publish a newsletter from time to time, advising when and where I am exhibiting, and other interesting art news.
If you would like to have your name added to my mailing list at the top of the page. If you with to enquire about an artwork, or a workshop or any other query, please use the Contact Gayle Reichelt form.
(c)Gayle Reichelt: ALL images contained in this site are under automatic copyright to the artist. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of any image may be reproduced by any process without write permission of the artist. Enquiries should be addressed to the artist.