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Encaustic


exerpted from R&F Handmade Paints

encaustic paints ingredientsWhat is Encaustic Paint?

Encaustic is a wax based paint (composed of beeswax, resin and pigment), which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to an absorbent surface and then reheated in order to fuse the paint. The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint. Although they come from the same root word, ‘encaustic’ should not be confused with ‘caustic,’ which refers to a corrosive chemical reaction. There is no such hazard with encaustic.

History of Encaustic

Fayum Funeral Portrait from the 1st-3rd century B.C.Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C. Most of our knowledge of this early use comes from the Roman historian Pliny the Elder whose Natural History, written in the 1st century A.D. was a monumental encyclopedia of art and science. Pliny seems to have had little direct knowledge about studio methods, so his account of techniques and materials is not thorough, but his discussion gives us an idea of its general usage. According to Pliny, encaustic had a variety of applications: for the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, for the coloring of marble and terra cotta, and for work on ivory (probably the tinting of incised lines).

The example shown is a Fayum Funeral encaustic painting from the 1st - 3rd century B.C. You can see how well encaustic stands up through the ages.

Getting Started: Understanding Encaustic

Encaustic is a beeswax-based painting medium that is worked with heat. It can be used as a luminous traditional painting medium, but it also has the potential to obscure the boundaries between mediums like no other art material, resulting in works that are just as much about painting or sculpture as they are about photography, drawing, printmaking, installation or a variety of craft techniques. Artists of all kinds are discovering its unifying potential, unique properties and versatility.

getting started with encausticsPainting with encaustic is a multi-step process. First, the paint must be melted, or liquefied. Next, the molten paint is applied to a porous surface. Then the applied wax is reheated, or fused into, the working surface, allowing it to form a good bond. As a final option, the cooled paint can be buffed to bring up the luster of the wax and resin.

R&F Handmade Paints built their reputation with encaustic as the core of their line and have been instrumental in the expansion of the medium. When R&F began in 1988 it continued a tradition of high-quality commercial encaustic paint production dating back to the late 1940s. R&F’s encaustics are milled with the time-honored methods of paintmaking. They use 100% pure pharmaceutical grade (USP) beeswax, which has been filtered without the use of chemicals, Singapore-grade damar resin and a heavy pigment load. All of this results in the highest quality artist paints on the market.


If you are interested in learning more about R&F Handmade Paints encaustic products or have questions, please take advantage of the following resources:

rfpaints.com/resources/encaustic
R&F Handmade Paints YouTube channel
• Contact via email rfpaints.com/contact-us
• Call toll free 800.206.8088 or call 845.331.3112


For product questions or availability talk to our knowledgeable sales team! We carry a wide range of Encaustic products and will be adding more to our website.

DENVER: 303.698.3838 | 800.950.ARTS [2787] COLORADO SPRINGS: 719.578.8070 or Ask Us Anything>

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