So You Want to Do Encaustic Painting? Page 3

Let's Get Started

Turn on your heat tray and set it to about 200 degrees. It will take awhile for the wax to melt in your cups so give it about 15 minutes or so.

While the wax is melting, you can take up your wooden painting surface (if you don't want wax drips on the side). I use standard removable painting tape for this.

If you want to paint on a white surface, you can paint on gesso at this point (but don't use acrylic-based gesso). If you don't necessarily need a white base, then you can begin your first layer right on to the wood surface.

Begin with a wide brush and your melted clear wax medium. Bring the wood surface close to the tray and brush on one layer of clear wax. Just cover the surface. No need to be neat or worry about bumps. When you have finished the first layer, put the brush down (keeping it on the hot tray will keep the brush from getting stiff) and pick up the hot air gun. You can play with the high or low setting, but I recommend beginning with low. You want to blow all ver the surface until the wax is well melted and in liquid form. This allows the first layer to really sink in and adhere to the wood (or the non-acrylic gesso). You'll handle more layers differently but you really want this first one to sink in. This is "fusing" the first layer to the painting surface.

Now you can begin to work on your piece. Some artists add more clear layers before they even begin to add colors, some add colors beginning with layer two (or adding objects, paper, etc.) - now it depends on what direction you want to go with your painting.

To keep a piece strong and resistant to chipping and brittleness, it is important to build your painting in thin multiple layers and fusing each layer than it is to pour a gob of wax on at a time and fusing that. There are no hard and fast rules, but these are just recommendations based on what encaustic artists experience.

Okay, for each layer you can paint sections or layers in color, use the heat gun to fuse it (now you are not going to fuse it so hard, but simply look for that initial shiny glaze look and then its fused and you can move on). If you want to "float" colors in different layers, trying putting a thin layer of clear wax between the colors, fuse each layer, and see how it floats.

Encaustics are all about heat control - how well you control the heat to fuse and not make a mess of the lower levels will determine the success of your piece. It just takes doing it and practicing.

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