My New Love – Encaustic Painting

I just got back from another wonderful class at John C. Campbell Folk School – this time it was encaustic painting. Now, I am not a painter, per se. My only 2D art endeavors are collage and making my own papers for collage, book arts, etc. But this looked like an interesting class, and even better, my sister was also interested. So she flew in from Texas and we took the class together.

For those who are not familiar, encaustic painting is an ancient technique that uses paint made from a mixture of wax, pigment, and resin. You melt that and apply it to your surface, then use a heat gun (or propane torch, for the brave and experienced!) and melt it to varying degrees of liquidity depending on the effect you want to create. It allows for layering, surface texture, image transfer, use of oil paint, India and alcohol inks, and even embedding objects in the wax. Everything you know about color mixing and composition comes into play, with the addition of the chaotic flow of melted wax. It is completely entrancing.

As a beginner, of course what I am creating right now is clumsy (at best). But I am enchanted enough that I’m willing to keep playing with it and learning more. I’m finding lots of inspiration on Pinterest. And my guiding light right now is Ira Glass’s advice to beginners, about being willing to keep producing “bad” work and accept that it will take a while before my skills match my taste.

So I’ve committed to doing some encaustic something every day now, in those morning art hours that I talked about earlier in the year. I kind of got away from that for a while, but I’m back. Today’s picture is of a piece created by our instructor, Brian Dunning, that he made to illustrate many of the techniques we learned last week. I was so inspired by it, and love it so much, that I bought it from him.

Balloon Girl Encaustic Painting by Brian Dunning

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