Encaustic Art

Encaustic means "burning heat" and is an ancient painting technique that was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

Melted above wood fire certain ingredients and pigments were added to the beeswax. The "wax paint" was ready to be used. With hot spatulas (so-called palette knives), but also with the twigs, wax paint was used to make portraits of (deceased) loved ones. These portraits were mounted on a wood or stone surface, e.g. on icons or sarcophagi.

The famous Egyptian Fayum portraits from the 1st to 3rd century AD were painted with beeswax on sarcophagi. They were found in burial chambers and were in excellent condition.

((Fayum portraits are encaustic portraits that were made between 100 and 300 AD. Egyptian antiquity in the Roman-Egyptian city of Faiyum. After death the portraits were placed with the mummy in the tomb.)

Fayum portraits

Today Encaustic is easier practiced by electrical appliances and readymade wax paint. The Encaustic Art wax blocks are made from beeswax and are non-toxic. The wax parts melt at a temperature of about 62-65 degrees Celsius.

At present there are 48 different colors wax blocks.

The "burn" or painting is done with an electric "painting iron" or drawing pen (stylus). But also a hot-air gun or heat plate can be used to make wax paintings.

English artist Michael Bossom brought this way of painting back to life in 1987 when he began heating bees wax to "paint". Bossom has also written several books and made instructional DVDs.

Elisabeth van Uden, from the Netherlands, learned the rudiments of Encaustic Art from Michael Bossom. From 1991 she re-popularized this way of painting in the Netherlands. She has since developed various techniques herself and refined them, working with the hot air gun is one of her specialties.

Encaustic Art can be practiced by anyone from about 8 years of age. You do not need any knowledge or experience with drawing or painting.