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Encaustic painting

Greg Murdock, Afterglow, 2016, Oil, Encaustic, Mixed Media on Panel, 20 x 60 inches


Encaustic painting involves using hot wax colored with pigments on a surface (wood panel, canvas or other materials). The word Encaustic is a Greek word which means “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Artists sometimes use beeswax and dammar resin in the encaustic technique. For coloring the wax, they add pigments or oil paints. The artist melts the wax and applies it on a designated surface with a brush or other tools. For achieving an integrated form, the artist reheats the previous layer before adding a new layer. Therefore, all the layers will fuse together[1]. Different metal tools and brushes can be used to create various types of patterns and textures.



The encaustic painting technique is a traditional medium. In ancient Greek and Rome, artists used the Encaustic technique to decorate warships. Although Tempera was cheaper and faster to use, Encaustic could be built up in relief and the effect of wax and pigments made it a strong optical medium. These features made the final work more life-like. Moreover, Encaustic was more resistant to moisture than Tempera.

Mixed media artists usually use encaustic to create texture (more often in abstract art). Because the material can be mixed well with oil-based media, it is used for painting, adhesive, or both[2]. Encaustic wax is similar in some features to oil paint. It makes an excellent medium for expressive brushwork to create a variety of textures and patterns. Keeping the wax warm is a considerable effort while using encaustic[3]. Because the wax is flexible enough and adhesive, it can be used to make sculptures as well as paintings. Moreover, other materials can be added to the wax and collaged into the surface or layered.



Today, there are many artists worldwide who use the Encaustic technique in their work. Winchester Galleries is delighted to represent diverse artworks in terms of used media. The artists who use the Encaustic technique and are represented by Winchester Galleries are Greg Murdock, Jeff Molloy, Herbert Siebner, and David Blackwood.



[1] ‘What is Encaustic?,’ Encaustic Art Institute, Retrieved 07/06/19.


[2] ‘Encaustic,’ Artists Network, Retrieved 07/06/19.


[3] ‘Encaustic Painting,’ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Retrieved 07/06/19.

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