Encaustic & Oils

I was inspired by a piece currently displayed in the Leicester Society of Artists exhibition at New Walk Museum in Leicester to look into the whole technique of encaustic and oils. A quick and dirty Google/YouTube search showed the basics: layers of molten beeswax sandwiching and fusing with oil paints and other inclusions (such as the silver glitter in my piece). So I got out my trusty Melt Pot from Ranger, added white beeswax and got going on my first piece last night. I’m rather pleased with the results: melting the wax between layers was quite an art, as too much heat will move the oil paint, too little and fusing with previous layers doesn’t work. All the time it’s being worked, the opacity of the wax varies and it isn’t until fully set and cool that the final opacity is apparent. I love the abstract nature of the piece and the clear layering within it. A tricky technique to master I suspect, but one that I’m going to follow up.

Oil paint is wax soluble, so coating a layer will contaminate your brush, which then adds opaque material to your clear wax. This will diminish the transparency of future layers. Some paints merge more (such as the blues), others seem to fracture and keep to the layers (such as the Titanium White). Unsurprisingly water based media are unlikely to mix with the wax – I used silver Stickles to add the glitter, and the wax-phobic nature allowed it to stay exposed adding texture and interest. The piece is on 10x10cm canvas covered board.