Art Quiz: The Answer is Encaustic Painting

I knew the answer to this quiz question because a member of our local fine arts association is an encaustic painter. He’s exhibited many of his works at our regional shows, and he’s won quite a few awards.

I’ll admit to being fascinated by the concept of encaustic painting. It looks like so much fun! It also appears to be a highly-creative form of art with so many possibilities that I know I would be overwhelmed if I ever tried it.

So, just what is encaustic painting? Here is a short definition from Wikipedia:

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated encaustic medium to which colored pigments have been added for creating artworks. Molten medium is applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are sometimes used. The simplest encaustic medium could be made by adding pigments to wax, though recipes most commonly consist of beeswax and damar resin, potentially with other ingredients. For pigmentation, dried powdered pigments can be used, though some artists use pigmented wax, inks, oil paints or other forms of pigmentation.

I wasn’t content to leave it at that, though, so I went browsing a bit. The first thing I came across was this marvelous video from the Royal Academy of Arts. Although it’s titled “How to Paint with Encaustic”, it’s not really a how-to tutorial but a look at the creative possibilities of hot wax painting and showing the awesome work of British artist Terry Setch.


Another video find was “Learn Something New with Encaustic Art – Beginner’s Guide to Art with Wax.” This one really is more beginner-oriented. I was absolutely mesmerized watching this short video.

I also found All Things Encaustic — a blog for encaustic artists of all experience levels. It includes tips, techniques, product reviews, instruction guides, and a shop for purchasing encaustic supplies.

If you’re curious, a “complete starter kit” can be purchased for about $100.00. It looks tempting, but keep in mind that this is just the basic supplies.

Those who are serious would probably want to also purchase a heated palette ($160.00 and up), palette pans, sealers, a variety of mark-making tools, and lots of other gadgets and gizmos.

I’m thinking that this could quickly become an expensive hobby, but then, isn’t that true of all media in art?

Now that I’ve started browsing around, I’m amazed at how much information is available about encaustic art. This is something I definitely would like to try — sometime in the future. When I do, I’ll probably turn to one of these books:

How to Create Encaustic Art – A Guide to Painting with Wax

Encaustic Art – The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax

Encaustic Workshop: Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax

Two more tidbits I’ve learned today. First, the name encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos meaning “to burn in.” Second, no, don’t try using crayons. People do it, there are YouTube videos showing how, but it’s not recommended because of the paraffin in the crayons.

And, one final note. I have done a “variant” form of encaustic art, not using heat, but with cold wax medium. It was a fun project, and I was pleased with the results. You can see the post about it here.


    1. When I was about 17 I played with melting crayons, and I really liked the abstract “painting” I came up with. I melted different crayons on a cardboard backing, and I was impressed. Nobody else cared about it though. I was just “being creative” and — to their mind, just making a mess. 😦

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    1. Doesn’t this all sound like fun? Maybe that will be part of next year’s art plan. It’s so easy for me to get side-tracked with new things to try, so this year I’m trying really hard to focus on my three main areas: drawing, oil painting, and basic watercolor techniques. But hot wax painting looks so inviting!

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  1. Woah! I just learned a whole lot of NEW! I’ve never heard of encaustic painting. It looks fun and opens wide the creative possibilities. I have never been a hands-on painter (although I did paint very amateurishly in my youth), but at this age I’m loving learning about all forms of art. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Did you follow the link to the abstract art project I did with cold wax medium? That’s a variant on encaustic painting but without quite as much mess — and no heat! You might have fun playing with something like that. You might also want to check out Craftsy. It’s more “craft” than “art”, but the classes are excellent! Normally it’s $70.00 per year for a premium membership, but right now you can sign up and get a full year for $2.49. That’s what I did earlier this year. I don’t plan to renew, but it’s been great to have access this year.

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