Encaustic painting

Method of painting with molten wax first used by ancient Greek and Roman artists. The word derives from the Greek enkaustikos, ‘to burn in’. The term encaustic is also used occasionally to designate certain types of ceramics, but these are unrelated to encaustic painting. The basic method calls for dry pigments to be mixed with molten wax on a warm palette and then applied to any ground or surface, including wood, plaster or canvas. It is traditional to pass a heat source close to the surface of a finished painting to ‘burn in’ the colours by fusing and bonding them to the support. Once hardened, encaustic paint is as durable as any other paint surface. No additional varnish is necessary, but the surface can be polished to a dull sheen with a soft cloth.
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© Grove Art / OUP

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