E Kendra Denny
E n c a u s t i c s

E Kendra Denny Encaustics
Camden, Maine

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What is Encaustic Painting?

Encaustics are a wax medium developed by the ancient Greeks, possibly as early as the 9th century BC. Traditionally a mixture of beeswax and damar resin, the medium was then tinted with a pigment to add color. Originally, this painting technique was developed to seal and decorate ships, however the versatile nature of encaustics was soon realized, and artists began using it in easel paintings as well. There are historical records which reference two-dimensional artists working in encaustics as early as the 4th and 5th centuries BC. 

Encaustics also played a significant role in Egyptian history. From about 100 BC to 200 AD the Egyptians used encaustics to paint portraits of their deceased which were then set into mummy casings. These became known as the Fayum Portraits, taking their name from their distribution throughout the Fayum oasis. 

Today artists use many different methods when working with encaustics. I prefer a traditional mix of beeswax and damar resin, but I use oil paints to tint my medium instead of pure pigment. In order to keep the wax melted, I work off a small griddle heated to about 225℉. I then apply this melted wax to wood panels using natural bristle brushes.

-- (History of encaustics taken from The Art of Encaustic Painting by Joanne Mattera)