Art & Design Projects

“The Art of Encaustic Painting” by Joanne Mattera

Materra has written a wonderful book.

She’s an accomplished encaustic painter herself, and her book on this ancient method of painting with pigmented beeswax is outstanding. Encaustic’s history, modern examples, quotes from artists, and–very important–the recipes and methods, are all covered in this slim volume. Highly recommended, if you are interested in exploring the medium.

From Library Journal

According to Roman historian Pliny the Elder, encaustic was used as early as the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. It is made by melting beeswax with a small amount of resin and then adding pigment while the mixture is still molten. The artist works quickly out of the pot, for the wax begins to harden as soon as it leaves the heat source. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jasper Johns was virtually the sole practitioner of encaustic. Today, thousands of artists have caught on to this ancient, luminous medium, yet most art lovers are still unaware of it. Mattera provides a fascinating history of the art and several excellent technical chapters on waxes, pigments, papers, brushes, etc. Studio safety takes high priority since, unlike quiet media like watercolor, this one brings with it the possibility of studio fires and wax burns. Though no book can capture the mutable incandescence of encaustic, this one provides enough inspiration and solid technical advice to kindle the interest of any artist. For a good history of the medium in America, see Gail Stavitsky’s Waxing Poetic: Encaustic Art in America (Rutgers Univ., 2000).