HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR ENCAUSTIC PAINTINGSFeb 17, 2022
- Some Brief Background Information About Encaustic
Encaustic painting refers to artwork involving the heating of wax to generate layered works of art full of depth and texture, and the possibilities are endless. The term "encaustic" comes from the Greek word "enkaustikos," which means, "burning in."
Encaustic artwork is the result of fusing wax, layer by layer. Many artists enjoy incorporating collage materials as well as mixed media mark making into their encaustic work. There are so many fascinating techniques to learn and explore with encaustic.
Encaustic is a medium that has been around for about 2000 years. It dates as far back as the 5th century B.C. and is therefore a time-honored method of art. However, it isimportant to take good care of encaustic paintings. So, if you’re an artist or owner of encaustic work, here are some tips on how you can care for your encaustic paintings. I hope you find this information helpful!
- Like almost all artwork, avoid exposure to very bright sunlight
When displaying your encaustic artwork, do not expose it to direct sunlight. This is true for all types of artwork, so hopefully this doesn’t come as a surprise. Some pigments can fade over time when exposed to harsh sunlight.
- Avoid storing or transporting encaustic artwork in environments that are very hot
Storing or transporting encaustic paintings in areas with high temperatures can cause the wax to soften or even melt. Beeswax melts at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine shipping an encaustic work and having it sit in the back of a dark brown UPS truck!
Encaustic work should not be transported or stored in locations where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, because beeswax can soften at such temperatures.
If a painting must be shipped during warm temperatures, be sure to have lots of insulating peanuts or other packing material around the artwork. As an extra precaution, secure the artwork to a piece of cardboard that is surrounded all around by at least 3 inches of packing material.
On the whole, if you do all you can to ensure that your encaustic artwork is shielded from high temperatures, the artwork will be just fine.
- Avoid storing or transporting encaustic work in in environments that are very cold
While very warm temperatures can cause encaustic painting to soften or even melt, cold temperatures (40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) can be harmful as well.
I’ve heard many stories of work being shipped during winter temperatures in the US, with unfortunate results. If a shipping container is not handled properly and dropped, the entire encaustic painting can shatter or crack. If you must ship an encaustic painting during cold weather, wrap it in at least 3 inches of packing paper and fasten it to a piece of cardboard.
- Hanging encaustic paintings
Good care of your encaustic painting also involves being conscious about where and how you hang it on a wall.
I use D-rings and wire on the backside of large cradled panels (paintings larger than 36 x 36 in.) and sometimes use two screws on the hanging wall that are level, about 6 inches apart. This ensures the painting will be level and will stay that way!
- Give your encaustic painting a nice buff for a high polish
One thing I love about encaustic paintings is that you can really get a nice high polish. All you need is an all-cotton cloth. In this video, you can see the effects of buffing an encaustic painting. (Don’t use a paper towel as it may cause scratches.)
To polish an encaustic painting, take your cotton cloth and just rub gently in circular motions, as demonstrated in this video, and you’ll get a beautiful, high sheen! If you compare the encaustic that you’ve polished with one that is unpolished, you’ll notice there is a huge difference between the two. An encaustic painting can become dull and lose its sheen over time, so just give the painting a quick buff and the shine will be restored!
I hope these simple tips are helpful in the care of your encaustic paintings! For beautiful results, remember to give your encaustic paintings a quick buff.
Click here if you’d like to watch my video on encaustic care. You can also check out my website to find out more about my encaustic mini-course, which is an online course that has been designed to teach you everything you need to know to get started in encaustic painting!
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