Things to Know About Encaustic
When working in encaustic, absorbency of the wax into the material is a must, and number one!
It's simple. The wax must absorb and fuse into the materials that one uses, as well as fuse to itself. That's it. Short and sweet. There is encaustic information out there that suggest using glues, acrylics, some gesso, some photos and other materials that by nature of what they are, will not absorb, and if it will not absorb it will not work.
You can use some of these things but they have to be the correct materials, i.e. photos must never have a gloss finish as the wax can not absorb through the gloss coating. Learn the correct way to work in encaustic. If the wax has not been fused into the material, there is a good chance that it will crack or separate.
Wax is not a glue! When embedding or attaching material to your work, it must be secured properly. The very first step in any encaustic painting is fusing the first layer of wax to the substrate. Yes, things will stick to wax but things can also be snapped off easily if not attached properly. I use a lot of three dimensional items in my work and I go to great lengths to affix things to my boards. In some cases I spend as much or more time working with the 3D items as I do on the paint. Incidentally, both take a lot of time. For me, attaching items (and how I do it) becomes part of the unique look and style of my art.
Each layer must be fused/ encausted, or the layers may separate over time. painting is all about fusing each layer. The better job you do in fusing the better the painting. That is one of the reasons that encaustic paintings can last for thousands of years and still look beautiful.
Painting on just stretched canvas is wrong, especially acrylic primed canvas.
When it come to encaustic! In time, the canvas will sag and move and the wax will crack. NEVER buy an encaustic painting that is painted on just canvas by itself. On its own, canvas will sag. Even if the canvas with wax is hard and has a stiffener in it, the canvas may crack over time. Some waxes, like microcrystalline, may be more flexible but that is no guarantee that it may not crack on just stretched canvas. The best way to use non-primmed canvas is to embed it onto a solid board first. New materials are being developed all the time like absorbent gesso made for encaustic. Never use straight acrylic gesso, acrylic is not absorbent.
Beeswax vs Microcrystalline wax
Not all wax is the same. Natural beeswax is the traditional wax to use from bees. Yellow beeswax or White filtered, not "bleached" beeswax. Filtered does not yellow over time. These work best for me. Microcrystalline wax which is a man made petroleum-based product may yellow over time and give off fumes when heated.
Substrate ie. painting surfaces
Wood or any absorbent stable material works best. Acrylic paint or any acrylic material will not mix or absorb with wax.
There are some work books out there that say they use acrylic with wax but in my opinion it is a bad idea.