[a brief history] encaustic

[Unframed Landscape 11″x18″, artist Maralyn Wilson $475]

There are several Encaustic paintings in the Tracery Shop at the moment & many are unaware of the technique used to create these masterpieces they marvel over. From afar they appear to be paintings created with a simple brush and paint. A closer look reveals an unfamiliar sheen accompanied by wax drips down the sides of the wood frame. How do they do that? Each artist uses wax [usually beeswax] that has had pigment added to it to create varying layers of depth and color. This wax is typically applied to wood [ although canvas has been used] with a special brush or metal tool. The wax dries almost instantly so a swift hand is key. Most artist use a type of blow torch or flame to meld the layers of wax together.

[‘Sunrise’ unframed, 22″x44″ artist: Maralyn Wilson $2500]

Function: noun
Etymology: encaustic, adjective, from Latin encausticus, from Greek enkaustikos, from enkaiein to burn in, from en- + kaiein to burn
: a paint made from pigment mixed with melted beeswax and resin and after application fixed by heat; also : the method involving the use of encaustic or a work produced by this method
definition via Merriam-Webster

[‘Town Hall’ unframed 18″x18″, artist: Rae Broyles $900]

This technique dates back to the 5th century B.C. and was used by the ancient Greeks as well as the ancient Egyptians who used this method to paint portraits on mummies. Many ancient civilizations used this technique to paint ships before it was refined and used to create portraits and portray Greek mythology.

[‘Beach’ unframed, 8″x8″ artist: Rae Broyles $225]

Did you know that beeswax is impervious to moisture making it extremely durable? The wax will not yellow, deteriorate or darken. Most paintings have to be varnished or protected by glass. Encaustic paintings have with stood the test of time with several still in existence from the 6th century-no varnish or protective glass. Why not make one an addition to your art collection? For inquiries please call our shop at 850.231.6755 or email us at shop[at]traceryinteriors[dot]com.


[‘SIA’ unframed 24″x24″, artist Rae Broyles $1400]

4 thoughts on “[a brief history] encaustic

  1. I love encaustics. I even took an encaustic painting class, which was so great – kind of like chemistry and art combined. I love the smell of the beeswax!

    My favorite encaustic artist is Rena Rochat (with Fay Gold), but I am loving Rae’s work too!

    When I have assisted people with purchasing art, they always feel nervous about encaustics – they think it will melt on their walls. It actually will not melt unless it gets to about 130+ degrees, and if your house is 130 degrees then you have bigger problems!


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