Get started with Encaustic Painting
If you’ve been wondering for awhile how do I do encaustic painting? and now you’re ready to get started, this post will help you choose the encaustic supplies and hot wax tools you need to set up your studio. You can also learn a lot more about encaustic painting by reading the other posts in the encaustic beginner’s guide.
Encaustic is an expensive medium, and you should consider your budget before you begin. You will need to set up a studio space that has good ventilation and you will need to purchase hot tools and supplies.
The links to Amazon will help you get set up to start painting with encaustic and the affiliate links help support this site.
What tools and supplies do I need for Encaustic Painting?
If you’re ready to jump all in, a full encaustic painting kit is a smart way to get everything you need in one go. Alternatively, you can encaustic art studio tools and supplies piece by piece.
If you’re ready to begin painting with encaustic you need to start with encaustic medium. Medium is made with filtered beeswax and damar resin crystals and is available in a variety of forms, as:
- ready-to-use encaustic paints (medium is premixed with colour pigment) in tins, blocks or sticks
- pre-made natural (golden) or filtered (white) encaustic medium to which you can add oil paints or pigment
- raw materials (damar resin and beeswax) to make your own encaustic medium to which you can add oil paints for colour
If you are using plain encaustic medium you will want a variety of oil paints in your studio to add colour to the wax:
- Do not add more than 25% paint to 75% wax, or you will end up with a wax that won’t harden
- Glazes of colour can be made using a very small amount of paint to the encaustic medium
- Stay away from oil paint with health warnings on the label and don’t use Prussian blue (toxic when heated) or zinc white (curdles when heated)
BRUSHES FOR ENCAUSTIC:
Use natural hair brushes for encaustic, synthetic brushes will melt.
GRIDDLE OR PALETTE OR HOT BOX:
To melt encaustic medium you will need an Encaustic Palette, Electric Griddle or Hot Plate. An ideal hot palette is one that heats evenly and offers a refined temperature control. You may also want to purchase a griddle thermometer or temperature regulator.
BOWLS or TINS:
You will also need small metal bowls or tins to melt the medium in. Have a look at your local thrift store for inexpensive baking tins. Choose flat bottom metal tins – rounded bottom bowls can be tippy and you don’t want to spill precious encaustic paints!
In encaustic art the artist will fuse the layers of wax with either a heat gun (not a hair dryer), an encaustic iron or a blow torch. Using different fusing tools creates a variety of surface textures. You may be interested to read more about fusing tools on the post: Choosing the right encaustic fusing tools.
SUBSTRATES TO PAINT ON:
Ideal surfaces for the encaustic artwork are absorbent, rigid and heat resistant. Suitable grounds include wood, untempered Masonite, stretched canvas or linen, plywood, drywall or plaster, heavy watercolour or printmaking paper and even plexiglass! Do not use a typical acrylic gesso as an encaustic painting surface, select an encaustic gesso. Experiment with a variety of substrates and grounds to find your favourite.
Wax is a marvellous adhesive, you can embed just about anything into it, making encaustic a perfect medium for mixed media collage. You’ll want to have a supply of collage elements in your studio.
Before you begin to paint with wax it is important to consider ventilation of your studio space and ensure that you have a fire extinguisher close at hand especially when working with collage elements and a blow torch!
Want to learn more about Encaustic Wax Painting?
Now that you have all the tools, read about the encaustic painting process.
Please add any comments or questions below.
Encaustic paint pots image source: Andrea Bird used by permission
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