Art for Life & A Life for Art

A New Medium: Waterborne Cold Wax Medium

A New Medium: Waterborne Cold Wax Medium

This new medium was used exclusively in my new collection "Eleven Mile Canyon" coming soon! Sign up for my email list below to receive updates on the upcoming collection release, studio news and more!

This past year I have found space to explore new mediums, methods, and materials. I have always painting to a degree with wax, but never fully explored the range of cold wax to hot encaustic and everything in between. I discovered the ancient "Punic Wax Technique" cold wax paint that thins with water but does not contain solvents. Punic Wax is commercially available as Ceracolors, a revolutionary new medium of waterborne wax paint, that can be used for encaustic and wax painting techniques. This waterborne wax paint makes encaustic painting versatile because heat, electricity and special tools are not required. This discovery was a revelation for me, as there are infinite layering possibilities. I am drawn to the immediacy of the medium, making it possible for my vision to flow on the canvas without impediment.

The word “encaustic” originates from the Greek word enkaustikos, which means to “burn in” and this element of heat is necessary for a painting to be called “encaustic.” The earliest description of wax and encaustic painting technique is by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder in his Natural History from the first century. This technique was used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100–300 AD.

About 1749, Comte de Caylus, a French antiquarian interested in Pliny’s writings on encaustic, began to experiment with the medium. He undertook to explain an obscure passage in Pliny regarding “Punic wax,” a water-soluble wax preparation believed to be the paint used by ancient Greek painters. In the twentieth century, painter Fritz Faiss (1905–1981), a student of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky at the Bauhaus, together with Dr. Hans Schmid, rediscovered the so-called “Punic wax” technique. The resulting wax is believed to be the same as the Punic wax described by Pliny.

Today, a similar wax is commercially available as Ceracolors by Natural Pigments, a waterborne wax-based paint for artists, providing a wide range of painting techniques from thick impastos to watercolor-like washes. These are probably the closest approximation to the ancient waxes of antiquity. Ceracolors share properties with traditional media making them instantly familiar to painters, but they also have unique characteristics and advantages of their own. When thinned with water, Ceracolors easily disperse to produce vibrant watercolor effects. They can be applied in opaque layers much like acrylic or gouache. Ceracolors dry quickly, so you can build transparent glazes without long waiting times between layers. In a finished painting, the colors have a rich, matte appearance and a durable finish. Once dry Ceracolors can be used in encaustic technique, allowing sculpting and manipulation of the paint. Ceracolors are formulated for high tinting strength and the optical qualities of wax provide outstanding chroma. Ceracolors are composed of ingredients that are not considered toxic—ingredients that are often found in food and cosmetics.

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