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Encaustic Workshop


18 August 2019

09:00 – 16:30

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This workshop will be presented to you by Marina Wilbraham & Lillian Gray and hosted at the Lillian Gray Art School. 82 Kessel Street Fairlands, Randburg JHB. 

What is Encaustic Painting?

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used. The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used—some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.

Background to Encaustic

Humans are drawn to bees. Their appearance, buzz, wax, honey and the collective productivity of the colony generate reverence and awe.  Honeybees are uncommon insects. It is not surprising that poets and visual artists are attracted to the architecture of the hive and the aesthetics of their labour.

Encaustic painting involves heated beeswax and damar resin to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood and fused with a heating device such as a blow torch.  Shellac (a resin secreted by the lac bug, Kerria Lacca) can be used to create special effects when heated.

 According to ancient written sources the encaustic technique used by ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine artists on walls, wood, canvas and ceramic.

 Although the use of the encaustic method was gradually abandoned during the Middle Ages the formulation has been revived and is increasingly used in fine arts.

It is a relatively new art form in South Africa, although commonly used internationally.  It is gaining momentum locally.  

This workshop does not make use of oil colours but artists’ grade colour pigments to create colour. 

Our approach is focused on creating fine art by using encaustic as a stand-alone painting method or that can be applied during mixed media work.

What you can expect working with Encaustic

The encaustic method requires the artist to work with the medium by allowing it to develop in its one way.  The encaustic medium and tools will be available during the workshop although the artist is required to be open to collaborating with the materials instead of controlling it. 

This interaction between the artist and material is a magical process that will be experienced.  This connection is organic and natural and an open mind is required to test your own boundaries.

You will learn how to work with the four base components of encaustic namely, the encaustic medium (beeswax and damar resin mix), paint pigments, shellac and heat in their natural form. 

The workshop will consist of various demonstrations that are followed by painting sessions.

You should be able to complete three small artworks during the session displaying your intense enjoyment.  

More birchwood panels will be available should you move at a bee’s pace.

Workshop Program for the Day

Morning:  09.00 – 12.30

  • Welcoming and an overview of encaustic art, as inspiration.
  • Encaustic tools, safety and your workstation.
  • Factors that influence the selection of colours in general painting.
  • Learn to paint with encaustic medium by creating your three base panels.
  • Create your own encaustic medium colours and paint with it.

Lunch:  12.30 – 13.15 Everybody to bring one dish and then we all share. 

Afternoon:  13.15 – 16.30

  • How to make your own shellac medium and painting with it.
  • How to do an image transfer.
  • Other techniques will be demonstrated to create interesting artwork.

What to bring to the Workshop

  • No preparation is required
  • Please bring an apron or wear old clothes – it can get messy
  • Bring your favourite oil colours, you may want to use a squeeze for experimentation purposes
  • Notepad for notes
  • We will use earth and blue tones during the day, so you are welcome to bring an easy art reference such as a land- or seascape.  This is however optional.
  • Your creative energy

Art supplies included in the Workshop

That is yours:

  • 1 x Encaustic Medium 100-gram block:  Clear
  • 1 x Encaustic Medium 100-gram block:  Natural
  • 1 x Encaustic Medium 100-gram block:  White
  • 2 x Birchwood Panels:  100mm x 100mm
  • 1 x Birchwood Panel:  200mm x 200mm
  • 3 x Natural fibre brushes
  • 10 x Disposable aluminium containers
  • 2 x Nitrine gloves
  • Shellac flakes in a 30-gram glass bottle (to take home)
  • Transfer images to choose from

That is not yours but you can use it:

  • Bernzomatic Multi-Use Torch with a propane bottle
  • Warm tray
  • Scraper tool for cleaning
  • Scraper tool for encaustic painting techniques
  • Tin containers

That will be shared by all:

  • Premixed shellac medium in various colours (this will be dried out at the end of the day)
  • Artists’ Grade colour pigments 
  • Cleaning Cloths


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