Wax Painting – A Unique Art Form

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Wax painting is a  unique  form of painting where molten wax is used as paints. Also known as encaustic painting this wonderful artwork provides the scope to explore the creative skills and bring in new innovations into the world of art. There is also the freedom to make alterations uninterruptedly. The wax painters indulge in unbridled creativity and make breathtaking creations of arts. They can add, remove and make changes according to their own will. Delightful yet mystical the wax paintings have interesting stories to tell.

Wax painting has a rich historical past. The tradition of painting with wax began in Egypt, Greece and Rome about several thousand years ago. The antique wax portraits bear a testimony of the existence wax paintings in the ancient times. Liquefied bees wax and colored pigments were blended to form colors. With course of time several other forms of waxes like caranauba wax, dry oils like linseed oil, colophony, dammar crystals and mastic were used to create the paints. The molten wax is then applied with brush on the surface. Wax paintings were generally carved out on canvas, paper, stones and wood panels. Some sources of heat were then passed over the surface in order to fuse the paintings. Finally they were let to freeze in. Later on the paintings were polished with soft fabrics for the extra shine and glow. The wax painters preferred encaustic method for several reasons –

– The paintings remained unaffected to moisture and unfair weather conditions.

– They produced rich textures and were subject to changes.

– The wax enabled other substances to be collaged to the surface with its adhesiveness

Wax paintings involved the usage of various forms of tools. A kind of metal palette knife called ‘Cautarium’ was used to blend deposited wax colors on the surface. A delicate metal needle with a sharp end called ‘Cestrum’ was used to sketch the painting. ‘Pencillium’ was a kind of paintbrush that was used to apply the wax color on the required places. Modern wax painting has come up with advanced tools and scientific techniques that speeds up the method of painting and add more perfection and uniformity. Electric irons, heat lamps and hotplates are used on surfaces like papers, cards and thin fragments of wood. Variety of art forms from landscape arts to figurative and abstract arts is reflected in the wax paintings.

Cold Waxing is another kind of wax painting technique. Dioscorides and Pliny, the noted Roman historians first propounded the idea of cold wax painting. Here beeswax is heated in salt seawater and filtered through cheesecloth and left open under the natural exposure for the whitening. Then they are blended with sodium bicarbonate and given soap like shapes. The impurities are drained out with the help of cheesecloth. They are then washed off in lukewarm water and dried in the air. Finally they are heated with other natural elements and used to form painting.

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