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Proper Care of Encaustic Paintings

Encaustic is a beeswax based paint that consists of beeswax, resin, and pigment. It is kept molten on a heated palette, applied to a surface and reheated to fuse the paint into a uniform enamel-like finish.

Here are some things to know about the care of encaustic paintings:

After completion of an encaustic painting there is a curing process of a few months. During this time moisture will work its way to the surface and cause a slight haze. If your painting looks dull, or gets dirty it can be wiped clean with water and buffed (gently, firmly but not overly vigorously) to a high gloss using a soft lint-free cloth such as cotton. This sheen dulls over time and can be brought back by repeating the process. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass. The painting is stable under normal temperatures. Indirect sunlight is perfectly fine, however, I would not recommend direct sunlight (actually direct sunlight is inadvisable for any type of painting but even more so for wax-based paintings). Extreme cold can make the wax more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Again, extreme temperatures are bad for any fine art, not just encaustics. Other inadvisable locations within your house would be any spot near heat sources (such as fireplaces, over the stove in the kitchen, etc). Only direct heat or temperatures in excess of 130 degrees may begin to soften the work. Very hot days can soften the surface very slightly, but will cause no real damage to the painting. Do not leave an encaustic painting in trunk of your car on a hot day. Even with these measures, if the wax on your painting does soften, and/or dulling occurs, wait until the painting has hardened (by moving it to a cooler location) and buff it with a soft cloth. Always protect the surface and edges of the encaustic painting when moving it. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be easily scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly. Encaustic paintings are extremely durable due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Because of this it will not deteriorate, it will not yellow, and it will not darken. Examples of encaustic paintings have survived from the Greek and Roman empires and are still as vibrant and colorful today as they were when they were painted.

If you have any additional questions on the care of an encaustic painting of mine you are interested in...or have already purchased from me, please feel free to contact me.

 

 

 


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