Sunday, October 4, 2009


What about learning a new medium? Is it a dodge, a stalling for time when you fear you might be running out of ideas? I don't know. I'm hoping it's truly a worthwhile way to find some new working methods that will help when returning to oils or lead in a whole new direction.

Going to
take an encaustic workshop taught by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch whose encaustic work, entitled Shellacing 2 is above. In the Artist's Handbook, Ralph Mayer describes this ancient technique that's undergoing a revival, especially now that portable, cheap heating elements are available. A good deal of our information about the methods and use is found in the writings of Pliny, who wrote in the 1st century A.D.

In his writings, Pliny described the painting of mythological scenes on panels, portraits created with wax on wood, and the weatherproofing and decorating of war ships. By adding color to the wax, the painters could create tinted effects and because wax is a preservative, the work would last. Encaustic paintings do not yellow and the wax is impervious to moisture, unlike tempera.

The method is thought to have originated with the Greeks as far back as the 5th century B.C., so it was already 4 hundred years old by the time Pliny describes the work.

Pliny would have been a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist had he lived today, or at least a National Enquirer star. Apparently he was so curious to check out the explosion of Vesuvius that he got into a boat to move in closer and investigate. The fumes were too much for him and he died of asphixiation.


  1. To try something new is to stay alive! Or, to feel your alive-ness :) I believe trying new things informs the doing of the rest of our lives-can't wait to have you in the workshop!

  2. Me, too. Even if an artist doesn't completely switch mediums, I think you always absorb something new that finds a way to seep in and influence you in your usual medium.