By Darla McCammon
The artist we featured last week, Kathy Stutzman, has been creating encaustic artwork. This lovely aqua creation is one of her pieces. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, uses beeswax that is heated and mixed with various color pigments that are usually in powder form. Once heated and fused with color, the substance is applied to wood, canvas and some other materials depending on the artist’s preference. Since the artist is working with heat, special brushes or heated metal applicators work quickly to apply the substance before it cools. Intriguing patterns and designs can evolve to the delight of spectators.
Encaustic painting has a long history and is known for the Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits that were created around 100 to 300 BC. The word “encaustic” is a Greek word and means “to burn or to be fused with heat.” The Greeks also used wax and resin on their ships. Since beeswax resists moisture, it became a popular way to seal and preserve not only boats but to preserve what were called Fayum portraits. Greek painters carried their encaustic trade to Egypt where they painted portraits on flat boards. These were used in tombs to honor mummies and Egyptian dignitaries. Unbelievably about 900 of these are still well-preserved and in museums today, which is a testimony to their preservation quality. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a number of these funeral portraits if you wish to see them in person.
The fall of the Roman Empire also caused the fall of encaustic painting. It was not until Diego Rivera of Mexico began experimenting with this technique that interest was revived. We have seen a more recent resurgence of this painting technique, as Stutzman and her friends can testify. New technology has made it helpful for artists to be creative. Hot plates, electric irons and other tools have made it easier to create using the encaustic technique. We thank Stutzman for sharing her enthusiasm for encaustic painting. For those of you curious about experimenting in this unusual art form, the Internet can provide much information and instruction.
Stutzman’s website is artplusfaith.com.
Upcoming and Current Events
- Susan Ring will have a meet-and-greet at City Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14. Stop and enjoy free refreshments with her and look at a painting you can purchase for your valentine.
- Also currently on view at City Hall is a beautiful quilt being auctioned for a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser. The auction is at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at the Heritage Room in Winona Lake. It’s $5 to attend.
- The Avon Waters gallery is now open at Plymouth Heartland through Feb. 28.
- “The Texture of Color” will be open through most of 2020 at The Brennan Room at the Gallery at Rua, Warsaw.