my encaustic journey, so far…

 |  July 30, 2007

These past few months since I started to post more of my encaustic pieces I have received comments as well as emails asking me about the medium. I thought that I would just write a post about it.

The first time I learned about encaustics was back in high school in an art history class. I remember those big dark eyes of the Fayum Mummy portraits staring back at me from my textbook. Flash forward 10 years, I was at a First Thursday Art Walk at a gallery in Pioneer Square the first summer we moved here exactly 5 years ago. And I wish I remembered the artist, but I can’t. Her body of work was done in encaustics and I was just ensnared. I wanted to find out all that I could about this painting in wax and I would make comments to my husband, then boyfriend, about encaustics and how I wish I knew how to do it and how expensive the equipment is, etc. For two years I did this and for my christmas present he got me an encaustic set. My birthday is the day after Christmas and my mother-in-law got me Joanne Mattera’s book which gave me a broad introduction to the medium. But I wanted more!

I experimented on my own and probably did a lot of encaustic no-no’s like painting on top of acrylic undercoating, or painting on a gessoed canvas panel, etc. I still have those pieces and they’re doing fine! But I don’t do that anymore. Better not to risk it for archival reasons down the road.

I went to two different free 1-hour encaustic demos at Daneil Smith Art Supply store. One was by Megan Irving in which I learned about dipping paper into wax to get very cool effects. And also the simple idea of gluing watercolor paper to a board. Drawing or painting on it and then using encaustics on top.

The second demo was done by Patricia Seggebruch and I learned a lot in this 1 hour demo. A lot of my questions were answered and I definitely felt more comfortable with the medium. And I continued to explore on my own. But as I explored more, more questions and concerns popped up. Specifically questions regarding safety. Then I was pregnant and put my encaustics set away for majority of last year.

This past May I attended a 3 day workshop with Patricia in her studio to finally put all my questions to rest and so that I could feel really comfortable with making encaustic pieces and even more importantly, selling them.

I highly recommend taking a class or worshop in this medium. I learned a lot on my own, but safety issues are important. As well as setup.

My own setup at home is not the best possible scenario, but it is the best that I can do right now. I am lucky in that I have a huge window in my studio that overlooks the backyard. I placed a really strong fan that has reverse direction option in my window and blocked up the space around it. My work area is right in front of this fan. When I have my palette on and my skillet on, I turn the fan on high and it pulls the air out of my studio. I keep my door open to promote an open air circulation. I also have an air filter. I use this method when I am painting with oils as well.

My studio is in the basement, but with this system you can’t even smell anything in the rest of the house!

Patricia also recommended to keep yourself fairly hydrated while working and to just be smart while working with encaustics. Turn your palette down if you are going to be away for a bit. Better yet, turn it off or uplug it! I have gotten into the habit of just unplugging everything when I am done.

I am currently thinking about renting a studio space outside of my home, so I will have to see how I will set up somewhere else. But for now, this works pretty well.

I know that Linda Womack has a book out now on encaustics, but I hve not had a chance to read it yet. But it looks like it would be a great resource. And Patricia Seggebruch is working on a book that will probably be out next year. Not sure when though.

Hope this post helps anyone out interested in learning more about encaustics. I am just a baby in learning this medium, which is fun as I feel like I learn with each piece that I do. But I feel that way with all my paintings whether it’s in oil or acrylic. I just love to paint. Period.


  1. by Linda Womack on July 31, 2007  8:05 pm Reply

    Hi Bridgette,

    I was just reading your excellent blog and was happy to come across a mention of my new book, Embracing Encaustic. Thank you! The link you have for my name goes to an earlier post of yours. If you'd like to link to my web site it's at Thank so much! Linda Womack

  2. by bridgette on July 31, 2007  9:05 pm Reply

    hi linda, sorry for the link mixup. All fixed now!

  3. by leah on August 1, 2007  1:10 am Reply

    i had a really brief intro to encaustics this summer and next month i'm hoping to take a longer workshop. it would be so fun to do more work with this medium, but the brief intro wasn't enough for me.

  4. by cheryl on August 4, 2007  3:11 pm Reply

    I just bought Linda's book. My friend Melanie referred me to your site because I have been wanting to get into encaustic with photography. You have provided such great info! Thank you! I will be ollowing your adventures. :)

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