Heather King took out second place in our first Mad Box Challenge with her abstract encaustic painting, created using hot wax and Micador Oil Pastels. Encaustic Painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated wax to which coloured pigments are added, before being applied to a surface to dry.

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Step1: Melt the wax

To start, grate clear wax into a pot/saucepan and melt on a low heat. For best results, gently break the wax down in a double boiler or bain maree. Once it has reached a liquid base, pour the wax into smaller foil trays. These will form a pallete to which colours will be added individually
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Step 2: Colour the wax

To add colour, float the individual wax trays on a pan of boiling water and continue to simmer on a low heat. Add oil pastels of your colour choice, blending as appropriate until you’ve reached your desired shade. Be sure to stir and mix the pastels through thoroughly for a nice smooth consistency.
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Step 3: Start painting

Once the oil pastels have fully integrated into the wax it is time to start painting. Turn the heat down but keep the temperature high enough that the wax stays liquid. You can use any tool to apply the wax to your surface – a wooden skew, old brushes, metal bristles – anything that can hold the waxy pigment.
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Step 4: Take care of your brushes

A word of warning. Once traditional brushes are used with wax, they can’t be used with regular paint again. For best results, a brush can only be used with a single colour, and they should not be mixed, so it is recommended that you keep a specific brush for each colour. Brushes can be washed in clean hot water.
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Step 5: Layer colour and texture

Painting with wax is about building layers of colour and texture which combine to provide the fascinating, vibrant, translucent textures which are on display in Heather’s piece.
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Step 6: Let wax dry and polish

Once the wax has set hard, it can be polished with a soft cloth for a gloss finish. To rework wax once it has set, it can be melted with a hot air gun which will make it soft enough to rework.
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About the Artist:

Heather King studied Fine Art at Portsmouth Polytechnic, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. In January 2008, she established the Artspace7 artist studio with her friend Karen Foley, a combined workshop where they produce and exhibit artworks. Check them out at http://artspace7.com.au.
Download this info as a takeaway PDF