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The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax [Paperback]

Joanne Mattera
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 34.95
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Book Description

June 1 2001
Encaustic is a waxed-based painting medium characterized by luminous color and a lush surface. It's an ancient art, dating as far back as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, and today is enjoying a revival.

Here is the first comprehensive guide available on mastering this beautiful yet demanding medium. In The Art of Encaustic Painting, readers will learn surefire ways to achieve vibrant color and create surfaces that look as light as a wash or as densely textured as impasto. They will see how to produce effects from abstract to figurative to minimal. Finally, they will discover dozens of clear, step-by-step directions detailing how to use these various encaustic techniques in their own art.

This remarkable reference also includes 200 attractive full-color photographs of the author's own work, as well as stunning examples by such premier encaustic artists as Jasper Johns, Arthur Dove, and Nancy Graves.

Frequently Bought Together

The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax + Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax + The Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed-Media Art
Price For All Three: CDN$ 61.72

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From Library Journal

According to Roman historian Pliny the Elder, encaustic was used as early as the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. It is made by melting beeswax with a small amount of resin and then adding pigment while the mixture is still molten. The artist works quickly out of the pot, for the wax begins to harden as soon as it leaves the heat source. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jasper Johns was virtually the sole practitioner of encaustic. Today, thousands of artists have caught on to this ancient, luminous medium, yet most art lovers are still unaware of it. Mattera provides a fascinating history of the art and several excellent technical chapters on waxes, pigments, papers, brushes, etc. Studio safety takes high priority since, unlike quiet media like watercolor, this one brings with it the possibility of studio fires and wax burns. Though no book can capture the mutable incandescence of encaustic, this one provides enough inspiration and solid technical advice to kindle the interest of any artist. For a good history of the medium in America, see Gail Stavitsky's Waxing Poetic: Encaustic Art in America (Rutgers Univ., 2000).
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Joanne Mattera is the author of several books, including Navajo Techniques for Today's Weaver (1975) and Rugweaving: Techniques for Two Harness (1979), both for Watson-Guptill. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed information, great gallery April 29 2002
I have long been fascinated by the technique of encaustic painting and this book fills a void in references on the subject. It contains a vast array of detailed information on everything from making your own paints to exhibiting your artwork.
The book starts out with a history of encaustic art. A gallery section then showcases four different portfolios of art including representation, color and pattern, dimension and modular work. Captions include artist, title, materials used, size and date introduced. Artwork is displayed in a variety of sizes. Some of my favorites are a beautiful face by Tony Scherman and the organic looking "Miasma Morph" by Sylvia Netzer, made of wax with pigment fired on ceramic.
The next sections focuses on encaustic materials. It starts out with details on the wax types. A reference chart of all the wax types, their source, composition, properties, melting point, flash point, color range and average price is here too. Information on heating equipment and well as melting and fusing the wax are next. Then pigments and making your own paints is covered. Selecting and caring for brushes is also here. There is even a great section on using materials safely.
Painting preparation and techniques follow. These include information on substrates and grounds with step-by-step instructions on how to make your own. Recipes of rabbit-skin glue and gesso, as well as tips on using them are explained as well. Then techniques and tips for textured, smooth, scraped and incised surfaces accompanied by example artwork are given. There are also details on collage, mixed media, creating artwork on paper and making large-scale pieces.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Jim
My comments are those of an amateur, self-taught, new-to-encaustic, artist.
I found Joanne Mattera's book to contain more practical information on this exciting medium than any other source so far. The sections on "Preparation and Technique", "Materials for Encaustic", and to a lesser extent "Preparing and Exhibiting Your Work" are especially beneficial.
There is plenty of help on mixing-your-own wax, tools, supplies, and ideas. It is not a Step 1-2-3 How To Paint book.
The "Porfolios" chapter leads you to believe encaustic is only for the abstract artist. She addresses this issue by stating, "Only a small percentage of contemporary encaustic painting is pictorial, etc...", and with the inclusion of a couple non-abstract images. I get the impression most works are by a select clique of fellow artists. As I paint mostly abstracts myself, the examples were fine. However, the Portfolio would have conveyed this mediums versatility more completely if works of impressionists, such as Dorothy Masom and others, would have been included.
It is a book every aspiring encaustic painter should have. Along with "Waxing Poetic:Encaustic Art in America during the Twentieth Century" by Gail Stavitsky. ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book with interesting visuals... May 23 2007
I enjoyed this book.

It was written for artists about an artistic method. I enjoyed the examples of encaustic paintings provided, but I did find the "instructions" a bit buried. Perhaps because I was too interested in looking at the photos to read!

I do recommend this book for any artist interested in expanding their knowledge base, or their oeuvre. I would not recommend this book as a beginner's guide to encaustic painting.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Intriguing July 16 2002
By Mary G.
Mattera very concisely defines the ins and outs of encaustic painting and provides an excellent point of reference for both beginning and more advanced artists wanting to expand their horizons on the subject. Also notable was the paintings represented in the beginning of the book that showed myriad techniques and styles employed today in modern encaustic painting. Beautifully done.
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