Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Bringing a 3,000 year old art form into the present

Posted 5/12/2012 1:37:00 PM

Today I began my second day at Artisphere in Greenville by attending a demonstration by Patricia Kilburg in encaustic art, a centuries-old artistic technique that uses dyed, hot wax to create paintings with exceptional depth and texture.

Kilburg explained that one of the things she loves about working with encaustic is that it’s an art form where “artists are taking something that was done 3,000 years ago and making it work today.” In 100 A.D., encaustics were used for Fayum mummy portraits; today artists like Kilburg create beautiful, rich abstract pieces that are utterly modern.

The artist began by showing us how she warms the pigmented beeswax on a pancake griddle while she works. She then created a quick painting of tree limbs as a sample of the technique. After applying the wax, she applied heat with a heat gun to seal the layer, bonding it to the canvas below. She then demonstrated how you could add additional pigments to the wax using pastels or Indian ink, bonding them with heat.

The result, even in the sample that she created in less than half an hour, was lovely. Her finished works, displayed nearby, were wonderfully layered and complex. The encaustic technique creates an unusual and enchanting finish for the paintings.

If you are interested in learning more about encaustic, Kilburg is teaching a two-day workshop on the technique in July at the Greenville County Museum of Art. The workshop will take place on July 20-21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and costs $129. For more information click here.