Cold wax medium painting is a painting technique based on wax, normally beeswax, mixed with a resin as hardener because beeswax alone is rather soft. Cold wax painting technique does use SOLVENT, therefore we do not use HEAT to melt the medium.
To learn how to properly choose the solvent check this link
Some people call this technique cold encaustic probably using the term encaustic as an overall term implying the use of beeswax. For clarification on the different beeswax painting techniques here the link.
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Cold wax medium characteristics
- This painting technique is fully compatible with the authentic encaustic painting, hence there are many artists using both given the complementary properties that both techniques have.
- Cold wax medium is very easy to prepare but requires heating solvent,which implies toxicity and burn risk.
- Painting with cold wax medium is very easy, but you will need extra ventilation to avoid inhaling solvent vapours.
- Fairly long (compared with authentic encaustic) drying times allow for delicate brushstrokes and detail painting. Depending on resin content it can dry completely between 7-15 days. If you add oil to the mixture the drying times extend to several weeks to allow for oil oxidation, namely “curation”.
- The medium has great luminosity & transparency
- Is very stable to light and ageing
- Any tool common to other techniques like pincel, brush, knife, brayer etc can be used
- You can get best results if you use rigid and porous supports.
- You can use the cold wax medium for sizing panels for later encaustic use.
Cold wax medium use
- Using cold wax medium for sizing panels requires some time to dry but you get rid of the tedious pinholes and bubbles that appear sizing wooden panels with encaustic medium.
- The combination of cold wax and authentic encaustic opens a whole new horizon of possibilities. This new landscape is in this very moment being explored by pioneer artists like Rebecca Crowell
- There are not many books specific on the subject, I am personally very exited about the announced book by the artists Rebecca Crowell & Jerry McLaughlin.
- If you want to know more about the artists that use this medium, you can check Lisa Pressman, Jerry McLaughlin, Rebecca Crowell, or Manuel Huertas Torrejón
How to prepare cold wax medium recipes
There are not many written references on how to prepare the medium, and every artist has his/her own way of preparing the medium, each one of them with pros and cons that we will try to clarify.
1.- Standard preparation:
This way of preparing the medium first mixes the beeswax, the resin and the solvent in a double boiler and then starts applying heat with permanent stirring until the mix is homogeneous. You can see this preparation in the linked video. (in Spanish)
- PROS: It is very easy to prepare
- CONS. The time stirring is at least 20 min and you need severe inhaling protection.
2.- Splitted preparation:
First you prepare 2 components, beeswax-solvent paste to a butter-like consistency & resin-solvent paste to a honey-like consistency. Then you mix the two compounds each time you fabricate the color according to your preferences and pigment requirements
- PROS: Very flexible to use
- CONS: The time stirring is at least 20 min (twice) and you need severe inhaling protection
The 2.0 Cold wax medium recipe that you will love
You prepare this cold wax paste melting first “authentic” encaustic medium and then adding the solvent.
Melt the medium in a narrow mouth glass jar with lid (marmalade for instance) introduced in a pot filled with water, let the water boil.
Prepare you a nice cup of coffee.
Once the medium is totally melted, lift the jar and put it aside. Go outside with the jar, the lid, a small wooden stirrer and the solvent. Pour the solvent in the jar, stir 10- 15 seconds and close the lid. Shake the jar and let it cool.
Enjoy your coffee
You will obtain a peerless cold wax medium to a Philadelphia cheese consistency. This cold wax medium is very easy to prepare, you need to be very short time in contact with solvent vapours, therefore you will not need special protection equipment. You prepare the medium in the same container as you will be using it afterwards, no need of cleaning.
To prepare the colors you can use dry pigments, oil tubes, oil bars or oil pastels. Please bear in mind that if you introduce oil in the mixture you will slow down the drying process.
If you want to download the pertaining parametric recipe please sign up for the Modernist Encaustic Club
This post is also available in: Spanish