Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Painting in Fayum Style With Encaustic and Cold Tools

This is the fifth year I have hosted students from Smith College Museum's "Historic Methods & Materials" class in my studio. I teach them a little about encaustic with a Power Point about encaustic's history and then they experiment with encaustic painting. This year we spent one afternoon painting in the Fayum style using a four- color palette of encaustic paint based on four mineral colors: red ochre, yellow ochre, white (powdered gypsum or calcium carbonate) and black (ash).  (For more detail, see my 2010 blog post about the Homage to Fayum workshop taught by Francisco Benitez.)

Students worked from color copies of a Fayum portrait owned by Smith College Museum. They painted their portraits on small plywood panels that I had prepared with a greenish-black encaustic gesso. Using small brushes and fusing with small tools and palette knives that they heated by holding them on electric palettes, they each made their interpretation of the portrait. You could have heard a pin drop in the studio as they intently worked.


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