We’re pleased to have Jill Skupin Burkholder joining us again this year to teach one of our F295 hands-on workshops! Jill last taught with us in 2011 when she lead a full class into the beauty and depth of the bromoil process! This year we’re excited to work with her again to offer a weekend workshop on encaustic techniques. We’ve included a few images in this piece, but it’s important to keep in mind that the beauty and depth of how the wax impacts the imagery can really only be seen in person! We recently had a chance to sit down with Jill to discuss the technique, the workshop, and what draws her to working with wax!
F295: How, when, and why did you get started with the encaustic technique?
Jill Burkholder: I took my first encaustic class in 2008 and quickly discovered there was a lack of information about how to combine wax and photography. The process offered endless possibilities from a painter’s perspective but no one seemed to exalt the photographic image. The materials were so inviting and offered such a seductive image enhancement that I began to explore the process on my own.
F295: How does the encaustic technique change the way the image is seen?
JB: The surface of an encaustic piece has an almost “skin-like” quality that is captivating. As more layers are added, the details become subtle and the translucent nature gives a dreamlike quality to the image. Encaustic methods are excellent for building mixed media pieces and layering images.
F295: What are the creative possibilities when using the encaustic technique?
JB: The idea is simple — coating hot wax onto a surface and heating it with a heat gun. From that simplicity comes endless possibilities ranging from the elegant surface of a smooth wax coating to enhanced textures with color pigments. You’ll learn how to create all these looks in a basic encaustic class.
F295: What facilities are needed to use the process on your own?
JB: When working with hot wax, you need good ventilation, an electric skillet and a heat gun. You do not need a darkroom. Encaustic techniques are a kind of image interpretation or enhancement that can be done on any tabletop.
F295: Why would one want to explore this process?
JB: Historically, the combination of beeswax and pigment goes back to the decorated Greek warships mentioned by Homer. There’s an attraction to working with your hands using such ancient materials and when you combine it with your own images, either digitally or classically made, that’s powerful!