What makes them different?
Encaustic painting is one of the world's oldest art forms! The earliest applications of encaustic wax paint was done by the artists of Ancient Greece -- hence, where the Greek word "enkaustikos" meaning "to burn in".
At Enkaustikos, we are dedicated to creating professional artist grade colors and use only the finest ingredients, regardless of costs. Our paints contain US Pharmaceutical (USP) Grade Beeswax, Damar Resin, and Artist Grade Pigments.
USP Grade Beeswax is a more expensive beeswax than Purified Beeswax but we use USP for a very good reason. USP Beeswax is a natural beeswax that goes through a heat filtering process that removes pollen and other natural adulterants that honey bees bring back to the honeycomb. This a chemical-free filtering process and it produces a highly refined beeswax without the use of bleaches. By using the USP Beeswax in our paints, it eliminates chemicals and bleaches from the artist's encaustic palette. USP Beeswax is the same type of beeswax that is used in the medical and cosmetics industry.
Another natural ingredient that we use is Damar Resin. This is actually hardened tree sap. We heat filter this to remove bark and other debris that may have been trapped inside the sticky sap. It is important to note that we do not use damar varnish because it is made with turpentine, which is not only flammable but also harmful to breathe. We make sure to use only the finest Damar Resin in our paints and this, in combination with the USP beeswax, produces our Enkaustikos Wax Medium. To the Wax Medium, we add the highest quality pigments.
When it comes to selecting pigments, we select pigments after doing extensive research and testing. There are many different factors that we consider before selecting a pigment for our color line. Every artist considers factors like tinting strength and lightfastness when selecting their colors but, artists who work in encaustic also have to factor in heat stability. Encaustic colors will be heated typically in the range of 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there will be times when an artist may inadvertently overheat an area with a hot air gun which could cross the 200 degree barrier. Consequently, artists working in this medium must be concerned with the stability of their pigments under every possible condition. Therefore, we select pigments based on whether they are lightfast and engineered to withstand the heated encaustic process. We select only the best pigments suitable. Through our research, testing, and commitment to quality colors we have added beautiful colors like Bismuth Yellow and avoided colors like Hansa Yellow which are not heat stable.
Our Milling System
Our milling operation utilizes advanced technology to shear pigment to their ultimate particle size. Our equipment has taken paint making to a whole new level in both color and quality. We are manufacturing a paint that is richer, creamier, cleaner, and more vibrant than ever before possible. With our milling system, we are able to bring out the true personality of each pigment used.
Comparing Hand Made to Professionally Milled Paint
The best way to explain why our milling system is so important is by showing a side-by-side comparison of hand mixed paint to paint mill on our state-of-the-art equipment. Until the availability of professionally milled paint, artists had to make their own encaustic paint. Making your own paint is not only time consuming but results are inconsistent. In addition, artists are working with powdered pigments so extra health precautions should be exercised. Today’s artist working in encaustic are more like acrylic, oil and watercolor artists who prefer to spend their valuable time painting rather than making paint. The images below offer good reasons to use professional quality paint, especially if you use your paint for glazing techniques.
Hand Made Paint
The above image is a sample of encaustic paint mixed by hand with powdered pigments. Notice how you can see grit in the paint, its actually clumps of pigment. We selected Alizarin Crimson for this exercise because it is one of the most difficult to make and one of our most popular colors. This clumping of pigments often occurs when you mix your own paint as well because the pigment particles are simply not being milled as finely as they could be. You could stir these for days and not get better results.
Our Milled Paint
The above image shows Alizarin Crimson milled on our equipment. Notice how finely ground the paint is milled, the clumps of pigment have been sheared to tiny particles and evenly dispersed in our wax medium. Our paint is smooth, clean, and creamy in comparison. Plus, the color itself appears more vibrant and rich. Our mission is to make the finest quality encaustic paint. We want to make encaustic paint that is on a par with the finest oil colors made by Winsor & Newton, Gamblin and Old Holland.
Why so many single pigment paints?
Many customers have asked how our color line compares to other brands. We offer more single pigment paints than any other company! Enkaustikos currently mills 88 colors, 75 of which are single pigment paints. We could have easily expanded our color line by just mixing together a few existing colors to offer a larger range but we feel that artists can easily mix their own colors if given the best single pigment paints to begin with. Why is a single pigment paint so important? The main reason is that with a single pigment paint an artist will have the greatest opportunity to create the most intense, clean, and luminous color mixes. A good rule to follow when it comes to color mixing is to use the least number of pigments to create your custom mix. The more pigments you use to make a custom mix the more likely you are of making a muddy and dull paint. If you want to "gray down" a paint color, your best option is to mix compliment single pigment paints together. In this way, your grays will be rich and radiant. Using single pigment colors are the key to producing the best mixes.
Our pigment load
We are dedicated to providing our customers with the most beautiful, rich, vibrant encaustic colors available. In order to do this, we heavily pigment our colors with the finest artist-grade pigments. Many customers have asked about our paint's pigment load, therefore we've posted a paint swatch.
The swatches below feature the color, Burnt Sienna. Using a marker, we placed some black stripes on the board and then painted over the top with the color to help show the strength of the pigment load. The less visible the black lines are, the more pigmented the paint is! The very left of the image is Burnt Sienna painted in full strength and then progressing to the right of the image, the color is extended with equal parts Wax Medium. That means, the first swatch is full strength, the second swatch is 50% paint, 50% Wax Medium, and then it continues getting mixed down 50% each swatch in the line. Burnt Sienna is considered to have moderate tinting strength. You can imagine how many times you can extend a paint with a high tinting strength pigment.