Since we’re edging into Christmas, I thought I’d mention a couple of great books for encaustic artists.
A list of resources is posted under a separate tab (above) but it is by no means complete. New books are coming out all the time and artists are always busy creating new masterpieces. If you come across anything you think would be of interest to other encaustic artists, please comment and provide links. I will be adding and updating as new things come to light.
But here are a couple of books about the history of encaustic art and materials that I really enjoyed.
Taylor, William Benjamin Sarsfield. A Manual of Fresco and Encaustic Painting. London: Chapman Hall. 1843. The edition I have of this book is a facsimile of the 1843 publication where the original pages are photocopied and bound as a new book. Some words disappear at the end of the lines and some blocks of text sit crooked on the page. But that only adds to the charm. Mr. Taylor is a staunch supporter of the noble Greek style embodied in the methods and materials of encaustic painting. He bemoans the treacherous effect that Rococo gilding, gems, artistic fripperies, and oil painting have on art lovers with weak minds. The book is mostly about fresco painting, with whole chapters devoted to fighting damp in walls–the death of fresco in those drafty old English manor homes. But there are some wonderful descriptions of ancient encaustic murals and how the Greeks prepped big walls for wax, as well as the battle waged by the French Academy to resurrect encaustic after it was buried in the sands of time.
Nice overview of the field:
Stavitsky, Gail. Waxing Poetic: Encautic Art in America. Montclair, New Jersey: The Montclair Art Museum. 1997. This is a museum catalog written for an exhibition of encaustic art at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey in 1999. The catalog contains three essays: the first by Danielle Rice, Ph.D.is “Encaustic History Revivals: A History of Discord and Discovery.” Here’s where I learned why the eighteenth century French Academy was so eager to revive encaustic painting–that corrupt and effusive Rococo Art and its terrible lack of morals. They thought they could turn the tide of art history by re-introducing encaustic art and the high aesthetic standards of the ancient Greeks. Nice try. But from that point on, despite the, er, cleansing effects of the French Revolution, encaustic has never been forgotten again.
The second essay in Waxing Poetic, by Gail Stavitsky, takes the history of encaustic art through the twentieth century. We learn about early twentieth century experimentation, and track encaustic art through Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, and later artists. Stavitsky discusses a humble, out of print book called Encaustic Materials and Methods by Frances Pratt and Becca Fizell from 1949 that did more for documenting and standardizing encaustic as we know it than anyone else. (See my earlier post)
The third essay in Waxing Poetic, entitled “Encaustic as a Contemporary Paint Medium” is by none other than Richard Frumess himself, founder of R&F Handmade Paint.
Waxing Poetic is out of print but many used copies seem to be available. Check your local library.