Wednesday, January 04, 2012


A caption on page D5 of the January 4, 2012, edition of the Wall Street Journal reads, “Part of an encaustic icon of Christ from between the sixth and seventh centuries.”

Encaustic comes from the Greek verb encauein (ἐγκαίειν), meaning “to burn in.” It refers to a method of painting that depends on firing the art piece. One ancient method used wax colors, then fixed them in place by means of fire.

In a wider sense, the word also applies to any process that relies on burning in the colors, such as enameling objects or painting pottery before firing. Bricks and tiles formed by using different colored clays also count.

Today, many abstract artists and mixed-media artists continue the tradition.

SIDEBAR: Getting Started in Encaustic Painting

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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