Encaustics have been around for quite awhile. At least 2000 years. At that time the Egyptians used encaustics to paint portraits on their mummies. Unsurprisingly, they still exist and colors are still brilliant.

HOW IS IT DONE (to visit my site, click on image)

Set up includes:

  • griddle,
  • metal pans,
  • natural hair brushes like hake brushes,
  • beeswax medium,
  • pigments,
  • torch with mapp gas or heat gun,
  • torch starter
  • paper towels,
  • and your substrate, a hard surface.

Why a hard surface?

Wax is not flexible. Linen and canvas stretch and tighten with the weather. You don’t want the wax to crack.


You begin by setting the heat to 200°. When the wax is liquid, brush on your surface. Put two layers down. You can brush across and down. Unless you are interested in a smooth finish. I usually begin with smooth layers. Each layer is fused to the layer underneath by heating. It cools in minutes, so you can continue to add layers. You can add texture any time by adding collage materials. You can prepare them by dipping in wax, or placing them directly on the warm wax. And you can add texture by scratching into the surface.


Encaustics are naturally glossy. However, until they are totally cured (about 6 mos- 1 yr) the may get dull. You can polish the surface with a lint-free rag to keep its high gloss appearance.




My Queendom for a Tree. encaustic painting, 6X6, by Jude Lobe. $140

My Queendom for a Tree. encaustic painting, 6X6, by Jude Lobe. $140

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”

 ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die

It happened quite unintentionally. Me creating with encaustics, that is. A friend wanted to know how to do encaustics, as she was considering pursuing it. I told her I wasn’t doing encaustics at this time, only cold wax & oil, but had the equipment and would get it out and show her the process.

And so I did. I pulled out the heating tray, the various small metal containers of mediums in which pigments of color were added, the large container holding the encaustic medium and array of natural brushes, each designated to their own colored container. Oh, and then there is the torch. Some of the colored pigments I brought back from a trip to Rousillon, Provence, France, known for their beautiful ochres. Others were given to me by a friend who brought them back from Peru, where she purchased them in a street market.

     I proceeded to grab a small 6X6X1.5″ gessoed board and began to brush the hot wax across it. After two thin coats, I then torched it, moving the torch around until all the wax glistened to fuse the layers. As it cooled, a smooth, flat surface appeared.
     This process went on for several layers. I also added some texture by layering hemp cord across the board and lightly pressing it into the soft wax. Again, back to the hot wax and brushing, first in one direction, then another, then torching it to glistening state. As the layers of color and texture built up, I would scratch into the surface where the painting was screaming for it. Finally, I figured the painting was complete. My friend decided it was too messy and is going to do cold wax & oil.
     Since I had all the equipment out and had one piece begun. . well, I just got hooked. I guess you might say, my spirit became ignited and it kindled a new desire to work in encaustics. I’m on fire. (ok, enough with the puns) I can’t help myself now. But they are all small pieces at this time. I may expand to a larger size for pieces for my opening in June at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.



SEEING SIMPLICITY, Cold Wax & Oil, 18X24, by Jude Lobe

SEEING SIMPLICITY, Cold Wax & Oil, 18X24, by Jude Lobe

If someone were to ask me what I did last week or even yesterday, I couldn’t tell them. The day and week were filled with a host of extraneous errands that keep me from my list of want-to-do’s. But there isn’t any one thing I could actually say I did that made me feel I accomplished something.

I have goals and things I want to accomplish. My ultimate goal is to declutter, down-size, simplify my life and complete an artwork every day. But little extraneous “stuff” always seems to pop-up keeping me from achieving my goals. I truly think that if Einstein were still around, he would have proven that time is, in fact, moving faster. There seemed to be so much more time when I was in school, to think. To just sit and read and think.

So what does all that have to do with this cold wax and oil painting above? Well, I had turned off my cell phone and headed for the studio the other day. This cold wax and oil painting began as just basically playing around with drawing and coloring. Several layers of varying colors were squeegied on the board. Usually I alternate a light layer and dark layer. Then I began by taking a potter’s tool, a stick with smooth, somewhat pointed end, and drew lines with no pre-meditation of thought. Afterwards, I picked up my brush and  mixed different color oil paints with wax and painted in the shapes. Feeling quite relaxed with no real theme in mind, I continued adding textures, designs, and after awhile I hung the piece on the wall and I noticed the window.

It seemed to me to illuminate my feelings of late, where I have the sensation I am so busy but can’t really enumerate my accomplishments. The mood of this painting exactly expresses my sense of being overloaded and engaged in many activities that do not yield me the satisfaction or triumph of accomplishment. Oh, how I would love to be able to turn off the incoming traffic, ie: cell phones, daily routines of preparing meals, and so on, and just read, paint and garden. Like that crow peering through the window, I’m seeking simplicity in my life.

I wonder if anyone else has those feelings of wanting to escape to a quieter environment.

LAST FRUIT: cold wax and oil


LAST FRUIT: Eye on the Prize, cold wax and oil by Jude Lobe

This piece entitled, “Last Fruit” grew into thoughts of how man has misused, unappreciated, devoured, drained, wasted, worn out (well, you get the picture), the fruits of nature. But then as it neared completion, the unanswered question of ‘what do we do when resources are limited’ appeared. It perhaps will lead to a new companion piece.

When beginning a cold wax and oil piece, I have no thoughts or ideas in mind. I begin by laying down layers of color onto a prepared cradled wood panel. My palette is drawn from nature. I love the colors of the ochre clays found in Rousillon, Provence, France. I lay a few layers down first so I have a cushion in which to impress textures. Then I leave it overnight and come back to it the next day and continue adding layers of color applied with a brayer, squeegee or palette knife. Along the way I add more textures, scratch and scrape the surface and at some point it starts interacting with me. An idea will begin to form.

Working in cold wax and oil has so many benefits. For some reason, the oil paint mixed with the cold wax has less offensive odor. The finish is a lovely matte, that when buffed has a silky look to it. And the most wonderful thing about it is it dries to touch in 1-3 days. When I finish a painting, I can take it to the gallery in 3 or 4 days, rather than 3 months waiting for an oil painting to cure. The cold wax and oil painting will continue to cure, but it is dry and odorless in a few days.

The cold wax and oil painting, Last Fruit, is now in the exhibit 22 SQUARED at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, 121 N. Churton St., Hillsborough, NC. 919-732-5001. Come GET SQUARED. Jan 27 – Feb 23.

Click image to visit site.


MEDITATION, Cold Wax and Oil painting by Jude Lobe

With Cold Wax & Oil, you are building up layers. The beginning layers allow a cushion to impress your base textures some of which may or may not be visible in the final stages. You can obscure some parts of layers with painting over with brushes, brayers, scrapers, etc., and reveal layers beneath by scraping, applying solvents, scratching (sgraffito), etc.

It’s a process of adding and subtracting. Along the way, your vision will begin to appear.

You can add materials like fabrics, metal, papers, and so on and embed them in the layers or make it more 3-D.

To me, working in Cold Wax and Oil represents the history of a life that becomes the compilation of bits and pieces of one’s past experiences.

This piece on the left includes an enameled piece of copper, a patinaed copper and etched copper (the water lily).  Click on the image to visit my website. And feel free to comment on this blog.


R U Frackin’ Me, Cold Wax & Oil, with Copper, painting by Jude Lobe.

Hydraulic fracturing is the fracturing of rock by a pressurized liquid. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures, along which fluids such as gas, petroleum, uranium-bearing solution, and brine water may migrate to the well.

Fracking has been in the news a lot recently, most recently with the water contamination in West Virginia. Environmental groups alleged that the spill is part of an increasingly dangerous chemical threat called “fracking” – using chemicals to mine hard rock for oil and natural gas. Investigators in West Virginia found that the released chemical (4-methylcyclohexane methanol )had traveled through the ground and into the Elk River, leaching into the water just a mile above the West Virginia American Water Company plant that supplies large parts of the region with clean water.

The chemical was legally stored ib tanks located upstream from the drinking water intake. It was contained in “rusty and old” tanks. Safety concerns related to MCHM and other chemicals used by the coal industry have been raised before.

Fracking could possibly exercised safely, if, and that’s a big IF, there was regular enforcement and safe restrictions applied. However, the local governments and US congress don’t seem to want to put any pressures on those companies that made significant contributions to their elections, in my opinion. Which, to me, doesn’t seem to make much sense, because they drink, bathe, and cook with the same water the rest of us do. You would think they’d want to be sure there would be no contamination and if something did occur like in West Virginia, there was a plan in place to deal with the disaster.

So all this talk about Fracking had me working on the above piece, which I call “R U FRACKIN’ ME“. It is a Cold Wax & Oil painting of an abstract landscape at the top, with heat-torched and forged copper beneath and river rocks affixed to the copper and substrate. It is presently displayed at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, Hillsborough, NC. Hillsborough Gallery is now featuring a show, RIVER, which displays artworks from Orange County Artist Guild members that were part of the book, RIVER. Original artwork from the book and the book are on sale. All proceeds go to the Haw River Assembly.

The Haw River Assembly is a 501(c)(3) non-profit citizens’ group founded in 1982 to restore and protect the Haw River and Jordan Lake, and to build a watershed community that shares this vision The scenic 110 mile Haw River is at the headwaters of the Cape Fear River Basin.


The easy way to do it? Hang a large landscape painting in the room. Give the illusion of space with a landscape painting that has a distant horizon. It will become your focal point and if you are in the mood to change your environment, you can use the colors in the artwork to determine your wall colors, accent pillows, etc.

Exhibit at Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, Hillsborough, NC.

  • STEP 1: Visit an art gallery and buy the work of art that speaks to you. Art is literacy of the heart. It is functional. You will use it every single day. Every time you look at it, it will lift your spirits.Look up  local galleries in your area and visit the gallery. Enjoy walking through. Are there pieces there that make you stop and gaze? Well, ask about the artist. If it’s a local artists owned gallery you may even have the artist there welcoming you into the gallery. Think the price is too high? Ask about paying on time. Many galleries and artists offer payment plans. You know how time flies, so before you know it, the painting will be yours. No real hit to your pocketbook and the other best thing? It’s an original. You and you along have this painting. You can see the brush strokes, the luminosity of the colors.
  • STEP 2: When you get it home, hang it in a prominent place. Go out and treat yourself to buying a pillow or two that feature the colors in the painting and pop them on the chair or sofa near the painting. That helps carry the painting into the room.
  • STEP 3: Enjoy. Research has shown that art heals by changing a person’s physiology and attitude. By looking at artworks or listening to music, a person’s brain wave pattern changes. One becomes less stressed and moves into relaxation. Art lifts our spirits each time we look at it. Lift your spirits by taking a trip to your local art galleries. Buy local. Support your local economy and your local artists.
Along the Eno River, painting by Jude Lobe.

Along the Eno River, painting by Jude Lobe, 24X48, $1250.

And the next time you are having a stressed day, take some time off and go to a local art gallery and enjoy the art. When you walk back out the door, I bet you will find yourself in much better spirits and able to handle whatever it is you need to do.

Our physiology is deeply effected by feelings and emotion. Try to keep a balance of good feelings in close proximity to yourself during the day. Perhaps a small painting on  your desk, or larger one on the wall. Maybe a piece of art at home in your kitchen to look at before you walk out the door. Or a calming artwork on the wall of your bedroom to send you off to a peaceful night’s rest.
See more tips for decorating small rooms here at Better Homes & Garden.
Click here to visit my website.
Click here to visit a locally artists owned & operated gallery, Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.
If you know of any artists owned & operated galleries, please comment and add information. I’d love to help spread the word.