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Local artist creates paintings with beeswax

When I think about ways to use beeswax, candles and Ricky Martin's video for Living La Vida Loca come to mind. I certainly don’t think about paintings…until now. Today, I met up with artist Jaya King at University Art in midtown to learn about encaustic art.

"Encaustic is so alluring it really draws you in with the layers and it makes you want to touch it," says Jaya.

Also known as hot wax painting, encaustic art involves using heated beeswax, which colored pigments are added to. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.

#Winning -- We both learned a new word today. You’re welcome!

While brush strokes and blow torches create texture and contrast in the paintings, Jaya says talking to the paintings brings them to life.

"You just have to whisper to it. Embrace the pit." She's referring to the pits created in the wax as it cures). With quirky sayings and techniques she teach her students how to create paintings that illicit a tactile response. But she learned about the art in a more traditional way.

"[I] picked up a book. I call it the encaustic bible. [It's written] by Joanna Mattera - it’s called the art of encaustic painting. Picked it up, flipped through it and immediately went out and found the supplies that you need to start out and that’s the way the I think a lot of people jump in."

Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C., but since then it has evolved into my forms. "People do collage in encaustic, fiber arts in encaustic, sculptural pieces with encaustic, form building. It’s amazing!"

Jaya’s artwork ranges from $1000 dollars for a piece like the one she made in the video to $6000 for her larger pieces. If you want to learn how to create your own encaustic art, Jaya also teaches classes at University Art -- class prices range from $195 to $395.

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