Test in portrait with water soluble encaustic by An Wei

An Wei is a Chinese emerging artist living in Madrid. Usually An paints portraits in grisaille and this time is no different, however he adds colour to one area using adhesive tape. Water soluble encaustic is a new procedure to him and he comments on how surprising the beeswax soft and velvety texture is, as well as its pleasing scent. He stains his fingers but doesn´t have to worry since Cuní colours are non toxic and hands and paint brushes can easily be washed clean with soap and water. The artist is quick to find out that he can add layers of paint and work it into a rich and creamy empasto. He admits this paint to be like nothing he has tried before. Since he is experimenting with the new paint he attempts to scratch the surface but since he is not convinced by the effect he discards it. We can also highlight that Encaustic Cuní is rich in pigment and the beeswax binder allows for a vibrant and shiny finish.

To avoid the colour getting murky when creating empastos it is convenient to let dry paint layers before applying any more. If we proceed like this we can add as many layers as we wish. If we were to want to speed up the drying process we would only need to apply heat in the way of hot air from a hair dryer for example. The hot air would allow the faster evaporation of water present in the paint. Furthermore this procedure intensifies the saturation and vibrancy of the colours in our work which makes it a recommendable last step once we have finished painting.

We also have to take into account that the paint´s first cure happens relatively fast, that is, it dries quickly. However there is a second curing time that implies changes in the chemical components of the material and is a slower process. Since beeswax is encaustic Cuní paint´s binder, finished works are likely to suffer tiny scratches if we don´t take care when storing. This inconvenience can easily be avoided and implies only the minimum steps we´d take to preserve our work be it in any other medium. Namely, varnishing our work will ensure the surface of the painting hardens and is protected from any possible damage.

But perhaps we would prefer not to use varnish in which case Cuní paint surface will preserve its flexibility and be in this way easy to store and transport by means of scrolling if this is what we usually do. Scrolling canvass fabric or large paper sheets in this manner is perfectly viable and the paint´s flexibility when not varnished assures us it will not chip or crease. And of course the ultimate promise and guarantee of encaustic Cuní paint is that whites will not yellow in time and colours likewise won´t fade. Greco roman mural paintings are a testimony to the durability of this paint.