Ancient Painting Methods

reproduction of Fayum portrait

“The Bejeweled Lady of Fayum”
watercolor encaustic
7″ x 3:”

Encaustic is an ancient medium that has been undergoing a modern revival.  This site presents experiments that are based on concepts and methods  archeologists and museum curators theorize to have been used by ancient painters.

The body of paintings known as the Fayum mummy portraits are still undergoing scientific analysis.  It appears that some of them were painted with some kind of under painting and then a wax overlay.  Was the under painting watercolor?  Was it tempera?

Recently quite a bit of scientific research has taken place and perhaps with the results of scientific analyses of the ancient paintings that have survived, using several different techniques, we may actually learn the definitive ingredients that made up the ancient painting medium known as encaustic.  For the present, we do not know for certain what materials the ancients used in their paintings and that leaves the field wide open for experimentation.  Some of my experiments are presented here in this site.

Whether you are an historian, an artist, or simply one of my fellow very curious minded folks who just like to know how things work, I hope this site will be of use to you.

Pat Preble

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