Encaustic Art

Arkansas (historical), Arkansas

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Note from shop owner Shop is on Vacation Mode for a studio relocation. Looking forward to having a huge sale before Christmas with up to 50% off!

Note from shop owner

Last updated on Oct 24, 2021

Shop is on Vacation Mode for a studio relocation. Looking forward to having a huge sale before Christmas with up to 50% off!

LaNelle Gambrell

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LaNelle Gambrell


Average item review
5 out of 5 stars

About LaNelleGambrellArt

Sales 10
On Etsy since 2017

From a three haired brush to molten wax . . .


So glad to have the chance to share my passion with you! If you have the time to read this you'll see that I truly am passionate about Encaustic painting!

I've always been an artist. A graphic designer all my working life, I was art director for a couple of agencies and later for KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas for several years before opening my own advertising/marketing business. I like to think I was successful, I had an impressive client list, won some awards, etc, but-- I was always making art that someone else wanted. Art that had to be approved by a board of directors or maybe even 'cleaning up' a design that someone's grandchild came up with-- yea, that happened more often than you would think! BUT NOW . . . I'm creating art I'm really excited about!

I fell in love with encaustics about six years ago. Just reading about it, then researching online all I could and watching YouTube videos. I learned that encaustics were probably the earliest known painting medium. Predating tempera, oils and of course acrylics. We believe it was first used by the Greeks to repair their fishing vessels and then later, perhaps, they began to decorate and beautify the patches. The Romans used encaustics, there is scant evidence found in ruins that lead us to believe there may have been encaustic murals. The most important encaustic art that we know of are the famous Fayum mummies discovered in tombs in the Fayum Valley of Egypt in the late 1800's. There are literally hundreds of the Fayum mummies, or Fayum portraits, as they are referred to, now in museums around the world.

After being discovered it took some time to accurately recreate the medium and the actual encaustic process. Encaustic art today is created exactly with the same materials as it was almost two thousand years ago by the artists of the Fayum. Interest in encaustics, down through the ages, may be revived now and then and just as quickly slips back into obscurity. The American artist Jasper Johns and Diego Rivera of Mexico come to mind, but there have been many others. It's an extremely labor intensive process, of applying hot, melted wax to a strata (most often wood) either by pouring, painting or dipping and daubing and then sealing by torch or iron, each layer to the previous to assure the wax has melted just enough to meld and hold so that the wax won't later flake or separate. In spite of the labor involved, encaustics intrigue me.

You can walk into a gallery and almost always tell which artist has a graphics background and who has the fine art history. I, being a graphic artist, love detail and a three haired brush. Over the years I've taken different classes and workshops in various media, trying to adopt habits that will loosen my style but I soon revert back to the three haired brush. Until discovering encaustics, that is. Pushing molten bees wax around with heated tools and then sealing one layer to the previous with a flaming torch does not lend itself to 'tight, detailed' work! I'm cured! I've found a medium that will not allow itself to be controlled with a tiny brush.

As you may have guessed, though, I'm wrestling with that. When I first began to work in encaustics there were few places to even buy materials, much less find tools made for the medium. I bought expensive wax melting units with popular art supply house logos on them that were simply hot plates with an aluminum plate screwed on top of it with toggle bolts. An 'encaustic' iron was nothing more than a tailors tacking iron or a travel iron. This was not so many years ago. Plus, there were no instructors anywhere in my area. I'm sure they were out there somewhere but I never found them. SO-- I taught myself. I've made lots of mistakes, have a few burn scars, nothing serious but I can honestly say this learning experience was/is more painful than learning stained glass!

Now, I digress . . . What I'm getting to is this-- I believe I've found a way to tame molten wax! Or at least to achieve much more detail than I ever expected. I've had to invent my own special tips for my heated tools and have them made and work with smaller, torches but I'm able to go in a direction with encaustics I hadn't expected. What I love the most about encaustics is the translucency and depth that just can't be achieved with other mediums. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of control. I have worked towards conquering this ever since I first began to work with encaustics. Always, I would go back to the Fayum for inspiration. Studying photographs of their work, their intricately detailed portraits, now in museums around the world, all the while thinking . . . If they could do that with melted bees wax, damar resin and pigments and tools heated in a fire pit then what should we be able to accomplish today with all we have at our fingertips?

I began my encaustic journey just as many other encaustic artists do. Mixing pigments, melting wax and ironing it onto a board then blowing it all around with a torch to seal it. But I've never been an abstract artist and I couldn't be satisfied with beautiful colors and happy accidents. In fact, I really don't care for happy accidents, at least not as the core of my design. I want to recreate my own ideas not just accept whatever happens and then there's this three haired brush nemesis that I have to deal with. It's pulled me in directions that I haven't seen many other encaustic artists headed but I'm going along.

My hope is that you may be interested enough to read a little about the history of encaustics, perhaps even the most famous encaustic art of all time, the Fayum Mummies of Egypt. I'd love to see more artists explore the finer, more controlled possibilities of encaustic and of course I would hope to sell some of my work as well. I've tried to produce some smaller pieces and price them as inexpensively as possible so that everyone, if they have an interest, can have an example of 'bees wax art' made famous by the ancient Egyptians almost two thousand years ago.

If I've managed to hold your attention to this point, I congratulate you! If you happen to purchase a piece of encaustic from me I thank you from the bottom of my heart! The only way I am able to continue doing what I love is to MOVE it out so that I have room to create the next piece. Thank you, Thank you!

La'Nelle Gambrell

I have a second Etsy shop called; DazzleCrack, where I sell Art for your Shoes that I have designed and created myself. If you have a favorite pair of shoes hiding in the back of the shoe closet just because of a little scuff or scratch, try a DazzleCrack design and rescue those shoes! Restore-- Refresh--Redesign with DazzleCrack!

Shop members

  • La'Nelle Gambrell


    An artist/writer all my life I only discovered encaustics about six years ago and have been obsessed with the process ever since! Having rewired the studio and replaced the wood floors with molten wax impervious tile, there's no going back now!

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