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It’s a rare occurrence for one specific painting medium to have a whole genre of painting associated with it, but Cold Wax Medium is one such medium. Cold Wax Painting is not defined by subject matter nor the degree of realism or abstraction, Cold Wax Painting is unified by artists’ shared interest in experimentation, texture and the physicality of paint layers.
What is Cold Wax Painting?
Cold Wax Painting is any type of painting that heavily utilises Cold Wax Medium into oil colours. In its own way, Cold Wax Painting blurs the line between oil painting and encaustic painting.
What is Cold Wax Medium?
Gamblin Cold Wax Medium a mixture of natural beeswax (wax pastilles), Gamsol and a small amount of alkyd resin. The term “cold” in Cold Wax Medium and Cold Wax Painting refers to the fact that heat is not required for working with this wax medium – as it dries by solvent evaporation (Gamsol), rather than the cooling of the wax, as in encaustic painting. As the Gamsol evaporates out of the medium, the soft wax hardens to the density of a beeswax candle. Unlike other Gamblin painting mediums, which increase the flow and gloss of oil colours to varying degrees, Cold Wax Medium makes oil colours thicker and more matte.
Cold Wax Painting Techniques
Cold Wax medium is a dense paste that's is excellent in creating a variety of textures within a painting. It has a “short” characteristic and gives a clean break off of the brush or knife, retaining the sharp peaks of impasto. These working properties allow for expressive brush marks and the ability to carve into paint layers with palette knives. Cold Wax also gives oil colours a beautiful translucent quality, similar to the seductive surfaces of encaustic paintings.
Cold Wax Painting utilises experimental approaches, including the use of brayers, stencils, and textural elements such as bubble wrap or wire screens. The possibilities are endless!
Cold Wax Medium is compatible with oil colours, alkyd/oil colours, alkyd-based painting mediums, and Gamsol. Fast-drying mediums such as Galkyd and Galkyd Gel will increase the tack when mixed with Cold Wax Medium. Neo Megilp, our silky, soft gel medium gives the wax a smoother feel and will round the peaks of impasto. These alkyd mediums will increase the gloss level of Cold Wax (just as adding Cold Wax lowers the gloss level of these mediums). Adding Gamsol to Cold Wax Medium will make it more fluid without adding gloss.
How much Cold Wax Medium can be safely added to oil colours?
We recommend adding up to 1/3 Cold Wax Medium to 2/3 oil colours. Beyond this amount, approximately 25% Solvent-Free Gel or Galkyd Gel should be added to 75% Cold Wax Medium. The addition of these mediums will increase both the flexibility and durability of the resulting paint layer, making it less prone to cracking.
What is the best support to paint on for Cold Wax Painting?
Just like encaustic paintings are done on rigid supports such as panels, we recommend the same for Cold Wax Paintings. Wood or aluminium panels are appropriate, as are panels with fabric adhered to the surface. Rigid supports limit movement the paint layers and will help prevent cracking.
When using Cold Wax Medium alone as a painting medium on stretched canvas, we recommend limiting the wax to 1/3 of the total paint mixture. To use higher percentages of Cold Wax Medium on stretched canvas, add 25-50% Galkyd Gel, Solvent-Free Gel, or for more fluid results, Galkyd. The addition of these mediums will increase the flexibility and durability of the resulting paint layer, making it less prone to cracking.
Are Cold Wax paintings subject to melting because of the wax?
The wax used to formulate the Cold Wax Medium has a melting point of approximately 155 degrees Fahrenheit. In most environments, Cold Wax paintings will remain quite stable. However, if you need to transport or ship the painting through a warm climate in the summer, consider air conditioning!