For this reason, Lang, Woolf and Rankin work in well-ventilated studios. Each recommends having open windows and a fan near the workspace.
"Once [the beeswax and resin] melts down and cools, it's past [having] any kind of the toxic element to it," says Lang.
Additionally, because encaustic involves fusing one layer of wax on top of one or more other layers, a heat source is needed. Woolf uses an open-flame torch; heat guns and even some irons -- specific to the task, not clothing irons -- also work. Woolf recommends experimenting to find the equipment that works best. Her book lists basic supplies, as does Rankin's.
"Used carefully, encaustic is safe, natural, luminous, versatile and a great way to either start painting or open up your creativity if you're an experienced artist," says Rankin, of Marin County, Calif. Encaustic paint starter kits -- the color is premixed with the wax and resin -- are available online.
While Lang is self-taught -- using Rankin's book -- he recommends taking a class to learn encaustic technique. Woolf agrees.
"It is really quite simple," she promises. "Once you learn the basics, it's incredibly forgiving."
Encaustic art workshop today in Huntington
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Fern Christian will lead an encaustic workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 24 at Renaissance Art Gallery, Suite 20, 900 Eighth St., in the old Huntington High School building.
Christian is an abstract artist and director of the gallery. The workshop will explore the possibilities and limitations of the ancient painting medium using beeswax and pigments. Encaustic is both highly durable and impervious to moisture.
Participants will be asked to donate $5 for materials. For information, call 304-525-3235 or visit www.orgsites.com/wv/renaissance.