About the Artist
Linda Benenati studied art at San Jose State in the late 60’s, but ended up with a degree in English. After college, she pursued a career in graphics and writing in the tech industry. Consequently, she loves the interplay of images, words, and titles.
Over the years, she has worked in many different media: oil and acrylic painting, found object and papier mâché sculpture, and mixed media collage. A few years ago, she ventured into encaustic painting which just might be her all-time favorite medium with its vibrancy and versatility. She now considers herself almost exclusively an encaustic artist.
Among her favorite artists are Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marc Chagall, Claude Monet, David Cornell, Wayne Thiebaud, Maira Kalman, Joan Brown and Inez Storer.
Linda has a passion for cats and small dogs, 1920’s and ’30’s collectibles, and anything French. Much of this influence is evident in her art. When she is not creating, she loves to scavenge through flea markets and second-hand shops. She resides in the South Bay with her husband—her fellow scavenger and sometimes art collaborator.
About the Process
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks. Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax mixture to fusing each layer of wax. Encaustic medium consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. Pigments may be added to the medium, or purchased colored with traditional artist pigments. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated with a blow torch or heat gun to fuse it to the previous layer. Because of the versatility of the medium, there are numerous techniques including embedding various materials, scraping and inscribing which can be used to create a piece of art.
Care of Encaustic Paintings
Encaustic paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150°F. Leaving a painting in as car on a hot day or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun would not be advisable. Encaustic paintings are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.
Some encaustic colors tend to “bloom” or become cloudy over time. If a painting appears indistinct, the surface can simply be rubbed with a soft cloth or nylon stocking. Over time the surface retains its gloss as the wax medium continues to cure and harden for up to 1-3 years.