A contradictio in terminis?! It sounds like it, but this “new” medium isn’t as far off as you’d think.
A chemical study of the paint media used in Roman paintings has allowed the development of a new painting technique, with outstanding characteristics, based on water-soluble beeswax. The basic components of the water-soluble encaustic (Punic wax) have been identified in Pompeian wall paintings and in Roman-Egyptian mummy portraits.
Encaustic Cuni comes in 7 colours and can be applied as a glaze, diluted with water and in full strength as impasto, allowing for lots of texture. I had an opportunity to test the paints and did a little landscape on canvas, using mostly glazes, and a small project on a wooden butterfly, with a palette knife to apply the paint in a thicker fashion.
After applying with a palette knife I did heat the wax with a heat gun to force-dry the paint. The wax retained the texture much better than the normal wax paints, but did stay tacky for at least a week. I did scratch some lines into the dark blue glaze while still wet, to reveal other colours underneath, which had soaked into the gesso. Really like this effect!
The Cuni paints will be available at the Fifth International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Mass., and I’m sure they will cause a stir through the encaustic community!