Encaustic Cows

I’ll make the images as large as I can on this post so you can see the texture and details of my first five encaustic paintings, although I prefer to call this series


I’ve chosen to marry encaustic medium with the subject of bovines. Encaustic is an ancient medium that has seen a resurgence of interest. It’s basically painting with hot wax. Ever since I saw Jasper Johns’s American Flag at MOMA, I wanted to try my hand at encaustic painting. It’s a very experimental medium, so I got inventive with the supports I used and the items that I embedded.

12"x12" bull in encaustic medium

‘Bucowlick Encowstic’ 12″ x 12″ by Susan Krieg

‘Bucowlic Encowstic’ was created on window screen stretched on a 12″x 12″ frame. It’s important to choose a sturdy support because wax is very pliable. If you want to try something as flexible as screen, you have to go small. I propped it up on my window sill to show you how translucent the wax is. Of course you probably wouldn’t want to hang an encaustic painting where sunlight can shine directly on it. With the metal feel of screen, I decided to add metal embellishment, like the copper ribbon and metal flower and bees.

Encaustic on window screen.

Encaustic on window screen.

'Enlightened Bull'    9" x 12"      by Susan Krieg

‘Enlightened Bull’ 9″ x 12″ by Susan Krieg

‘Enlightened Bull’ is painted in encaustic on a prepared panel (Masonite).

Speaking of transparency, I should come forward that this subject happens to be a bull, not a cow. It was one of those magical days in Virginia, a Sunday in May 2015. I have seen many cows on the outskirts of Charlottesville where I live. I had my husband drive so I could quickly hang out the window with my camera, if need be. There are no shoulders on rural roads here making it nearly impossible to stop for a quick photo. Anyway, as it turns out this day, we drove and drove and drove and no cows anywhere. Just as it was getting frustrating, we drove around a bend and there were 3 cows, or so I thought,  standing fairly close to the road. I jumped out of the car and told my husband to drive on and come back and get me in a half hour or so.

I started to attach my longer lens to get some close ups of the 3 when I noticed they had horns. By the time I set up the tripod they had moved quite close. I scrambled to put my regular lens back on. By this time one even had his head through the fence.

Not a cow after all.

Not a cow after all.

I know that was kind of a long story, but I ended up with 150 images to work from and these first five encaustic paintings are from just one of those photos.

sketch from photo

sketch from photo

Moo-ving on here. The next two paintings are on 9″ x 9″ stretched canvas. The first using rabbit skin glue as a foundation (I know, don’t be judgmental, there’s a story behind why I used it). and the wax adhered very well.

Krieg Baby Bull 9x9

‘Baby Bull’ 9″x 9″ by Susan Krieg

This second painting is my homage to Jasper Johns, with the embedded American flag. It was created on top of an existing collage painting of mine. This experiment was to see how the wax adhered to papers, which it does very well.

Tribute to Jasper Johns   9" x 9"      by Susan Krieg

Tribute to Jasper Johns 9″ x 9″ by Susan Krieg

And lastly, what’s an encaustic without a cow (bull) on an actual stick?

‘Encowstick’ or if you’re Jewish, it could be a ‘Moozuzah’

'Encowstick'   13" x 2" x 2"    by Susan Krieg

‘Encowstick’ 13″ x 2″ x 2″ by Susan Krieg

Cows have always been a fascination for me.


About kriegart

I am Susan Krieg, Mixed Media Artist, since 1989 when I first started working as a water colorist for Accent Graphics. I've lived on the West Coast, the East Coast, the Midwest and the Southwest, and currently in rural Virginia. I studied art at Cal College of the Arts in SF and The Art Students League in NYC. I am influenced by Modigiliani, Picasso, Lempicka, Dunand and a million other things.
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6 Responses to Encaustic Cows

  1. Your new series is funny. “EnCOWstics”. A friend of mine tried to get me involved in doing encaustic art but I just couldn’t get past the fact that any heat source would ruin the piece. Seemed a very temporary way to create art. I feel the same way about pastels, which I have worked in. They are a bear to keep.

    • kriegart says:

      That was one of my first concerns too, but did you know wax is an excellent preservative of materials. It was from this use that the art of encaustic painting developed. The Greeks applied coatings of wax and pitch to weatherproof their ships. Pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships and later, merchant ships. It definitely is challenging!

  2. Shari Armbrust says:

    I can’t wait to see them!

  3. Ronald Sather says:

    Cool – I can look at these when I work on the koan “Moo.”

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