“In order to work in this technique you can use your iron or some other household appliance with a heat regulator. But the iron is the perfect choice as it has a smooth underside, which helps spread the paint over paper, stone, wood, glass or another material that does not absorb wax. I melt the wax crayons and then use the iron to apply them to paper. I literally use the iron instead of a paintbrush,” said Pisker.
Until recently she only created paintings for herself as a way to relax and enjoy the creative process, but over the last few months she decided to promote encaustic painting more widely, especially because her friends and family loved her paintings.
Pisker set up an art studio under the name of Pegla Umjesto Kista (Iron Instead of Brush) and she has regular exhibitions in the Zenica Town Museum as well as at art bazaars and exhibitions around Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Her first independent exhibition entitled Sjećanja (Memories) took place in mid-2011 at the Zenica Town Museum. The artist said, “The exhibition is called Sjećanja because it is an attempt to revive the memories of encaustic painting, the forgotten technique.”
During her exhibitions, Zdena Pisker often provides a practical demonstration of this technique for visitors and allows a few audience members to attempt to make a few strokes using an iron instead of a paintbrush.
In addition, the artist regularly organises free workshops in Zenica, where she teaches young people how to paint in this fashion. Twice a month, as a part of a creative school programme, primary school students get a chance to discover this unusual painting technique and produce their first paintings. “Young people seem to be the ones most keen on painting in this way,” said Pisker.
Over the last few years, encaustic painting has made a comeback around the world and Pisker has been very successful in bringing this interesting technique closer to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as people from the surrounding countries.
Zdena Pisker needs but a few minutes to produce a small work of art. She paints landscapes and she says she simply lets her hand guide the iron across the paper.
About Encaustic Painting
Encaustic painting is one of the oldest techniques in painting. Encaustic painting uses wax to bind the paints. People who lived in what is nowadays northern Egypt employed this technique to paint portraits of the deceased on sarcophagi.
Religious icons were also first painted using the encaustic technique. It first appeared as an independent technique in the 4th century BCE.
Encaustic paints dry as soon as the wax hardens. Further corrections are done using hot knives or other pointed objects. At the end, the painting is polished using a soft cloth for extra gloss. The technique can be applied to all surfaces: wood boards, canvas, walls, paper, and slabs of metal.