After applying finishing touches to her painting of the national flag, Harshish Brar stepped away and looked at it – cleaning the excess wax from her hands. Brar paints with hot wax, a technique known as encaustic painting. Currently based in Chandigarh, Brar has been working with wax for the last 15 years. “I was 13-14 years old when I got into candle making as a hobby and that is how I discovered my love for wax and wax-related art,” she says.
The 26-year-old was interested in candle-making ever since her school days. In 2011, she came across the work of renowned candle designer Gary Simmons online and followed him for five years, before deciding to train under him. The business studies graduate completed her training in encaustic painting at The Candle Academy in Grasse, France, in 2016. Brar said she used to initially experiment with wax by mixing metal, water and other elements. It was much later that she got to know about encaustic painting as an art form.
Unlike many encaustic artists, Brar paints with paraffin wax instead of beeswax. She uses various colours, softeners and hardeners to get the desired look and to make the painting last long. Other tools include blowtorches and scalpels of various sizes. “I have to work really quickly because it (the wax) dries up and then you can’t get the texture you wanted to, or it hardens too much and you cannot work with it at all,” she says.
While it generally takes four days to a week for her to complete a painting, one of her creations took about three months. “I did a painting of the Golden Temple and that took me about three months because I had to give in a lot of carving. So first I had to carve out the temple and then I had to carve within the carving.”
She made the painting of the national flag at Saket’s DLF Place in Delhi in a week. “I used various shades of colours to give it the desired texture and shading. For the chakra, I carved it out first and then worked on it.” The painting measures 8ft x 4ft and was unveiled as part of a Republic Day special event on January 24.