Definition of the process via this Wikipedia page:
Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted. Other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to adhere it to the surface."
I first saw an encaustic painting a while back at a show of a friend that I was in graduate school with. It totally intrigued me- she then introduced me to a local encautistic artist who occasionally hosted workshops in her studio- and basically, I was hooked.
It is the coolest medium I have ever used. It's a combination of painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, photography (and probably more). I have merely dipped my big toe into the world of encaustics- but long for when my time and wallet will allow me the luxery of attending a class at R&F Encaustics (the "big" name in encaustic paint production) AMAZING!!!
Because encaustics is a very toxic process of heating pigments- proper ventilation and special equipment is required. Some day though- I will have a set up in my "dream" studio!
Here are some of the paintings I made during the 2 workshops I participated in (nearly 21/2 years ago now).
This one hangs above Zella's bed.