Working in Wax


“Art is my reason for being on this planet and encaustic is my love affair,” Jaya King says. Her passion for encaustic (painting with hot wax) was ignited when King came across “the encaustic Bible,” Joanne Mattera’s book “The Art of Encaustic Painting.”

Growing up near Palo Alto, King got her start in gouache and acrylic portraiture. King’s immense talent landed her a solo show at Stanford University at the age of 24, but when she discovered encaustic, she gladly left her acrylics behind.

“It’s the rock ’n’ roll of mediums,” says King, who blogs as The Fearless Painter and teaches encaustic workshops in Sacramento. “People are thirsty for this medium. When they see the immediacy of the shift of the wax under the torch and I see that light go off in their eyes, that’s what I live for. That controlled chaos is so alluring.”

Over the past seven years, King’s work has moved from detailed nature scenes to larger, more abstract monochromatic pieces that speak to her history in portraiture.

“When my imagination stirs up, animals and faces come with it,” says King. “That semblance of reality captured in encaustic is a perfect marriage.”

Her work is on display in Emergence: New Encaustic Paintings Art Exhibition at the Sacramento Board of Supervisors Chambers through January. Learn more at