Stamen Karamfilov – an artist-restorer, who was born in Northern Bulgaria in 1944. He has been working as an artist-restorer in Bulgarian churches and monasteries for many years. He restores exclusively icons, murals and ancient paintings. From the old techniques, he has discovered the work with bee wax (Encaustic painting) and he has developed a technology for cleaning, bleaching and achieving a certain consistency of the wax.
After 20 years of investigation and work, he gets to creating paintings and icons on canvas. Now he makes his works of art through hot wax, burning it by open fire. It gives the wax the opportunity to raise its melting temperature up to 180 degrees.
He has 20 solo exhibitions, part of which in Istanbul, Munich, Thessaloniki and different towns in Bulgaria.
He lost his sight in 2015, but despite his impairment, he continues to make extremely beautiful and impressive paintings.
Presenting the Encaustic technique
Encaustic (from the old Greek word ἐγκαυστική – literally untranslatable, from a verb, meaning to burn, burning) is a rare and specific type of painting technique. The main paint plasticiser in Encaustic is the wax, which is why the technique often is referred to as “wax painting”. The paint for that technique is actually coloring matter, dissolved in wax. The technique is extremely difficult, because one usually works in a closed premise; the different colors of the paints are constantly heated up to the temperature above the melting point of the wax, which applies also for the base. At the same time, one should paint quickly, because encaustic does not endure corrections such as retouch – the first painted layer remains a last one.
In the past the secret of the encaustic was kept as a family tradition, many mystic elements were designated to it – for example maidens’ dance under the moonlight around the container, where the wax was melted, adding herbs to it, etc. In fact the main technological problem is related namely to raising the melting point of the wax, which can be achieved by adding some natural resins to it – mastic and dammar. Adding 20 grams for a kilogram of wax to, preliminary dissolved in alcohol mastic resin, guarantees the comfort of painting and durability under external influences – temperature, moisture, mechanical damages.
From aesthetic point of view the main merit of that type of technique is the opacity of the paint layer, under which the color of the base (of the light) shows through. A technological advantage is the durability of the paintings; in fact, they could be damaged only if they are exposed to high temperature.