Encaustic Painting Demo

Forgive me if I wax lyrical about the October demonstration given by Barry Moulton. Barry was an articulate demonstrator and, although he denied vehemently that he was an artist, his finished articles gave lie to this claim. He was skilled and imaginative.

He started by listing the basic equipment required viz, beeswax colours, a small travel-type iron, and the special glossy card (although he had also used a block canvas, watercolour paper and canvas board). 

Here comes the history bit, so look away now! The art of painting with coloured beeswax was known more than 2000 years ago by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. One can only wonder at their skill at a time when there was no electricity only fire. 

We were stunned by the results he achieved and he made it look simple. He showed us how to apply wax to the plate of the iron and spread it lightly and randomly on the sheet. It dried surprisingly quickly and then, by applying the iron again, very lightly, he achieved amazing foliage effects. Applying the iron more heavily moved the drying wax around producing rather abstract impressions. Barry also dotted wax in various colours on the foot of the iron and, applying gently, accomplished the effect of flowers and birds. He showed us how to use the edges of the plate to drag vertically forming stalks and trunks. Producing reflections in water looked like child’s play but probably wasn’t. Images could also be transferred from card to cloth — a useful aid for the embroiderers among us. 

After tea break, he showed us other tools of the trade, the main one being what looked remarkably like a Hostess trolley hotplate. (A word of warning: Gentlemen, don’t try this at home without the owner’s permission). By laying paper on the hotplate and letting it warm up, wax could be applied direct to the card and fascinating effects appeared using everyday objects such as a small paint roller. 

At one point Barry looked concerned. We had all gone quiet and he thought we were bored. He asked if anything was the matter and one member replied, succinctly,“We’re gobsmacked!”  Those members who were unable to attend missed a truly ‘gobsmacking’ evening.

Jill Reardon