Behind-the-Scenes : Art Workshop

Behind-the-Scenes : Art Workshop

I had the privilege, recently, of meeting one of the artists who inspired me to try working with encaustic wax in the beginning, Alicia Tormey. I attended a 7 day art retreat in western Ireland. Three days I was taught by Alicia (check out her amazing work here), and three days I was taught by encaustic wax portraiture artist, Lora Murphy (check out her amazing work here). I had not heard of Lora before this retreat, but realised I had been using the brand of encaustic wax colours that she helped to design.

Image of encaustic wax medium in silver trays with brushes sticking out, in white, yellow, and lime green

Each class approached working with wax in such different ways, and opened my eyes to the versatility of this medium. Being self-taught, they also taught me a lot about ways I have been working that might not be the most effective.
In Alicia's class, I learned how to use a propane torch to melt the wax into a beautiful fondant-like texture, and then add more wax, textures, printed transfers, and stencils for brilliant effects. Plus, I learned how to burn shellac onto the wax into stunning organic structures.

Image of artwork made from encaustic wax in white, yellow and orange, with burnt shellac techniques

Image of artowork created with encasutic wax with burnished print mandalas on the surface

Image of Kimberli Werner at workshop, using a torch to melt encaustic wax

Image of four artworks created in the workshop with encaustic wax techniques

In Lora's class, I learned how to use a paintbrush to paint with encaustic wax onto wood, paper, and fabric. We all painted portraits, and I had chosen portraits of myself. I never painted a portrait before, and most of my current work doesn't look like anything recognizable, so this was a huge challenge. Lora has been classically trained in portraiture, and could easily spot places on our portraits that needed that little extra shading or lightening or blending. By the third day, I was finally feeling like something clicked in my mind, and I was finally able to see the shadows, half-tones, and most of the many colours that are in a person's face and skin tone.

Image of first attempt at portraiture with encaustic wax

Image of second attempt at portraiture with encaustic wax, with face

Image of third attempt at portraiture with encaustic wax, with face

My fellow workshop attendees were all encaustic wax enthusiasts, all in different places in their journeys with encaustic wax, some professional, some not. All of us brought a lot of talent, kindness, and laughter to the magical setting of the retreat studios. 

Image of view from Anam Cara art workshop retreat, Mulranny, Ireland

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