Quirky New Encaustic Portraits….
Did you know the origins of encaustic wax painting goes back to Egyptian Mummy Portraiture and Iconography, around 2,000 years ago…? (A couple of examples below)
I’d always worked with wax in a pretty abstract way.
I had seen a few photographs of modern encaustic portraiture… one in particular by Lora Murphy that stopped me in my tracks… But, it was still a bit of a mystery as to how to create it myself.
To be honest, I’d never really tried, it was there as a ‘thing to find out’… but as encaustic wax artists are pretty few and far between in the UK, it never moved too high up my to do list, and the hours of experimental practice over the two or three years I’d been wanting to do it, never seemed to happen….
Imagine my delight, when I saw that Lora Murphy was running an encaustic wax portraiture course in LONDON….!
It was the first one of it’s kind in the UK that I had been aware of. (Back in 2017)
I excitedly booked myself on, and waited for the course to come around.
Seven full days of encaustic wax portraiture. It was A LOT! The concentration left me whacked at times, and more than once I got back to my hotel room at six o clock, sat on the bed, only to wake up three hours later!
There were seven of us on the course, and I expected everyone to be fairly local… Nope… We were a real International bunch; only two of us from the UK, the others had travelled from Hungary, Ireland, Germany, Finland, and Eva from the Czech Republic… who did not speak a word of English, so brought her son to translate…!
Seriously, encaustic artists in Europe are a rarity…!
It was amazing to spend that dedicated time creating, without all the other usual distractions… There was some outstanding talent there, (some of the others having already attended other classes of Lora’s in other countries) and under Lora’s guidance, we created many individual pieces.
Days one and two were all a bit of a mystery to me… It was kind of coming together-ish in places, but not quite, and I really couldn’t see how the finished pieces would work… Lora promised it would all make sense soon…. with a deep furrowed brow, and a puzzled look on my face, I carried on, determined to work out the process.
I finished my first lady, who was looking a bit dark and scary in places, but it was an interesting process, and I was slowly beginning to understand.
I started drawing out my next portrait ready for day three, and went back to the hotel making a bit more sense of it all.
Day three’s portrait almost fell out onto the canvas… It was one of those moments where it all slotted into place… I found myself singing and humming to myself… happy as a sand-boy… (I apologise again to everyone there for my tuneless notes from day three onwards, I really couldn’t help it…!)
Day four was the same… It all just clicked…
I went back to the hotel that night, then took myself out for a long walk. I needed some quiet processing time.
On my travels, I came across a perfect, quiet, wine bar, and took myself in for a sit down…
Whilst sitting there reflecting, it dawned on me that these wax portraits were like the missing piece of a giant puzzle.
It was all slotting into place.
I had seen, and dreamt, about those elusive skin tones created with encaustic wax…
I used to copy faces from magazines when I was a teenager, (some of my pictures from the 1980’s below!) I would spend hours up in my bedroom, happily drawing away. I hadn’t done it in years.
Suddenly all of those pencil drawings, and all of the encaustic wax abstract work I’d been creating… understanding the many different application techniques… all made sense.
I’d just never known how to marry the two.
It was quite a moment….
I felt like I was going to BURST…! I raised a delicious glass of rose blush to myself, and just sat there grinning, like somebody who had just won the lottery…!
Thankfully, one of the other ladies joined me soon after, which made me look slightly less like a mad woman out on day release…!
We sat and excitedly swapped art and encaustic discoveries with each other, it was simply amazing to speak with a real life person, who actually understood.
The rest of the week turned into a blur, we used cold wax techniques, and different methods of making mediums, colours and media.
The week ended with a lovely lunch, some pink champagne to round the afternoon off, and lots of fond farewells. We still all stay in touch through social media.
I made my way home, it was a beautiful warm, sunny April day. Just perfect. I smiled and sang all the way home, happier than I had been in months. Never underestimate the benefits of booking time out for yourself to learn something new!
Special thanks to Lora and the other attendees for helping me to fill in those missing blanks.
Those seven days really helped me to determine the areas of wax I’m not so keen on, and the areas I loved.
My focus is definitely portraiture and angelic ethereal styled personas, adding in flowing fabrics, and delicate layered encaustic deliciousness going forward, they simply make my heart sing!
To see more examples of my work, and how some of the abstract wax styles layer together, check out my art collections here: https://artyheaven.com/julie-anns-art/