Art Encaustic of NSW operated by Margaret and Ian Hesford is the home of Encaustic Art ”Painting with Beeswax”, in Australia. This site is dedicated to Michael Bossom who developed this modernized form of painting with bees wax in 1986. Since then he has written three books and made several instructional videos on the “How To” of this incredible art form. We had the pleasure of visiting with Michael and his charming wife Shona in June 2010 and made the video clip shown below.
This site is also dedicated to Donna Barker, the young Tasmanian artiste who discovered Encaustic Art after seeing Michael’s book on “How to Paint with Wax” in a library. She quickly grew to love the effects obtained and became a distributor of the product and designed and published this web site. In February 2011 she approached us to take over the supply of product to her clients and also the running of this web site so that she could concentrate on raising her family.
Credit should also be given to Melanie Dunstan who first brought Encaustic Art to Australia over twenty five years ago. Some years later she was probably the first to actively promote and teach Encaustic Art with her business Allcrafts operating in Perth W.A. A change in family circumstances caused her to cease importing stock .
Our involvement with Encaustic Art goes back to 1997 and you can read Margaret’s story on her Journey page. When we first discovered this art form it was significant that very few people had any knowledge of it and the universal question then was “how do you do it?” University students asked why it did not form part of their course? They demanded to know how the effects were achieved.
Over the years it seems to us as though there have formed two streams of practising encaustic artists. For simplification I have called them the American Stream and the Continental Stream. The American stream uses mostly beeswax with damar resin added. Whilst this gives greater bulk it makes the wax much more brittle . Because of the possible toxic fumes from heated damar wax it is essential that it only be used in well ventilated situations. To prevent cracking with age it is necessary to apply the wax to a rigid surface such as primed (sealed) pieces of plywood. The picture is then made up a multiple layers of differing coloured wax sometimes with objects layered into the wax and sometimes carved out with a sharp object. Last year we visited a demonstration by a visiting American artist who had come to Australia to show the artists down under how to paint with wax. She was very surprised after her talk when I revealed we had been doing the same thing for fifteen years having travelled some forty thousand kilometres during this time.
The Continental system developed in 1986 by Michael Bossom starts with learning to manipulate the iron to create all sorts of images and patterns using the effects obtained by heat, wax and suction. Various parts of the iron such as the edge, point and sole of the iron are also used. The stylus is for more delicate drawing detail and its associated tips can be used in multiple ways. Rubber stamps and techniques such as tissue transfer and hot air blowing can all be used to satisfy the artists creative desires. For the more adventurous there is a large Hot Plate with thermostatic heat control. Pictures up to A2 size can be kept warmed while being worked.
Most of our promotional efforts have been directed towards people who may have had a lifelong need to express themselves artistically and show them a possible way that this can be achieved. We have also worked with many established artists who appreciate the free flowing and unpredictability of the effects of heat and wax. Another very important area is working with disabled people who can get enormous self satisfaction with their efforts of creating patterns on card with coloured wax and the iron.
During this time we have started over fifteen hundred people painting with wax most of whom would protest that they had no artistic talent at all.
In March 2011 we left our home on Lake Macquarie NSW to commence our second ‘Round Oz’ adventure and you can read our current location on the Tour page. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we are in your area.
We hope you will enjoy our site. Please use the comments page if you would like to respond.
Margaret and Ian Hesford