by Margaret E. Hesfor
My interest in art as an adult began many years ago on our property in the New South Wales district of Cowra when I was the young mother of four children. I wanted to draw then but classes were not possible.Occasionally I amused myself copying pictures. In 1976 when I moved to Sydney my work, my new husband and new experiences took priority. In 1985 we moved to the city of Lake Macquarie near Newcastle NSW 1995 was my year when by chance I saw a notice about Art classes. I determined I would take one day per week from our business. I began oil painting classes with Bruce McLellan. After two years of reasonable progress I was introduced to Encaustic Art. My tutor Bruce had bought a video showing the modernised techniques, at a garage sale. I had three one hour sessions with the other students and loved the unique effects. I tried hard to ignore the urge to change to this type of art work but could not resist. In July 1997 I bought the equipment along with the instruction video and book and set out to teach myself.
I entered in the Newcastle Mattara Art Exhibition in October 1997 and my very different paintings were much admired. Following this and flushed with enthusiasm I approached my first Gallery to sell this “new” concept with its ancient history. A Gallery in Morpeth wanted my paintings exclusively and took all fifteen pieces. They were popular and some were sold. Next came an invitation to mount a display of my finished work along with my painting implements at the 1998 Newcastle Mattara Exhibition. The judge congratulated me on my work and encouraged me to continue. There was so much interest. People could not believe that I created my pictures with a flat iron. I came away with so many requests for lessons. Coloured beeswax was also a mystery to most. History showed that beeswax had been a very difficult medium and the methods extremely secretive. It was practiced by the Greeks & Romans some 2500 years ago and I felt a challenge to help promote the modernised form developed by Michael Bossom around 1986. I set up classes with the help of my original teacher who was also teaching Encaustic Art. Shortly after he became very ill and was not able to continue. I was on my own. I taught, was guest speaker and demonstrated at many local Art Societies and Clubs. My next invitation was to exhibit my work and methods at a local Art & Craft show and from then “it” just snowballed. I had become an artist and an entertainer without even trying and crowds gathered wherever they could watch me. My pictures and cards were sold in many Galleries. I was thrilled when I was invited to be the guest artist and to teach at the home/gallery of the famous painter the late Sir William Dobell at Wangi Wangi NSW – a great honour and a wonderful acceptance of the art form.
I have entered many competitive exhibitions gaining some awards and have shown the technique in numerous places. However telling and showing others is my great love and takes priority over my own development, always exceeding my desire to win prizes. My firm belief is that this medium is an excellent choice to be enjoyed by many people of varying ages and abilities. Other invitations were forthcoming and with the sale of our business in 1999 my husband Ian and I decided to purchase a Motor Home to enjoy travel while showing our art. It was necessary to become distributors and to carry the products as they were not available in the usual retail outlets. As a starting point we chose the Eastern States of Australia. I was invited to demonstrate in a large indoor Art and Craft show in the Sydney Entertainment Centre. I knew thousands of locals and tourists could discover Encaustic Art over this five day exhibition, so we accepted. Our stand created enormous interest with many people starting their Encaustic Art journey.
Our suspicions were confirmed when we estimated about 99.9% of people had never heard of either ancient or modern Encaustic Art. This Exhibition resulted in me being invited to participate with this organization and many others over a period of about five years. So it was that we displayed and demonstrated at many Art & Craft shows in Capital cities and large Regional centres. As well many popular N.S.W and Queensland tourist attractions welcomed us. Thousands have now seen Encaustic Art. They have been inspired to talk about it, to take a class or to learn from the wonderful material available. Some have become teachers. New people are forever discovering the thrill and so the story goes on.
In 2007 we decided we should return to our home. Ian needed to have some exploratory medical work done. The results were not good. However with brilliant medical intervention and amazing courage over two and a half years we will travel again in 2011. Hopefully we will inspire many other individuals to “find their artistic streak” as we enjoy our beautiful country.
I am glad I took the plunge in 1997 to change my direction for many reasons. Perhaps of paramount importance to me is the joy I see in the faces of those who now find they can be creative with beeswax. Previously many had said they could not draw a straight line. Artists are amazed at the speed and ease of creating a picture. Disability and retirement cntres have also found Encaustic Art to be so beneficial allowing many to create amazingly beautiful pictures. Second to that is the immense pleasure I derive from being able to express myself in a way I never thought possible while sharing my love of Encaustic Art.
I expect to be able to continue painting for a long time. The small electric travelling iron used makes painting much easier for older hands than a paint brush. My venture into Art has been an amazing experience and I will be forever indebted to the late Bruce McLellan, the man who bought a video at a garage sale–the man who shared this miracle with me. While ever it is possible I will continue to share this miracle with others.
Margaret E Hesford
Over the years we have received many questions as to whether it is possible to paint with wax on this surface or that surface. Our standard reply has been to say try it and see if it works. Below are some of the experimental surfaces that Margaret has tried. Note the sliced stone where the markings in the stone have been incorporated into the picture. We have also experimented with coating a finished piece with two part epoxy resin to provide a more durable surface.
6 Ceramic Tile Sliced patterned stone rear of stone showing markings in picture
7 Sliced Timber resin coated Video Case Tile, epoxy coated in metal frame
8 Painting on to Chromalux coloured metalic card