Encaustic Spotlight: Bethany Handfield

Encaustic Spotlight: Bethany Handfield

Encaustic has a certain magic to it that must be experienced firsthand to understand. When you apply heat to the wax and begin to fuse the layers together a certain alchemy is taking place that is unlike any other medium.    – Bethany Handfield

Bethany Handfield is an Okanagan artist and teacher who primarily works with a variety of mixed media and encaustic. Bethany loves painting with wax. “[Encaustic] is the perfect medium for artists who love experimentation…there is such a thrill to bringing a creation to life and sharing it with the world”, says Bethany who is passionate about creating art dolls and assemblage sculptures.

Q. What is your background as an artist? What techniques/methods do you focus on?

A. My background as an artist started in filmmaking where I was an editor in film and television for several years. Seeking a different pace of life and wanting to be closer to family, I moved to the Okanagan in British, Columbia, Canada in 2006 and began exploring my creative side in other media. I was always a “MacGyver” when it came to my art practice; I will use anything I have on hand to create. This offered exceptional flexibility when I moved into creating encaustic paintings, art dolls, and assemblage sculptures.

Q. How did you get into Encaustic?

A. I was introduced to encaustic by a fabulous artist and teacher named Thea Haubrich. It was through her classes that I first heard about Daniella Woolf and her amazing installation work. Desiring to know more, I devoured Daniella’s books and DVDs. (Flash-forward years later I am now discovering her terrific online classes through Galli Creative).

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“Splendid Bastard”, encaustic on board. 12×12” (2017)

I simply love how I was able to capture the essence of my partner, Tim Tweed, in encaustic. He is a bit of a scoundrel though also the utmost gentleman and I think you can get that from the tilt of his head the sparkle in his eye. Splendid Bastard is the name of his men’s grooming supply company.

This painting was created in a class with Lora Murphy where we used encaustic paints by Enkaustikos that had been blended with microcrystalline wax. This allowed for a greater “open” time with the wax. I also used Ceracolours and R&F Paints pigment sticks.

Q. Which workshop(s) did you take and what did you like about them?

A. I have taken The Encaustic Minimalist with Daniella Woolf online and in person. Regardless of your medium of choice, Daniella is an exceptional teacher with so much to share. creating with a limited colour palette, small substrates, and simple tools – all adding up to dynamic paintings with much visual interest.

I have also taken Making Doll Faces with Patti Culea and it is so insightful to watch a master craftsperson at work. Her videos helped elevate my game when it came to mapping out cloth doll faces and helping them look more realistic.

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“Points of Power”, encaustic on panel, 6×6” (2017)

I created this gorgeous mini encaustic during Daniella Woolf’s Encaustic Minimalist class using R&F Paints and the Wax Melter mini palette. Daniella’s class is so relaxing and fun that I just allowed myself to let the colours flow and the forms take shape.

It really was a process of letting go and allowing the forms to take shape on their own. I ended up creating a series of triangle paintings from her class that I am thrilled with.

Q. What are you working on at present?

A. I am currently working on a series of doll portraits in both encaustic and mixed media. I also have the Whimsy Peaks series of encaustic and mixed media paintings that are based on the triangle pattern series I was exploring during Daniella’s Encaustic Minimalist workshop.

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“Tulip Heart” encaustic, cold wax, pigment stick + glitter on Awagami paper, 20.5×17” (2017)

Dolls are my passion and I love to paint them. This is Tulip Heart and she is a frequent start in my doll photoshoots. This painting was created in a class taught by Lora Murphy. We had the opportunity to experiment with cold wax and this is my first cold wax portrait. I simply love the luminescence of her eyes that help to bring this inanimate object to life. 

I was glad to have taken Making Doll Faces with Patti Culea while working on this painting as I feel her instruction definitely helped me get the eyes right.

Bethany is a founding member of CanwaxWest and also belong to the Assembly of Doll Makers.

View Bethany’s current work and website:

Bethany Handfield – Artist

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Workshops Bethany has taken from Galli Creative

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