Theresa Stirling of Port Hadlock will demonstrate how she paints with fire and beeswax during Saturday’s Gallery Walk in Port Townsend. (Eric and Theresa Stirling)

Theresa Stirling of Port Hadlock will demonstrate how she paints with fire and beeswax during Saturday’s Gallery Walk in Port Townsend. (Eric and Theresa Stirling)

Artist to demonstrate technique during Saturday Gallery Walk

PORT TOWNSEND — Theresa Stirling will demonstrate her painting style that uses beeswax and blow torches during Saturday’s Gallery Walk in Port Townsend.

Stirling has painted with heated wax, an ancient technique called encaustics, for the past 14 years.

“It’s an ancient medium,” Stirling said. “As far as mediums go, beeswax is really where it’s at.”

Stirling is one of many artists whose work will be on display Saturday during the Port Townsend Gallery Walk, a free event offered the first Saturday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., in galleries around Port Townsend.

For more information about venues this Saturday, see Peninsula Spotlight in today’s Peninsula Daily News.

Stirling will be at the Conservatory Coastal Home at 639 Water St., from 5 p.m. to about 7 p.m. Saturday to show people how she creates a piece from start to finish.

“People can see how I apply the wax, using a blowtorch on each stroke,” Stirling said. “Rub, scrape, fire — I have my own kind of rhythmic way of doing it.”

Stirling starts with a blank piece of wood and adds wax in layers with the help of several blowtorches, and adds pure pigment to the wax for color.

“It’s just a really unique look,” Stirling said. “You just get this luminous look that you don’t get from something like oils.”

Stirling said she was introduced to encaustics when she saw a piece hanging in a hospital.

“It just stopped me in my tracks,” Stirling said. “It’s very tactile. You really want to touch it.

“You can look at it and see light bouncing off the layer and you know someone put in a lot of time shaping it.”

Stirling said she occasionally paints over images, bringing them a more textured look, but for Saturday’s demonstration she’ll stick to simple wood.

“I’m thinking of working up an atmospheric landscape,” Stirling said. “I’ll be able to start that and bring it to nearly being complete. We’ll see.”

Stirling said the two-hour timeline is a challenge because she often works on some of her pieces for weeks, sometimes months.

“It’ll definitely be a smaller piece,” Stirling said.

During her demonstration, Stirling will collect names for a drawing at 7 p.m. for a small 8-by-8-inch piece made with beeswax.

“It’s not a raffle or anything. It’s all free,” Stirling said. “I have a strong belief that art should be accessible to everyone.”

Stirling has exhibited her work in Port Townsend for about eight years and is coming up on her second year at the Conservatory Coastal Home.

Stirling donates 20 percent of all her sales to area animal shelters as well as to education and art education foundations. Center Valley Animal Rescue, Port Townsend Education Foundation and the Port Ludlow Art League’s scholarship program are just a few of the organizations she’s donated to in the past year.

“I really enjoy supporting locally and being supported locally,” Stirling said. “It just feels good.”

Stirling said she hopes people from the community will come out, sign up for the drawing and ask questions about her work.

“I like to inspire the next generation,” Stirling said. “It’s nice to see art going somewhere and it’s just fun to share something I’m so passionate about.”


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at

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