Saskatoon artist takes home People’s Choice Award for encaustic painting

Saskatoon's Kathy Bradshaw won the People’s Choice Award in the 2020 Mann Art Gallery’s Winter Festival Art Show & Sale. (Photo by Hal Schrenk)

Kathy Bradshaw one of over 130 artists in the running at Winter Festival Art Show & Sale

Kathy Bradshaw was instantly intrigued when she saw a Highland cow on the roadside while on a trip to Scotland. It had massive horns with curly hair hanging over its gentle looking eyes.

She knew right away she would transform that image stored in her mind into an encaustic painting.

“He was munching on some grass and he was pretty harmless. We could literally go right up to him,” she said.

“That’s what I wanted to convey, was sort of this gentleness.”

The Saskatoon artist’s 2020 piece, called “Big Span,” won the Guy Rutter Memorial People’s Choice Award in the Mann Art Gallery’s Winter Festival Art Show & Sale this year. The gallery’s acting director and curator, Lana Wilson, said over 300 people voted.

Kathy Bradshaw’s encaustic, charcoal and oil stick painting was inspired by a Highland cow she came across on a trip to Scotland. (Mann Art Gallery/Submitted)

Bradshaw is no stranger to the art show, which had over 130 participating artists this year. She won the Best in Show Award a couple of years ago.

“When I’m doing animal portraits I’m really trying to capture that moment, sort of peer into their soul if you will, sort of an inner landscape whether it’s their personality or that moment when they look at you,” said Bradshaw.

Bradshaw, a “late-bloomer” to the arts scene, took a community painting class when she turned 40 years old. At the time, she was a high school physical eduction teacher.

The school was surprised when she decided to go to the University of Saskatchewan to pursue the arts, but she would return to pass on her love of creativity to her students.

Bradshaw fell in love with the encaustic medium in a university class. It involves using heated beeswax and mixing it with coloured pigments, either powder pigments or oil paints.

“We actually had to research an ancient medium, each of us in the class and we had to duplicate it. We couldn’t just buy it in the store,” she said, so she contacted a local beekeeper for some beeswax, learned how to mix the paint and how to work with it.

“I’m just really fascinated with the medium and all of the things you can do with it. It’s very versatile.”

Brashaw said not only can you build up the wax, you can also carve back the layers.

Wilson said Bradshaw is one of two encaustic-focused artists in Saskatchewan, along with Grant Moore of Prince Albert.

People's Choice Award Winner of 44th Winter Festival Art Show!

Final Winter Festival Prize Winner! Winner is at the end of the video…congratulations Kathy Bradshaw for “Big Span!” The video is showing a cover image of Anne Basso’s Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which I speak about as an educational intro to a small video student lesson we will discuss next week (see a project link below).Kathy Bradshaw is the winner of the Guy Rutter Memorial People’s Choice Award in the 44th Annual Winter Festival Art Show & Sale. “Big Span” is an encaustic, charcoal, and oil stick painting on cradled board of a Highland cow. It is for sale! View her art at www.kathybradshawart.comWhile Kathy Bradshaw uses the true encaustic technique, Lana has tested and approves of this simple "wax painting" activity for children from Red Ted Art – heat rocks in the oven, and draw on them with crayons to created a melted masterpiece.

Posted by Mann Art Gallery on Friday, March 20, 2020

“Big Span” is 30 in tall by 60 in wide on a cradled panel, and it’s still available for purchase. Contact the Mann Art Gallery at (306) 763-7080 if you’re interested.

The gallery will be posting art ideas and videos on social media while it’s temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wilson, who will be returning to her original role of educator in the coming months, said she introduces children to painting with wax in an activity involving a rock and pieces of crayon. You can find the tutorial on Red Ted Art.

Another topic of discussion, Wilson said, is how people are expressing environmental concerns through art—a common theme in the 2020 Winter Festival Art Show & Sale.

“That really shows how art talks about life and art is one of the ways that we express ourselves and that we use to comment on aesthetics, on world events, on how we think and feel and remember and perceive things,” she said.

She used the example of Anne Basso’s Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a quilt showing a build up of plastic in the ocean.