I recently returned from a very intense artistic week in County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland.

I took a week’s course at the Ballinglen arts foundation to master the new medium of cold wax with oil paint.

It was a very exploratory week, investigating the properties of this new medium and learning how to create atmospheric semi abstract landscapes.

Ideally we would have gone outside to do some sketching but it barely stopped raining so we spent many long hours in the studio working with solvents and pigment powders and a few natural objects brought in from the occasional quick trip to the beach to scratch and mark make with.

Using oil and cold wax is very different to working with acrylics, as it slips around and dries much more slowly.

However, the advantage of using this material is that it enables me to create wonderful textures and work in layers to scratch back into.

As I already use a lot of sand and earth collected on my dog walks in my paintings with acrylics, I found myself adapting to using the cold wax and oil with charcoal dust, slate dust, marble dust and sand readily.

I will certainly continue to explore this lovely combination of layering textures, cold wax and pigments with oil paint and see where it leads me. One thing is for sure, it is really very satisfying to use.

And the colour of oil paint it has to be said, is so rich and luminous, particularly when used with cold wax. Having not painted with oils for nearly 30 years, I have rediscovered the joys of this sumptuous, expressive paint.

Here are some images from my trip. Follow my adventures on Instagram josmithartuk for more pictures too.



Beautiful coastline – visible on a rare rain free afternoon!


Some sunshine – YAY!!!!!


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.