In this section

Life Drawing - term-time classes Introduction to Short Courses Summer 2019 Art and Anatomy Botanical Drawing Chinese Calligraphy and Landscape Painting Deconstructing the Cubist Still Life Exploring the Exotic Still Life Introduction to Life Drawing Introduction to Screen Printing Sculpting the Head: Anatomy, Form, Personality The Archaeology of the Self The Art of Wax: Flesh and Mortality The Drawing Book: experiments on paper

The Art of Wax: Flesh and Mortality

New in 2019 and developed specifically for the Ruskin by Eleanor Crook, this unique course explores wax, its material properties and use as an art medium. Eleanor Crook is a sculptor of figures and anatomy with a deep fascination for wax and its conservation, and will pass on her skills in handling, blending, modelling, casting and colouring a variety of waxes during five days of sculpture and experimentation. Course dates: Monday 26 August to Friday 30 August.

The aim of the course is to give you experience of a range of wax mixtures and techniques, stressing the versatility of the material, and its variety and affinity with the surfaces and textures of the body.

The art - and cultural history - of wax in medicine, fine art and religion will be discussed and explored through lectures and a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Wax is a transient and fluid medium often used to make artworks that contemplate fragility and mortality, and our projects will cover not only technique but also the atmospheric and emotive possibilities. 



Subject to variations
Day 1
 - Morning 
Materials talk and introduction to the studio and your workstation – safety discussion
Session on modelling waxes including recipes. Armature making for modelling wax
 - Afternoon
Modelling a maquette sized figure on a simple armature from a life model and using the flexibility of the wax to inject life into the poses. 
Lecture - Wax as a fine art medium 1500 to contemporary practitioners. 
Day 2 
 - Morning
Session on using molten wax as a sculpture medium: handling and effects.
- Afternoon
Sculpting freehand with malleable and pourable waxes – expressive and complex form arising from the nature of the materials, with demonstration by EC
Lecture - The Mortality of wax and its use in sacred art  - an art historical context
Day 3 
 - Morning
Visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum and study session on wax votives and amulets: opportunity to draw from the collection
 - Afternoon 
Modelling session in the studio making your own wax votives ; how to cast and finish them using plaster or silicone rubber moulds
Lecture - Anatomical wax modelling – history and techniques 
Day 4
 - Morning
Adding colour to wax – preparing a palette both for wax painting and coloured wax sculpting. This session will resemble a cookery lesson, all participants will make mixtures and the results will be used as the day progresses
 - Afternoon
Using coloured wax as a painting medium – encaustic painting (both cold and hot) with demonstration. Colouring waxes intrinsically and extrinsically. Demonstration by Eleanor Crook of anatomical wax modelling using coloured waxes and varnishes. 
Lecture - TBC
Day 5
Wax Studio experimentation
On the final day we will make an artwork using what we have been developing, maybe a sculpture or painting of your own design, or making use of a series of life moulds Eleanor will supply of hands, faces and feet. 
You will have the opportunity to use coloured wax directly into moulds, build up layers, model or cast, or make an encaustic painting or painted object. You will be encouraged to develop your own style, handling and interest and develop ideas for future work.
The course will end with a display and group discussion of the work generated and participants will leave with all the information they need to develop their own wax art projects. 

This course will be held in the studios at the Ruskin’s dynamic new development at 128 Bullingdon Road, Oxford OX4 1QP. 

All specialist materials will be provided. Please wear suitable clothing.

Light refreshments are available all day. Lunch is not provided but can be purchased from a range of nearby cafes and delicatessens. 

Tuition is in English. No academic or artistic criteria are required for attendance on this course although participants must be 16 year old and over. Please be aware that there is very limited disabled access at the Ruskin.

For further information, please email, or phone: +44-(0)1865 276940

For more information about Eleanor Crook, please see her website.


Booking a Place

Booking is done through the University of Oxford's Online Store.   We regret that the Ruskin cannot reserve places or take payment for bookings. 

There are three payment rates available :

Standard: £800.00

Students and over-65s (5% discount): £760.00

Oxford University students, staff and alumni(10% discount): £720.00

If you select a discounted booking rate, you will need to present your University alumni/staff card, NUS card, or some form of identification indicating your status at the start of the course.

These courses are non-residential – participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation. To enjoy the full University of Oxford experience, we recommend booking accommodation in nearby colleges through University Rooms (guests must be 21 or over, or accompanied by someone over 21).

Cancellation Policy

Please note the Ruskin's cancellation policy for the summer short courses.  These policies are in contrast to the terms and conditions listed on the online store and take precedence over that policy.

Deposit, calculated as 15% of the course fee, applies to all courses.

Any booking that is cancelled more than one month before the start date of a course will receive a refund of any fees paid minus the Deposit.

Cancellations received within one month of the start of a course will not be eligible for any refund. The Ruskin strongly recommends that customers take out travel insurance against loss of the course fee in case they need to cancel at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances.

Where a customer wishes to cancel a place on one course and transfer to another, this refund policy will normally apply.

The Ruskin reserves the right to cancel a course up to one month before the start date of a course, beyond that point, a course will be guaranteed. If a course is cancelled by the school, participants will be refunded in full.