Six films about how to make art, according to Britain's leading artists

Fancy your hand at wood engraving, watercolour or encaustic painting? Watch these short films by the artists who lead the Royal Academy.

By Royal Academy of Arts

1. How to paint in encaustic

The encaustic technique involves painting with hot wax; it's named after the Greek word for “burned in”. This film was inspired by the Royal Academy's exhibition of the work of Jasper Johns, though encaustic has been used by people as far back the ancient Egyptians. In this video, Royal Academician Terry Setch (who has been painting in encaustic for 40 years) demonstrates some of the wax-wrangling techniques you can use to create multi-layered, richly textured paintings.

2. How to work with an archive

So you might not have an entire building façade to cover with your masterpiece, but we can all learn something from Yinka Shonibare MBE RA's huge Family Album work. In this film, he discusses how he dug through 250 years of archival material, and then combined a choice selection with his trademark brightly coloured 'African' batik fabric patterns to make a wrap for the Royal Academy's central London home.

3. How to make a wood engraving

There's something magical about the centuries-old art of wood engraving, which produces extraordinarily detailed prints with the same tools used to engrave jewellery. This film is led by Anne Desmet RA, one of only three wood engravers to be elected as Academicians in the Royal Academy's quarter-millenium history. She takes you through each step in the process – from tracing the original drawing through to printing a first proof, plus tips on how to use traditional tools like the diamond graver and the spitsticker.

4. How to explore watercolour

Think you know watercolour? Think again. In this film, the former President of the Royal Academy, Christopher Le Brun demonstrates how he uses watercolour in his paintings, and talks about its special qualities as a medium.

5. How to cast a Jesmonite sculpture from a 3D print


In this video, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom takes you through making a sculpture cast that started life as a 3D sketch. Well, sort of: the sketch is based on a cast of an ancient sculpture from the RA Schools collection of objects for art students to study. The film was inspired by Eastwood-Bloom's work Asklepios the first sculpture with multiple editions available through the RA's Art Sales programme.

6. How to make a Japanese woodblock print


Rebecca Salter PRA studied traditional woodblock printmaking during the six years she spent living in Japan. For the RA's 2016 Summer Exhibition, she commissioned the Sato Woodblock Workshop in Kyoto to produce two limited-edition prints based on her watercolour drawings created on on traditional Japanese rice paper. This film shows the process of creating these prints.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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