Artist Spotlight on Linda Wein: MySLart's '33October' Old Orchard Gallery
After discovering encaustic painting—a technique that uses heated beeswax often mixed with pigment—Linda Wein dropped her acrylic brushes and dove into encaustics wholeheartedly. Research and experimentation led to a class at St. Louis Artist’s Guild, and now the artist seldom paints in any other medium. Three of her encaustic works will be on display at the MySLart’s “33October” exhibit at Old Orchard Art Gallery, Friday Oct. 18.
Wein primarily uses an un-pigmented encaustic medium in her work, plus thin glazes of oil paint rubbed into each layer of wax, then fused lightly with a blow torch. After another layer of wax is applied, scraped smooth with a razor blade and fused again, Wein buffs the final layer to a sheen with the palm of her hand. “The final result is a curious combination of glass-like smoothness and organic variation,” Wein says.
In addition to displaying her work at Old Orchard Gallery, Wein’s work has been seen at the St. Louis Artist’s Guild and is featured on the online gallery 24seven.com. A recent encaustic work—created by transferring a PhotoShopped image directly onto pigmented wax—was selected to appear on the cover of a forthcoming book by Helen Hume, “The Art Teacher’s Survival Guide for Secondary Schools.”
We spoke with Wein about her passion for encaustics, the inspiration behind her work and her pieces in the upcoming MySLart exhibit.
ALIVE: Has there been a defining or epiphanic moment in your career?
Wein: Yes, when I discovered the beauty of encaustics. For many years I worked in acrylics. Several years ago my husband and I were passing through the South Ferry Subway Station in New York City. The walls of the subway station are lined with these glorious glass panels with images of tree silhouettes by artists Doug and Mike Starn. I found out the installation was based on the Starn brother’s large scale tree photographs coated with encaustic wax medium. From that day, I was hooked on encaustics and I’ve never looked back.
ALIVE: How would you describe your art in general?
Wein: I create imaginary landscapes usually focusing on sky, water and horizons. I’m in the midst of a series I call “Inner Space” in which I juxtapose the idea of vast horizons in nature with the inner spaces inside all of us where we generate our creativity, love, ideas and dreams. Multiple layers of beeswax and dammar resin are fused between thin glazes of oil paint with a blow torch. This technique creates jewel-like images that seem to glow from within.
ALIVE: What is it about the encaustic process that appeals to you?
Wein: Everything about the process appeals to me. The fragrance of melting beeswax and dammar resin, the magical translucency of the wax and the way glazes of color change as you layer them. Encaustic is a very forgiving medium because you can scrape away what doesn’t work and start again. The versatile nature of encaustic also amazes me. Encaustics have been around for 2,000 years. Beeswax is impervious to moisture, durable and archival. Today, there are countless ways contemporary artists use encaustics.
ALIVE: What do you hope to achieve with your art?
Wein: I hope my encaustic paintings create an oasis in time, a respite from the frantic life most of us live nowadays. This is how I feel as I create in my studio and I would like that feeling to resonate with others who see my work.
ALIVE: Pick one piece in the show and describe it:
Wein: “Inner Space: Voyage” is especially meaningful to me because it represents new beginnings, optimism and serenity. (below) The horizon beckons the viewer forward and promises a bright future. You can see how the oil paint glazes sandwiched and fused between layers of encaustic medium capture the light and appear to glow. This effect is endlessly exciting to me.