Between Here and There: Linda Wein artist interview
I am obsessed with listening to podcasts and radio interviews of various people, but usually artists and spiritual/activist leaders. I have always been interested in hearing other people’s stories in their own words. Everyone single one of us has a story to tell. Going along with my obsession, I thought it would be fun to interview the three artists in the show Between Here and There currently at artstream in Dover, NH.
This first interview is of Linda Wein. Her land and waterscapes have such a tranquil feeling that draw the viewer in. I was really interested to hear Linda’s thoughts behind her work as well as how she balances her work as an elementary art teacher and exhibiting artist. I hope you will too.
Linda Wein, Inner Space- Splendor, 12×12 inches
1.Do you work from actual landscapes or are your landscapes generally places that inhabit your imagination?
This is one of the most frequent questions I get about my work. My landscapes are created from my imagination but heavily influenced by what I see in the world around me. I don’t generally having a particular photograph in front of me as I work. Instead I may remember how the sky looked on the way to work that morning or look at a series of photographs taken by my husband or myself to get a general impression of where the piece will go. I have found that, for me, working in a direct one to one relationship from a photo trying to faithfully reproduce it into an encaustic painting is the kiss of death! For some reason the photograph becomes a barrier that keeps me from seeing the painting on its own terms and the piece looks lifeless. My paintings are much more successful if I take my initial idea with regards to colors, shapes or composition from many photos or actual landscapes I’ve experienced and then let it spontaneously develop from there. Many times the piece takes unexpected turns but this is precisely what makes it come to life. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of serendipity to launch a whole new series. One evening last sumer I was watching a documentary about the bogs and marshes of Ireland. As I saw how the sky was perfectly reflected in the mirror-like pathways and pools of water I instantly knew how I could interpret this in encaustic. I’ve been working on marsh paintings ever since.
2. I could just be reading into your paintings, but for me I feel a deep spirituality in your land and waterscapes, especially your Inner Space paintings in this current exhibit at artstream. Do you feel like there is a spiritual aspect to your work?
There is definitely a spiritual element to my work and I’m so glad it comes through. By “spiritual” I am referring to profound feelings of awe, wonder and peace I experience being immersed in nature, of feeling like a very small part of a great big universe. I think this is a very healthy thing for humans to experience, especially for children. Naming the series “Inner Space” was the best way to characterize the dual nature of its meaning. Even though they are images of outdoor spaces they also represent the “inner spaces” of my heart, timeless places of fulfillment and autonomy. A huge part of my childhood was spent freely roaming the woods behind our house and also spending time on the water at my grandparent’s cottage. These places are in my bones. I struggled for years to find my purpose as an artist and once I began tapping into these deeply rooted experiences everything just fell into place.
Linda Wein, Clouds Reflected, 17×17 inches framed
3. Technical question for you: Do you ever use encaustic paint bars or do you solely work in layers of encaustic medium and oil glazes? What is your favorite tool to use for the detail in your landscapes?
I don’t use encaustic paint bars. When I first began working with encaustic I tried using pigmented encaustic paint but struggled with getting subtle color transitions in my work. Once I discovered I could use thin glazes of oil sticks and oil paints fused and sandwiched between layers of encaustic medium, I was able to achieve the glowing color and depth I had been searching for.
I mostly apply the oil glazes with my hands. In my marsh painting, however, the texture of the marsh grass is created by scratching the top layer of wax with a potter’s tool. I also use a small, flat brush to pull the color down into the water to create the reflection of the grass in the water.
Linda Wein, Gathering Storm, 8×6 inches
4. As an elementary art school teacher, how do you balance the very high demands on your time and energy with your own personal artwork?
Well, sometimes that’s a struggle! I never feel like there’s enough time for me to be in the studio. I’m probably at my happiest when I’m creating artwork so I’m very motivated to set aside the time. Typically during the school year I get home from school about 3:30 and go straight to my studio to work. I can usually get about 2 hours of studio time in each day before my husband comes home from work. On weekends I can usually get in about 5-10 hours. Summers are wonderful because I can put 6-8 studio hours in every day. I’m so blessed to have a very supportive husband! I will be retiring from teaching in six years and then I will be able to devote all my time to making art.
5. Do you find that your young students influence your own artwork in any way?
Absolutely! There have been times when a student has used colors, shapes or composition in a certain way that spark new ideas in my own work. I’m always energized by their joyful enthusiasm for learning and creating in the art room. Being a working artist has also enriched my teaching practice because I can share with my students some of the things I’ve learned in the studio about starting an artwork, working through problems or embracing happy accidents. It’s definitely a two-way street.
6. Do you have a favorite art book that you recommend?
Lissa Rankin’s Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax”
Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Kleon, Austin (2012) Paperback”
My other recommendation is actually a two minute video called “Ira Glass on Storytelling” featuring a heartfelt and inspiring message from the host of PBS’s This American Life on developing a successful creative career. His message to beginners about what it takes to produce work that lives up to our “killer taste” never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. If you are in the area, be sure to stop in to view the exhibit in person.
Between Here and There
April 1- May 30, 2015
Artist Reception April 24th and May 29th
10 Second Street, Dover NH 03820
603.516.8500, M-F 12-6 Sat 10-2
Works are also available to purchase online. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.