Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Kindled by Encaustic — The Paintings of Lauri Borer

Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

While Lauri Borer did not learn all she really needed to know in kindergarten, she did pick up a lot from the world of Walt Disney. The Walla Walla artist, before she moved to the Land of Many Waters in 2005, lived in Florida and worked with merchandising and human resources at the Walt Disney Company.

Who'll Stop the Rain Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

Who’ll Stop the Rain Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

“It’s worth remembering the characteristics that made me successful in my positions there,” the painter — who specializes in hot wax (encaustic) creation — describes how she applies past experiences to present endeavors. “Show up every day and do the work. Be flexible and open-minded. Don’t give up when something doesn’t work.

“Call it a lesson, not failure.”

Borer, who has been creating art since she was 7 and holds a fine arts degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa, focuses on the landscapes of wherever she finds herself, capturing that world in both representational and abstract formats.

Currently, that capture employs “the seductive mediums of encaustic painting and oil and cold wax,” Borer says, explaining encaustic as an ancient art form dating back to at least ancient Greece.

“The derivation of the word is from the Greek word enkaustikos which means to burn in. Heat is necessary to call the work encaustic as opposed to painting with cold wax.”

Mixing molten beeswax with damar resin – a hardening agent which increases the melting point of the wax — Borer paints on wood substrates that do not flex and thereby cause the cooled wax of the finished work to crack. Her preferred surface shape is square, a non-traditional dimension that adds a sense of stability, solidity, and balance.

Nailed It, Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer

Nailed It, Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer

“The versatility of the medium is unlimited,” Borer says.

“Paintings can be finished to a smooth polished surface; transparent layers reveal colors and dimension as wax cures and hardens over time.

“Textures can be created, marks made with ink or graphite, ephemera added . . . on and on.”

Frequently, she finds a work takes on a life of its own, starting initially with her plan for its existence, but resulting in something pleasingly, uniquely different.

“One of the paintings that I had in the last show in Joseph (Wallowa Valley Valley Festival of Arts) began its life as a very realistic landscape — it looked exactly like the photo from which I drew my inspiration.

Lauri Borer's encaustic artwork in the permanent collection of The Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

Lauri Borer’s encaustic artwork in the permanent collection of The Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

“But the photo was perfect — it didn’t need to be copied.

“So I scraped and moved the paint around until it was almost broken, a de-constructed and abstract interpretation of a Hell’s Canyon sunset.”

In addition to creating her artwork, Borer draws upon her organizational skills to showcase area and regional art, encouraged by the first person she met in Walla Walla, former area artist Bonnie Griffith, to volunteer at the Carnegie Art Center, then active as a community gallery.

“I became part of the gallery committee responsible for hanging the shows each month, and became close friends with Bonnie and the other committee members, M’Lisse Moerk and Dianna Woolley.

“I found my tribe.”

To Sleep, Encaustic painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

To Sleep, Encaustic painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

Later, Borer jumped into ArtSquared, Art Walla’s annual fundraiser benefiting arts education, becoming active on the committee from the event’s inception in 2013, and from there, joined a series of local artists producing a regular winter group show at CAVU Cellars.

“Half a dozen artists of various mediums share our work in a lively, colorful, and diverse, yet cohesive show.”

Presently showing at Wenaha Gallery, Borer is preparing for a summer exhibition at Initial Point Gallery in Meridian, Idaho. With artworks found in personal and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Borer has participated in juried shows in the Pacific Northwest; Santa Fe, NM; California, and Montana. One of her pieces is in the permanent collection of the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe.

She’s busy, active, moving, creating, snapping reference photos with an enthusiasm and diligence that even has her husband alert to a potential painting.

“He’s become an expert at quickly pulling over or spotting vistas he knows I’ll want to capture.

“I see ideas for paintings everywhere, even abstract paintings.”

In the spring, summer, and early fall the couple goes fly-fishing (with camera) on the Wallowa River. Summer finds them (with camera) on their small boat on the Snake River, fishing for bass and scavenging for flotsam for Borer’s art. All year round is studio time, and studio time is creation time.

“I paint landscapes because I love nature,” Borer says.

“From wide vistas to macro views, towering mountains and crashing seas, stormy lines of hurricane clouds and endless blues of a summer sky — it’s all inspiration.”

Wenaha GalleryLauri Borer is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 13, through Saturday, March 11.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

 

 

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Fire and Water: The Artwork of Joyce & Randy Klassen

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Most of the time, she is tidy and neat. He . . . is not.

But in the studio, the situation reverses: while Joyce Klassen attacks hot wax with a blowtorch to create encaustic collage, her husband Randy sits behind an easel, watercolors tidily arrayed as he quietly paints.

Or, more often when he sees Joyce reaching for the firepower, he finds something else to do.

Design and Texture with F Sharp in the Key of G, encaustic by Joyce Klassen

Design and Texture with F Sharp in the Key of G, encaustic by Joyce Klassen

“Randy is not mechanical,” the yin half of this wife/husband Walla Walla art duo explains. “Every time I pick up that blowtorch, it strikes fear in his heart. He’ll say, ‘Do you need to get the car filled with gas, or does it need washing? I’ll go do some errands.'”

Fortunately for Randy and his art, Joyce is not always blazing away, or, as she terms it, bringing form out of chaos. While Joyce designs, finding precisely what she needs in piles that look suspiciously like random jumbles of indiscriminate stuff (“Those who know me well are surprised at this aspect of my personality”), Randy creates dogs, cats, people, geese, old trucks, towns, and cathedrals in what is often described a most difficult, unforgiving medium.

Watercolor, for Randy, goes back to a childhood spent painting with his father, Jacob Klassen, a Russian emigre who settled in Canada and, in a career spanning 70 years, made a name for himself as an artist.

“He was a high school teacher — German, geography, and art,”  Randy says, “but he painted, and I went out and painted and sketched with him.” It was an apprenticeship, really, resulting in a familiarity and expertise so deep that viewers of Randy’s art are convinced he graduated from some prestigious art academy.

To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God by Wenaha Gallery artist Randy Klassen

To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God by Randy Klassen

“People ask what art school I went to. I never went to art school.”

He did, however, attend seminary, and upon earning his degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA, embarked upon a 50-plus year career in pastoral ministry, with a six-year Sabbatical during which he and Joyce worked fulltime as artists — initially the proverbially starving, then eating a bit more, and finally making a business of it, at one point traveling to China as part of a cultural exchange.

It was during this period of poverty that Randy created one of his most endearing and enduring works, “To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God,” featuring a small child opening the massive, arched, Gothic cathedral doorways to a church.

“I wanted to express how childlike faith could open the biggest doors,” Randy explains. “That painting turned out to be a winner,” with lithograph and Giclee editions selling out all but two prints. But the most wonderful aspect of the work, Randy continues, is the story behind the child:

Autumn Leaf Fantasy by Randy Klassen

Autumn Leaf Fantasy by Randy Klassen

The doors had been sketched, stumbled upon when Randy was driving about, scouting possibilities and discovering St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL. The image of the child he found when looking through old papers on his desk (remember, he’s the untidy one).

“I thought it was a boy, and I painted him into the picture.

“A couple weeks after the first lithograph came out, a lady called from California and said, ‘Thank you for painting my little girl,'” the image of whom had appeared in the reference he used.

“The thing that’s wonderful, though, is that Jesus put a child in the midst of them — not a little boy, not a little girl, no partiality between men and women.

“I wish the church had caught on.”

Palouse Falls in April by Randy Klassen

Palouse Falls in April by Randy Klassen

But Randy gets it, and he and Joyce are equal partners in an art career that is full time again. Upon retirement from their final church in Valley Springs, which started in a real estate office and grew to the largest church in Calaveras County, CA, Randy and Joyce arrived in Walla Walla in 2003, where Joyce, in addition to creating mixed media works spanning abstract to realism, participates in community theater across three states. Her work with encaustic drives her eye to look everywhere, all the time, for potential “junque” to incorporate within an artwork, the less perfect, the better.

“I like the junky stuff better than the pretty ones — if I find a sand dollar, I don’t like it to be perfect. It has more interest in a piece if it’s not.

“It’s kind of like people — It’s the little imperfections that make them special.”

One could almost add, to such sorts belongs the Kingdom of God.

Wenaha GalleryRandy and Joyce Klassen are the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artists from Monday, August 1 through Saturday, September 3.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.