Karen Eide holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth Univ. in Richmond, Virginia. She is an award-winning artist whose richly textured encaustic and mixed media paintings are exhibited in national exhibitions and festivals. Several times a year she offers encaustic painting workshops, independently and through The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. VMFA selected her to participate in their Statewide Artist Workshop Program for the past four years, teaching and lecturing about the ancient technique of encaustic painting at art centers, schools and museums throughout Virginia. Karen is also an adjunct faculty member at the Museum’s Studio School. She has committed herself to painting full-time since 2004. Prior to that, Karen was a studio potter for 11 years and worked for 12 years in ad agencies and as Creative Director for her graphic design business for 12 years.
She currently resides on a gorgeous creek in Virginia with her husband, horse, cat, a garden and abundant wildlife.
My work draws from an iconography of flora and fauna in which I present a quiet and contemplative visual view of the rural world. My affinity with nature and the environment has always been the recurrent thread that runs throughout my work. My hope is that my paintings express the essence of my connection to nature— with all its frailty, its humor, joy, and beauty. I have strong concerns about environmental disruption, destruction, and extinction and in my work. You will see the wildlife observe the world with their watchful, inescapable eyes— from a center of quiet, calm and hope. I reflect on ideas surrounding longing and loss, fertility, balance, growth, renewal, and solitude. The bird imagery I use in my work is there, not only because I find them pretty and intriguing creatures, but I see them as INDICATORS—messengers of our planet’s health and well-being. Often in my works you will seem a man-made object along with the bird— such as a bowl, window, or a boat. These are metaphors for the relationship between man and nature and our delicate and complex relationship with nature and planet earth.
The encaustic paint I use is a combination of beeswax, pigment and sap resin (damar) and applied in a molten state. I work off of 200º pancake griddles where I melt and mix the solid blocks of paint and then apply it to a rigid panel – usually a hardwood plywood such as birch or maple. It combines well with so many other mediums such as oil paint, pastels, charcoal, collage elements and ink. The wax dries quickly I can add layer upon layer without waiting. Between the layers of wax, I use a heat gun on the surface to get the layers to adhere well to one another. The word “encaustic” is a Greek word that means to burn in – using the heat gun is the burning in part of the process.