“For my encaustic works, I create textured paintings on a customized and oversized heated plate to blend abstracted imagery of the real world. The place, the feeling, or experience that I am portraying is a snapshot of my present mindfulness; the size of the work comes from the same inspirational process. I hope the resulting images, whether beach or urban scenes, challenge the viewer to look again at what passes in front of them. I attempt to offer calming, reassuring works as symbols of hope in our ever-changing world.
As a photographer who also has a love of painting, I have created what feels to me to be a natural hybrid of these two interests in my mixed media works. The process often starts with mounting photographs on birch panel. I then cover the images with layers of encaustic wax and paint using pigmented oil sticks and inks.
I also enjoy shooting florals with my macro lens, creating almost abstract portraits of flowers. I get taken away in a meditative way when shooting this way; usually still shooting them with my film camera to get what I’m looking for.” — BO
Beth O’Donnell was born in Evanston, Illinois. In the late nineties she studied photography, first at the Evanston Art Center, then at the International Center for Photography in New York City. In 2002, she spent twenty months in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, doing photojournalistic work that was published in The London Daily Telegraph and Marie Claire.
In 2005, O’Donnell began combining photography with encaustic wax. Most recently, she has been using encaustic wax and pigmented oil sticks to add texture to an array of papers and panels in order to create ethereal geometric forms and abstract landscapes.
O’Donnell’s work has been shown in many exhibitions, including at Ashawagh Hall, Amagansett, NY; The Art Barn at Larkin Pond, folioeast, and Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY; The White Room Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY; Holly Hunt, Birnam Wood Gallery, Urban Zen, African Rainforest Conservancy, New York, NY; Heiberg Cummings Design, Oslo, Norway; and The Home Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya.
O'Donnell has also exhibited work at the United Nations in conjunction with the Istanbul +5 Conference and her photographs have been auctioned at several major philanthropic events around the United States. Her book, Angels in Africa, published by Vendome Press in 2006, was named by The Guardian (UK) as one of the top ten photography books of that year.
rotating exhibit of current & recently sold mixed media
BETH O’DONNELL speaks to folioeast’s COCO MYERS
CM/ YOU WORK IN A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS. HOW DO YOU COMBINE THEM?
BO/ I almost always use encaustic wax and oil paint; oil sticks either to make a painting on board or to be used over photography. I melt wax in electric pans or on a large "hot box." I use a heat gun to reheat or move the wax. I also use Japanese rice paper and tissue paper as the ground for encaustic wax paintings. Recently with photography, I've been tearing the photograph, sewing it back together and then applying the clear wax before using brushes and oil paint to finish the work.
CM/ WHERE DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR WORK?
BO/ I built a modular barn in East Hampton which is my studio. The space has a loft for an office/resting area and downstairs is the work space. I travel quite a bit and guide safaris, so I also shoot a lot in Africa.
CM/ WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR ON THE EAST END? IS IT ALSO A PARTICULARLY CREATIVE TIME FOR YOU?
BO/ Summer is my favorite season. I know it's crowded but I take the back roads and I'm up early. It is the most creative time for me continuing into fall. I like to open up my studio door and bring the work outside.
CM/ DO YOU HAVE ANY WORKS BY EAST END ARTISTS IN YOUR HOME?
BO/ I have two Peter Beard photographs depicting Africa and I also have a large John Alexander painting.
PORTFOLIO OVERVIEW of mixed media
rotating exhibit of current & recently sold photography