Creating Spaces: painter Betsy Eby talks about her artistic life, community and sharing space, both physical and beyond
There are stretches of the northwest coast where the gray-green Pacific Ocean crashes against the rocky shores of old growth conifer forests. It was there, in Seaside, Oregon, a village near the terminus of the Lewis and Clark Trail, hemmed by the Necanicum River to the north and Tillamook Head promontory to the south, where Betsy Eby grew up.
I met with Betsy in her studio, a loft in the old Swift Mill. She showed me around her work space, where she crafts her encaustic paintings. It’s a labor intensive process; she layers heated wax, damar resin and pigment on canvas in almost limpid coats, liquifying them with a blowtorch. When we met, she was working on a new piece. Betsy pointed out a few of the details of the work, the way layers interplay, and to demonstrate, she set the torch to a section. I watched as the layers fused under the heat; when she removed the torch, she encouraged me to touch the surface; the wax was still warm but already solidified. Betsy had many, many more hours of application and coalescence to go.