At the age of twelve years old, I started painting lessons with my watercolor teacher, Joan Gessner.
Every Saturday morning, my parents would drop me off for a two hour group lesson with Joan during which I would work to master watercolor skills like wet-on-wet or dry brushing or how to correctly mix color.
Many were the times that I ran to the car at the end of class, proudly waving my completed painting in the air. Many were (also) the times that I broke down crying, became frustrated, or mad with myself when I couldn’t get it right. Joan was strict and wouldn’t entertain the lack of belief in myself.
“I have always believed that a teacher is "one who helps another to see."
The quote above comes from this months As Seen On subject, Dietlind Vander Schaaf. Dietlind, who currently resides in Maine, taught Amy the skill of encaustic painting.
As I grew older, I came to see that sprinkled within Joan’s lessons in watercolor, were lessons in patience, letting go, releasing control, meditative study, and peace. In Dietlind's words, Joan helped me to see. I started to see myself as a watercolor painter. I began to see things as they truly were.
With eyes on a blank canvas,
Dietlind, how do you typically approach a blank canvas? What inspires you?
I approach a blank panel the same way each time. I start by warming the surface and carefully building smooth even layers of encaustic medium until the painting has reached a certain depth. Then I begin to paint. Because my work is process-driven, I don't overthink it. The act of building layers is a meditative one that gradually brings me deeper into the place I need to be in order to paint.
I find inspiration in both the natural world and the urban landscape. I'm always taking pictures of buildings, lines, cracks, particular arrangements of leaves or color, paths, light.
And what do you like about working with wax as a medium?
I enjoy building layers, etching into it, fusing it, and the incredibly sensuous surface it offers. I like that my medium is composed of beeswax and tree sap; that there is something natural and organic about it.
Do you work to communicate or convey anything through your artwork? Does it change with each piece?
I think the essence of my work is similar regardless of the finished painting. I want my work to convey a calm centered-ness and to contain both rhythm and poetry. I want it to evoke a feeling of spaciousness in the viewer. I am also very interested in expressing what I find the most beautiful, haunting, and compelling about our surroundings and our inner landscape.
You offer encaustic workshops and lessons. What do you enjoy about teaching?
I have always believed that a teacher is "one who helps another to see." Teaching has brought me into contact with so many people that I would never have met otherwise. I have been fortunate in that I have had wonderful students of all ages and backgrounds that have helped me become a better teacher through the years. I have learned to listen deeply and to ask better questions. I have also learned how to organize my material in such a way that the instruction really lands for all kinds of learners.
How did you and Amy initially meet? How has your relationship with Amy evolved over the years that you've known her?
Amy and I met when she enrolled in an encaustic workshop I taught at Maine College of Art. I was drawn to her immediately, appreciating her thoughtfulness, her presence, and her style. Amy started as one of my students, then worked as my assistant at my annual encaustic retreat, and throughout the years became my friend.
What piece of Amy’s can you be seen wearing? How do you typically wear them?
My favorite go-to earrings of Amy’s are the Lock Dangles. I wear them with everything from a linen dress and boots to an oversized sweater and jeans. I love how the brass has developed a patina over the years. They are simple, organic, and classy. They feel like me and I get lots of compliments on them. I like knowing Amy made them.
More information about Dietlind, her art and her teaching can be found at dietlindvanderschaaf.com
And as usually, this month’s As Seen On featured style, the Lock Dangles, are 20% off at check out
[ a little thank you for letting us share our story with you, and for reading until the end! ]
If you or someone you know wears Amy’s pieces and is interested in being featured, please reach out to us. We’d love to learn more about you and what you wear.