‘Earl’s encaustics’ on display at Vail International Gallery | VailDaily.com

‘Earl’s encaustics’ on display at Vail International Gallery

Caramie Schnell
"Alpine Meadow," by Earl Schofield.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Painting exhibit by Earl Schofield.

Where: Vail International Gallery, Vail.

When: Through Aug. 24. Artist reception set for Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

More information: Call 970-476-2525 or visit http://www.vailgallery.com.

From moody and brooding encaustic paintings, inspired by dreary New Hampshire winters, to “happy happy” landscapes, artist Earl Schofield has done a 180 since his last show at the Vail International Gallery in 2011.

Schofield chooses to work in the difficult and uncommon media of encaustic, or wax, in which color is blended with hot wax to create the painting. Encaustics were originally created by the Ancient Greeks. Today, it is a resurgent media used recently by artists such as Jasper Johns, whose famous flag series are encaustics. Schofield’s landscapes are realistic, luminous works that reveal a personal and intimate observation of the land. He’s been working with the medium for less than a decade but already has a painting on display at the Denver Art Museum.

“(Encaustics) are similar in some ways to fresco painting in that the medium is time sensitive and must be worked quickly and decisively,” said Vail International Gallery co-owner Marc LeVarn. “Once the wax sets, it is difficult to manipulate, which is one reason you rarely see encaustic landscapes.”

Schofield, who will attend an artist reception on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the gallery, has spent the past two years working on a series of paintings he’s dubbed “Without Irony.”

“Irony is such an intrinsic part of the art scene, so coveted that real experience isn’t valued anymore,” Schofield said. “Paintings that are about other paintings, rather than old-fashioned personal experience. These are ironic paintings; I was trying to make the most cliche paintings I could and make them still work. So there are puffy white clouds, blue skies, green fields.”

There are 16 paintings in the latest exhibit, which will be on display through Aug. 24 at the Vail gallery.

‘Taken aback’

During Schofield’s last show here, he took the advice of gallery owners LeVarn and Patrick Cassidy and spent some time at Piney Lake, using his camera as his sketchpad, snapping photos to take home and use as studies for the bigger paintings.

“Some outstanding, museum-quality landscapes have come from that visit — beautiful mountain views and close cropped compositions of the evergreens and the water,” LeVarn said.

Schofield called the area “completely amazing.”

“I did the prerequisite mountain landscapes and then tried to go a little further with that,” Schofield said. “Some are (mountain landscapes) with flowers in front of them. There’s one that’s just the face of the mountain and nothing to give you your bearings — it’s all cropped in, no sky, no ground, just mountain. That’s one of my favorites.”

Return to Piney Lake

He’ll return to Piney during this visit and plans to hike a lot over the course of two days, taking photos which will likely turn into large-scale encaustics.

Five paintings came from his time at Piney Lake; one came from a photo he snapped from the side of the road, and the rest are from images Schofield took on top of Vail Mountain.

“I was really taken aback by the views,” he said.

The first piece in the series, though, a moodier painting, is from New Hampshire, where Schofield lives.

“It’s from out on the water back here,” he said. “I was frustrated with the art world and wanted to see what I could do. (I asked) what happens if I make an unapologetically happy painting. All my stuff has a modernist theme to them. All the texture and things bring attention to surface; you have this window you can look through, but that’s just the beginning. Get up close and see the texture. You have to see the paintings in person.”

LeVarn agreed: “If you think you’ve seen enough landscapes in your life then you haven’t seen Earl’s encaustics yet.”

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