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Born and raised in Joseph, Oregon, Leah J Svendsen remembers being 9 years old when drawing became more than lines on paper. A Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Painting from Lewis and Clark College in Portland expanded her artistic horizons.

Leah found her way back to her home town in Eastern Oregon and now paints her horizons around the Wallowa mountains and valleys by working with the encaustic medium. 

After a 17 year career at a local bank she left her Marketing Manager position to pursue her dreams of working in the arts. She is the owner at Element in Joseph Oregon which is a furniture, home decor and art shop at 2 S Main Street. She has her encaustic studio in the shop and can be found painting with wax and resin during shop hours. She offers a beginning encaustic workshop if you're interested in learning in person. Click here to book a session or purchase a gift card for a workshop.




Translucence, encaustic show at the Josephy Center for Arts & Culture in Joseph (2014) and at Art Center East in La Grande, Oregon (2016).
Fused, at Art Center East in La Grande, Oregon (2018).
Mansion Creek at the Marcus Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington (2018 - 2021).
Fangled Gallery, Enterprise, Oregon (2020)


Artist Statement

I try to capture that brief moment of surprise when you notice how something very simple is actually pretty impressive. Subtle colors in a perfect yin and yang. How intense something as basic as distance can be. A narrow dusty road tapering off into the prairie. Light and shadow giving whole new outlooks to a fence post or a 9,000-foot mountain peak. All those little things making big differences.

Working with encaustic frees me from realism in my paintings. The forces at work with encaustic contribute to forming the image and often give me a lift beyond the original vision. Rather than struggle with “flaws” inherent in heating and fusing wax, resin and pigment, I go along with the characteristics of the medium and together we create an entirely new version of the scene. It’s liberating and lets me appreciate the landscape that inspired the piece as well as the medium and act of creating. When I focus on a new painting, I welcome the cyclical effect where I appreciate more deeply what I see on a daily basis. And that, in turn, inspires me to keep creating art.

Learn More About Encaustics

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Description from Merchant:

All inks and printing surfaces are archival providing rich colors that are long-lasting. Printing is done by Bay Photo Lab, a professional printing facility in business for over 40 years. Original encaustic works are produced using wax and resin and the nature of those materials are to be completely impervious to water. Encaustic lasts for centuries.


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