Creativity Interview: Victoria Eubanks, Artist

Victoria Eubanks in her Denver, CO studio

Victoria lives in Denver, Colorado and is a professional visual artist focusing on Encaustic (painting with hot wax) as her primary medium. She is also a popular teacher of encaustic techniques. What follows are some highlights from the Creativity Interview I had with Victoria. 

HW: You are an artist and instructor: can you discuss your training, transition, and integration between the two creative pursuits?

VE: I learned pretty much everything in life by the seat of my pants, so the art and art instruction is no different. I found that I loved encaustic, so it was the thing I needed to do. A fellow artist asked if I would teach a class. A few of those individuals told other individuals, so between my art showings and my classes, I naturally slipped into teaching. I have no teaching credentials; I think my passion takes care of that.

Some of the equipment Victoria uses for her encaustic painting includes hot plates, liquid wax and pigments, and heat guns.

HW: Can you talk about your creative inspiration and process? Do you have routines, exercises or other practices that enhance your creative process?

VE:  Yeah, I think everybody does, whether you are aware of it or not. 

I have been a yogi for a long time. It’s a wonderful physical and spiritual thing to get in that place. It’s a good way to start your day, being mindful. I know when I am getting too frenzied, and I need to say, “OK, just stop, what are you trying to do here? What are you thinking? Be present.”

I am in my studio every day, even on weekends. It’s important for me to have a continuum. I might not be doing “creative stuff”,  I may be prepping panels or cleaning up, but I’m in there. I take pictures of my art in process, and work on the computer a lot. There is a lot of time that is not melted wax, if you will, not hands-on in that way. I had to give myself permission to do that. “… you are so doing research, you are so being creative. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t a brush with a color on it in your hand, it all counts.” And I’ve come to realize that of course it counts, but it took a while to give myself permission to do all that background work. 

Encaustic landscape painting
Encaustic landscape painting, installed at Pattern Shop gallery

HW:  I really loved the landscapes you made, the ones you cut.

VE:  Thank you. I like the juxtaposition of the loose melted color and the rigid lines. I loved what was going on there; I like the layering that encaustic allows. But it is not enough to do it just because you like the layering. To me, it always has to push a little farther. 

Encaustic landscape painting
Encaustic landscape painting

As a guest artist at the Pattern Shop Gallery, I talked about process and the medium, not the why at all. The whymatters more and more to me. People are so interested in the process, because it’s different and not well understood. I can, and do, speak to that, but I want the other half discussed as well. What’s my thought process? My Why? What does the viewer see? For example you saw landscape immediately. The why of my art is becoming very important to me.

HW: Do you experience artist’s block”? If so, how do you deal with it?

VE:  I do experience it, it surprised me. I had a lot of stuff going on earlier in the fall and I realized I’m just not doing anything in the studio.

The usual family stuff, election stuff, just anxiety — that was my excuse anyway. So it was really good to have a body of work needed for that Pattern Shop show. I purposely took the summer off, and I was out of the studio for a long time, and it was hard for me to get back in.

Having a deadline really helped, lots of things help. Having a tidy studio helps. If I stay organized, I don’t have to clean up before I can be creative. I can walk in and be ready to rock.

Blocks of custom wax blocks Victoria makes, organized by color for easy access

HW: Do you keep a notebook or sketchbook of ideas ready?

VE: I occasionally do. I work on the computer. I take a ton of pictures. There are certain things I go back to that are a comfortable vocabulary for me. I can find a bird image, or a tree full of birds and start manipulating that, I can imagine it on fields of color, or what would it look like with some texture. And it works.

HW: Did you have a mentor? If so, who was it and what did they do for you?

VE: I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my life, including me. I thank that man who hired me the first time. I thank the individual who asked me to teach the first time. There have been people who have been very kind to me. People who suggested that I participate in this or do a certain thing, all of those people are mentors.

My Husband, who is a huge mentor, tells me, Do what you need to do. I take classes from people whose art I admire, or technique I want to master. But I don’t think of them in the same category, they are different. I think of mentor as from the softer side of life.

It’s not really a coincidence what happened in my life. You look back and see that a change happened here, but it was started earlier back here. So I look back, I think Yay me. I turned some good corners.

HW: Do you have a motto” or guiding life philosophy?

VE:  I do, actually. I have several. One is, Do the right thing, another is You are in charge of your own happiness, no one else can do that for you. Hopefully that optimism can extend little ripples of happiness out into the world.

Current work, made in 2020

HW: Do you have regular contact with other creative/artistic people? If so, how does that happen and what does it provide you?

VE: The answer is yes. And if you are going to be creative it is vital, it is really vital!

You read all this advice: “Go to openings, go to galleries, meet other artists” and I didn’t think I could do that. Oh my gosh! I have met more fabulous people, that’s exactly what you have to do. 

Yes, I get so much good juice from being around creative people. I love the side conversations we have in class– about this little section of your painting, down here, and look what’s happening with the lines and color… Who else can you talk to about that sort of thing?

Everybody needs a tribe. 

New painting, made during 2020

HW: It has been awhile since we first spoke, can you give me an update on how 2020 has affected your creativity and your art?

VE: Ah, 2020, what can I say? The year of art hanging in galleries that folks couldn’t see. The year of minimal creative contact due to cancelled classes. I wish I could say I hunkered down in the studio and produced amazing work, but that didn’t happen. It was the year of low creative mojo. Luckily I had a large installation project for the Arvada Center for the Arts, that kept me busy through June. Since then I’ve been working small, for the most part, with what I’m calling my Encyclopedia Series using thin pages wax saturated pages from a 1911 version of Brittanica. My thought was to honor the massive information contained on those old leaves, and that knowledge and wisdom would somehow energize the viewer. Ah! In reality it looks like people wandering—it captures so much of what is going on for me! 

If you would like more information about Victoria’s art please visit her website at: VictoriaEubanksArt.com

5 thoughts on “Creativity Interview: Victoria Eubanks, Artist

  1. Great series you’re starting. I tried to leave a comment but I’m not sure it took. The site was trying to sign me in to WordPress before I could submit the comment – I think.

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, my ORIGINAL comment was along these lines: “Great series you’re starting. I think everyone is born with a creative impulse, but not everyone exercises and encourages it. It’s very interesting to see how people who are routinely creative manage to maintain that activity, and figure out ways to revitalize their creative impulses when “the creative juices start to run dry.” I look forward to your posts!
    JohnW

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen, this is a great series. Quite fascinating. I think a lot of the interest comes from your questions which seem specific to the person you’re interviewing. You are obviously actively listening which encourages people to open up to you. Thank you. Mary Jo

    Liked by 1 person

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