Ingrained at The Georgetown Art Center

Sitting down and figuring out an entire series before making the first piece is not a challenge I have ever risen to before this show. I have the other artists of Ingrained, a group show I was invited to participate in, to thank for this experience of truly enhancing how I create. This show is scheduled to open July 24th at The Georgetown Art Center in Georgetown, TX. The other artists are Alicia Philley, Aimeé Everett, Caroline Walker and Thomas Cook. We all have very different styles and topics but we all work on wood panels for this show, allowing the grain of the wood to play a role in our imagery or message. Check out our IG @Ingrained_ATX to see everyone’s work. We are working toward a website too, here.  Due to the pandemic, we are exploring virtual options for an “opening” or at least getting some great video and stills of the show. It will never replace seeing an art work in person, and we are hoping we can do some by appointment viewings as well.

On to the process for this series. As of this writing, I am about to begin the last two panels. I was invited to participate in this show because of my honey bee series from 2014-2016 (which I just made one at a time, as i felt like it around other projects.).

Honey Bee Painting, Bee Art, Save the Bees, Bees, Paintings of Bees
Bee IV (Leon) 8 x 8” 2015 Oil on Panel by Linda Wandt

Theses panel paintings were all 8 x 8” with a very rare 12 x 12”, little pieces that I could basically hold over my lap and in my face as I worked on painting each little hair with a tiny round sable brush. They took 6 or so layers to complete and the detail involved was really satisfying to me, painting one of these was a very trance like, zen experience of hyper focus and mainly paying attention to how much oil was in my paint. So my fellow artists asked if I wanted to work with them on a show where I could make this type of painting, but BIGGER. I said HECK YES. Bigger, more complex and pushing myself to explore new things? Into it.

The bees come from a painting that also had venus fly traps in it. I took this theme up again, but wanted to explore other pollinators and other carnivorous plants – there are some truly amazing, curious evolutions of these plants. While representing something not fully understood and delicate, they also, to me, represent how short and brutal existence can be. Watching video of a critter falling into a pitcher plant is definitely distressing. It’s the cycle of life, but it’s hard to watch and makes me very grateful to be so high on the food chain. I am fascinated by them, and in awe. I wanted to explore mirrored compositions that touch on art deco designs, with lots of leaves, but simplified due to time constraints. Well into this series, I realized an aspect of the inspiration for their look is the opening credit sequence for a Netflix show called ‘Dark’. Inspiration comes from every where,  it sneaks in and sits, waiting, even if I don’t even realize it til way into the game.

First, I had to explore the materials and see how it would go scaling up from 8 x 8” to the 30 x 30” I wanted to work with. I’d have gone larger if my studio space and time had allowed it. I did some small experiments and painted one pitcher plant two times – one as direct color, and one with a grey scale underpainting to compare the finished results. I decided to do the majority of the work with the grisaille – grey underpainting with glazed color on top. I sat down and did so many thumbnail sketches. It was not as painful as I had been expecting it to be. I worked out most of the details of what pollinators I wanted to focus on and what carnivorous plant I wanted to pair them with and played with the compositions – some fell into place perfectly, others took a much longer time to get right. The moth one that I am about to start was the most difficult when moving to the full sized sketch. I tried several different things before realizing I should stick with my instincts in the thumbnail.

Here’s the progression in detail; thumbnail to hours of research and prep sketching to learn forms, how the creature/plant occupies space and has volume, to full size sketch. Panel clear coat prep, then transfer of original sketch via tracing paper that’s flipped back around, so both sides are used. First layer grey scale, allow to dry. Second layer greyscale, allow to dry. Finally, color glazing that happens in layers as well. VIOLA! 😀

Bombus – genus of Bumble Bees


moth sketch
Is the moth one my favorite so far?


Layer one moving into layer two

This experience has truly enriched my scope and I’m excited to work this way in the future. (P.S. Sorry about my awful photography! Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!) See the rest of my Ingrained series, finished up HERE! There’s 8 in all. 

Bombus, 30 x 30” Oil on Panel & Capensis Euphoria, 30 x 30” Oil on Panel


I’ve completed another painting, and another experiment in flesh tones. During my blog about creating “Smokescreen” I discussed the palette I’ve been developing over a verdaccio underpainting, I said I was going to try the same palette over a grisialle painting so that I could see the difference in how the paint mixes optically. Welp, it was a total failure, just as I expected! That likely sounds moronic to some people, but to me it’s merely a science experiment. The failure went exactly how I expected it to go, and that gives me a great deal of information about the process of what colors work well over what monochrome underpaintings.

Grisaille Underpainting Linda Wandt
Grisaille Underpainting by Linda Wandt

This piece served to show me how and why the warm flesh tones I was using don’t work in a transparent manner over a grey underpainting. The colors together work great over a green-grey underpainting, because the cool greenish hue neutralizes the warm flesh hues over it. When I started laying the color on, everything was really peachy and not natural looking. I knew this could be that the layering process is complex, and would require more then one layer to look natural. Unfortunately, I was working with a very pale skinned model, and I had to alter my recipes to work with the skin tone. I switched from a warm red flesh tone base (transparent red oxide) to a cool red – genuine rose madder – an expensive color I use rarely and sparingly that interestingly is somewhat fugitive so it was replaced greatly by Alizarin Crimson, and then by the synthetic Quinacridone family of pigments. I find Rose Madder creates such a gorgeous color that is different from both more modern alternatives however. This does not mean I recommend using the pigment, but I do have some and love it greatly. With this recipe, things began working out much better, but it still required several layers and a lot of guess work to get things where I wanted them. I got so lost for a bit, I had to even ask for an outside opinion to help with the issues I was having from working from a photograph of a fair skinned person sitting in the shade. Le Sigh. Working from life really is better. It’s so absolutely true that you loose so much color in the shadows when working from photographs. What I really needed to do was simply keep plugging away at it, slowly adding color layers to create form. Here is what I ended up with.

Macrocosm Linda Wandt
Detail of “Microcosm” Linda Wandt

So camera phone photos are not all that for reproduction. The skin is pinker in reality. Also keep in mind, I’m learning, and on top of that mostly teaching myself. I’m leaving out the meaning of the piece altogether, and focusing on the technical aspects, and I’m still honestly tweaking some of the details around the figure, so I’m only showing a detail at this point. Sorry about that. I’ll have it photographed all pretty and nicely lit and put that on my website in the next week or so. But the journey toward the flesh tones in this painting was important. Neutralizing the skin with blue in some spots and green mixed in others into the base flesh tone and then adding other colors has been a huge step in the right direction for me, and I’m really excited about the results as I do this more. I’d love to streamline this process in future paintings, but I feel like a few more with this method are merited before I get real crazy and start attempting my flesh tones in a single layer, like I see some people doing. I’m really curious though, and feel like if I can gain these principles in transparent colors, trying it all in one shot will be an easier process for me. There are so many possibilities for flesh recipes, it gets really overwhelming sometimes, and it’s very easy to get lost in the realm of possibility. A smarter painter then myself recently told me that limiting your palette is really wise, and I think she is absolutely correct. I also think that would make a fine subject for the next entry.

In order to make successful paintings, you have to make a lot of unsuccessful paintings. Each one you make is a building block to the next. There is no such thing as a waste of time if you make a bad piece. You’re simply learning how to make it better next time. In this post I’d like to show a few of my more successful older pieces, and go into some of the details surrounding where they come from. I’ve been told by quite a few people and artists that I trust at this point that I need to “settle down” and to stop jumping from style to style with each piece if I want to get picked up by a gallery already. While I would like that very much, I also really enjoy varying my style. I get comments however that my portfolio looks like it’s work from several different artists. Not everyone says this, and I have gotten feedback from a few people who say they can see the same hand in all, but it’s a less often made observation. I understand the need to remain recognizable, but after a month or more of creating an indirect painting, layering layer after layer of glazes, I need to paint thick and chunky with a palette knife and slop the paint onto the surface and take joy in the sheer act of painting! I love what I can achieve with the slow approach, but the active aspect of painting thick and the expression you can get with the paint strokes is SO GOOD.

Queen Small
The Queen of Bones, 2006 Linda Wandt


I made the Queen of Bones in my painting II class. I fully admit it was a little too intense for people watching me make it. It’s the result of a bad relationship with a poet, a line from one of his poems about our bad relationship (“Heart of Sticks, Heart of Stones, No One Owns the Queen of Bones”) and a trip to the MET in NYC where I saw a collection of African Funerary Masks on display. While it shows off my lack of planning and technical skill at the time, it still holds up to me, a decade later, as a strong piece. It’s about death and change, and it’s incredibly personal. It’s glazed with damar varnish around the borders, which means it would be difficult to clean up if I had ever wanted to do so. The writing at the top and bottom is vine charcoal – under the damar. Look, it’s a mess. I’m proud of it, but I didn’t understand the materials yet. We learn best from mistakes though. If we aren’t making mistakes, we aren’t trying new things. A quick word on Damar Resin – while it’s a very traditional ingredient, I personally believe it is no longer needed in painting. Since it’s a true resin, it will yellow with time. I’d need actual turpentine to remove it from the piece, and that stuff is awful.

Gemini Twins_S6
Gemini, 2006 Linda Wandt

This is the last painting I made in school. I created a collage from images I cut up from Art in America magazines and I liked it enough to create a painting off of it. Each element is a different painting, I added in the background, mirrored the figure and tied the two figures together by extending the feathers into a bridge connecting the two figures. I became very intrigued by metaphysics for a while, before realizing what a giant waste of time it had become. It’s important to question both reality and our place in it, but only up to a certain point, when it becomes more important to stop sitting around pondering questions that might not have answers and go do something with yourself. I am a firm believer in positive existentialism – it is up to each individual to create their own meaning. I find comfort in the knowledge that I am a speck of dust in the universe and that I am empowered to create my place in it, for whatever that is worth. I am a somewhat indecisive individual at times as well, so I am fascinated by duality and the choices we make when creating ourselves. The theme of “versus” pops up in the paintings a lot. Gemini, the twins, represent two halves of the same whole. They are two sides to the same entity.  I’ve been asked about the little figure of the man in the yellow shirt. Does it ruin anything to admit I left him there because I think it’s humorous? He’s quite out of place, but so is everything else, so it felt fitting to leave him when all I had really wanted was the splash of yellow to make up the shirt.

Linda Wandt
My Sister Subconscious, 2010 Linda Wandt


This piece is called “My Sister Subconscious” and it was made in 2010. I sold it during a music festival I had a table set up at in downtown Austin. A man came over to my table where I was selling $10 prints and asked me how much the painting cost. It would be really bad form for me to admit how little I sold this piece for, in hindsight, but it was during a short period of unemployment and this sale ensured I would have electricity for another month, which was wonderful. It was a wonderful thing indeed. He whipped out his wallet, handed me cash, and asked me to mail it to him in Houston. I was speechless, and elated, and it felt like a lot of money at the time. This painting represents the conscious mind, which is blind, and the subconscious seeing eye. It is also about duality, and there is also a bridge present, the strange shape separating the two faces. I’m interested in the spark that exists between our minds and our physical bodies, but I can never delve any deeper into that mystery of consciousness then I can explore with these images.