Spotlight | Encaustic artist Kathleen Otley brings her past forward with new works at Rob Schouten Gallery

Posted in More Stories, Visual Art

April 1, 2014

Everything once found becomes new again—at least for artists such as Kathleen Otley.

Her most recent show, “Stones and Scrolls—Willow and Wax,” opens April 2 and runs through April 28 at Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm.

This Greenbank artist creates mixed-media works that reflect a modern take on ancient and earthly things. As someone who uses a predominance of willow sticks, smooth stones, nests, painted birds, eggs, wire, feathers, colorful threads, the scrolls of Asian texts and various other treasures in her encaustics and wall shields, it’s no surprise that Otley has always been a hunter and gatherer of interesting objects.

As a child, she especially enjoyed family outings to Indian reservations and roadside attractions.

“I loved the roadside craft stores where I wet my taste for the mixed-media creations of the local tribes. I wondered at the dolls, blankets and rugs. I collected special turquoise rocks and beads and trinkets, planning things I would create myself when I got home,” the artist said.

Although she dreamed of one day owning such store of her own, it seems her studio is the place that has come to reflect that love of roadside whimsy, mixed with the influence of tribal earthiness.

Just like her trips in the car as a child, she said she always has her eye out for that special object.

“I collect these treasures or simply ruminate on them and find my inspiration eventually leading to a work of art,” Otley said.

“From that first piece of work comes inspiration to the second, where changes will lead to the next evolution, and so a body of work distinguishes itself to the next body of work.”

RSGallery - Kathleen Otley - encaustic 3d w_willow nest  (500x266)

Kathleen Otley’s encaustic mixed-media sculptures often include painted birds, old scrolls with asian texts, nests, eggs and twigs. | Photos courtesy of the artist

And so has evolved this newest body of work for Rob Schouten Gallery where she regularly shows her art.

A reception for the artist will be held on Friday, April 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. during Greenbank Farm’s “First Friday at the Farm” event. Come in and enjoy light refreshments while viewing “Stones and Scrolls—Willow and Wax,” when all the galleries and shops at the farm welcome patrons to enjoy an evening of art and conversation, and when the Pies Café serves a special dinner. The exhibit runs through Monday, April 28.

Rob Schouten Gallery, a premier showcase for Whidbey Island and Northwest artists, is located at historic Greenbank Farm on scenic Whidbey Island. April Gallery Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, open Tuesdays by appointment only.  For further information, call 360-222-3070 or email

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