Off The Wall Magazine Q&A with Willa Vennema



Maine.   I have been spending my summers on Swans Island for 56 years. Each summer, I immerse myself in the stunning beauty of this area of coastal Maine. 

Inspiration.   The ever-changing ocean, the rocky beaches, the green woods, and the variable clouds of Maine offer constant inspiration to me.

Medium.  The encaustic medium is made from beeswax, pigments and a hardening agent of damar tree resin. What makes the encaustic medium so exciting for me is how versatile it is, and how many other materials it can be combined with. Because encaustic paint is used in a molten stage, which hardens almost as soon as it is applied to the substrate, the artist must work quickly, and be open to surprises. 

Artist Hero.  During my childhood in Greenwich Village our neighbor, Irving Petlin, was a working artist. Under Irving’s recommendation, I applied to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His encouragement was significant in my development as an artist. 

Studio.   I work in a small attic studio in the Woodford’s neighborhood of Portland. A south facing window looks out on a city park. My studio is always a complete mess because I paint until I drop.  When I next enter my studio, I just want to start painting again. 

Where in Maine. In the winter, I live in Portland Maine. I love the restaurants, culture, and many friendships made over the last 25 years.  Once the weather warms, I can’t wait to move to Swans Island. This is where my muse lives, and I will never cease to be amazed by the striking natural beauty and how it feeds all my senses. 

Fun Fact.  When in high school, I dreamt of being a concert Flautist. I attended the high school of Performing Arts that you might remember from the movie “Fame”. 

Study.   I received my BA in studio art and art history from Oberlin College in Ohio. I then returned to NYC where I completed a BFA in studio art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. 






Learn more about this artist:


Available artwork


Radio Maine podcast interview


Art Matters blog article

Off The Wall  magazine Q&A