Rachel Teannalach

Peaks and Valleys

<em>Early Spring in the Boise Foothills</em>, 2016, oil and wax on linen, 40 x 50 inches
Early Spring in the Boise Foothills, 2016, oil and wax on linen, 40 x 50 inches

After moving to Boise, Idaho, eight years ago, Rachel Teannalach began painting alla prima and en-plein-air in the wilderness. Here, she discusses the arts community of Boise, why she paints in one sitting, and where she finds inspiration in the landscape.  

“I get asked how I define my painting technique or what I call it, and I’m excited to say that I don’t have a name for it. If you find your niche or your own way of expressing yourself with paint, then there isn’t a name for it—it’s just how you do it. Your style evolves naturally if you paint enough. Sometimes it happens serendipitously with happy accidents. For instance, I lost all of my brushes about four years ago. When I went to buy new brushes, I ended up buying more flat and square-headed brushes, which changed my way of working. Your art reflects what’s going on in your life, down to losing all your paintbrushes!

I didn’t know much about Boise before I moved here, but now I love it. I came for an extended visit with my parents, who retired about a decade ago. They live about 45 minutes outside of the town. I began to explore the area a little bit more and discovered that it’s a really creative place. It’s growing fast, but there’s space for everyone to explore his or her own ideas. People have enough time on their hands to enjoy each other’s work, too.

My family and I get out onto the hiking trails, and we frequently go out of town for backpacking and camping trips. I got the inspiration for Early Morning Boise Foothills when we were out for a hike around sunrise. The sagebrush was blooming at its prime, and the light was just right. It was another one of those serendipitous moments. Those are the paintings I love most: some crazy ray of light or a rainbow or trees lighting up in a neat way. I try to get out during the times of day when things like that are more likely to happen. Almost all of my little paintings are onsite. I only do paintings in the studio that I already did onsite, so that I convey a feeling of the landscape as I experienced it. I don’t think about color when I’m painting—I just observe what’s in front of me. The landscape leads the painting, and the color reflects what I see.”

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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