Derek Brennan's Artwork Shows Vibrant Energy of Wildlife

Local artist Derek Brennan’s vibrant paintings of wildlife are created utilizing a technique known as encaustic wax painting, a process of painting with hot wax and oil paints. Brennan discovered encaustic painting at Bowling Green State University, and was immediately drawn to its layers of depth. In his expressive paintings of animals, Brennan challenges the traditions of wildlife painting, which originated as a means of accurately capturing flora and fauna before the invention of photography. Balancing realism with abstraction, Brennan depicts his subjects with vibrant energy, often capturing the essence of the animals better than any camera. Often incorporating elements of collage, Brennan prefers the imperfections of painting on wood to the smoothness of paper or canvas.

An exhibition of Brennan’s paintings opens with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. on July 7 at Loftworks Gallery. The following day, Loftworks hosts an artist talk and demonstration at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 8. During the talk, Brennan will discuss his process, theme and personal journey. Throughout the exhibition, Brennan will give visitors insight into the encaustic process by painting live in the gallery during open studios hours: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m.

“This show is a great opportunity for visitors to truly interact with the artist and discover his process more than a typical art exhibition,” says gallery director Johanna Wilkes, who runs Loftworks Gallery with assistant gallery director Hailey Bickett. “We are excited for our guests to not only view Brennan’s work but learn about encaustic painting from his demonstrations. The open studio hours at Loftworks Gallery will further provide a chance to get to know the artist and his unique process.”

“My artist talk and demonstration will be very conversational,” Brennan says. “I know that the art of encaustic painting is unknown to many people so I am going to start a painting from the beginning and give people an inside look into my process including how I use beeswax, oil paint, carving tools, brushes and collage to create my work. The open studio hours allow visitors to experience the process and the finished work all in one location.”

Elaborating on his encaustic process, Brennan says, “It becomes a dance between the representational and the abstract, constantly describing my subject in one stroke and then trying to abstract it in the next. This delicate balance constantly brings the viewer in and out of reality.”

Wildlife in Wax remains on view through Sunday, July 23. The exhibition and all related events are free and open to the public.

(Loftworks Gallery) 1667 East 40th St., 440-479-9441,

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