Out of Office: Leah Johnson

leah johnson in her home

The assistant vice president and marketing manager of $423 million-asset Community Bank in Joseph, Ore., has drawn and painted since she was young. But she picked up a new creative medium, encaustic painting, after seeing the art form firsthand.

I’d been painting for a while after college, but not very often. I wanted a new inspiration, so a friend of mine and I went to a workshop about seven years ago to learn about encaustic. It was something we heard about it, [but] hadn’t really known much about. We thought [the workshop] might be a cool getaway with friends. It turns out that it’s really interesting, so I came home and changed my whole studio over to encaustic. It was the inspiration I was looking for [to help me start] painting a little more passionately than I had been.

It’s so messy. The process is cool, because it’s melting wax and resin together. It’s very hot. You paint that on while it’s liquid, and then it cools. You’re able to layer things up. You have to fuse each layer with a blowtorch or a heat gun. You get wax and resin everywhere. You’re using fire. It’s a really fun process.

You don’t have to be so specific. I’m pretty detail oriented when I draw or paint. Encaustic painting is one of those things that releases that need to be very precise. It’s great for me, because it frees me to not worry so much about [a piece] being exactly representational of what I was going for.

With the marketing aspect of banking and painting, both involve problem-solving. You’re kind of looking where you are, envisioning where you want to go and trying to find pathways to get there. In both areas, you’re having to get creative to reach your goal. —Eric Best