Featured Artist: Connie Wood

Emily Dickinson wrote that “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” This year it has been those “things with feathers” that have filled me with hope. 

Meet Local Artist, Connie Wood

Connie Wood is an Idaho artist working in encaustic and mixed media. She lives in the Hagerman Valley and pulls inspiration from her surroundings for most of her artwork.  As a high school and college art and graphic design instructor she’s taught in all mediums. Settling on the ones that most suited her, she left teaching and started working full time as a visual artist. 

We asked Connie a few questions about her career as an artist:

Where did it all start? When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I always liked to draw, but more than that, drawing became a way for me to really see and learn about the world.  I decided I had potential as an artist after drawing birds, maps, and portraits at the age of 10. I received a camera for my 12th birthday when I lived in Great Britain and began developing composition skills while recording images. Photography helped me build my visual vocabulary. 

What inspired this recent body of work? 

The pandemic isolation has been the perfect incubator for this new body of work. For me the only true way to see is to take the time to thoughtfully, quietly and meditatively observe. I began identifying various species in my backyard—creatures that previously fell under the generic umbrella of bird. Casual observation led to study, then to tracking migrations, close-up examination of individuals through the camera lens, and eventually to paintings.

Through frequent and extended observation, I came to recognize and appreciate their individuality—their differences from and similarities to humans. Time spent studying their habits—their determined travel across oceans and continents, the merciless predation of one species on another, and the cooperative behaviors—the V-shaped flight patterns of geese and the fish herding of pelicans—reinforced my affinity for birds and my desire to depict them. 

I came to see birds as companions and neighbors in the enforced solitude. The cedar waxwings that festooned the Russian olive trees, the chittering kingfisher that greeted me as I crossed my backyard, the dozens of species of waterfowl that paddled politely out of easy camera range as I walked the shoreline at the WMA, the excitement of sighting my first pair of Sandhill cranes striding across a field—these moments of immersion in the bird world were a gift, not a cost of the pandemic. 

Emily Dickinson wrote that “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” This year it has been those “things with feathers” that have filled me with hope. 

How have our Idaho communities inspired you as an artist?

I’ve lived in Idaho the majority of my life and have sometimes found it challenging to see beauty in the dry desert monotone surrounding me.

In taking time to look closer, to explores complex ecosystems, and consider the fragile environment, I’ve found and embraced that beauty. This year I’ve been stunned by the variety, intricacy, and beauty of the bird community in our midst.  I often use animal imagery with indirect reference to human behavior in hopes of raising questions about how our environment and resources are being used and misused. If we examine our interactions with the natural world and treat it and our fellow humans with compassion close to home, that action will reverberate outward and have positive effects.

What kind of challenges and opportunities have you experienced in recent months? 

Being of a certain age where travel is a long-awaited pleasure, I’ve found being grounded, isolated, and cooped up a bit of a challenge this past year. But experience has taught me to make the best of time, so I looked closely in my own backyard at what nature had to offer, bought a bigger lens for my camera, and started following the birds in the Hagerman Valley. 

What’s next? 

I will keep making art, growing, learning and interacting with fellow artists. I may take a break from the birds for a bit and move toward more abstract landscapes, but I generally circle back to birds and animals before too long.   I think my post-pandemic travel may become more bird centric. After a trip to Biosphere reserve in Celestun, Mexico, to see the flamingos along with this year of tracking and identifying the birds locally, my passion for bird imagery has intensified. I’m sure they will continue to inform my work. 

Connie’s work is currently on exhibit at the Capitol Contemporary Gallery through the Month of May. You can find more of her work online at http://www.conniewoodart.com/

Capitol Contemporary Gallery announces a new exhibition, Birds and Bare Branches a show of recent acrylic paintings by Anne Peterson and encaustic work by Connie Wood. We will also feature furniture designed by Derek Hurd of Studio 1212. The artists will be in attendance for an open house reception from 4 to 8 PM on First Thursday, May 6th. The show is free, open to the public, and runs through May 31st.



451 S. Capitol Boulevard
Boise, ID 83702

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Saturday  10:00 to 2:00