MM: Who are you and what medium do you work with? JS: My name is Jodie Stejer and I am an encaustic artist in Sandpoint, Idaho. I paint with a fiery torch fusing together layer after layer of beeswax, resin, pigment, and shellac to create abstract art. I have been married to my husband John for 25 years and we have two kids, Braden (23) and Bayley (21). When I am not in the studio, I enjoy hiking, golfing, biking, traveling, coffee and girls’ nights. I like to think I am an easy-going person, and I am always wanting to learn and grow. I am not your typical artist because I am very organized….all the time!
MM: When did you begin creating art? JS: I’ve been the “creative type” my whole life but have been painting with the encaustic medium for only 3 years now. I took a 5-day private encaustic class from Alicia Tormey in Seattle, Wa. and have just been learning as I go ever since. It’s a very versatile medium with a lot to explore. It keeps me completely mesmerized.
MM: What inspired your business name? SJ: My business name is my last name. It simply worked well with studio so S T E J E R | S T U D I O was born.
MM: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? SJ: Inspiration comes in many ways for me. I live in the beautiful resort town of Sandpoint, Idaho, in the Pacific Northwest. Our four seasons provide inspiration year-round as we transition from the colors of fall into a true snowy winter wonderland with an amazing ski mountain, and then onto spring and summer on the lake. Its endless beauty is always drawing me in and speaking to me in different ways. In the past I have also found inspiration in my daughter Bayley’s writing. She wrote a blog on a recent trip to Africa and I was completely moved to paint a body of work from her writing. I absolutely love painting pieces that have a depth of emotion behind them. It’s very rare that my pieces don’t have a story that lies within. I am also inspired by how art connects us, communicates for us and how becoming an artist has opened me up as a person. I really think that those who pursue their passions know what it feels like to be alive and living the best version of themselves. To me that’s the greatest inspiration.
MM: What are some important lessons learned by you that you can hand down to artists just beginning? SJ: An artist must always be true to themselves. There will be some that love your art and some that don’t connect with your work. This is the beauty of art and the different forms/styles/mediums. Know who you are and what you want to accomplish then go for it. Don’t look back. Keep learning and evolving, all the while being “you”.
MM: What tools are an absolute must in your creative process? SJ: Obviously, the torch is my favorite tool by far! Who doesn’t like to play with some fire? I’m continually captivated by the movement of the wax as the torch fuses colors of wax and as the cells and lace-like patterns form with the shellac burn. There’s always an anticipation within me as I work the torch across a panel because there’s and unexpected result every single time.
MM: What is the most surprising thing we would find in your studio? SJ: The most surprising item in my studio is also my newest obsession! I recently started painting encaustic over animal skulls. Deer, steer and mostly bison. The response has been incredible and the creative process in working with the skulls has been challenging and amazing at the same time. They’re kinda bad ass.
MM: Are there any consistent themes that you stick to in your artistic process? SJ: I am not very consistent as an artist when you’re talking style and colors. I will always be a creator that when you walk into my studio, you’ll see a variety of colors, styles and textures in my work. I am always trying to find something new and unique to apply my medium to and will forever be evolving.
MM: Do you have a hidden talent outside of art? SJ: My random hidden talent is probably floral design and interior design. I have a knack for those creative things.
MM: How has COVID affected your business? Or has it affected it at all? SJ: COVID-19 thankfully has been so good to me. I feel very fortunate because that hasn’t been the case for a lot of people, so I realize how blessed I am. I’m booked until summer of 2021 for commissions and have sold so much art off my walls during this pandemic. I have also given art away and donated pieces to auctions because I believe it’s a special time to be able to give as well.
MM: What are three things you love about the city you live in? SJ: Top three things Sandpoint offers are….(1) Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Lake Pend D’ Orielle are both stunning features in our little town. There are not a lot of places offering an amazing ski mountain as well as a huge lake. (2) The people of Sandpoint are cool, living here for a laid back, active lifestyle and I’m a small-town girl that loves that simplicity. (3) I can’t leave my studio off the list because it’s sits right downtown in the mix of everything and has wonderful high ceilings and bright lighting. It’s the perfect artist oasis and is definitely my happy place.
MM: What is/are your guilty pleasure or pleasure(s)? SJ: My guilty pleasures are a donut once a year, anything peanut butter and chocolate and every so often a full day Netflix binge. I’m a pretty busy, active and healthy person so these are all rare……hmmmm, maybe too rare!
MM: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence? SJ: My greatest professional influence is definitely Alicia Tormey whom I mentioned above as my encaustic art instructor. She’s crazy talented but that’s not the reason. It’s because she’s and amazing human. Someone that shares her knowledge openly and graciously with others. She is always positive, joyful, and so encouraging. I wish I could spend more time with her.
MM: Do you have a favorite mix of music that you prefer while you create? What are some of your favorite bands/singers to listen to while you create art? SJ: My Spotify studio playlist is a little cray-cray! I love all music so it’s very eclectic. Ready for a long list? Just to name a few, I torch to everything from Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Panic @ the Disco, Khalid, Billy Elish, Carmen Jane, Gus Dapperton, Halsey, Leon Bridges, Jake Owen, Marvin Gaye, Lauv, and Al Green. ;)
MM: Has social media enhanced or hindered your reach? If so, what platform is your favorite? SJ: Social media has definitely played a big part in my branding as an artist. I only use Instagram and I am definitely a junkie. It’s been a great platform for me, brought me new collectors and introduced me to so many other amazing artists.
MM: What is your biggest artistic accomplishment so far? SJ: I feel like my entire artist career thus far has been an accomplishment. It has exceeded any expectations I had. I guess if I had to pick a few things that stand out it would be the following: I was featured in an international magazine called “What Women Create” in 2020, I created a custom piece of art for a local brewery and their holiday release and I was chosen by Woodward Canyon Winery to be an artist on their November 2020 international “Artist Series” wine label. These experiences are all great and give me confidence in my art moving forward but the best part of my work is painting custom art for beautiful families and their homes all around the US. I love working with people and it’s an honor to be chosen to create a special piece for them.
MM: What is your dream project? SJ: I wouldn’t say I have a specific dream project. What I love are projects that have a deep meaning behind them. For example, one of my more recent commissions was a painting for a beautiful, young girl from Colorado that lost her brother in an avalanche in Canada. He was sponsored by The North Face as an alpine climber and has an incredible list of accomplishments. It was so meaningful to work on that piece…and yes there were tears while I painted.
MM: Do you have any exciting projects upcoming that you would like to share? SJ: What I’m most excited for in 2021 is definitely my artist residency at the amazing Chateau d'Orquevaux in France. I was supposed to go this past October but with COVID it was moved to next year. I am looking forward to meeting other artists from around the world and learning from them as well as having time to solely focus on my art for that period of time.
" An artist must always be true to themselves." Jodie Stejer