Jillian Waite, whose first solo show “Space and Place” is up right now at the Leyton Gallery, hails from the balmy southern shores of Prince Edward Island. She hopped north to study art at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College and moved east in 2007, where she’s been working as an artist for the last four years.

“There’s nothing right now that makes me want to leave,” she says. “I love islands I guess. I love the water … there’s something about the water and the people who live by the water, you feel an easy connection I think.”

Waite studied printmaking and sculpture, only discovering her chosen medium, encaustic painting, in her last year at school.

“I actually don’t like any other types of painting,” she says, “and the second that I tried this I thought, ‘oh, this is perfect’.”

Encaustic uses pigmented wax (melted) in place of paint, and it dries fast.

“I think I’m coming into the style that I want to be showing.”

“You use paintbrushes the way you would with oil or acrylic,” says Waite, “but it dries a lot faster so you have to move quickly and sort of keep heating things up and scraping things away. It’s two dimensional but it’s a more low tactile … so I like that about it.”

Waite says that working with encaustic is a “complete 180” from her background and her day job.

“Coming from a printmaking background, I started by trying to plan everything out, because with printmaking you have to know exactly what it’s going to look like before you even start (if you’re me anyway) so I sort of had to train my mind to do the opposite. I have a general idea now of what I’m doing, and then I just kind of go for it, and whatever happens happens. And when I like it, I’m finished.”

Waite, one of the co-founders of the Pick-Me-Up Artists’ Collective, has work in the private collections of the city, the province, Grenfell college, and Husky Oil. She was also a finalist for this year’s Emerging Visual Artist award. Overall, Waite seems to be hitting her stride.

“I think I’m coming into the style that I want to be showing,” she says.

Which is a good thing, because this month, she’ll be sharing her work with us. Check out the gallery below to see some of her past paintings, and check back every Thursday this month as we highlight new pieces from her current show. If you can’t wait, pop on down to the Leyton Gallery, to see everything up close.