Rachel Teannalach’s Portals Transports Viewers to Iconic Idaho Landscapes 

click image Owyhee River, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.  - RACHEL TEANNALACH
  • Rachel Teannalach
  • Owyhee River, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the 14 landscape oil paintings in local artist

Rachel Teannalach’s newest exhibition, Portals, would be to stand in the middle of the Northwest Nazarene University Friesen Galleries and pretend to be the city of Boise. 

The mammoth works, which each stand taller than seven feet, depict what Teannalach sees as the most iconic natural landscapes within 150 miles of the City of Trees; in other words, they show what the city itself would see if it could open its eyes and look around.

“It’s not a continuous image, but a 360 [degree] radius around Boise,” Teannalach explained, “Each [painting] is kind of a portal or a doorway into that landscape.”

Not only do the paintings act as metaphorical doorways, they’re also roughly the same size as doors, reinforcing the impression that the scenery they depict is just a step away. And although the settings vary widely—from an extraterrestrial view of the Snake River littered with chunks of dark rock to the serene, deep blue surface of Lake Payette—one look at the sweeping brushwork and vivid color they share is enough to confirm them as a set.


click image Payette Lake, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.  - RACHEL TEANNALACH
  • Rachel Teannalach
  • Payette Lake, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.

Teannalach said the series was inspired by a set of northern California landscape murals she once saw at the de Young museum in San Francisco. When NNU offered her a spot in their gallery, she put her own spin on the concept by using spots close to home and her distinctive, loose style, which is largely informed by her favorite studio space: the outdoors.


“My foundation is really as a plein air painter, and as a plein air painter you’re just constantly trying to capture a moment of light on the landscape. I really try to bring that into my studio work,” she said, adding, “I try to only paint in the studio something that I’ve painted on site, because I think you observe different things when you’re there painting than you do when you’re just taking a picture of a place.”


click image Bruneau Sand Dunes, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.  - RACHEL TEANNALACH
  • Rachel Teannalach
  • Bruneau Sand Dunes, 88 by 48 inches, oil and wax on linen.

All of the Portals paintings were done from photographs because of their enormous size (88 by 48 inches), but with the same speed and precision Teannalach uses when painting in the open air. For each piece, she stretched clear-coated linen over a masonite panel, then sketched a line drawing in charcoal before starting to paint.


As with her well-known daily series of “tinyExpanse” paintings (a visual journal she shared on Instagram throughout 2017), Teannalach painted Portals in the "alla prima" style, working from top-to-bottom without retouching, and over the course of five months last year she finished all 14 pieces. See the kaleidoscope of Idaho places through Teannalach’s eyes on display at NNU through Friday, March 16. And to meet Teannalach herself, stop by the gallery for the Jan. 16 artist reception between 4 and 8 p.m.



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