A member of IAIA's newest batch of artists-in-residence (A-i-Rs), Luanne Redeye (Seneca) brings many talents to the table. The New York State native and current Albuquerque resident specializes in oil portraits, but has also shown great skill in beading, quillwork, printmaking and other mediums. Meet Redeye at the A-i-R dinner and studio tour this week (5 pm Tuesday Sept. 4. Free. Institute of American Indian Arts, 83 Avan Nu Po Road, 424-2351).

You are proficient in a bunch of mediums but prefer oil paints, whereas many artists find oils a particularly difficult medium. Why oils? And how have they improved in recent years?

Different mediums offer different ways of working and depicting visual imagery … but I always come back to oils. I first used oil paint in college, and since then my understanding of it has just kept growing. There is so much to know. I prefer to use oil because the material lends itself to painting portraits and figures much better. Skin in general has a lot of layering of color, translucency, broken color, texture—oil is just able to capture that much better. … Light interacts with oil paint differently and gives it a luminosity, where other paints, like acrylic, are flat. I would love to see a Rembrandt painting in person for these very reasons.

My current studio practice includes a non-toxic approach. I am able to continue using oil paint in my studio or at home by eliminating solvents and smelly mediums. I used to use odorless mineral spirits as a solvent but completely phased that out and instead use walnut oil or safflower oil to clean my brushes, which are both plant-derived and completely non-toxic. Just a little soap and water after a "rinse" in walnut oil and my brushes are clean! Companies today offer a lot of alternatives to traditional oil paint mediums because they understand artists are becoming more conscious of safe art making for health and environmental reasons. … I've talked with some artists who stopped using oil because they became sensitive to it, but now use it again because newer technology made safer painting possible.

Uh-oh, but IAIA has a "no oil paint" policy. What are you going to do?

Like you said, I am able to work in a bunch of different mediums, so I think that experience will lend itself to the work I will create during my residency. … I picked up some of the water-soluble oil paint to practice with, by trying out different applications with the paint, I think I can get some interesting effects with it. Of course I would love to have my oils, especially considering the non-toxic approach I use, but I understand why that's not possible. … I'm hoping during my time at IAIA I can answer any questions students may have about oil paint. Learning different materials can open up so many ways of making art. Even from acrylic to oil is big difference.

What else would you like to accomplish during your residency?

During the residency I plan to create some portraits and experiment with photo transfers. I'm leaving the imagery open right now, because a part of my residency would be connecting with the IAIA community and creating portraits of the people I meet. As an introvert, I don't know why I set myself up like this, but I like the idea and I think it will give some really beautiful results.