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An Eye for Art: Finksburg artist runs gamut from designing clothes and jewelry to painting murals and watercolors

Linda Oechsler is pictured with two prize winning watercolors including “Seven Bottles on a Shelf” and “Bruce.”
Linda Oechsler is pictured with two prize winning watercolors including “Seven Bottles on a Shelf” and “Bruce.” (Lyndi McNulty)

Linda Oechsler is a watercolorist from Finksburg. Oechsler was always creative as a child.

“When I was 6 years old, I always remade my clothes, much to my mother’s dismay,” she said.

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This led to an assortment of different hobbies.

When Oechsler was in her twenties, she designed clothes and made purses and totes from leftover material. “I saw a lady at a party and thought that her purse was really unique. I found out that I had designed it,” Oechsler said.

Then, Oechsler got interested in papermaking. Oechsler made paper out of old fabric such as denim. She boiled fabric until it made a slurry. Then she put the slurry on a screen and pressed it until it dried. She used her handmade paper as backing for art and photos and cut designs out of it.

Oechsler got interested in making jewelry when she saw a unique piece of jewelry and thought she could make it. She taught herself to make gold and silver jewelry. Oechsler used a torch to soften the metal and then formed it into designs.

Her husband, John Oechsler, did the lapidary work for the stones she set into her jewelry. Lapidary is cutting and shaping semiprecious stones like agate, jasper, opal or turquoise for rings and settings, John Oechsler said.

Currently, Oechsler is making copper jewelry using a technique called fold forming designs. Fold forming is a process in which the metal is heated and then is bent into designs by creasing it with a ball peen hammer. She makes bracelets, necklaces and earrings. She also makes necklaces out of quarters that are bent into a dome shape. Oechsler sells her jewelry at local flea markets in the area.

Oechsler also knits hats and scarves around the holidays for the North Carroll Senior Center and other charities.

About 10 years ago, Oechsler started painting murals called “tromp l’oeil” for her house. Tromp l’oeil means to “fool the eye” in French. Paintings done in this style are so realistic that the viewer is fooled in to thinking the painting is a real 3-D object. Her murals include painted leaves and vines in the hallway. She also did calligraphy of a French poem on her wall.

Oechsler painted a doorway in her basement that is also Tromp L’Oeil and appears to be a real door. Oechsler also painted a variety of animals on the walls of her house.

“A carpenter was doing work in our house and asked me if I had any normal rooms,” Oechsler said.

About five years ago, Oechsler registered for a watercolor class at Carroll County Community College. She used watercolor because she did not want to clean the brushes or use chemicals. “I had a wonderful, talented teacher named Joseph Cassar who had studied in Italy from the masters,” she explained. He taught her color values and other techniques used to paint with watercolors.

Next, she studied the use of pastels with Cassar. Oechsler did pastel portraits at that time.

Now Oechsler is taking a watercolor class at the North Carroll Senior Center in Manchester from expert watercolorist Stacy Lund Levy. Levy is teaching the class a variety of different techniques for watercolor. Oechsler primarily paints portraits and still life images.

Oechsler has shown her artwork at the Carroll County Agricultural Fair. She has won awards for her artwork, including Judge’s Choice for a watercolor titled, “Seven Bottles on a Shelf” and another award for a mixed media portrait.

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When Oechsler needs a subject, she takes photographs from which to work. Most recently, she took a photo of a man playing pickle ball that she executed in watercolor. She titled it “Bruce.”

“Art is relaxing and I like the creative part it," she said. “I usually do it at 11 o’clock at night, when it is quiet.”

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