Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Otterstein

Featherlight Touch — The Wildlife Art of Debra Otterstein

Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Debra Otterstein

Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Debra Otterstein

Frequently, our biggest life decisions are the result of little things.

For wildlife artist Debra Otterstein, her determination to paint intricate animal portraits on domestic turkey feathers came about because of

  1. her lack of success in home economics and
  2. guilt.
Calliope Hummer by wildlife artist Debra Otterstein

Calliope Hummer by wildlife artist Debra Otterstein

“I did not find art when I was young, nor did I know that I would be a wildlife artist; I had to discover art,” the Cove, Oregon painter says. In high school, when presented with the elective choice between home economics and art, she chose the latter, because her earlier foray into the former “didn’t go so well.” Quite fortunately, she was not doomed to repeat the experience.

“The first day I picked up a piece of charcoal and started to draw, my life changed, and art has been with me ever since.”

A subsequent associate of science degree from Boise State University led Otterstein to eventually adopt a dual identity — medical coder by day and wildlife artist by night — and although these two pursuits seem at variance with one another, they are surprisingly compatible:

“Both are very detailed endeavors, both take into account anatomy, and both require that you spend many hours  working alone after doing much research,” Otterstein explains.

If you’re wondering by now where the guilt factors in, it has to do with Otterstein’s brother-in-law, who regularly found photos he wanted to see developed into paintings.

“One day he brought me the strangest eagle photo and he wanted me to create, using this reference, a very large painting,” Otterstein recounts. “This photo did not inspire me, and I could not bring myself to do as he asked, so I painted a tiny painting.

Cougar Cub, by Debra Otterstein

Cougar Cub, by Debra Otterstein

“Then I felt guilty.”

A second attempt resulted in further dissatisfaction, and more guilt. Daunted by the prospect of permanent mental turmoil, Otterstein decided that the third time would definitely be the charm.

“I knew I needed something really fun and interesting, so I painted an eagle on a feather.

“My guilt went away, and I found feather painting.”

It is an unusual substrate, one that requires intense concentration, unlimited patience, a steady hand, and a light, yet firm approach. Viewers and purchasers of Otterstein’s work observe that she paints with a feather-light touch, capturing special wildlife moments on a canvas of feathers. One of the first questions many people ask is where she gets the feathers upon which she creates her art.

“I am an upcycler, as I use domestic turkey feathers,” Otterstein explains.

“Many people do not realize that there is a law that protects bird feathers and nests: it is called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This act makes it illegal to possess feathers and nests.” Designed to prevent decimation by commercial trade in both birds and their feathers, the act lists some 800 species on its protected list, which pretty much means that, unless the feather is from a domestic bird (turkey, chicken, or duck), or from a non-native invasive species (sparrow or starling), it’s not something one picks up, or paints on.

The Otterstein painting which wildlife artist Terry Isaac calls "a Masterpiece."

The Otterstein painting which wildlife artist Terry Isaac calls “a Masterpiece.”

With collectors throughout the United States, as well as in international locales as far flung as Australia and Qatar, Otterstein works closely with some of the top wildlife artists in the world: John Seerey-Lester, Terry Isaac, Daniel Smith, and John Banovich. Isaac labeled one of Otterstein’s works — depicting, on traditional canvas substrate, a cougar crossing a river — “a masterpiece.”

“From these top artists, I have learned the importance of always conducting research before I start to paint, by doing field work and studying the physical appearance of each creature and its environment,” Otterstein says.

“I have learned that this is truly the best part of being a wildlife artist.”

In the 14 years that Otterstein has participated in the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts at Joseph, OR — one of the premiere art exhibitions of the Pacific Northwest region — she has garnered numerous awards, including multiple First and Second Places, and People’s Choice. Other accolades include being named gallery featured artist in Baker City, OR, and receiving the Artist of the Year Award by the Eskridge Family Trust.

But what matters most to Otterstein, she emphasizes, is the subject matter — the wildlife with whom we share this planet, and which depends upon us to maintain a harmonious, peaceful, coexistence. If she can capture the viewer’s attention and evoke a sense of awe, then she has truly succeeded.

“By using a feather as my canvas, it symbolizes the balance of how delicate nature is, but also how strong it must be to survive.”

Wenaha GalleryDebra Otterstein is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, September 12 through Saturday, October 8.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

 

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Life Is a Journey — The Primitive Rock Art Paintings and Sculpture of Monica Stobie

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Some humans live for many many decades, while others measure their lifespan in moments. But all humans, whether or not they ever physically walk on the earth, leave a footprint. It is part of their journey.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

For fine artist Monica Stobie, the concept of a journey is simultaneously highly personal and sweepingly universal, embodying the distinctive experience of the individual in concomitance with the lives, stories, and existence of people throughout history. Stobie, whose subject matter — and passion — is rock art, creates pastel, oil, mixed media, collage, and sculpture that draw inspiration from the petroglyphs (pictures carved into rock or stone) and petrographs (pictures drawn or painted on a rock surface) of ancient people. Raised on an apple ranch in the Yakima Valley, Stobie was attracted from a young age to the symbolism and animal imagery of Native American culture, and when, years later, she stumbled upon rock art at a site near the Snake River, she was, as she phrases is, “hooked.”

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

“I have traveled extensively, exploring rock art sites, which has given me an unlimited source of inspiration,” Stobie says. “I worked for several weeks one summer documenting rock art sites on private land. Having a Navajo guide provided a unique perspective on these ancient sites. “Hiking through harsh desert conditions gave me an understanding of a much more difficult time of survival for ancient peoples.”

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Stobie translates this understanding, empathy, and fascination into two- and three-dimensional format, and over a professional art career spanning 30 years, she has evolved her technique and style through exploration of various mediums. “Originally, I worked with paper collage — kind of a paper marquetry –fitting different pieces of paper into a design, much like a puzzle.”

Constant experimentation with papers led to her discovery of Mexican bark cloth, a heavily textured paper made from indigenous tree bark that holds layers of rich pastel colors and texture. The next step was sculpture, in response to requests by various galleries carrying her work, and the most recent path is that of oil and mixed media. Throughout all the variance and experimentation, the research and exploration, however, the crux of the matter, which forms the basis of her pilgrimage through both life and art, remains constant:

“When I look at the journey, the prevailing theme of textures, primitive imagery, and animals are prominent,” Stobie observes. She loves the mystery of it all. Life is, after all, a mystery to and for all of us, with none of us knowing where the next step will lead.

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

In Stobie’s case, art has been a part of her life since early childhood, when she learned under the aegis of her grandmother, a watercolorist.  Early school experiences reinforced a fledgling artistry, when a second-grade teacher praised Stobie’s interpretation of a bird as a sign of outstanding creativity. Adulthood found her graduating from Eastern Washington University with a degree in Art Education, which she put to use for 15 years teaching junior and senior high art in Walla Walla, WA, and Milton-Freewater, OR. Moving to Dayton, WA, coincided with the decision to turn her steps to a new path, one that plumbed the adventures of independent, full time, professional fine art.

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

“Working in a converted bedroom turned into a studio, I began my trek to carve a place in the art world,” Stobie says.

Given her chosen subject matter, it is ironically appropriate that Stobie chooses the word “carve.” The impact she has made extends far from her Dayton venue, as she shows and sells her work to a diverse and widespread clientele.

“During the span of my career I have shown in galleries, mostly throughout the Northwest but also Wyoming, Colorado, and California. In recent years, fellow artist Jill Ingram and I managed our own gallery in Dayton.”

And now, it’s a new adventure, a new direction on the path as Stobie and her husband prepare to move to the Southwest, using this new home as a base from which to travel.

As with all of life’s experiences, some things change, while others stay the same: in a new home, a new venue, a new adventure, the studio, for now, will start out in the familiar fashion of a converted bedroom. But it’s all part of the adventure. “And so,” Stobie proclaims, “a new journey begins.” Wenaha Gallery

Monica Stobie is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Saturday, August 22 through Saturday, September 19. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled Saturday, August 22, from 1 – 5 p.m. at the gallery, during which time Stobie will be present to meet viewers and talk about her art. Free refreshments are provided.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment.

Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Lunch Break by Jackie Penner

Timelessness — the Wildlife Art of Jackie Penner

Lunch Break by Jackie Penner

Lunch Break by Jackie Penner.

Some things — not cell phones — never change, and in a world where the news of 15 minutes ago is hopelessly outdated, it is good to know that there is another world, a quieter one, where things move at a slower pace.

Such is the reality embraced and painted by fine artist Jackie Penner, who focuses on the west — its people, its landscapes, its horses, and its wildlife. And while, admittedly, cowboys and Indians are more of a legend than contemporary fact, Penner draws inspiration from a sphere of wildlife and domestic animals whose daily life, in many ways, consists of the work and play that they have always done.

Header Team by Jackie Penner

Header Team by Jackie Penner

Grizzly bears, despite their size and temperament, still look remarkably winsome as they’re trying to spear a fish; horses exhibit an intelligence resulting in veritable friendship between themselves and their owners; wolves, in their solitary existence, remain outcasts, but ones capable of evoking awe and respect.

“Western life in its variety holds a special fascination for me,” Penner, who for the last 49 years has lived on a family farm since she married her Dayton high school sweetheart, Jay Penner, says. Penner’s introduction to art began when she was a child, taking informal drawing lessons from longtime area resident and artist, Vivian McCauley Eslick, and she added oil painting to her repertoire upon adulthood.

Living within the midst of both farm and wildlife, Penner gathers reference material just by virtue of living each day, with many a gentle ride on her beloved Quarter Horses resulting in an unexpected siting of two young badgers playing; a bird in the bush; or one of the majestic, working Belgian horses, raised by her husband’s family for many years.

This, primarily, has been her education in art:

Welcome Ride Home by Jackie Penner

Welcome Ride Home by Jackie Penner

“Live in an old rural schoolhouse, surrounded with an abundance of wildlife, and paint, paint, paint.”

Like many artists, however, Penner has had to find time to paint, paint, paint. In the early years, raising two children to successful adulthood was her primary goal, but even after those human birds had flown, Penner found her hours demanded by the bookkeeping she does for the family business. Not so oddly for her, numbers are as fascinating as paintbrushes, and the attention to detail she accords accounting translates well to the canvas when she is recording a living subject.

“I’m very, very detailed,” Penner says. “All my life people have been saying, ‘loosen up, you need to loosen up.’ But I got to a certain age and thought, ‘I’m going to do what I like to do, which is detail.’ ”

This detail comes out most strongly in Penner’s graphite drawings, but her paintings, as well, focus on the damp textured pattern of a bear’s fur, the plumage of pheasant in flight, the intricate harness and tack of a Belgian horse team ready to work the harvest.

Building in Wheat Field, fine art photograph by Gary Wessels Galbreath

Building in Wheat Field, fine art photograph by Gary Wessels Galbreath

“Living on the farm, surrounded by nature and the animals and lifestyle I love, gives me the passion to transfer those feelings to canvas.”

Through workshops, Penner has studied under well-known wildlife artists such as Daniel Smith, Paco Young, Terry Isaac, and John Banovich, and she herself is a member, emeritus, of Women Artists of the West, an organization of more than 200 professional female artists. Penner has served as both its president and ad director.

“My art has taken me on a journey that I never dreamed possible,” Penner says. It is a diverse and varied journey that Penner, a 1966 graduate of Dayton High School, did not foresee 49 years ago, and as Dayton Alumni Weekend approaches this Saturday, July 18, Penner joins another Dayton Alumni, Gary Wessels-Galbreath (1975), in celebrating that artistic journey, through a combined art show and reception at Wenaha Gallery.

Wessels-Galbreath, like Penner, focused on art from a young age, with that focus being quite literal from the other end of a camera — beginning with a 110 Kodak pocket model when he was 12.

Traveling the world as a Navy Seabee, Wessels-Galbraith studied photojournalism upon rejoining the civilian world, graduating from Evergreen State College with a B.A. in art and Native American Studies. He directs his attention primarily upon the environment and landscapes, and, like Penner, captures a sense of timelessness in a rapidly changing world.

Animals. Landscapes. People. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thankfully.

Wenaha GalleryJackie Penner and Gary Wessels-Galbreath are at an artists’ reception in their honor Saturday, July 18 from 10:30 a.m. (immediately after the Alumna Weekend Parade) until 2:30 p.m. at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA. Free refreshments are provided.

Penner’s show at the Wenaha Gallery runs from June 27 through July 25. Wessel-Galbreath’s work is on hand from July 6 through July 25 .

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

A Connoisseur of Trees and Wood — the Hand-Carved Sculpture of Jordan Henderson

Carved goat in cherry wood by Wenaha Gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Goat in Cherry Wood by Wenaha Artist Jordan Henderson.

Sustainability: it’s contemporary, fashionable, sensible, and beautiful, and for woodcarver Jordan Henderson of JDC Woodcarving, there is an art to doing it right.

“I source all of my wood locally,” the Dayton, WA artist explains, “People contact me regularly to let me know that a tree has blown down, and am I interested in the wood? Sometimes they drive up — in the night — and leave the wood by the studio. It’s an unusual, but pleasant, surprise in the morning, and most of the mystery is figuring out who brought the wood.

Carved wood sculpture portrait in cottonwood by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Portrait in Cottonwood, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“I have acquired some really unusual pieces for sculpture this way — my favorite is locust, but I’ve worked with lilac, cherry, walnut, oak, white pine. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of trees.”

From a block of wood, Jordan uses hand and power tools to tease out the animal, or the plant, or Viking warrior, that is hidden there, waiting for him to create it into existence. The son of Dayton painter Steve Henderson, Jordan learned to draw as a child, and he uses this skill extensively in making preliminary sketches for each piece.

“I study the subject from all sides and perspectives before actually starting to carve,” Henderson explains. “This allows me to make bold, clear shapes and cuts, which I believe are absolutely essential, because hesitant shapes and cuts in carving look terrible.

“Wood is a very unforgiving medium,” he continues. “If you make a serious mistake your carving is ruined. The time spent on preliminaries is well worth it if it means that you don’t have to  throw out a carving that is three-quarters done.”

That time spent on preliminaries shows: Henderson’s carvings are free flowing yet accurate in detail, occasionally whimsical yet respectful of their subject: the trees curve as if dancing,  the chicken exudes nobility somehow, the bust of an Arikira Indian — based on a photo by Edward Curtis — stares forward with dignity and pride. Each piece expresses the individuality of the subject.

Carved wood sculpture rockfish by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Rockfish, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

Because of the dust inherent to carving from wood, Henderson prefers to work outside, which is pleasant in the summer months, he observes. However, due to his seasonal day job — growing and marketing organic produce for his business, Deer Pond Gardens — Henderson spends the warmer months with a shovel in his hand, as opposed to a chisel. Quite fortunately, since he is a man who wears shorts in January, he has no problem working outside when the temperature is more . . . brisk, shall we say.

carved wooden sculpture the gardener by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

The Gardener, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“It’s still pleasant,” Henderson comments in his direct, yet soft spoken way. “And though in the summer — when it would be even more pleasant to be carving outside — I’m not able to devote as much time to it, I get many ideas for the winter.

“And in the winter, it’s very enjoyable, sitting by a woodstove, to do the preliminary sketches for sculptures by the fire. Or poring through seed catalogs. The two facets — gardening and carving — work well together.”

It’s back to that sustainability again — using wood that many people  would burn, to celebrate the world of wildlife, domestic animals, trees, fish, and — quite appropriately —  a gardener, leaning on a shovel.

“My goal is to create a clear and aesthetically pleasing rendition of the subject, with the aim to cause viewers to also see the beauty of these subjects,” Henderson says.

“The real benefit of wood is its inherent beauty: a woodcarving is not just a way of creating a form, it is also a way to show off the beauty of the wood it is carved from. That’s why it’s so important to have many different types of wood from which to choose, and thanks to the people who keep me in mind when they’re cutting wood, I’ve got that.”

Jordan Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 3 through July 26, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.