tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

Sew Happy — Fiber Artist Kathy Snow Creates the Perfect Gifts

tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

A series of decorative apron towels, to be used in the kitchen or worn by a doll, by sew happy sewist Kathy Snow

Santa Claus could use a person like Kathy Snow on his staff, and not just because her last name fits well into his company theme.

Nor is it because the Dayton sewist  (a recently coined term that combines the words “sew” and “artist”) creates doll clothes to fill the dream wardrobe of every child who owns and loves an 18-inch American Girl style doll.

holiday themed nostalgic hand sewn aprons by kathy snow

Holiday themed, hand sewn aprons with a nostalgic flair, by sewist Kathy Snow

Snow’s prowess with the sewing machine, and her ability to transform fabric, notions, lace, and buttons into intricately sewn items of art, approaches a proficiency that borders on wizardry, a level of achievement in line with what St. Nicholas demands at his North Pole shop.

Appropriate for the correlation, Snow discovered the magic of hand sewing as a 9-year-old child, fully launching into the craft in 7th grade, when she took a sewing class and decided to never stop.

The Sewist in the Studio

“I have made LOTS of things in my lifetime,” Snow says. “Dresses for myself, dresses for my daughter when she was growing up, costumes for her and my grandchildren. I have made many many things through the years that I have given away to family and friends.”

Snow’s present passion focuses on dresses, coats, nightgowns, jackets, slacks, skirts, and blouses for those 18-inch dolls, which she purchases on sale at box stores and decks out in fashion for every season. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time to create a multiplicity of items from fabric, ranging from kitchen tea-towels that look like old fashioned aprons (and fit, incidentally, an 18-inch doll, should you happen to have one on hand) to quilts, from full-sized 1930s style aprons for full-sized humans to Christmas stockings.

quilted christmas stockings by sewist kathy snow

Quilted Christmas stockings by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing holiday happiness of which Santa would approve

“I  get involved in making other things that steer me away from the doll clothes,” Snow says. “I tend to start too many things at the same time, but I do  manage to get things done, just not as quickly as I once did.”

Business Is Sew Good

After all, she does this for fun, although like many endeavors we start, fall in love with, and get really proficient at doing, Snow has turned a lifetime love into a business, and operates a regular booth at the Village Shoppes in Dayton. After retiring four years ago from her position as a pharmacy technician, she finds time to spend in her basement sewing studio, complete with the ironing board that is supposed to easily fold away, but never does; a wall peg board loaded with thread and other notions; and a prominent sign that announces, MY HAPPY PLACE.

“And of course, I have cupboards of fabric and lots of totes full of fabric — Imagine that! Sometimes I wonder if I will get all of this sewed up into something.”

matching doll and girl frilly dresses by sewist kathy snow

Frilly, matching dresses to fit a doll and her girl, by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing good cheer throughout the year

And while Snow has been sewing pretty much all of her life, she’s managed to tuck in a few unexpected experiences between the seams, so to speak, offhandedly mentioning that she used to sing professionally, notably in California with the Doodletown Pipers, an easy listening group of the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as The Kids Next Door group at Walt Disney World in Florida, in 1972. After her daughter was born, she left the music business, but that’s when she discovered the County Fair:

“I entered several items I had made and won several First Place, Second Place, and Third Place ribbons.” If she wasn’t hooked on sewing before, she was now.

Sewing Happiness

But actually, it’s all about the sewing, whether the work sells (it does) or whether it wins ribbons (how can it not?). The items Snow creates in her Happy Place spread a message of joy to whoever buys or receives the final work, and in these glad tidings, Santa would be pleased as well, because Snow’s mission statement closely parallels his own.

“This is something that I choose to do for fun, and hopefully if I sell some things that make others happy, that makes me happy.

“That’s what I want to do: make others happy with the things I create.”

Wenaha Gallery

Kathy Snow is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 4 through Saturday, December 30, 2017.   

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.

 

Teanaway River oil painting landscape laura gable

Plein Air Magic — The Oil Paintings of Laura Gable

Teanaway River plein air magical oil painting landscape laura gable

Teanaway River, original plein air oil painting with a magical air, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

It’s easy to forget that, when we put something in the back seat of the car, it doesn’t go away.  Artist Laura Gable, however, never forgot what she set in the back seat, and when the time came to retrieve it, she readily and happily did so.

plein air landscape magical oil painting eastern washington laura gable

Furrowed Fields plein air landscape oil painting, with a sense of magic, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“In college, I loved all my art classes,” the Kennewick oil painter says, “but they started to take a back seat when my family advised I follow more practical pursuits rather than art (which ‘didn’t make any money’).” So she switched her double major from Art and Accounting to Accounting and Data Processing, and entered a career as an accountant and auditor.

“The funny thing about it,” Gable adds, “is that when these business roles needed anything artistic done (posters, invitations), they came to me and I’d create them by hand.”

So, even though art was sort of in the back seat, it functioned in the capacity of back seat driver, ensuring that Gable always heard — and heeded — its voice. When a job layoff prompted Gable to retrain as a graphic designer, the art in the back seat settled into the passenger seat, and not many years later, took over the driver’s position as Gable turned to painting full time.

Plein Air Painting out of the Studio: It’s Magic, and Magical

Gable now works out of a studio in historic downtown Kennewick, maintaining hours “by appointment” because, on any given day, she is more likely in the field somewhere, painting en plein air, a French term which describes painting outside, as opposed to in the studio.

forest tree plein air magical landscape oil painting laura gable

Lone Pine plein air landscape oil painting, featuring a prominent tree and a magical atmosphere, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“I started doing it before all the Plein Air conventions and hub-bub started, and before everyone was doing it and it became the new buzzword, the new ‘golf,'” Gable says. “I thought I knew how to paint until I went outside, and it was like I had to start all over again.

“Painting outside is a constant learning experience, and nature is a consummate teacher.”

There is the weather — which isn’t always, and frequently isn’t — balmy; there are insects and crawling things and larger creatures and other living and unpredictable elements of nature; and there’s the light, which doesn’t stay conveniently in one place for hours on end. Plein air painting, Gable explains, requires that the artist stop and truly see, processing the colors before her eyes, and letting the brush speak with a few expressive strokes as opposed to many smaller, painstakingly detailed ones.

Expressive and Impressionistic, Magical Plein Air

“I want the work to be expressive and thus impressionistic without defining every blade of grass or every ripple. The eye does a remarkable job of filling in what I leave out if I just give the viewer enough information — in fact, I find it more intriguing when an artist leaves out details and can define something with a few strokes of the brush.

tranquil waters river plein air magical landscape oil painting Laura Gable

Tranquil Waters, original plein air oil painting with a magical feeling by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“It’s magic!”

As a longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Gable is intimately acquainted with unmagical grey winter days, which she finds aren’t as difficult to handle when she gets outside to paint. Once there, her increasingly trained eye sees beyond the grey to the subtle colors that are everywhere: lavenders within the clouds; bronzes and golds tucked among the sage of desert grasses; teals and aquas hanging around the steely blues of river water.

Also quite colorful is Gable’s painting clothing, most notably a parka she found on the clearance rack that, with every winter season, increasingly shows the colors of her craft.

Painting Nationally

A member of several prestigious, national artist organizations — including the Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, and Outdoor Painters Society — Gable shows and sells her work nationwide. Her awards roster includes Gold, Second, Director’s, Merit, Memorial, and Honorable Mentions, and her most recent accolade was garnered at a month-long plein air show at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale.

plein air magical landscape tree field meadow oil painting laura gable

Meadows and Cottonwoods plein air landscape, magical painting of trees in the field, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

Her honorable-mention winning piece, Forest Whispers, was painted near Cascade Locks in the midst of smoke drifting down from the British Columbia fires, blanketing the atmosphere with haze. Coupled with the intense heat of a 100-plus summer day, it made for challenging, but ethereal, conditions as constantly shifting light revealed subtle nuances of alluring, dappled patterns.

“It was another magical moment spent painting,” Gable recalls.

Magical Beauty

That’s what painting is, Gable believes — both magic and magical — dependent upon the skill and soul of the artist to create work that is beautiful and has truth in it. She strives for a delicate balance of technical proficiency with informal spontaneity, the resulting work aiming to draw an emotional response from the viewer.

“I don’t have a political platform — I just want to represent the beauty that surrounds us.

“God is the ultimate creator: I show my impression of what has already been created.”

Wenaha Gallery

Laura Gable is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, November 20 through Saturday, December 16, 2017.   Gable will be at the gallery in person Saturday, November 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for a special show also featuring The Talented Trio, a family of artists from Kennewick.

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.

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talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

Talented Trio — Three Different Artists Keep it All in the Family

talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

The Talented Trio of Michael Rastovich, LuAnn Ostergaard, and Joseph Rastovich inspire one another to heightened creativity

We’ve all heard that two heads are better than one.

But then again, too many cooks spoil the broth. And because it’s wise to take all maxims with a grain of salt, we recognize that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Numachi abstract photograph print LuAnn Ostergaard talented trio

Numachi, abstract photograph print by LuAnn Ostergaard, one of the Talented Trio family of artists

Such is the experience of the Talented Trio — a husband/wife, parent/son amalgamation consisting of Michael Rastovich, illustrator and animator; his wife LuAnn Ostergaard, digital abstract photographer; and their son Joseph Rastovich, metal sculpture artist of both home decor and public art.

The Kennewick family works, lives, collaborates, encourages, critiques, and innovates together as professional artists, or as LuAnn puts it,

“We are closely connected in our personal lives, and it shows in our collaborative, creative professions as artists. There’s a lot of cooperation. We work together to help the others with inspiration, new ideas, and methods of creating.”

Joseph agrees, wryly observing:

“Art by committee is fraught with difficulties.

“However, when the right minds come together, the synergy can create outstanding results.”

Joseph: “Powerful Brainstorming” by the Talented Trio

Crediting his parents as critical mentors in his creative career, Joseph describes “powerful brainstorming” sessions featuring (three) different perspectives, sometimes vastly contrasting, with an outcome that is often superior to the original single perspective.

metal sculpture home decor furniture lamp joseph rastovich talented trio

A metal sculpture home decor lamp by Joseph Rastovich, the youngest member of the Talented Trio

For Joseph, art has been a part of his life since childhood, growing up with full-time artist parents, and being “unschooled” in a creative environment that allowed him to have the time, freedom, and tools to create whenever he wanted. By the age of 25, he had installed 11 public art projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, in addition to creating an array of home decor wall art and furniture that he sells through various art galleries, festivals, and retail stores.

“He literally grew up with a paintbrush in his hand, and flourished as a young artist,” LuAnn says.

LuAnn: Leaving the Corporate World

She, however, experienced a different world before she entered that of a full-time independent artist. Though LuAnn comes from a long line of artists dating back to her great grandfather, she started out in a corporate work environment. The memory of a different way of doing things enhances her gratitude for the way things are now.

“After spending five years working in a windowless office with a powerful, good -paying job in the corporate world, I made the decision to take the journey as an artist,” LuAnn says.

“Some evenings, when I came out of the building to go home after work, I would see a glorious sunset and realize I was missing it. I would just stand there, reveling in it as it quickly faded away.”

chalice drawing colorful michael rastovich illustration talented trio

Chalice, original drawing by Michael Rastovich, the patriarch of the Talented Trio

She wanted to do work that she believed in, experiencing a flow of creativity in which she expressed her own ideas. Seeing the world with an intensity that caused her to notice thing other people didn’t, she wanted to bring her creative visions to tangible reality. So when she walked away from her corporate job, she never looked back: every day since then reaffirms that decision.

“I take pride and have a sense of accomplishment when completing my creative work for the day.”

Michael: A Passion for Drawing

Michael knew from a very young age that he was an artist, incorporating both commercial and independent work into his professional dossier: he does design, animation, illustration, etching, digital, and graphics, with his true passion being drawing.

“I have spent my life trying to understand our world, by drawing it,” he says. “The challenge of seeing the world, and suggesting its forms with accuracy, economy and simple tools is joyful for me.”

Michael studied under master artists Siegfried Hahn and Howard Wexler, living in an adobe hut in the New Mexico desert while honing and perfecting his skills. He has worked for a museum design company in Portland, OR, creating conceptual drawings for the creation of new museums through the U.S., and presently develops animation projects for businesses of all sizes and scope. He also custom builds the framing boxes upon which LuAnn mounts her digitally enhanced, abstract photographs.

A Trio of Talent and Collaboration

It’s all part of working together.

“As a family of working artists, we spend nearly every waking moment creating and helping each other with our creations,” Michael says. “Over the years, we have each developed specific skills, and we depend on each other for support in this sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, life as artists.”

“Holidays, weekends, and down-time are meaningless,” LuAnn adds. “You are an artist, and your life’s work is all that matters.

“You were born to be an artist, and it is your purpose in life and your life’s work — you can do nothing else.”

Wenaha Gallery

LuAnn Ostergaard, Michael Rastovich, and Joseph Rastovich are the featured Pacific Northwest artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, November 6 through Saturday, December 2, 2017.   The Talented Trio will be at the gallery in person Saturday, November 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for a special show also featuring Kennewick watercolor artist Laura Gable.

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.

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exit to pataha landscape clouds barb thrall fine art photography

Painterly Photography — Fine Art Photographs by Barb Thrall

exit to pataha landscape clouds barb thrall fine art photography

Exit to Pataha, fine art photography landscape by Kennewick photographer Barb Thrall

Whoever coined the axiom, “The camera cannot lie,” probably didn’t believe it himself, because photo editing and manipulation have been around almost as long as photography. One of  U.S. history’s most iconic photographs, that of a full-length Abraham Lincoln standing with one hand resting against his vest, is actually an 1860s composite of the president’s head set atop another man’s body.1

lilacs artichokes still life floral fine art photography thrall

Lilacs and Artichokes, fine art still life photography by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Barb Thrall

“There is an idea that all photography must be realism — that if anything is manipulated in Photoshop then the photographer is cheating,” says Barb Thrall, a Kennewick artist who creates photographic fine art images incorporating her intellect and skill, digital camera, judicious use of Photoshop and Lightroom, and a wise selection of paper.

“In the same breath,” Thrall continues, “people will mention Ansel Adams or any other famous landscape photographer — but taking the photo is only half of the creative process for these photographers. The other half occurs in the darkroom or in Photoshop or whatever process they are using to get their photos to the printer.”

Painterly Photography

In other words, not all photography is the same, just as not all painting styles are the same. It’s one thing when the photo is on the front page of the newspaper, purporting to accurately represent an actual event, and a totally different element when the photo is an art piece, with keen attention to color, subject matter, perspective, layout, and, as Thrall describes it, connecting the viewer with a visceral or “gut” feeling in the soul.

evening sun forest landscape photography barb thrall

Evening Sun at Schrag, fine art photography landscape by Barb Thrall

“The editing I do, while certainly giving the photos a painterly feel, is more about experience,” Thrall explains. “How can I translate the feeling of a moment into a photo?” For Thrall, this involves not only the initial capture of the image, but the processing of it afterwards, which in earlier years took place in a traditional darkroom, but now involves photo software allowing the artist to work with light, texture, shadow, shading, and more. Also involved is compositing, the merging of one or more separate images into one.

Photography Mimicking the Old Masters

“There is a certain subtlety to processing photos this way,” Thrall says. “I love the photography that mimics the Old Masters — there is an elegance and romance to this.” And while there are diehards who insist that “a photo should be a photo” and “a painting should be a painting,” the play between painting and photography has been around as long as there have been cameras, Thrall explains.

three pears fine art photography still life barb thrall

Three Pears, fine art photography still life by Barb Thrall

“Anyone who takes their photos straight out of a camera and doesn’t process them is doing themselves a disservice. Ansel Adams was a great photographer, but he was a master in the darkroom.”

Thrall has had a camera in her hand from childhood, starting with a Kodak 110 cartridge and working her way through various models as she has shot images of landscapes, floral still lifes, portraiture, and black and white flora macro images with a graphic abstract feel. Vindication of her artistic passion came from, of all places, the State of Washington and its pre-college personality test that Thrall took in high school. The top jobs recommended for Thrall were photography and wildlife biology.

Interior Design, Paralegalism, and Fine Art Photography

And in what did Thrall receive her degrees? Interior design and paralegal studies, neither of which were in the top ten career choices on her test results. But because passion frequently trumps practicality, Thrall incorporates both interior design and paralegal principles into her photography.

after crush vineyard landscape grapes barb thrall larson gallery

After the Crush, vineyard landscape at the permanent collection of Larson Gallery, by Barb Thrall

“Color theory and the theory of thirds are certainly part of an interior design education, and a paralegal ought to be good with details.” A recent interest in architectural photography is “nothing but details.” The combination of those details with the love of the Old Painting Masters results in a lot of breaking of the rules, and advancement in technique.

“One of the biggest influences in my work is Vermeer. I love that light — truly, truly love that light.”

Capturing Attention

Thrall has shown her work in juried shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, with one of her pieces in the permanent collection at Larson Gallery in Yakima. She takes a workshop every year in a different aspect of photography, and has studied under Ray Pfortner — who worked under wildlife photographer Art Wolfe — and received a photography certificate from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, whose founder  studied under Ansel Adams.

A finished work, for Thrall, starts in the field and ends with an image that captures the attention, the eye, and the soul.

“I want people to just slow down a bit, to breathe in and out.

“One of the series that I did focused on just shooting at rest stops or in places very close to the I-90 Freeway. I wanted to show the beauty in places not that far off the road.

“We don’t have to go very far to see beautiful places.”

Wenaha Gallery

Barb Thrall is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 23 through Saturday, November 18, 2017.   

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.

1McKay, Katie. “Photo Manipulation Throughout History: A Timeline.” Ethics in Photo Editing: WordPress, April 1, 2009.

 

 

Lauralee Northcott

Lauralee Northcott

“I gather my needles for baskets from Ponderosa Pine trees mostly here in the Methow Valley,” explains basket artist Lauralee Northcott of Winthrop. “After removing the connective end and washing the needles, I put them in a bath of water and glycerin and boil them for about three hours.

“They’re cooled, rinsed, and left to dry for a month. Now they are ready to weave.”

With weaving comes the eye for detail, an incorporation of color and beadwork, and the swift, deft hand movements that, after a while, leave one’s fingers feeling stiff.

“All basket making requires patience and perfection,” Northcott says. “While weaving is relaxing, it is also physically demanding, and requires a lot of time.  But the payoff of making a beautiful item to go out into the world is very satisfying.”

Northcott’s fascination with and ability to create baskets joins with a plethora of other life skills, including a career (now retired) as a public school teacher, 30 years as a wilderness horseback trail guide and pack cook, motivational speaker, and professional singer/musician whose group, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, was the 2015 Western Music Association’s Group of the Year. That same year, their album, “All I Need,” soared to the #2 spot of the U.S. Western Music Category.

“Our shows feature great music, cowboy poetry, and lots of humor,” Northcott says, adding that they often travel with poet/comedian Dave McClure.

“Weaving gives the same gift to me as it did to Dat So La Lee and all weavers: your breathing slows down and your mind relaxes as the work takes you along.

“Really, I think peace is a gift from all craftsmanship. The force of creativity works through us in many ways, and it is our task to get out of the way.”

Gathering Wool — The Felt Art of Linnea Keatts

felted wool scarf with silk highlights linnea keatts felt artist

A felted scarf with gossamer drape, by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

Some of the most enduring technology is the oldest.

Long before the development of Kevlar vests, Roman soldiers wore felted breastplates to deflect arrows. And even longer before that in Turkey, evidence of felting — non-woven fabric created when sheep’s wool and other natural animal fibers are subjected to heat, moisture, and agitation — dates back to 6500 BC.

felted wool santa squares felt artist linnea keatts

Sweet Little Lady and Pierre, felted art squares by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“Felting is an old hand craft,” says Linnea Keatts, a fiber artist who, over 40 years, has explored weaving, Navaho Weaving, creative stitchery, knitting, and felting.

“The techniques are quite simple using controlled shrinkage of carded wool, soapy water, manipulation, and agitation to create a fine lightweight fabric. This technique is called Nuno-felting or wet felting.”

Some people, who have accidentally tossed Aunt Minerva’s Christmas gift of hand-knit, woolen sweater into the washing machine, have discovered — to their chagrin or relief, depending upon Aunt Minerva’s skill and taste — that wool turns into a completely different, um, animal, when it encounters hot, soapy, moving water.

Felting by Choice, Not Accident

Keatts embraces the felt process by choice and design, creating everything from lightweight, gossamer scarves out of merino fleece and silk to heavier, three-dimensional pieces shaped into purses, vases, and bowls. Recently, she has been incorporating recycled fabrics and silk embellishments into the mix, blending them with the wool to create pictures and special design elements.

textured felt layered wool square linnea keatts

A layered, textured, wool felted square by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“It’s fascinating to watch the colors of the fleece and fabric designs blend together,” the Walla Walla artist says. “The shrinkage that occurs during the felting process creates unique designs in the finished product.”

From the very first felting class she took in 1981, with the thought that, “Hmm . . . this would be interesting to learn,” Keatts has developed her artistry and skill through hours of practice, as well as numerous classes and workshops. Several of these took place in Norway where she lived on and off during her career as an Occupational Therapist. Instrumental in founding, and later directing an occupational therapy school in Trondheim, Norway, Keatts later hosted in Walla Walla, with her husband, 25 Norwegian students for their three-month long OT internships.

Wasting Time on Video Games, Not Felting

One of these students is the reason why her home studio, where she works prodigiously to create her art, is called The Wasting Time Room.

wearable wool felt art clothing linnea keatts

A collection and selection of wearable, wool, felted artwork by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“At the time the student was staying with us, from 1999 to 2000, the space was only a room with a TV, where he and his friends played X-Box and other games,” Keatts explains, adding that the student himself aptly named the space. “We have since redone the room, but the name stayed.

“The TV is still there and I do tend to watch and work at times — but I am wasting time with the watching, not the felting!”

Upon retirement in 2005, Keatts devoted more time to felting, but found that she didn’t have as much time as she wanted because she also served as Master Gardener through the Washington State University Extension program, participated in the Choral Society and Walla Walla Community Band, and volunteered as hosting coordinator for the American Field Service International Exchange Program in Walla Walla, Columbia, and Garfield counties.

“Needless to say, there was enough to do in retirement!” Keatts observes.

Too much, in fact. In 2015 Keatts scaled back,  focusing  primarily on felting. But because she wants others to know about this ancient craft, she took on another project and began teaching classes through the Quest program at Walla Walla Community College.

“My statement with my felting and especially with my teaching is for the students to learn to enjoy this amazing craft and make something that makes them happy and satisfied,” Keatts says. “In my scarf classes, I always tell them they will go home with something beautiful, and so far that has happened to the 20+ students I have had.”

Penguins, Penguins, and More Felt Wool Penguins

Always up for a personal challenge, Keatts used a trip to Antarctica as the springboard for her penguin project, in which she created 10 felted penguins, representing double the number of species she had observed on her trip. One penguin found its home in the office of a University of Washington professor involved in researching Magellanic Penguins of southern Chile.

wool felt artist linnea keatts and felted penguin

Wool felt artist Linnea Keatts with one of her felted penguins

“The professor can enjoy him without worrying about  being attacked by his very sharp beak!”

Locally, Keatts is a member of ArtWalla of Walla Walla and Arts Portal of Milton-Freewater, and on a more global note, the International Feltmakers Association in London, England. She recently participated in Art Squared at Cavu Cellars.

“My goal as a felt artist is to make beautiful things that are pleasing and also practical,” Keatts says. “And my goal as a teacher is to encourage others to try this unique activity by exploring and expanding their creativity.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Linnea Keatts is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 9 through Saturday, November 11, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Richland watercolor painter Maja Shaw.

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.

 

 

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Flowers — Bold, Bright Beautiful Watercolors by Maja Shaw

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Bold, bright yellow sunflowers against a blue background in Maja Shaw’s watercolor, Sunflowers II

People who are not early risers get tired of this catching the worm thing, which, frankly, is literally for the birds. As watercolor painter Maja Shaw knows, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and still get the perfect photo reference for her next painting.

shasta daisy flowers colorful impressionist watercolor painting Maja Shaw

Shasta Daisies, a close-up view of bold, impressionist watercolor flowers set against an abstract background, by Maja Shaw

“Conventional wisdom says photographs are better made in early morning, or late  evening,” the Richland, WA, artist says. “But I’m not a morning person, so my reference photos are made in the middle of the day, which is bad for people  shots, but great for flowers.”

Shaw, whose first name is pronounced Maya, as in the ancient Central American people, focuses on florals with bold, sculptural shapes and exuberant color. Inspired by a childhood spent with art-collector parents, Shaw explores ways of rendering images using negative space, as opposed to intricate detail, to define a form. The resultant paintings blend the best of both worlds: representational and abstract.

Flowers, Landscapes, and Brushwork

“Highlights and contrast are characteristic of many of my paintings,” Shaw says. “Two of my favorite painters are Andrew Wyeth and John Singer Sargent.

“If you look at their paintings, especially watercolors, their subjects are defined as much by what is not painted, as what is. I take some of my inspiration from them by trying to define forms with a few strokes which convey enough visual clues so that the viewer’s eye can fill in the rest.”

Palouse Harvest watercolor impressionist abstract painting Maja Shaw

Palouse Harvest II, an impressionist landscape painting in watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Shaw, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, credits one of her art professors with providing a working definition of the category in which her artwork fits — organizational, as opposed to decorative or expressive.

“It’s a style that is concerned with shape, color, and composition and is not so concerned with making a philosophical statement, or, as my professor said, ‘What is the state of man in the world,'” Shaw explains.

People React to Color

“I don’t make social commentary with my art, and I’m not trying to make the viewer figure out any obscure meaning.

“I find people react emotionally to color and to subject matter: if my paintings are  appealing to a viewer in either of these, then that is fine with me.”

lily family flower watercolor impressionist painting Maja Shaw

Lily Family, white flowers against a deep blue background, impressionist watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw

In the spirit of being inspired by the masters, both old and new, Shaw also experiments with collage, in which she takes watercolor paintings with which she is not 100 percent satisfied, cuts them into shapes, and “repurposes” them into a new art form.

“I have taken inspiration for these from Henri Matisse and Eric Carle,” Shaw says, explaining that when 20th century French artist Matisse could no longer paint because of failing eyesight, he cut out shapes and had assistants paste them on large pieces of paper at his direction.

“They were mostly semi-abstract shapes, many with lots of white space around them, although many were reminiscent of plant shapes or body shapes.”

Regional and National Shows

One of Shaw’s early cut paper piece won third place in the Waterworks Art Center Show in Miles City, MT, for an exhibit with a paper theme.

Golden River southeast washington landscape watercolor maja shaw

Golden River, an impressionist interpretation of the Southeast Washington landscape, by watercolor painter Maja Shaw

“Mine are different from most collage work because I put them together to actually form a recognizable subject, rather than the mishmash of most collage artists.”

Over the last several years, Shaw has juried into major regional and national shows, and recently garnered First Place at the 311 Gallery Flowers and Garden Show in Raleigh, NC, where she won Honorable Mention last year. She has collected First, Second, and Third Place winnings at shows in Michigan, Colorado, Montana, and Washington, and has been the featured artist at the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR and the Cheryl Sallee Gallery in Auburn, WA.

Showcasing Eastern Washington

A member of CyberArt509, an artist’s cooperative encompassing artists in the 509 phone area code, and the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, Shaw shows her work throughout the Tri-Cities. In addition to painting flowers, which she describes as being good subjects because they don’t move around, except in the wind, and are as close as her backyard, Shaw also creates landscapes in the same spontaneous, colorful style.

“I strive to create recognizable images without being photographic,” Shaw says.

“While some compositions lend themselves to metaphors, mostly I want the viewer to enjoy the beauty of color and shapes based on the world around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Maja Shaw is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 25 through Saturday, October 21, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts.

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.

 

 

side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Weaving Wisdom: The Basket Art of Lauralee Northcott

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A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket featuring blue beads and color weaving, by Lauralee Northcott

 

It’s funny that, when we want to describe an easy course at a university, we roll our eyes and say, “It’s, um . . . like Basket Weaving 101, you know?”  — because basket weaving, an art that dates back more than 9,000 years, isn’t easy at all.

“I gather my needles for baskets from Ponderosa Pine trees mostly here in the Methow Valley,” explains basket artist Lauralee Northcott of Winthrop. “After removing the connective end and washing the needles, I put them in a bath of water and glycerin and boil them for about three hours.

Cherish ponderosa pine needle hand woven basket northcott

Cherish — Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Winthrop weaver Lauralee Northcott

“They’re cooled, rinsed, and left to dry for a month. Now they are ready to weave.”

With weaving comes the eye for detail, an incorporation of color and beadwork, and the swift, deft hand movements that, after a while, leave one’s fingers feeling stiff.

“All basket making requires patience and perfection,” Northcott says. “While weaving is relaxing, it is also physically demanding, and requires a lot of time.  But the payoff of making a beautiful item to go out into the world is very satisfying.”

Basket Weaving and Country Music

Northcott’s fascination with and ability to create baskets joins with a plethora of other life skills, including a career (now retired) as a public school teacher, 30 years as a wilderness horseback trail guide and pack cook, motivational speaker, and professional singer/musician whose group, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, was the 2015 Western Music Association’s Group of the Year. That same year, their album, “All I Need,” soared to the #2 spot of the U.S. Western Music Category.

woven ponderosa pine needle native american basket northcott red beads

A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket with red bead embellishment, by Lauralee Northcott

“Our shows feature great music, cowboy poetry, and lots of humor,” Northcott says, adding that they often travel with poet/comedian Dave McClure. One day, the group was rehearsing a skit involving the pretend product, Buck’s Crack Cream — “It was set to the tune of the George Jones song, ‘He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today,” Northcott remembers. “Dave had changed the lyrics to, ‘He stopped rubbing there today; Buck’s Crack Cream took the itch away.'”

In the midst of practicing, Northcott glanced over at McClure’s mother, Jeri,  who was sitting on the hotel bed with a low cardboard box in her lap.

“Inside the box were pine needles. Her fingers were moving swiftly as she wove the needles into a coil — I was drawn to her  immediately. The color variety of the needles, and the way they looked as they formed a circle was absolutely rich and vibrant.

deep woven basket beads and shells native american northcott

A deep woven pine needle basket, embellished by beads and shells, by Lauralee Northcott

“I was instantly smitten, and knew I wanted to make a pine needle basket.”

Persistence and Patience

She hasn’t stopped since, but then again, Lauralee Northcott is rarely still. Two years ago, she traveled to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City to see the work of basket maker Dat So La Lee, a member of the Washoe tribe who lived from 1829 to 1925. Dat So La Lee’s work, which Northcott describes as flawless, required a particularly gifted mathematical mind in order to produce the patterns for which she is famous.

“I read that one of her baskets recently sold at an auction for more than one million dollars,” Northcott says. Northcott had tried once before to see the famous basket maker’s work, but was turned away because of museum renovations. The second time around, her luck wasn’t much better when the desk man in uniform brushed her aside with the news that the work was still unavailable for viewing.

“I felt dismissed. I stood for a moment to gather myself and then in a polite voice asked to speak to the curator. He picked up the phone, making no eye contact, and made a call. ‘He’ll be right out,’ was all I heard as the man turned away.”

side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Side view of a blue beaded, hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Lauralee Northcott

Persistence paid off, and for the next hour Northcott enjoyed a personal tour conducted by a man who loved and appreciated the work of a master. Northcott found herself crying tears of awe as she watched, listened, viewed, and, in her words, “literally heard voices coming from the basket makers in that room. I could feel emotions being emitted by the baskets, and sensed warmth from their creators.”

Small World, Big Connections

In one of those small world moments, when Northcott mentioned she was from Winthrop, WA, a town of 300 people, the curator started and said, “My brother lives in Winthrop!”

Northcott makes friends wherever she goes.

“The most lasting takeway from the Carson City Museum experience was the deeply spiritual realization that we are truly all connected through time,” she reflects.

“Weaving gives the same gift to me as it did to Dat So La Lee and all weavers: your breathing slows down and your mind relaxes as the work takes you along.

“Really, I think peace is a gift from all craftsmanship. The force of creativity works through us in many ways, and it is our task to get out of the way.”

Wenaha Gallery

Lauralee Northcott will be at Wenaha Gallery in person Saturday, September 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.  to talk about and demonstrate basket making; free refreshments by Savonnah, the gallery’s framer who is also a professional chef, are also featured. Northcott will return to the gallery Saturday, October 7, as a featured speaker at Wenaha Gallery’s ArtWalk. Northcott’s Art Event, featuring a collection of her baskets, starts Monday, September 11 and runs through Saturday, October 7, 2017. 

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.

Mary Briggs

Mary Briggs

For the Eugene artist, the completed physical end product is terra cotta functional ceramicware — platters, plates, vases, candlestick holders, mugs — inspired by historical folk pottery as well as the works of 19th century Old Masters painters. Briggs began incorporating imagery on her work 15 years ago when she observed how brush marks and drip lines formed impressions of landscapes. It was a short, but significant, step to drawing period images on her work, adding to its sensation of timelessness and meaning.

She focused upon the 19th century landscape for its calming, romantic element, likening the feeling to that inspired by a country drive.

“I find rural life and nature to be calming and beautiful. By using that imagery on my work, I hope it brings a sense of calmness to those who encounter it.

The very choice of terra cotta — known as poor man’s clay because it is not as dense and white as porcelain — is deliberate, with Briggs being drawn to its rustic quality and unexpected, but welcome, irregularities. It is of the earth, after all, just like gardening.

In the end, Briggs says, that’s what it’s all about: the earth, and beautiful places, and exquisitely shaped ceramics that capture that beauty and encourage those who see the work.

“My work is not about politics or social commentary.

“It is simply meant to serve as a window into a peaceful place.”

rabbit garden pottery ceramic tile wilburton

Pottering in the Garden — Hand-carved Tiles by Wilburton Pottery

garden tiles nature theme wilburton pottery

A compendium of 4-inch, nature-inspires, hand-carved art garden tiles by Wilburton Pottery

It’s difficult to see how 14th century Chinese history and the 21st century design of printed circuit boards relate to a successful business of creating hand-carved garden tiles. Difficult, however,  is not impossible.

frog dragonfly grapes garden wilburton pottery

A frog and dragonfly in the garden — hand-carved pottery tile by Wilburton Pottery

For Bob Jewett, the potter and painter half of Wilburton Pottery of Bellevue, WA, it’s all part of a rich life history, one that started out with two masters degrees and the pursuit of a PhD.

“Bob stayed in college until he was 35,” says Iris Jewett, the other half of the marriage and the business (she’s the glazer). “He was getting his PhD when he was advised there was no hope in getting a teaching position.

“This was in the 1970s  and there was little interest in Chinese history, especially the Ming dynasty.”

From the Ming Dynasty to Circuit Boards

So Bob did a 360 and started designing those printed circuit boards, originally working for large corporations in Los Angeles until moving to Seattle where the couple started their own business there. And while business was successful, something was missing, and Iris suspected what it could be.

“I suggested to Bob that he needed an artistic outlet, and he started taking ceramic classes at Bellevue Community College.” Iris remembers. “An inability to throw pots led him to hand build garden pots.”

So build garden pots, Bob did. Because the couple is avid about gardening (“fanatical, actually,” Iris says), Bob developed a method to make pottery that could be left  outside all year round, something that was not common at the time. He also focused on carving intricate designs in the pottery. In 1993, when the couple participated in the Bellevue Arts Fair with their wares, Wilburton Pottery officially launched.

And from Circuit Boards to Pottery Garden Tiles

Since that time, they have added hand-carved, hand-painted garden tiles which enthusiastic buyers use as art by the front door, in the garden, around the fireplace, in the kitchen, bathroom and all over the house. Designing circuit boards is long gone, replaced by a garden-themed pottery business that sells via Wilburton Pottery’s website, galleries, gift shops, and art fairs throughout the country.

wilburton pottery outdoor garden flowers

Pottery in the outdoor garden, by Wilburton Pottery

“We used to do 22 art fairs and garden shows a year,” Iris says. “I think we have stayed in over 600 hotel rooms during that time, and we became very efficient packers. Once we did the Salem Art Fair and realized we forgot our suitcases — that never happened again!

“Through the fairs, our tiles were sent by customers to family and friends around the world — a Japanese monastery, Finland, Australia, England, Holland, China, and more.”

So China does come back into the picture.

Serious about Pottery,  and Gardens

But the art festivals, with the incredible amount of time and traveling involved, slowed down to two per year as the couple focuses more on website sales and custom design orders. One steady venue for sales is the garden shop at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, 53 acres of flora cultivation which receives more than 300,000 visitors per year. Bob and Iris started the organization in 1984, when they put up posters all over town inviting residents to attend the first meeting.

rabbit garden pottery ceramic tile wilburton

Rabbit in the Garden, one of Wilburton Pottery’s most popular designs

“Yes, just the two of us,” Iris confirms when asked if she and Bob were the original impetus for the Gardens’ existence. They now volunteer for various events, focusing especially on the Gingerbread display for the Garden D’Lights in December, and helping children make graham cracker houses.

“Mostly we quietly walk through the gardens and are overjoyed to see so many people there,” Iris says. “The Garden is located just a few blocks from our home.”

More Than 500 Garden Pottery Tile Designs

Back at that home, Bob and Iris work out of their various studios, Iris in “a lovely room with a skylight,” and Bob in “an unfinished garage that he was always going to improve, but never did.” Bob creates his intricate hand carvings — more than 500 designs and growing — in his den or outside among the plants, and images range from bunnies a la Beatrix Potter to blacksmiths working in a forge surrounded by vines. There are frogs, mermaids, beech wood forests, angels, grapevines, the Buddha and crickets — something for everyone, and every environment. Like plants in the garden, the ideas never stop growing.

“We purposefully make the tiles look old with cracks and an uneven border,” Iris says. “To quote our customers, they think the tiles add a peacefulness to life, and they enjoy the antique look.”

It’s a unique combination of something old — like the Ming Dynasty of China — and something new — 21st century technology — perfectly blended into an element timeless to human existence: the garden.

“We let the pottery speak for us,” Iris says.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Bob and Iris Jewett of Wilburton Pottery are the featured Pacific Northwest artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 28 through Saturday, September 23, 2017. 

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.