Open Meadow, original batik watercolor of bird in flight, by Wenaha Gallery artist Denise Elizabeth Stone.
An artist’s creativity is not limited to what they do, but also where and how they do it. And while a separate, spacious studio is ideal, it is not always reality.
Birds in the Tall Grass, batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone
“I’ve worked at kitchen tables, office desks, and on the back porch at various times, with all the accompanying frustrations of clearing and moving around for other activities, such as dinner,” says Denise Elizabeth Stone, a painter whose preferred medium, batik watercolor, demands substantial space and time.
“Batik watercolor is a long process, involving many steps and materials,” the LaGrande, OR, artist continues.
“Painting is done on Asian papers, then it is waxed with beeswax or paraffin, crumpled, inked, and the wax is ironed out. The paper is absorbent, so it is challenging to paint on, rather like painting on tissue paper.
“For many paintings, there may be multiple waxing and painting stages, so it requires much thought and planning to map out the process each time.”
It’s no understatement to say that she doesn’t want to put away the latest project with every meal. Fortunately for Stone, the house in which she now lives includes a 20 x 20 foot room that housed the original owner’s basement art supply shop:
“When I first walked into the space it was as though I heard my art future calling to me!”
The Clarion Call of Batik Watercolor
Actually, Stone’s art future has been calling to her for a long time, beginning in her childhood, when she drew, doodled, colored and, upon entering her “tiny” high school, signed up for the first art class it ever offered. The daughter of a photographer, Stone relied upon the camera as her creative outlet for years, at the same time exploring collage, ceramics, pastel, and traditional watercolor through classes, working with art partners, and self instruction. She found her niche more than 10 years ago when she discovered batik watercolor, partnering with three professional artists with whom she painted twice a month, as well as joined in group shows under the name of the Batik Convergence.
Crow, original batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone of LaGrande, OR.
“Lucky me! I had three teacher-mentors who encouraged, critiqued, and prodded me to develop not only artistic skills, but also my own artistic voice.”
Stone’s artistic voice sings heavily of nature, the environment, Earth, and landscapes, subject matter she finds compelling because it touches the lives of everyone who walks, and breathes, and lives on the planet. Initially focusing on what she calls the Divine Feminine (“This was during my Goddess period”), Stone seeks to convey a feeling of reverence — not religious, but sacred — encouraging a sense of respect for life and the landscape.
For her Art Event at Wenaha Gallery through July 28, Stone is focusing on birds, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the International Migratory Bird Treaty, one of the earliest efforts to protect birds.
The Long Road to Full-Time Artist
Stone describes herself as taking a long time on the road to full-time artist, a scenic journey winding through the fields of science, spirituality, and psychology. A retired psychotherapist, Stone is fascinated by the language of metaphor, symbol, and archetype,
Swimming, original batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone.
and incorporates a universal symbology — which speaks to the intuitive, as opposed to conscious level — in her work.
“Each painting tells a story, perhaps my story or yours, or maybe a story of human experience.
“Sometimes I begin with the story in mind, but more often the story emerges as part of the creation process.”
Stone has exhibited her work at solo and group shows throughout Central and Eastern Oregon. At one of the first shows she entered, Art at the Crossroads in Baker City, she not only garnered People’s Choice, but sold the painting that same night. Despite an appreciable list of awards and honors since then, that memory remains one of her fondest.
The Unpredictability of Batik Painting and Life
Because of the nature of batik painting, nothing about the process is predictable, but for Stone, the unexpected is part of the journey. You do your best, turn mistakes into opportunities, and accept that not everything is under your control.
“Potential perils hide in each step, so success or failure is not apparent until the final stage.
“The end product, when everything comes together and the batik goddess smiles, is unusual and compelling, with its crackly-textured surface and intense, saturated colors.”
That does, indeed, sound a lot like life.
Denise Elizabeth Stone is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 2, 2018, through Saturday, July 28, 2018. Stone will join two other artists, Garrett Lowe of Timberbronze home decor and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. Stone is donating ten percent of her sales from her Art Event and show to bird and habitat preservation organizations.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.