pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Pastel Mystique — The Landscapes of Edna Bjorge

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Canyon Light II, original pastel painting by Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge

From Oil Paint Murals to Pastel Drawings

She was five. She loved to draw. Her father was an artist.

And there, in her parents’ bedroom next to her father’s palette of oil paints, was a gloriously blank wall.

aspenglow trees orange woods forest edna bjorge art

Aspenglow, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“I knew better than to paint on the portrait he had on an easel in the corner,” Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge remembers. But . . . there was that wall. What a canvas for small hands and big ideas!

“My mom was horrified, but my Dad went straight out and bought me some art supplies of my own.”

It was an unforgettable beginning to an art career, one that now focuses on pastel and watercolor, with paper as the substrate. As she did from childhood, Bjorge draws every day, working out of a custom-built shed tucked onto her country property. This studio, which she describes as “small but mighty,” also holds her framing supplies and letterpress, because in addition to drawing, she has owned and operated her business, Edna Bjorge Calligraphy, Design and Illustration, for more than 40 years.

Outside and Outdoors

Where she really likes to be, however, is outdoors, in the variety of landscapes of the central Washington region. There, she paints plein air pastel or watercolor — outside, using the natural and changing light of the day. This preference, also, stems from her childhood, when after World War II her mother ran a daycare from the family home while her father finished his college degree. At the “tender age of four,” Bjorge became mom’s helper, responsible for entertaining six younger charges by helping them with games, toys and amusements.

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Gold at River Bend, a view of the Yakima River Canyon in central Washington, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Needless to say, I cherished the time when I was outside by myself while everyone else was napping, and times in the evening when I could draw and paint without interruption.

“This probably explains my love of the outdoors, and of plein air painting.”

Bjorge finds the landscapes of Kittitas County multifariously diverse, replete with mountains and forests, from shrub steppe and desert to the lush banks of the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. She not only pastel paints these vistas but writes about them in a regular blog. One of her most passionate “messages,” both written and visual, concerns the fragility of natural landscapes.

Disappearing Landscapes

“I paint the landscape because we are losing it at an alarming rate, due to sprawl and overpopulation,” Bjorge says.

“Once land is ‘developed,’ it’s gone or changed forever.

Cooper ridge mountain lake landscape pastel painting Edna Bjorge art

Cooper Ridge, mountain and lake pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Many places where I used to roam free are no longer accessible. I have many paintings of places that are gone forever.

“The art is the only thing left to show they ever existed.”

Bjorge’s pastel and watercolor work has sold throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in Norway, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Over a long career of painting she has entered many shows and garnished a number of awards, her most recent being an invitational show at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima, where 20 artists created pieces based on the theme of Light.

“Our work hung in the theater’s gallery for a whole year, so was enjoyed by hundreds of patrons.”

Pastel: Sensuous and Immediate

She achieved mastery of pastels by trial and error, describing the medium as “sensuous, very responsive and immediate.” For her, it is the perfect way to capture light and shadows, subtle variations of color, distinct elements of detail incorporated with the bold shapes of mountains, rocks, and rivers. It brings the viewer, she feels, into places she wants them to deeply experience.

“More and more,” Bjorge says, “I find myself focusing on the landscape with a deep sense of urgency.

“I want to record not only the actuality of place, but the essence and spirit of the location as well.”

Wenaha GalleryEdna Bjorge is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 25 through September 18, 2020.

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.

 

always greener wild horse fence grazing bev doolittle art

Stay Wild — Always Greener by Bev Doolittle

always greener wild horse fence grazing bev doolittle art

Fences are made to be gone over, under, or around — that is, if we’re free. Always Greener, original stone lithograph — remarque, by Bev Doolittle

Whether it’s a mustang in the Southwest desert or a dray horse pulling a wagon, horses retain a sense of their wild side.

They may be circumscribed by fences, but that doesn’t keep them from jumping over, or even just nudging under to nibble grass. In their eyes, when they look at you, horses exhibit an intelligence and awareness that says,

“You may think you can tame me. Maybe you’ll put a harness on me. You’ll probably ride me. You can even say that you ‘own’ me. But the essence of who I am will always be wild and free.”

While taming animals is important to humans, because we need their strength, their abilities, or even just their companionship to add to our lives, it’s always wise to remember that the most domesticated animal retains an unexpected, wild side — a side that we cannot fully control, nor should we want to.

The issue becomes even more important when we consider the concept of taming humans — so that their strength, their abilities, their creativity, can be made available for the use of others. In some times, in some places, this becomes slavery, a disregard of dignity that reduces people to work animals. In more “enlightened” times, societies and corporations can use people without thought to their independence and freedom, their essential wild side that keeps them unique, individual, and precious. But humans are not, nor ever will be, just an employee, a taxpayer, a citizen, a unit of obedience, a social security number.

Fences? They’re Made to Be Climbed or Jumped Over

Always Greener, an original stone lithograph by Bev Doolittle, shows the innovation and determination that living creatures exhibit when they encounter obstacles. In this case, a horse reaches through the slats of a fence to access the grass — which is indeed greener — on the other side. For now, poking its head through is enough. Some day, when the green grass within reach is all nibbled and that left in the paddock trampled, the horse may decide to take a more radical, wild move and jump the fence altogether. It will never be fully tame, and in a way, would we really want it to be?

Stay Wild — You’re Not a Farm Animal

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Always Greener by Bev Doolittle. You may purchase the print online at this link. Always Greener is beautifully framed and ready to hang.

More works by Bev Doolittle are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

love letter communicating laramie charles wysocki

Stay Communicating: Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki

love letter communicating laramie charles wysocki

Next to a face to face conversation, a good long letter is an excellent — and private — way to communicate. Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki

Communicating with one another is essential to healthy, strong relationships.

And while this seems so painfully obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, it is worth mentioning. Because, like eating food that truly nourishes, getting out for a walk, and turning off the TV, it’s one of those things we’d be better off doing, but don’t often enough actually do.

“Oh, I keep in touch with all my friends and family by texting and posting on social media,” some say. “I’m too busy to do anything else.”

But digital chatter, as many are increasingly learning, has little to do with strengthening relationships. Communicating via social media is like sitting, tete a tete, near the nosy neighbor’s fence, trying to have a private conversation. She butts in too much, scolding us for what we say, insisting that we acquiesce to what she believes. And she’s not beyond blocking our conversation completely, for our own good and that of society, of course. Such  (community) standards she has!

Charles Wysocki’s artwork, Love Letter from Laramie, reminds us that, when we can’t see the people we love, be with the people we love, interact face to face, close and personal, with the people in our lives who matter, we stay communicating by staying creative and interactive. A young woman in the wild, inhospitable west stops everything she’s doing to read the letter from the one she loves. These are words for her eyes alone, thoughts shared between two people that do not need to be, nor should be, filtered through an algorithm.

Meaningful communication requires not only time, effort, and persistence, but also — most importantly — privacy.

Stay Communicating — It’s How We Stay Strong

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Charles Wysocki are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

morning light observant window wilderness nature stephen lyman

Stay Observant: Morning Light by Stephen Lyman

morning light observant window wilderness nature stephen lyman

On the inside, looking out. Nature is an excellent teacher of observation skills. Morning Light, art print by Stephen Lyman

All around this world there are things to see, observe, wonder about, question, analyze, discuss.

But to do so, we first have to see.

Not just look, but see.

Not just listen, but hear.

Not just accept what we’re told, but investigate, coming to conclusions based upon our analysis of facts we have dug up, much as if we were investigative journalists. The more we do this, the better we get at it, and the better we get at it, the more confident we are to keep doing it.

One person who knew a lot about the power of observation was Stephen Lyman, a fine artist who painted images of the wilderness. Lyman spent a lot of time hiking in remote areas, and to do so, he had to know much about the world in which he was hiking. He needed to be observant, and he was.

Lyman’s artwork, Morning Light, shows the image outside of his cabin window. There is much to see, much to observe, and though Lyman looked through this window many times, no doubt each time he did so he saw something different, registered something new.

He was never complacent about what he saw, or heard, because he knew that in this world — which can be as brutal a place as it is beautiful — it was vital to be observant and awake.

Stay Observant of the World Around Us

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Morning Light by Stephen Lyman.  You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Stephen Lyman are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

Road of Life –The Acrylic Paintings of Mary Soper

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

An old road, that once used to be a new path, surrounds a country cabin. Cabin with a View, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

Life isn’t static. We may start out on one road, heading to a particular destination, and by the time we’ve lived for awhile — say, 90 years — discover that we have been to all sorts of unexpected places.

Such has been the journey for Mary Soper, who spent 23 years teaching art in the Prescott (WA) School District and Pioneer Middle School (then junior high) in Walla Walla, and finishing out as the head of the art department of Garrison Middle School (then also called junior high).

country barn wheat field landscape mary soper acrylic painting

The road leading to it is covered by wheat, but the memories remain. Barn in the Blues, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

But a bit prior to that, she competed in the Miss Washington Pageant, as Miss Grays Harbor, in 1949. That gave her scholarship money to attend the University of Washington where she enrolled as a drama major, quickly switching to business and interior design when she discovered that while the world of theater was beautiful, it was not her world. She subsequently worked as office manager of a furniture store, at a telephone company, as payroll clerk at a milling company, then accountant and secretary to the Walla Walla County Engineer.

A Change of Road Direction

After 11 years at the last job, she decided it was time for a change — a big change. She returned to school for her teaching certificate in art and history. This particular path twist brought fine art seriously into her life.

“I started painting a little while I was teaching,” Soper recalls. “The kids I worked with were so creative that it made me want to explore more.

“I read somewhere, ‘We begin to learn when we begin to teach,’ and this is so true, at least for me.”

old blue truck abandoned road field mary soper acrylic art

A trusty old pick-up rests in a field, possibly in an abandoned, overgrown road. Old Blue, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

She discovered acrylic painting, a medium she connected to immediately upon studying under a visiting professor from the University of New Mexico. Later, she traveled to the United Kingdom for a six-week study abroad program entitled, “Design Resources from London.” Returning with hundreds of reference slides, she embarked upon painting in earnest, never running out of ideas because, when she wasn’t working on a scene from London, she looked around the Pacific Northwest and found continuous inspiration.

“With the collection of photos I have, it is never difficult to decide what I want to paint. It is more difficult to determine which one I want to do next.

“When I start working on a painting, it will often suggest another one, so I guess you could say I work within a theme.”

On the Road to Creativity

Through the years, Soper exhibited her work extensively throughout the Walla Walla Valley, especially at the Carnegie Art Center when it was still extant as an exhibition venue. She has also shown at the Russell Creek Winery, Walla Walla Little Theater, Darrah’s Decorator Center,  Williams Team Homes Realtors, and the Walla Walla Country Club.

Working out of her studio in an insulated garage (“When my little heater can’t keep it warm enough, I put down a tarp in my den and that takes me through the cold weather”), Soper describes herself as both a realist and a perfectionist. She loves old buildings and landscapes, often trying to visualize the people who, in the past, inhabited the space, visited it, or wandered through.

wagon country road pioneer vintage vehicle mary soper acrylic painting

Stopped on the road in front of an old, abandoned stone building, a wagon invites the viewer to stop as well. 1812 Trading Post, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper

“When I saw an old blue pickup in the bushes beside the road, I started wondering, where has it been and what was it used for? Did children or pets ride in the bed of the truck?

“An old combine made me think of how hard it had to work in the sun. Why was it left where it was?”

Commissioned to Paint

Many of her paintings start as commissions for people who have seen her work. With these, the story of the person commissioning is as intriguing as the pieces they commission.

“My painting, Music in Park — a painting of the park bandstand — was purchased by a mother for her daughter in California. She bought it because her daughter swung on the low hanging branch of the Plane Tree when she was a child.”

Old Oasis Barn found a corporate purchaser at the former Frontier Savings & Loan. Harvest made its way to the Senior Center. The Old Wallula Shack was commissioned by a woman, originally from New Zealand, who wanted a color painting from an old black and white photo.

Continuing on the Journey’s Road

“I think viewers look at my work and it tells a story to them based on their experiences,” Soper says.

“I really enjoy creating something that the people who commission it love.”

For a while, Soper took a break from painting, but she is back at it, inspired ironically by an element associated with this article.

“When I started reading the articles Carolyn (Henderson) writes in the Marquee, I thought maybe I should start painting a little more, even though I am in advancing years.”

And so she continues on her journey . . .

Wenaha GalleryMary Soper is the featured  Art Event from January 13 through February 8 at Wenaha Gallery.

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.

quiet country photography landscape barn luann ostergaard

Country Landscapes — Peaceful, Serene, & Timeless

quiet country photography landscape barn luann ostergaard

Quiet Country, mixed media by LuAnn Ostergaard

Country living.

It’s the subject of numerous songs, books, home improvement shows, stories, jokes, and even Facebook groups.

red vineyard landscape river todd telander

Red Vineyard near the River II, original oil country landscape by Walla Walla artist Todd Telander

Whether it’s better to live in the country or the city is a debate that’s been going on at least since the sixth century B.C., when the former slave and storyteller Aesop related the tale of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. His conclusion? It’s better to live with little (in the country) and be content, than live with much (in the city) and exist in fear.

A couple millennia later, 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde quipped, “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there,” reflecting the age-old argument that life in the country is boring, and there is nothing to do but milk cows and chew on pieces of straw.

Really, there doesn’t have to be contention. As 20th century author Louise Dickinson Rich, known for her fiction and non-fiction works on New England, put it,

“I think, probably, whether you’re better off in the country or in the city depends, in the final analysis, on where you’d rather be. You’re best off where you’re the happiest.”

Country Is Their Happy Place

For many of the regional artists at Wenaha Gallery, their happy place is the country, and they find themselves painting or photographing it in all its seasons and moods.

storm maiden woman grand canyon southwest landscape steve henderson

Storm Maiden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, capturing the wilderness country landscape of the Southwest

Walla Walla painter Todd Telander, who loves the open space, agriculture, and mountains of the region, finds an astounding amount of visual interest in the country landscape. He focuses on this through his representational paintings, which are strongly imbued with impressionism.

“If my art makes a statement, it is up to the viewer to decide,” Telander says. “But for me I promote peace, contemplation, beauty, and solidity, and I suppose I like to share my vision of these things with others.”

Peace, contemplation, and beauty are also major factors in the art created by Steve Henderson, the Dayton painter who often incorporates people, especially women, in remote, wild landscapes and coastal scenes.

“I grew up in the country, and live now in the country, and it is part of who I am,” Henderson says. “It is my goal with every painting to create a place that the viewer will want to step into, a place of beauty and goodness where there is quiet and space. We need this quiet and space in order to deeply think.”

Out in the Open Country

Jim McNamara, a Walla Walla artist who prefers to paint en plein aire, or out in the open, agrees.

blue mountains wilderness country landscape jim mcnamara

The Blues, country wilderness landscape, original oil painting by Jim McNamara

“I believe the natural world deserves being looked at intensely and wordlessly,” he says. Some of McNamara’s favorite painting experiences involve donning a backpack, hiking to remote wilderness areas, and setting up his easel for an afternoon of concentrated, but pleasurable, work.

In this penchant for truly being outdoors — literally out in the country — he is joined by pastel and oil painter Bonnie Griffith, a former Walla Wallan who has relocated near Boise, ID. Griffith loves to paint outside in the natural light of the outdoors, and, like Henderson, seeks to create a place where viewers will want to stop, and stay, and be.

“My goal is to create paintings that draw the viewer into the painting, to experience the time of day, the temperature, the sound, the smells.”

cows-landscape-country-field-farm-ranch-bonnie-griffth

Living on the Land, original country landscape painting by Bonnie Griffith

Another Wenaha artist, LuAnn Ostergaard of Kennewick, finds and interprets her landscapes in an unusual, but highly effective way. Ostergaard haunts scrapyards, where she photographs the rust and patina of old cars and broken down appliances. She uses these images as the backdrop for landscapes which she then digitally creates with photo editing software.

“I feel a bit of an alchemist as I transform an image of scrapyard castoffs to a thing of beauty that resonates with harmony and balance.”

Unique Styles Capturing a Unique Place

The style of each of the artists is different, ranging from abstract to impressionist to representational; their mediums span from charcoal to oil, from acrylic to digital, but their love for their subject matter harmonizes in a manner best expressed by another artist who also extolled the country, Claude Monet:

“I’m enjoying the most perfect tranquility, free from all worries, and in consequence would like to stay this way forever, in a peaceful corner of the countryside like this.”

Or, as 18th century poet William Cowper so succinctly observed,

“God made the country, and man made the town.”

Wenaha GalleryCountry Landscapes, featuring the work of multiple Wenaha Gallery artists, is the Art Event from Monday, December 16 through Saturday, January 11. Featured artists are Nancy Richter, Steve Henderson, Jordan Henderson, Bonnie Griffith, LuAnn Ostergaard, Jim McNamara, Todd Telander and Gordy Edberg.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

bateman island fall autumn columbia river richter

Clouds Fascinate — The Photography of Nancy Richter

bateman island fall autumn columbia river richter

Bateman Island Fall, a photographic landscape of water, trees and sky by Nancy Richter of Kennewick

Clouds fascinate her

She is a grandmother now. But Nancy Richter has never lost a child’s fascination for a sky full of clouds.

As a kid, she did what lots of kids — even in today’s techno-world of substitutionary reality — still do: she lay in the grass and watched the world above.

“I grew up in Montana — Big Sky Country,” the Kennewick photographer says.

foggy country road clouds autumn moody nancy richter

Fog and mist are simply clouds that decide to come a little closer to earth . . . Foggy Drive, photograph by Nancy Richter

“I never tired of the surprising shapes and colors of clouds. Their randomness, unpredictability, and beauty are fascinating to me.”

It is no wonder then that from the time Richter received her first camera — a Brownie Instamatic for Christmas when she was ten — she has focused on capturing the form, the mystique, the emotion, and the feeling of clouds. As technology advanced and Richter exchanged her Brownie for a Minolta SLR, then a digital camera, she kept chasing the timeless yet ever-changing vista of clouds. And though she photographs much more than the sky overhead — landscape, macro, flowers, rusty abstract surfaces, portraits, events — she retains a lifetime goal of finding the perfect combination of landscape and clouds.

Moody, Brooding Clouds

In 2011, she met photographer John Clement, of whom she had been a fan for years. The two arranged a photography day trip to the Blue Mountains in Southeast Washington. And from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m. they went to one wonderful spot after another.

country meadow landscape barn clouds sky nancy richter

In Nailed It, a country landscape and brooding, moody clouds form one of Nancy Richter’s favorite photographic combinations.

After this most amazing day, one Richter affectionately dubs “John Clement Day,” she discovered that she had taken yet another step on her photographic journey.

“I find my own way to the loveliness that’s out there, following dusty farm roads, stopping along the banks of lakes and rivers, and making my way up to the top of hills covered with wildflowers,” Richter says.

She likes her photos to be unconventional, a bit off balanced and moody, she adds. Art is best, she considers, when its subject or material is unexpected, inviting the viewer to stop beyond a first glance, teasing him or her to discover new elements and depth.

“That’s what I want to convey: something a bit off the beaten path, something that holds the observer’s interest.”

Clouds Combined with Landscapes

Within a short radius of her Kennewick studio, unusual and intriguing landscapes abound. Less than 15 minutes from her home are spots in the Horse Heaven Hills that open out into vistas of Rattlesnake Mountain and other significant ridges of the Tri-Cities area.  There’s the Palouse (“That place is divine. Nowhere exactly like it on earth”). And there are the Blue Mountains, a combination of bare grass hills with forest in the ravines, farmland interwoven between.

The roads to these places can be a little dicey, though, but than again, that adds to the adventure of it all.

“One time I got stuck in the mud up to half my tire,” Richter remembers.

pink flower floral macro photography nancy richter

A flower peeks from its foliage in Pink, photography by Nancy Richter of Kennewick

“A man and his 5-year-old daughter just happened to be out in the middle of nowhere with a jeep and pulled me out with a strap.

“When I first told them of my dilemma, the daughter’s comment was, ‘My dad can do anything!'”

Such is the mindset of a child, a mindset that Richter maintains with that persistent, lifelong, deep-rooted fascination with clouds. And to this day, in the process of looking up, she often finds that the ground beneath her feet is steadier, firmer, more secure.

“Sometimes when I am dealing with unpleasant emotion, the sky provides pleasant distraction,” Richter muses.

“It gets me outside and moving and enjoying. It helps ground me.

“Funny, that the sky would help me touch the earth.”

Clouds, Light, Quality, and Emotion

Richter shows and sells her work throughout the Tri-Cities area, and participates in the Thursday Art Walk in Kennewick. She has exhibited at the Richland library, You and I Framing in Kennewick, the Crossroads and Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR, and the Larson Gallery in Yakima. At the latter, she received the Women in Photography Award, as a well as a Purchase Award.

Richter doesn’t remember whatever happened to her old Brownie — she could have sold it at a yard sale; it may be in one of those memorabilia boxes we all cart around. But what it started will never be lost, as she discovers, and captures, a world of possibility, imagination, and enchantment. These elements transcend time and technology.

“When I take photos I feel an attraction to the scene. I’m feeling excited or having fun or am just delighted with the amazing light in that moment.

“I want people to enjoy what they see, to feel pleasure in the colors, to experience the light and the quality.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Richter is the Featured Art Event from Monday, November 18, through Saturday, December 14 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery for the Christmas Kickoff Art Show Friday, November 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. Richter will be joined by Colfax rope basket creator Nancy Waldron and jewelry artist Andrea Lyman.

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.