java junk journal gift diaray trudy love tantalo

No Rules — The “Junk” Journals of Trudy Love Tantalo

steampunk junk journal no rules trudy love tantalo diary

Steampunk, junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

Rules are funny things.

We’re taught that they make our lives easier and “safer”  by protecting us from all the bad stuff and people.

But they also do something else: they grow and multiply, expand and enlarge, develop to the point where it takes libraries of volumes to contain them, and everyone, at some point, becomes a rule breaker. When rules get out of control, they limit and hinder, circumscribe and restrict, regulate and dominate.

It’s the perfect place to draw one’s thoughts — Art Paper 1 junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

Artist Trudy Love Tantalo discovered this foray into philosophy by, of all things, creating “junk journals,” handmade paper books embellished with additions like lace, fabric, ribbons, even discarded cereal boxes. It was an epiphany.

Initially, the Des Moines, WA, creative “jumped onto the scrapbooking bandwagon” because of her fascination for papers and design. But she found that the emphasis on getting the pages perfect, the unwritten rule of scrapbooking, was stressful.

The Rules of Perfection

She encountered a similar sense of stress upon receiving an especially beautifully bound journal as a gift, after years of using whatever notebook she had on hand. A lifetime lover of journals to record her day or feelings, Love Tantalo noticed an unusual change in her behavior when she used the gifted journal: instead of writing in pen, as she usually would, she used pencil, in case she made a “mistake” and ruined the perfection of the page. Journaling, like creating scrapbook pages, was no longer fun because the emphasis was on perfection, not creativity.

Bird Neighbors junk no rules journal birding trudy love tantalo

For the birder, or someone who loves birds — Bird Neighbors journal by Trudy Love Tantalo

And then she discovered junk journals.

“I happened upon them on Pinterest — the uniqueness and creativity really appealed to me. And the fact that you didn’t necessarily need a lot of fancy supplies or papers fit perfectly with my innate frugality and desire to ‘upcycle’ as much as possible.

“This finally fit the bill for me.

“There were no rules!”

Freedom from Rules

The finding of junk journals released a sense of creativity that Love Tantalo didn’t know she had. She quickly put together her first two journals, choosing folded-over cereal box as covers and incorporating a variety of papers.  One she used as a travel journal on her trip to Europe, filling it with brochures and postcards, tickets stubs and packaging, thoughts for the day. And . . .

java junk journal gift diaray trudy love tantalo

JAVA — coffee comes in all flavors and styles, with no rules to limit its style. Handcrafted junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

“I threw caution to the wind and used a pen to write with!”

Junk journals, to Love Tantalo, perfectly fit her desire to create, her interest in journaling, and the challenge of using items that might ordinarily be thrown away. These were interests, she realized, that other people had as well. She turned a second bedroom into her studio, filled it “to the rafters” with a variety of papers and all manner of upcycled items (“AKA ‘junk'”), and got to a most pleasurable and productive work.

“My biggest problem is becoming overwhelmed with all my ideas and possibilities,” she says.

Lots of Space for Writing and Drawing

“Because I am a journaler and use my own creations, I always make sure there is plenty of writing space in each one, although I want to make it fun and interesting to look at and use, too.”

Junk journals, like the precious people who use them, are unique, Love Tantalo says, and there is no one way, no incontrovertible series of rules, to use them. Some people use them as diaries, others as doodle spots. Some draw in them. Others write quotes, list what they’re grateful for, tuck in mementos, pen prayers, fashion collage.

Or do it all.

Because, after all . . . there are no rules.

Wenaha GalleryTrudy Love Tantalo is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 11 through September 4, 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.

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

Landscape Magic — the Photography of Bill Rodgers

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

For Bill Rodgers, photography is all about capturing the mood, the moment, the emotion of the landscape. Moccasin Lake Eve, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Because we are all incredibly unique human beings, we gravitate toward interests that fit our distinctive abilities. It is for this reason that not everyone is a mathematician, or a writer, or a mechanic.

And it is the reason that Bill Rodgers, of Waitsburg, is a photographer as opposed to a painter.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always loved landscapes,” Rodgers says.

wallouse palouse landscape spring winter snow bill rodgers photography

On a cloudy day, the transition of winter into spring adds an element of delightful drama to the landscape. Snow Drifts, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

“I originally wanted to be a landscape painter until I realized that I would probably starve for a very long time.

“My eyes and hands have never communicated well, and after a few college painting classes I realized that I was not going to be able to paint the kind of landscape I wanted to paint.”

But Rodgers is an imaginative, creative man, and he was not satisfied with not being able to do what he set his mind upon doing. When, 51 years ago, he received his first “real” camera, a 35mm Mamiya DTL 1000, Rodgers began a lifetime journey of fulfilling his goal with landscapes.

Being in, Moving through, the Landscape

“I like being in landscapes, moving through them, looking at them,” he says. His images, he adds, are a playground for the eyes and mind of the viewer.

old grain elevator country landscape rural farm bill rodgers photography

An old grain elevator stands sentinel in a timeless rural landscape. Old Grain Elevator, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Many of his fine art photography pieces focus on the landscapes within a 30-mile radius of his Waitsburg studio, a region he has dubbed “The Wallouse,” to distinguish it from the rolling hills of the nearby Palouse. And while he loves the Palouse (he grew up in Spokane), he finds the landscapes of the Wallouse to be subtly distinctive. Traveling along remote, gravel roads, he teases out emotional impact through the composition of his images, instead of heavily relying upon subject matter.

His goal as an artist, he says, is to take beautiful photographs. This differs from just taking pictures of things, or worse, depending upon familiar landmarks to carry the day.

“I know the ‘great places to photograph,’ and religiously avoid them because they have been photographed to death.”

Stonecipher Trees forest bill rodgers photography

Just the right amount of mist creates the perfect feeling. Stonecipher Trees, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Rodgers’ photos reside in the homes of collectors throughout the country, and a number have been used in brochures and periodicals published by the Blue Mountain Land Trust, a conservation group that focuses on the scenic, natural, and working lands of 11 Washington and Oregon counties. The Trust’s coffee table books of the Blue Mountain region include many of Rodgers’ works. He is presently compiling and editing Volume 5, which will feature landscapes in the Trust’s eight-county John Day service area.

The Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography

A retired geologist, Rodgers turned to full-time photography in 2012. Part of this second career includes teaching at his Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography, where he leads regular workshops.

“The focus of the WSLP workshops is not technical. It is more about learning to find beauty in the mundane. I also teach my students to look for compositions — not things — to photograph. For me, it is the composition that makes a strong image — not the subject.”

He is always looking for what he calls a Magnificent Image. Rodgers defines this as a two-dimensional image in which all the elements of composition and content work perfectly to create a sublime whole that compels the eye to return and linger again and again. If he makes any statement with his art, this is it:

“My statement is, ‘Isn’t this a just a gorgeous landscape? I was privileged to be there at that time.’

“Enjoy.”

 

Wenaha GalleryBill Rodgers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 28 through August 21, 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.

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Photography in Action — By Gary Wessels-Galbreath

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Rich colors in the clouds portend a magical day in the landscape photograph, Mountain Sunrise by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

A simple gift does more than tell the recipient that you care about them. Many times, that Christmas or birthday present sparks a response in the receiver that lasts far beyond the holiday.

This is what happened to Gary Wessels-Galbreath, who received a 110 Kodak Camera for Christmas when he was a teenager. The Olympia photographer and graduate of Dayton High School went on to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, with an emphasis on photography, from Evergreen State College in Washington in 1985. He has been snapping, and shooting, and experimenting with both film and digital photography, as well as printmaking, ever since.

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Light, shadow, texture, silhouette — all work together in Moss on Limb, photography by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

“I enjoy ‘bending’ the rules that I am presented with and taking things a step further,” Wessels-Galbreath says, explaining that he works out of both his home studio and at community and university photo labs to produce his work. One of his experimental forays is cyanotype printing, high contrast images on paper, canvas, and metal, through solar printing in his front yard.

“I focus on landscape images for the most part,” Wessels-Galbreath says. “I attempt to allow viewer to see things they walk by every day without noticing the intricate details of the natural world.

“My hope is that they slow down, stop for more than a moment, and really see the beauty of nature.”

Slowing Down and Seeing the World

Slowing down, Wessels-Galbreath feels, is integral to seeing and understanding the world around us. That world is varied and changing, colorful and unusual. One thing it necessarily isn’t, however, is perfect, a message he tries to get across in the many photography workshops that he leads in the Olympia area.

highway 12 photography landscape farm dayton washington wessels galbreath

A graduate of Dayton High School in Dayton, WA, Wessels-Galbreath photographs his childhood town.

“Last year I worked with a group of 12 high school students collaborating on my American Crow series,” Wessels-Galbreath recalls.

“Each student was given a high contrast crow image and invited to create whatever inspired them.

“Of course I heard, ‘But I’m not an artist — what if I ruin it?’ I reminded them that we all have the ability and magic to create, and that in itself is art.

“All the images created in that workshop were beautiful. There are many more workshops that I have presented, but I really enjoyed that one.”

In addition to conducting workshops, Wessels-Galbreath also regularly participates in collaborative artistic gathering with photographers throughout the world. Through both these collaborations as well as sales, his photography has found collectors in Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Washington, New Zealand, and Canada. In 2018, his work was accepted into the International Juried Exhibition, Natural Studies of Wonder, at the Spectol Art Space in Bridgewater, VA.

Teaching Life, and Photography, by Example

american crow photograph silhouette wessels galbreath

Fascinated by crows, Wessels-Galbreath experiments with their shape and from in his photography.

That same year, Wessels-Galbreath received the “Teaching by Example” award from the Longhouse Educational and Cultural Center at the Evergreen State College. The award honors artists who have made significant contributions to their community.

With a day job as bulk foods buyer at the Olympia Food Co-op, Wessels-Galbreath volunteers three days each week at Evergreen, working with photography students. He wants to inspire them with the same sense of wonder he received upon opening that 110 Kodak Camera. That great big world out there, he believes, is worth exploring, seeing, celebrating, and capturing as artwork.

In that way, he believes, we share the wonder with those around us.

“I start by taking a long walk, and begin listening with my eyes.”

Wenaha GalleryGary Wessels-Galbreath is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 14 through August 7, 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.

 

 

moose wildlife animal western art james reid

Wildlife Wonder — The Western Art of James Reid

moose wildlife animal western art james reid

Moose in Early Morning Light, a wildlife moment original oil painting by James Reid.

When wildlife artist James Reid first picked up a brush, it wasn’t to paint an elk or moose. He painted a sign.

“My first year out of high school, I got a job at the PayLess Drug in Pasco (WA) painting signs. When I returned to Walla Walla that spring, I went to work for the PayLess Drug in downtown Walla Walla working in the camera department and painting signs. That was in the early 1960s.”

red fox wildlife resting sleeping james reid painter

This particular fox, Reid says, laid down to nap in Yellowstone Park, out in the open and around a crowd of people. Original oil painting by James Reid.

The Boise, ID, painter, who retired in 2007 after a 42-year career with PayLess in advertising and management, always wanted to be an artist. He started with pin striping cars in high school. Then he went into commercial layout and design. And then he jumped into fine art after taking the Famous Artists Course, which was created by 12 successful commercial artists in the 1948, including Norman Rockwell and Albert Dorne.

“By the time I finished, I was painting Western oil paintings,” Reid says.

Thousands of Wildlife References

He turned to full time painting upon retirement, and works out of a spare bedroom converted into his studio. Using thousands of his own reference photos, he has traveled to Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier Parks since 1988. He describes the process of getting the references just as satisfying as the painting of them.

That first year to Yellowstone, 1988, set a high bar for all the years to follow:

“It was the year of the Yellowstone fires,” Reid remembers.

“We got there the first day that they reopened the park, and there was wildlife everywhere! The fires had forced them down from the timber and into the open.

bull elk wildlife forest meadow james reid artist

Standing in the sunlight, a bull elk is wary of sound and predators. Cautious Look Back, original oil painting by James Reid.

“We enjoyed that trip so much that we have returned for a week in Yellowstone every year since. That’s 32 years (32 weeks) of studying and photographing wildlife in Yellowstone. We keep returning for the wildlife.

“Every year it’s different, and we never know what we’ll find.”

Used to People

According to Reid, the wildlife in Yellowstone is used to people and not as bothered by “a guy with a camera.” For other areas where the animals are shyer, he relies upon 300, 400, and 500mm lenses to keep his distance. At one time, when Reid used to hunt, he would take his camera with him in his backpack and take advantage of being in the hinterlands.

“My hunting buddies would sometimes make comments when they saw me with my camera out and not my gun. Oh well, I still have all those photos, even if you can’t eat them.”

indian summer horse teepee forest woods james reid artist

Two horses walk gently through the woods in Indian Summer, original oil painting by James Reid.

Reid, who took an art class at Walla Walla High School with David Manual when they were both students, credits the nationally known sculpture artist for encouraging him to foray into the Western Art world. Reid participates in the Out West Art Show and CM Russell Auction, both in Montana, every year, and has also done well at the Ellensburg National Western Art Show (he was chosen poster artist in 2015); the Spirit of the West Show in Cheyenne, WY; (awarded Best of Show); and Paint America Top 100 Show (juror’s award).

Back with the Gems

And lately, since retiring and going into full time wildlife artist mode, he has added another item to his list:

“I’ve taken up guitar again and reunited with the Gems, a popular rock group in Walla Walla in the 1960s.”

Life is full, and busy, and never, ever boring.

“I am forever learning and amazed at new things I learn, almost with each painting.

“I will always be learning and improving technique, design, and skills.”

Wenaha GalleryJames Reid is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 29 through July 24, 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.

 

 

 

acyrlic-pour-earrings-necklace-kristen-hanafin

Acrylic Pour Magic — Brother & Sister Create

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Colors shift and change with the light in Kristen Hanafin’s acrylic pour jewelry.

As anyone with a sibling knows, brothers and sisters agree on some things, and don’t on others. That’s the magic of family.

For acrylic pour painters Kristen Hanafin and Matt Harri, they work separately — she in her College Place studio and he in his Walla Walla one — but are constantly sharing ideas back and forth. The media itself is fascinating, employing a wide variety of techniques that invites experimentation.

“A major benefit of pours which also relates to its challenges is the versatility,” Hanafin says. “It is really only limited by your imagination.”

acrylic-pour-painting-matt-harri

Colors ebb and flow with fluidity and grace in Matt Harri’s abstract acrylic pours, such as Blue Yellow Green.

Hanafin had been interested in acrylic pour for years. It wasn’t until her brother mentioned that he was doing it, however, that she jumped into it herself.

“I invited myself over for a lesson and was instantly hooked!”

She got into making jewelry shortly after, as a means of expanding the variety of ways pour painting can be expressed.

“The jewelry making is extra special because I recycle the leftover paint from canvas pours, so there is less waste, which is something I always try to be conscious of.”

No End to Creativity

What to make is almost as unlimited as how to make it. Hanafin creates earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in acrylic pour, along with key chains, hair pins, book marks, note cards, and notebooks. Meanwhile, her brother plays with sparkle and shine in his acrylic pour paintings, some of which use white space as part of the design, while others completely cover with paint. There is a sense of fluidity and movement, a burst of color that ebbs and flows through the substrate.

And though the images are abstract, the human imagination is quick to do what it does best: imagine. One image looks like a planet in outer space, another like waves on the seashore. In still another, there is a sense of clouds in the sky.

In addition to sharing an interest in the same artistic medium, the siblings also share another important element: they are nephew and niece to Ed Harri, the late co-owner of Wenaha Gallery, and Pat, his wife and current owner.

“Ed loved color and creativity,” Pat says. “He found acrylic pour to be a unique and unusual expression of both. He would have been pleased to see Matt and Kristen’s work at the gallery, and I am pleased for him — and them.”

Wenaha GalleryKristen Hanafin and Matt Harri are the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 8 through June 27, 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.

 

 

Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Bible Promises and Song Birds — Watercolor by Shawna Wright

Isaiah never forgotten bird bible promises shawna wright

Never Forgotten, inspirational watercolor painting featuring Bible promises from Isaiah 49:15, by Shawna Wright

The Comfort of Bible Promises

When someone we know is hurt and needing, we so often want to help, but just as often do not know how. What gesture can we make, what action can we take, to bring comfort?

Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Joy Comes in the Morning, inspirational watercolor painting by Milton-Freewater, OR, artist Shawna Wright

The answer that watercolor painter Shawna Wright found for this question not only made a difference for the person she was trying to help, but launched her on an unexpected life journey. After earnest prayers to God that He would show her a ministry, something to do for Him, she found herself creating paintings of birds incorporating hand-written promises from the Bible.

And those paintings are resonating with people.

But first, let’s go back to the beginning:

It Started with Stick Men

“In January 2015, my father was in excruciating pain from a severe injury,” the Milton-Freewater, OR, artist remembers.

“Dad was over 2,500 miles away, and my heart ached, wanting to help him. I was inspired to make him a journal of Bible promises and hymns. It wasn’t beautiful — in fact, it was rather rough as my art ability at that time stopped at stick men — but it was from my heart.”

Every morning for two years Wright emailed her father a scanned copy from her journal. Every day, the pages became more detailed and colorful as, bit by bit, Wright began experimenting with her images. On her father’s birthday, inspired by the desire to do something distinctive, she created her first bird painting.

Possible with God bird watercolor Luke Shawna Wright

It’s Possible with God, original inspirational watercolor painting by Shawna Wright

“Both Dad and I knew that something special had happened,” Wright says.

Within two months, she was sharing her work on Facebook, had launched a website, and published her first set of inspirational calendars.

Birds and Bible Promises

Crediting God for her artistic advancements (“Little did I know that He had enrolled me in His own art class”), Wright has published her sixth yearly calendar, as well as numerous prints, cards, and recently, two prayer journals for mothers featuring 100 of her works. She writes a weekly blog of short stories and thoughts on the topic of Bible promises, pairing each article with one of her paintings. She has created numerous commissioned paintings for people who want a customized work in memory of a loved one. And she finds herself invited to share her story at local events, on podcasts, and in televised interviews.

“Bible promises have been a key part of my life, one that has given me comfort, hope, and happiness.

“My goal is to encourage the discouraged, bring hope to the helpless, and comfort to the grieving.”

A Memorable Commission

One of her most memorable commissions involved a woman who sewed blankets for children who have cancer. The client wanted Wright to design a tag to accompany the blankets.

strong courageous joshua bible promises bird hand shawna wright

Be Strong and Courageous, art tags commissioned for pediatric brain cancer awareness by Shawna Wright

“I felt a tender spot in my heart for the families of these children, and agreed to do it free of charge,” Wright says.

“Not long before I took on this project, an eight-year-old girl, Julianna Sayler from Walla Walla, lost her fight with brain cancer. Julianna’s favorite Bible verse had been Joshua 1:9.” (Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.)

Wright drew a golden bird and hand, symbolizing both pediatric cancer awareness and the concept of Jesus holding people in the palm of his hand.

“It is titled, ‘Jesus has me,’ quoting Julianna’s words right until the end.”

Wright gave the original painting to Julianna’s parents. All proceeds from the hundreds of mini-cards, tags and prints that have been sold of this image are donated to the Julianna Sayler Foundation, which helps families of children with cancer.

Each Calendar Has a Feeling of Its Own

With the exception of some commissions, all of Wright’s work features birds with Bible promises. Designed around a theme — courage, faithfulness, assurance, etc. — the calendars are the driver of each year’s art. One year the images were rustic and country, another focused on bold colors and bright flowers.

“I like to mix it up so that each calendar has a feel of its own.

“A theme and harmony is important to me; it’s the glue that holds what I do together.”

She’s come a long way from stick men and scanned journal pages. And she knows, as with any journey, there are many paths ahead, many twists and bends and switchbacks. But she takes seriously the Bible promises she incorporates into her artwork, and she knows that her Art Teacher is serious about working with her.

“I have never taken classes, watched YouTube, or read books. I’ve kept my story true — ‘God Taught.’ It’s what gives my work a unique style.”

Wenaha GalleryShawna Wright is the featured  Art Event from Monday, March 9 through Saturday, April 4 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.

 

bridal jewelry necklace earrings bling sharon demaris

Bride Beauty: The Romantic Jewelry of Sharon Demaris

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A necklace and earrings fit for the bride, and for the days to come. Jewelry by Sharon Demaris of College Place

It Started with the Bride Doll

Children’s toys are not insignificant, transitory things. Many people remember a favorite doll or truck, lucky marble, board game, or set of blocks. Long after the toy has been broken, lost, grown out of or disused, its impact remains.

Jewelry artist Sharon Demaris recalls such a treasured toy — a Bride Doll that she purchased at Montgomery Wards in Walla Walla, WA, when Demaris was five years old.

old new borrowed blue necklace earrings bride sharon demaris

Something old, something new, something blue — for the bride or the bridesmaid, or the woman who simply wants to look classy and elegant. Necklace and earrings by Sharon Demaris

“I loved her beautiful satin and lace dress with all of the sequins and pearls,” the College Place, WA, artist remembers.

“That has really stuck with me through the years — I guess that’s the reason so many of my designs lean toward the bridal theme, with all of the whites, creams, and gold.”

And how she loves crystals and pearls, the shimmer of gold, the sparkle of gems. They catch her eye, capture her attention, create a clarion call of siren bling that she is not remotely interested in resisting.

Beads Pique Her Interest

“Throughout most of my life, anything artistic has piqued my interest,” Demaris says. She started, under her grandmother’s tutelage, with crochet and embroidery. Then came ceramics, into which she jumped, with enthusiasm, until the local ceramics outlet closed. Following upon that, bright and shining, arrived a true artistic love, one that connected with that bride doll of years gone by:

“Christmas being my favorite time of year, then came The Ornament. It involved beads, lace ribbon, trim, and sequins on Styrofoam balls, then later seed beads, crystal, and other fancy beads. I also got into bead weaving making covers for glass balls.”

winner fire mountain gems beads swarovski contest bride jewelry sharon demaris

Intricate and exotic, this is one of Sharon Demaris’s winning entries in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Swarovski Contest

But the romance with The Ornament reached its limits when her Christmas tree could no longer hold all that she created, even after she sold and gave away a substantial number of beaded beauties. She needed an outlet for her creativity that was unlimited to the size of a tree or the few weeks of a holiday season. And that’s when she discovered jewelry. It completed that long-ago connection with the Bride Doll, fulfilling the childhood desire for sparkle and romance, magic and beauty.

A New Passion

“Designing jewelry has become my true passion: what started out as a hobby has become an obsession.

“Most of my jewelry designs are originals. When I see a design that I feel that I would like to make, I do my own version of that design.

“Eventually, my  designs became so fancy and intricate that I started entering the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Swarovski Contests, and all have been successful.”

winning entries swarovski contest jewelry sharon demaris

The walls of Sharon Demaris’s jewelry design studio feature her winning jewelry in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Swarovski Contest

This contest, which attracts jewelry makers from around the world, promises treasures for the winner: generous gift certificates, the winning work featured in ads in various bead magazines as well as in Fire Mountain’s catalogs, and exposure via social media and the company website. To date, Demaris has garnered seven major awards: “Crystal Falls” took the 2019 Gold Medal for Accessories, and “Queen Anne’s Lace” won the Grand Prize Bronze. Her work has been featured in Fire Mountain Gem ads in two British magazines, Bead and Jewelry and Making Jewellery, as well as showcased on the back cover of Bead and Button Magazine.

Her Happy Place

Demaris’s studio, which is filled with organized beads, crystals, gems, and findings, displays the award-winning works in professionally shot photo presentations, neatly framed. Demaris spends hours of concentrated time in this spare bedroom turned design studio. Generally she works on several pieces at one time.

“It’s an old habit, but not a good one,” she says of multiple, simultaneous projects. She sells from an inventory of jewelry that she has made, which has at times included up to 500 pairs of earrings, and also creates custom pieces on commission.

“I am a self-taught designer. I have never had a lesson.

“For me, there is nothing more rewarding than to finish a design and have it turn out the way you envisioned it. It makes me feel like I have really accomplished something great.”

And it all started when a five-year-old girl, in love with her Bride Doll, imagined the possibilities.

They were endless.

Wenaha GallerySharon Demaris is the featured  Art Event from Monday, February 24 through Saturday, March 21 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.

 

 

 

shell butterfly beach coast sand doug paulson details photograph

Details Matter — The Photography of Doug Paulson

shell butterfly beach coast sand doug paulson details photograph

Most people walking by see broken shells, but Doug Paulson sees a butterfly. Sun Kissed Wings, photography by Doug Paulson.

People who go on hikes with Doug Paulson don’t just move their feet. After few minutes with the nature photographer, they learn that details matter. And to see detail, you have to look not just around, but up and down, with a willingness for and expectation of encountering the unusual.

“My focus of detail runs deep,” the Salem, OR, artist says. “I even work and play with a focus on detail.”

On hikes, he frequently points out things that are “old hat” to him, but never noticed before by his companions.

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Lost in Thought, an owl perches by a rippling river. Photography by Doug Paulson.

“My hikes are a learning experience to fellow hikers whether they like it or not.

“And I do have an overwhelming sense of humor (whether you like it or not). I call it the family curse. My dad’s side is full of undiscovered comedians.”

God’s Handiwork

Paulson has been playing around with a camera since he was twelve, and after years of working with images on film, he is especially appreciative of digital technology. Carrying his camera with him wherever he goes, he likes the freedom of taking numerous shots from varying angles, without having to wait days to see if they turn out.

“I work in God’s world, and capture bits and pieces of his handiwork,” Paulson says.

“My material is everywhere — I can find a picture that is unique just about anywhere. Thank God for digital and no cost to take pictures other than a new SanDisk card.”

Paulson is rarely still, his mind and eye as active as his feet. Prior to retirement five years ago, he worked 33 years in a factory making Andersen windows and doors. He also coached wrestling — in both volunteer and paid positions — and extols the benefits of the sport for the determination and perseverance it demands, as well as . . . attention to detail.

“Wrestling is definitely in my blood — I am a former wrestler in Osceola, Wisconsin, wrestled varsity as a freshman on, and was a co-captain of the school’s best record team my senior year — still the record today.

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White water cascades over the rocks and through the forest in River Rush, photography by Doug Paulson

“I recognize the life benefits wrestling gives to the participants. I’ve been there hands on with plenty of kids who have had great success — in wrestling, and in life.”

Wrestling with the Details

This year, in “retirement,” Paulson is head wrestling coach at Judson Middle School in Salem. It keeps him in top form both physically and mentally, so that when he heads out to the woods with the camera, he’s good to trek for hours, or, when need be, stand patiently for what seems like hours until the light is right, the atmospheric conditions perfect, and the necessary moveable details to the picture naturally fallen into place. Rather than let photo manipulation finish the picture, Paulson prefers to cooperate with nature.

“I will stand at a wonderful coastal sunset and wait for a seagull to fly through, to add the bird to the picture.”

Paulson says he learned early on that it’s the details in the photo that establish the mood, rather than his trying to fit a large panorama into a set space. In focusing on the details, he also pays attention to the background, because it sets the stage.

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It’s a matter of being at the right place, at the right time. Birds on the Rocks, photography by Doug Paulson

“Background  adds or highlights the color in the subject, and it can wash out the subject, too.

“I do a lot of foreground inclusion, too, and also like to shoot through trees to get a silhouette. The ability to isolate or focus on details — this is what makes my pictures unique.”

Details, Not Defects

Some of those details, Paulson adds, other people would describe as “defects,” but he doesn’t consider them that way. With a little time and patience, a changing of perspective, one sees the same scene in a different manner.

“I will circle a subject until I get the best contrast of color and light, thus enhancing the subject.

“Shapes and features in wood, stumps, leaves — these all attract my attention. Sometimes I will let my shadow cast over the subject, as light will wash out the colors.”

It’s a matter of, well, wrestling with the subject matter, not so much to dominate it as to pin it down to its essential, and most interesting, elements. And it’s also a matter of stopping, looking, observing, not being in a hurry — of allowing the wonder of what is there to slowly reveal itself. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t know everything, and then willing to learn.

“I am a gotta know why guy.

“I see pictures everywhere, so I take them.”

Wenaha GalleryDoug Paulson is the featured  Art Event from Monday, February 10 through Saturday, March 7 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.

 

 

candy nuts toffee chocolate mama monacelli gift basket

Candy Is Dandy — Artisan Sweets by Mama Monacelli

candy nuts toffee chocolate mama monacelli gift basket

From sweet candy treats to savory nut snacks, Mama Monacelli says, “Eat caro, cara, eat!”

It’s no secret that most people don’t like to see photos of themselves. (Especially candid ones!)

But most people do not have the unique situation that Nancy Monacelli has. The Walla Walla candy maker, who creates artisan toffees, brittles, chocolates, and snacks, needed an image for her packaging logo, and, in her own words,

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The English Toffee candy that started the flunking of Mama Monacelli’s retirement.

“I couldn’t abide the thought of looking at my own face all day.”

So, she and her graphic designer put their heads together, and went looking for a suitable face.

“I told him I wanted an older, Italian-looking, ‘How you gonna get a wife; you’re so skinny,’ kind of woman,” Monacelli recalls.

“He found a public domain image and said he thought he had just the thing if I didn’t mind being associated with a perfect stranger. I told him, if she was perfect, what more could I want?”

It Started out as Christmas Candy

So Nancy, as she is packaging up her many handcrafted treats for sale, does not have to face her face. And she can focus on what she really gets excited about: making candy using recipes that she has developed over decades.

“Basically, my business started as ‘the Christmas candy,” Monacelli explains.

“For years, I made baskets for family, friends, and co-workers, as well as to take to gatherings to donate to events. My kids told me for decades that I should ‘sell this stuff,’ so I finally listened to them.”

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Nine flavors and counting: Mama Monacelli works on new candy innovations in the winter

At the time, Monacelli was winding down a 30-plus-year career in general manufacturing, manufacturing software, and consulting, and she thought that candy making would be a pleasant diversion for her upcoming retirement. In 2017, less than four months after she made this decision, she was not only licensed and running, but well beyond the dabbling or hobby stage. She found herself with a business that was taking on a life — and a very robust and growing one — of its own.

“Basically,” Monacelli wryly observes, “I flunked retirement.”

Expanding Offerings

Now, Monacelli spends her days at the Blue Mountain Station in Dayton, where she operates a commercial kitchen in back and retail store in front. Fridays and Saturdays from spring through fall, while husband Richard minds the candy shop, Nancy heads to the Walla Walla and Richland Farmers Markets. In the winter, she focuses on new product development. This is an endeavor that not only stretches creativity, but the waistband as well.

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Bob the family dog was instrumental in the naming — and the research and development — of Monacelli’s candy popcorn treat, BobPop

“I generally do new product development in the first quarter of the year, when things are slower, so I tend to gain weight after the holidays, unlike most folks,” Monacelli says.

“There is a fair amount of trial and error, as you might guess, and my family are my guinea pigs. They really like the batches that I declare to be failures!”

Through the years, Monacelli has developed an array of flavors, building upon the signature English toffee candy that led to her initial flunking of retirement. She has added to that Maple toffee, nine flavors of chocolate barks; two brittles; seven “enhanced” almond snacks, and BobPop, a sweet and salty popcorn treat, “with a zing.”

Bob the Dog and Candy Tasting

“For the popcorn snack, I did the R&D in my home kitchen and our dog, Bob, was the preferred guinea pig — he really likes the stuff. So, around the house, we started referring to it as BobPop.

“When I was satisfied with the recipe and ready to go into production, we tried and tried to come up with another name. Failing, we just left it at BobPop, the only product that is named after a pet!”

With each of her candy and snack products, Monacelli is adamant that the ingredients be “real.”

Keeping that in mind, she seeks out the best she can find, locally when she can. There are no artificial flavorings or ingredients.

“The decision to use real, high quality, fresh ingredients is consistent with our approach to food and life,” Monacelli says. “Our chocolates are dairy and soy free; all of our products are gluten free. We are very careful in our sourcing, and sensitive to dietary issues.”

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Look closely, and you can see what Mama Monacelli really looks like

In addition to selling her artisan candies through her retail site and the Farmers Markets, Monacelli offers her products at specialty shops from Chelan to Glacier National Park. She has participated in the Prosser Balloon Festival and Walla Walla Fairgrounds Enchanted Christmas Market, and looks to keep expanding, just . . . not the waistline.

The Woman Behind the Face

So — what does Nancy, Mama Monacelli, really look like? That’s a mystery that is best solved when you meet her in person. But even if she doesn’t look like the woman on the package, she is, most definitely, Mama.

“The name was my daughter’s idea.

“I have five children, four step-children, a foster daughter, countless ‘spares,’ and now their children (12 and counting). So the ‘Mama’ moniker has been well used.”

Maybe, just maybe, Mama didn’t flunk retirement after all.

Wenaha GalleryMama Monacelli’s Candy is the featured  Art Event from January 27 through February 22 at Wenaha Gallery. A large selection of chocolates, toffees, and BobPop, will be at the gallery. Samples will be available.

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.

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).

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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.”

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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.

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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.