Florist and Painter — Watercolor Art by Deborah Bruce

still life watercolor floral flowers deborah bruce retired florist

Joy in a Bowl, floral and flower still life watercolor painting by Deborah Bruce, Walla Walla artist and 30-year career florist.

The major rule about crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope — assuming that there is a list of rules somewhere — is that you don’t stop in the middle. Not an option.

forest reflections country landscape deborah bruce retired florist

Forest Reflections, watercolor country landscape by Walla Walla painter, and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

And while creating a watercolor painting is not fraught with as many perils, the same requisites apply: you don’t stop in the middle, throw up your hands in consternation, and give up, whether the painting is going stunningly well, or teetering on the edge of collapse.

“My biggest challenge when I’m working on a piece is when I am about halfway through it,” says Deborah Bruce, a Walla Walla painter and retired florist who has focused on watercolor for the last 20 years.

“If I have gotten to where I really like it, I become terrified that I am going to do something to ruin it.

“If I am not liking it, I struggle to keep going.

“I have one rule when I paint, and that is to finish regardless of how I feel about it in the middle. At times I am successful, and sometimes not, but I have found that what I think is a real mess can actually be fine if I just finish and don’t give up in the middle.”

The Florist Philosopher

Wise words, ones that get you over the scary part and to the other side. The medium of watercolor, Bruce explains, is neither forgiving nor easy, but its very difficulties are what make it fun to work with and wonderful to experience. Without the option of painting over mistakes, watercolor artists must plan out carefully where they want to start and end.

Gus Wonder Dog Terrier Pet portrait Deborah Bruce florist

Gus the Wonder Dog, watercolor portrait by Walla Walla painter and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

“It’s more about letting the light come through, knowing what to leave, and allowing the transparency and light and dark values to bring out drama and color,” she adds.

Retired from a career as professional florist for more than 30 years, Bruce is especially drawn to painting flowers, citing their variety, color, shape, and form. And while she loves the bright colors of many blooms, Bruce is intrigued by white flowers, which, when they’re painted, frequently involve no white paint at all. They’re really filled with subtle, but definite, color.

The Florist Painter

Bruce began painting seriously in high school, encouraged by a teacher who saw potential, but like many artists, set the pursuit aside as family and career demanded her limited time. When her sons entered high school she decided to take a watercolor class at Walla Walla Community College, taught by longtime teacher and painter Joyce Anderson, and from that point never looked back.

“I felt like a very important part of me came alive again in that first class.”

downtown walla walla deborah bruce watercolor painter florist

Downtown Walla Walla by watercolor painter and 30-year florist Deborah Bruce

Since then, Bruce has taken several more classes with Anderson, as well as attended workshops by Eric Wiegardt, Birgit O’Conner, Lian Quan Zhen, Tom Lynch, and Soon Warren. Bruce actively participates in Walla Walla Art Walk and the annual Art Squared event, and has shown her art locally at Saviah Cellars, Blue Mountain Cider Company, Plumb Cellars, and a number of area restaurants. She created a wine label for Tricycle Cellars Viognier, and most recently is focusing on commissioned dog portraits.

“I am a dog lover myself and find their faces intriguing. They are all so different and so delightful.”

Gimignano watercolor flower floral landscape arch deborah bruce florist watercolor painter

Gimignano, a cascading floral array and archway by Walla Walla watercolor painter and former florist, Deborah Bruce

The Realist Florist

Working out of a studio fashioned from a spare bedroom in her home, Bruce is highly aware of the season of the year, explaining that she can’t create a snow scene in the middle of summer. Detail minded, she stops short of putting in every point and line, allowing the viewer’s imagination to play. She has never forgotten a conversation in her youth she had with an art instructor, in which Bruce expressed her amazement at the realism of a particular painting:

When Bruce observed that the image looked like a photograph, the instructor replied that it was much better than a photograph, because it was created through a human heart.

“I hope in my paintings the viewer will see a piece of my heart,” Bruce says.

“I hope I can take the viewer someplace they want to be — I love it when a painting brings a smile, and it is my ultimate win when a commissioned piece or a painting I have done for someone brings tears of joy.”

That’s definitely a good end goal to pursue, and an excellent reason for not stopping in the middle.

Wenaha Gallery

Deborah Bruce is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 7, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 2, 2018.  

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.

 

two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

two kittens cats snuggling family pet simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

crab apple blossoms spring flowers simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

doe fawn wildlife animal spring simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

leafy bridge country rural forest woods simple living ellen heath watercolor

Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

cat family pet animal simple living ellen heath watercolor painting dixie

Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 2018.  

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.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

Dream Job, Dream Home, Dream Life — The Paintings of Barbara Janusz

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

Beauteous, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz capturing the dream scape of flowers

She bicycled from Portland, OR to Portland, ME.

Rode and camped in a horse-drawn wagon, traveling from farm to farm in Ireland.

Hiked the high Sierras.

abundance watercolor river stream nature barbara janusz

Abundance, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz, celebrating the dream scape of landscape

Traveled in and through Morocco, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

And stood in the midst of an opening art reception in her honor, in Paris, France, without knowing a word of the language.

Like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, Barbara Janusz has journeyed to magical places and experienced memorable adventures. And like Dorothy, the lifetime professional painter asserts that there’s no place like home.

“I have traveled extensively during my lifetime, but there’s no doubt my heart just soars with creativity when I’m home in the Pacific Northwest,” the watercolor artist says. “It’s alive and full of life.”

denali watercolor dream alaska barbara janusz landscape

Denali, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz, escaping to the dream real world of Alaska

Janusz’s Studio by the Lake in Hope, ID, overlooking Lake Pend Oreille, has a few advantages over Aunty Em’s farm in Kansas, and Janusz draws daily inspiration from a rock cliff sculpture, an onsite pond and waterfall, and forested, flower-bedecked grounds.

“I paint on the studio grounds feeling blessed each and every day,” Janusz says. “I can say I really do live the ‘Artist Dream.'”

Not only through her paintings — which emerge from a vision to communicate the poignant beauty of nature — does Janusz share that dream. Upon moving to Idaho from California in 1991, Janusz began teaching watercolor workshops on her two-acre parcel, setting up large tents next to the waterfall. She also hosts catered events for collectors — in her personal Garden of Eden or at the homes of collectors — showcasing her latest works.

“My new paintings are revealed at the exhibition, giving the collectors first choice to own one before they are exhibited to the public,” Janusz explains.

fly fishing clark fork watercolor dream painting Barbara Janusz

The Clark Fork, original watercolor, part of the fly fishing series by Barbara Janusz

Janusz has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S., as well as at an invitational exhibit with four other artists at the Centre Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris where, thankfully, a personal interpreter stood at her side during the opening reception. Numerous awards include the Gold Medallion Award at the Rocky Mountain National Exhibition; the Ruth Elliot Award from Women Painters of the West; and Best of Show at the Westwood Center of the Arts, Westwood, CA. She has been affiliated with the Art Works Gallery of Sandpoint since 1995.

To Janusz, however, painting is much more than acquiring an impressive resume of exhibitions and collections hosting her work. Each painting is a visual orchestra, one incorporating chords of color and symphony of form, inviting the viewer to experience emotion and movement.

“A completed painting is a form of universal consciousness where all human experiences are somehow touched because of our own connections with nature,” Janusz says.

“When viewing the painting, there is a feeling of being a part of the cosmic order.”

The complexity of nature is mirrored in Janusz’s chosen medium, watercolor, which she describes as “rich in colors and enduring.

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Tundra Swan, original watercolor painting by Barbara Janusz, dream swan in the beginning of flight

“The challenge of watercolor is to create a painting by using layers of color, a wide range of values and contrast, while keeping in mind the white of the paper.

“The benefits of watercolor are its beautiful luminous effects.”

When creating a body of work, Janusz selects a theme and explores it thoroughly before moving on to another, nature-related subject. She has plumbed the depths of Waterfalls, Lily Ponds, Fly Fishing, and Flowers; her series on Water Paintings, entitled Water: The Spirit of Life, included imaginary locales as well as real ones, reflecting her philosophy of painting from memory, from reference photos, and from her imagination.

What is most important in capturing the full impact of nature, Janusz believes, is being fully present with an open heart and mind, open to all possibilities.

“One stroke leads to the next: the act of painting comes out of the now.

“This openness is not by effort, but by letting go.”

It is through this letting go, this recognition that one does not know or understand all there is to know and understand, that the artist — and the viewer — come to a greater awareness of truth.

“I believe we are on this planet to learn lessons.

“One of the lessons I am learning is, it is not what I do: it’s knowing I am.

“The painting is not me; it is the love that is expressing through the painting.”

Wenaha Gallery

Barbara Janusz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 5 through Saturday, July 1, 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.

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Escaping the Office Cubicle — The Paintings of David Schatz

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Out of the office cubicle with Pink Roses, Oil on Panel by Portland artist David Schatz, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Office cubicles are not known for being spacious, liberating, beautiful places.

Grey, carpeted, windowless, and with walls too low for privacy, the ubiquitous modern “office” is a venue that artist David Schatz left far behind on weekends and holidays, when he explored landscapes, floral gardens, and wildlife refuges in search of meaningful images to paint.

morning waldo lake original painting david schatz out of the office cubicle

Definitely outside of the office cubicle, Morning on Waldo Lake, original oil on canvas by David Schatz

“I try to capture the beauty of what I see outside and bring it inside,” the Portland, OR, artist explains.

“I have no agenda except for trying to find and express the beauty in this world.”

Schatz, who has been drawing and painting since high school when an aunt gave him a set of oil pastels, was told during university studies that he should find something else to do as he would never become a painter. In a characteristic combination of practicality with stubbornness, Schatz turned to circuit board design for the electronics industry as his day job, and pursued painting when he was, literally, free.

Fine Art & The Day Job

Ironically, the day job — which appears to have nothing to do with the finer nuances of fine art — benefited from Schatz’s artistic bent, requiring the sense of spatial relationship demanded by drawing and painting.

“My painting skills helped me to visualize how a circuit board would have to be arranged to fit the space available,” Schatz says.

“I got my first job in electronics because I could draw.”

One of the most challenging aspects of Schatz’s dual sets of skills — aside from the cubicle — had to do with Schatz’s coworkers because, outside of concerns to do with the job, there was nothing to talk about:

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Patience, original acrylic by David Schatz, capturing the world outside of the office cubicle

“I was surrounded by engineering geeks who had no idea of why anyone would want to paint when he could be playing computer games,” Schatz recalls.

“For my part, I had no idea why anyone would want to play computer games when he could paint.”

Schatz speaks of this situation in the past, having “escaped the cube,” as he puts it, through retirement, and is presently pursuing the full time career in art that he was earlier assured he could not have. Carrying a camera with him everywhere (“So does everyone,” he notes wryly, “with their cell phones”), Schatz captures reference photos nearby — taking advantage of Portland’s many public gardens to find floral images — as well as across the country in Florida, where he haunts wildlife refuges.

Easygoing Birds

“The birds in the refuges know that they are safe, and ignore the photographers,” Schatz says. “The camera that I use has a wonderful zoom lens, and the birds do seem to be posing for us.

“There are often 5-10 photographers lined up shooting the same bird.”

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The Stalker, original acrylic painting by David Schatz

But a reference photo is just that — a photo — until the artist shapes and forms it into a painting, incorporating light, shadow, atmospheric perspective, color, and that elusive sense of feeling and emotion resulting only after much careful attention from the artist’s hand and soul. The highly realistic nature of Schatz’s work commands that he work closely on a small area at a time, addressing with his brush a petal or rock until it’s precisely the way he wants it to be.

It is because of his method that Schatz prefers working with reference photos over painting in plein air.

“My passion is for nature and I will paint anything that I can photograph,” he says.

“But I am a slow painter, and anything that I choose to paint will be long gone before I get started painting!”

Schatz has sold his work throughout the Pacific Northwest, and his art has been spotlighted at watercolor society exhibits in both Texas and Louisiana. One of his works was featured on the front cover of the British edition of Best of Flower Painting, and his floral images have been published by Wild Wings, a licensing agency specializing in wildlife, Americana, and nostalgia images.

It’s all part of focusing on the natural world — flora and fauna — and bringing it, as Schatz determines, into the inside where it can be seen, appreciated, longed for, and loved. Fine art belongs everywhere including — and maybe especially — the office cubicle.

Wenaha Gallery

David Schatz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 8 through Saturday, June 3, 2017. Schatz will be at the gallery Saturday, May 27 for a special two-person art show with Kennewick artist LuAnn Ostergaard, and both artists will be on hand to meet and greet visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free refreshments are provided.

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.

 

The Wild Life of Wildflowers — Watercolor Art by Jean Ann Mitchell

 

Northwest Trumpet Honeysuckle by Jean Ann Mitchell

Northwest Trumpet Honeysuckle (detail) by Jean Ann Mitchell

Wildflowers are rarely associated with danger.

“Rarely” and “Never” are two different terms, however, and for watercolor painter Jean Ann Mitchell, capturing the area’s native flora has not been without adventure.

Upland Larkspur, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Upland Larkspur, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

“I’ve been stalked by elk in the fall, (inadvertently) clocked a bear running 35 miles an hour, glimpsed a cougar from inside a rig, experienced snakes under foot, and once a bird landed — briefly — on my clipboard,” the Milton-Freewater resident says. Over 13 summers in which Mitchell worked with the U.S. Forest Service, on projects largely involving plant identification and use of native plants in restoration, she has traveled, generally by foot, to isolated places.

“There was a LOT of hiking involved,” she remembers.”This was seldom on roads, and almost never on paths, but almost always cross country, reading maps and relying on compass orientation, aerial photos, and relocation directions — across dry open scab, through forested areas, mountain meadows, riparian areas, and sometimes through yew, alder or ceanothus thickets.”

Mitchell, who holds a university degree in art history and served three years with a mission in Nigeria, did not start out adult life with an expertise in Pacific Northwest flora and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants other than grass). But after “marrying into the Forest Service” and moving to the area, she became fascinated by the rich diversity of native plants. When her husband presented her with the Peterson Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers, she voraciously devoured every page, then embarked upon a self-directed study that included plant and botany courses at both Blue Mountain and Walla Walla Community Colleges. Concurrently, she worked for the Forest Service Native Plant Seed Program, identifying grasses; leading crews; teaching identification skills and gathering techniques; and learning to carefully catalog.

Queen's Cup Bead Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Queen’s Cup Bead Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

While she considers herself retired now from the Forest Service aspect of her work career, Mitchell continues to hike, research, study,  gather wildflowers (“I never take a plant out of the ground unless there are more than 20 others in the immediate area”) or get down on the ground to draw, in situ, an endangered plant, resulting in a collection of wildflower paintings that encompass more than 100 different species, and counting.

“Keen observation of the living plant is not something you can fake,” Mitchell says, adding that Ziploc bags, and refrigeration, are two friends that allow her to collect specimens (NOT endangered ones) and save them for later, although not too much later, for drawing.

“To draw a plant looking fresh — and you do want to have the buds, petals, and leaves oriented as though growing — it has to be done immediately, within a day or so,” Mitchell explains. Because the family refrigerator is the best place for temporary storage, it’s important to clarify what is, and isn’t, suitable for meal preparation.

“While my family has grown used to being cautious with any Ziplocs in the refrigerator, I always live in fear with guests,” Mitchell says.

Yellow Fawn Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Yellow Fawn Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

As Mitchell grew in knowledge of native plants, as well as the artistic ability to render them, the student segued into instructor, and she has taught native plant botanicals for public school science classes, Walla Walla Community College, the Blue Mountain Land trust, specialty camps, and the Daniel Smith art supply center in Seattle. Working with the Native Plant Society of Oregon, she produced a number of drawings which were published in the Trailside Guide of Wildflowers in the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla.

Note card sets of her work “have been a great hostess gift while traveling,” with the result that Mitchell’s art finds itself in Germany, Finland, Poland, Jordan, Brazil, South Korea, and more. Closer to home, Mitchell’s  cards are available at the Fort Walla Walla gift shop, the Arts Portal Gallery in Milton-Freewater, and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton.

There’s something about botanical art that draws people closer, “like a bee to honey, or a . . . flower,” Mitchell observes.

“Native plants are breathtaking, the way they are truly, divinely put together, pigmented, orchestrated to carry out their life cycle and play their part in the ecosystem.

“‘Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.'”

Wenaha GalleryJean Ann Mitchell is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, September 26 through Saturday, October 22.

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

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

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Fire and Water: The Artwork of Joyce & Randy Klassen

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Encaustic Mosaic by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Joyce Klassen

Most of the time, she is tidy and neat. He . . . is not.

But in the studio, the situation reverses: while Joyce Klassen attacks hot wax with a blowtorch to create encaustic collage, her husband Randy sits behind an easel, watercolors tidily arrayed as he quietly paints.

Or, more often when he sees Joyce reaching for the firepower, he finds something else to do.

Design and Texture with F Sharp in the Key of G, encaustic by Joyce Klassen

Design and Texture with F Sharp in the Key of G, encaustic by Joyce Klassen

“Randy is not mechanical,” the yin half of this wife/husband Walla Walla art duo explains. “Every time I pick up that blowtorch, it strikes fear in his heart. He’ll say, ‘Do you need to get the car filled with gas, or does it need washing? I’ll go do some errands.'”

Fortunately for Randy and his art, Joyce is not always blazing away, or, as she terms it, bringing form out of chaos. While Joyce designs, finding precisely what she needs in piles that look suspiciously like random jumbles of indiscriminate stuff (“Those who know me well are surprised at this aspect of my personality”), Randy creates dogs, cats, people, geese, old trucks, towns, and cathedrals in what is often described a most difficult, unforgiving medium.

Watercolor, for Randy, goes back to a childhood spent painting with his father, Jacob Klassen, a Russian emigre who settled in Canada and, in a career spanning 70 years, made a name for himself as an artist.

“He was a high school teacher — German, geography, and art,”  Randy says, “but he painted, and I went out and painted and sketched with him.” It was an apprenticeship, really, resulting in a familiarity and expertise so deep that viewers of Randy’s art are convinced he graduated from some prestigious art academy.

To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God by Wenaha Gallery artist Randy Klassen

To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God by Randy Klassen

“People ask what art school I went to. I never went to art school.”

He did, however, attend seminary, and upon earning his degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA, embarked upon a 50-plus year career in pastoral ministry, with a six-year Sabbatical during which he and Joyce worked fulltime as artists — initially the proverbially starving, then eating a bit more, and finally making a business of it, at one point traveling to China as part of a cultural exchange.

It was during this period of poverty that Randy created one of his most endearing and enduring works, “To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God,” featuring a small child opening the massive, arched, Gothic cathedral doorways to a church.

“I wanted to express how childlike faith could open the biggest doors,” Randy explains. “That painting turned out to be a winner,” with lithograph and Giclee editions selling out all but two prints. But the most wonderful aspect of the work, Randy continues, is the story behind the child:

Autumn Leaf Fantasy by Randy Klassen

Autumn Leaf Fantasy by Randy Klassen

The doors had been sketched, stumbled upon when Randy was driving about, scouting possibilities and discovering St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL. The image of the child he found when looking through old papers on his desk (remember, he’s the untidy one).

“I thought it was a boy, and I painted him into the picture.

“A couple weeks after the first lithograph came out, a lady called from California and said, ‘Thank you for painting my little girl,'” the image of whom had appeared in the reference he used.

“The thing that’s wonderful, though, is that Jesus put a child in the midst of them — not a little boy, not a little girl, no partiality between men and women.

“I wish the church had caught on.”

Palouse Falls in April by Randy Klassen

Palouse Falls in April by Randy Klassen

But Randy gets it, and he and Joyce are equal partners in an art career that is full time again. Upon retirement from their final church in Valley Springs, which started in a real estate office and grew to the largest church in Calaveras County, CA, Randy and Joyce arrived in Walla Walla in 2003, where Joyce, in addition to creating mixed media works spanning abstract to realism, participates in community theater across three states. Her work with encaustic drives her eye to look everywhere, all the time, for potential “junque” to incorporate within an artwork, the less perfect, the better.

“I like the junky stuff better than the pretty ones — if I find a sand dollar, I don’t like it to be perfect. It has more interest in a piece if it’s not.

“It’s kind of like people — It’s the little imperfections that make them special.”

One could almost add, to such sorts belongs the Kingdom of God.

Wenaha GalleryRandy and Joyce Klassen are the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artists from Monday, August 1 through Saturday, September 3.

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Life on the Farm with a Paintbrush — The Watercolor Art of Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

She is an artist, living on a farm.

“Farm” brings to mind livestock and machinery, hard work, early mornings, and late nights.

“Artist” describes the person who sees beauty and interprets it onto canvas or paper, one who walks around a clump of flowers growing on the path and returns later in the day, when the chores are done, to capture that fragile innocence.

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

For watercolorist Jill Ingram, who grew up on a farm and married a farmer, art is as much of her life as wheat and pigs, and she first recognized that she had a creative gift in third grade, when she was part of a team of three assigned to create a bulletin board scene depicting the change of seasons.

“There was a feeling of apprehension facing that huge white blank wall,” Ingram remembers.

“I have no memory of what we did, but the reaction of my fellow students gave me such joy, as they looked into a crystal ball and said, ‘You are an artist!’

“And they spoke a new faith into my heart.”

The daughter of Dayton artist Iola Bramhall, Ingram dabbled with painting and drawing throughout her childhood, but things became more serious — both life and art — following a horse accident, when Ingram turned to art as part of the healing process.

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

“My belief in a loving God gave me the faith that this event would bring good into my life,” Ingram says. “He said art would be a catharsis for me.”

It was, guiding her into a world of color, hue, light, form, and movement, resulting in works that are resplendent in emotion, many zeroing in on the petal of a flower or an insulated growth of trees, rich with a hidden light.

“I believe in a personal God who created me to see beauty in the commonplace,” Ingram says.

“His hand is on my life, and He takes the hardest things, transforming the experience into some kind of beauty. He made me in His image, and so I think my creative imagination is an expression of Him, however blurry I may see and understand.”

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Ingram landed on her medium of choice, watercolor, for a prosaic reason: because it isn’t as messy as oil or pastel, but just because it’s easier to clean up doesn’t mean that it’s easier to do. Working through paper choices and pigment temperaments, Ingram addressed subject matter ranging from botanical to figurative, building a portfolio of work with a fluid, open style that, she says, matches her personality.

Along the way, she studied under renowned artists like Del Gish, Arne Westerman, and Nita Engle, and soon found her own name becoming known: she has won first place at the Colorado Watercolor Society (for her painting, “Jewel”) as well as at the Northwest Watercolor Society’s Juried Exhibition in Seattle, in which “Ruby Slippers” took the prize. For several years, Ingram operated a gallery in downtown Dayton, Jill Ingram Watercolors, and sold her work, nationally and internationally, through galleries in Seattle and Spokane as well.

For all that, she remains, at heart, an artist who lives on a farm, and the day’s painting schedule revolves around a household of people who all depend upon one another to get the many things that need to be done, done:

“Painting in my home means that I am more available to my family,” Ingram says.

“Some days might start with painting, then shift into helping the farm boys move combines, and end with Mom planning meals . . .  unless I’m on a roll, and I paint all day long until they yell at me to come and eat!”

And even then, she may stay in the studio, grabbing a few precious minutes for a well-placed brushstroke here, a subtle drizzle of color there. Art speaks — to her, and through her. Or, as Ingram likes to say,

“English is my second language.”

Wenaha GalleryJill Ingram is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, March 14 through Saturday, April 9. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, March 19, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Dancing Coneflowers, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

Creating Art Is Such a Joy — The Watercolor Art of Meredith Dedman

Dancing Coneflowers, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

Dancing Coneflowers, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

So often, it is the small, inconsequential things that make lasting effects on our lives. For watercolor painter Meredith Dedman, her feet were instrumental in choosing the medium of her art.

Hibiscus Blossom, original watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

Hibiscus Blossom, original watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

“About 15 years ago, I decided to learn more about art and began taking regular classes,” the Dayton painter remembers. “These classes happened in the evening, after work, and rather than painting with the oils that I had dabbled with a few years back, I chose watercolor.

“Watercolorists sat down to paint, and I was too tired from working all day to think about standing for two hours at an easel.

“Turned out to be a good decision regardless of how silly the reasons were.”

In pursuit of mastery, Dedman took one to two evening classes in the Florida area for 10 years, haunted the local watercolor society, built up a library of how-to and fine art books, and attended workshops by nationally acclaimed artists like Sue Archer, Ann Pember, Tom Jones, Pat Weaver, Diane Maxey, and Karlyn Holman. By the time she moved to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago, she was confident enough to instruct others, and takes in local students at her studio, a “happy space” with triple French doors, east facing windows, and a generous amount of cupboards to store supplies.

Tangles, by Meredith Dedman

Tangles, by Meredith Dedman

Dedman is generous about passing on what she has learned and is still learning, and one of her major messages is that of encouragement.

“Since I have been using watercolor almost exclusively for the past few years I can tell you that watercolor is not as unforgiving as most people think,” Dedman says. For little “mistakes,” gently scrubbing with a damp dry brush often does the trick, but some techniques are more forceful:

“I have seen people take a garden hose and wash most of the paint off the paper.” Not inside the studio, by the way.

Peacock, mixed media original painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Meredith Dedman

Peacock, mixed media original painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Meredith Dedman

While watercolor is and remains a true love, Dedman is continually exploring, and the last few years has forayed into acrylic, colored pencil, and pastel, in this latter endeavor seeking out the expertise of former Walla Walla artist, Bonnie Griffith. When it comes to subject matter, Dedman embraces it all, as enthusiastic about still life as she is landscapes, ready to tackle animals immediately after focusing on houses, or florals, or collage.

“Creating art is such a joy,” she says. “To have an idea, devise a plan, attack a piece of paper or canvas with brush and paint — then you watch magic happen as the paint colors mingle and begin to tell the story you imagined.”

Ideas for the next painting join a mental queue while she is working on the current one, and as the co-founder, with Vivian McCauley, of the area’s Blue Mountain Artists’ Guild, Dedman produces a work each month in line with the group’s theme — a color (red, say, for Valentine’s Day), concept (patriotism, for July 4), or material object (vintage cars, celebrated during Dayton’s All Wheels Weekend). Lately, influenced by workshops given by Karlyn Holman, an internationally recognized artist, instructor, and author, Dedman has been incorporating textured papers, pencil, and crayon into multi-media creations.

Heart of the Woods, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman

Heart of the Woods, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman

“When I first began painting, I felt I had to stick to one medium in order to be successful,” Dedman reflects.

“As a result, I was very rigid in my ideas about art and good painting. But fortunately, I was shown that art can and should be fun, as long as a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”

One is serious, yet not too serious: the idea is to pursue excellence, yet cut oneself some slack when things don’t happen the way expected or envisioned, which describes a lot of life, actually.

“The process can be as simple as making marks on paper that are pleasing to a viewer,” Dedman says.

“I simply try to capture the beauty and color in the world around me and capture a moment in time with the filters of my eyes, rather than the lens of a camera.”

Wenaha GalleryMeredith Dedman is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 8 through Saturday, March 12. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, February 20, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.