fence landscape corvallis outside sunset painting montgomery

Outside Adventure — Impressionist Landscapes by LR Montgomery

fence landscape corvallis outside sunset painting montgomery

The last light of the waning sun dances across the landscape. Last Light at Corvallis, original oil painting by LR Montgomery

Get outside.

It’s not bad advice, and we could probably figure out, without promotional public service announcements, that nature is a healing place to be. It’s calm, quiet, and peaceful – three inducements to thinking and reflection. For fine art painters, getting outside is a means of capturing the moment so that when people see the artwork, though they are stuck in an office on a rainy day, they can escape to a place worth being in.

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A slow-moving river invites the viewer to slow down as well and enjoy the sense of quiet and peace. Warm Hearts, original oil painting by LR Montgomery

“I paint original impressionist landscapes with emotion,” says LR Montgomery, an oil painter from Spokane, WA, who enjoys both plein air and studio work.

“My landscapes show the hidden secrets of our forests, ponds, tributaries, rivers, boulders and open spaces.

“They express the joy of being outdoors.”

Celebrating Nature with Paint

Montgomery’s personal philosophy is to create uplifting images that generate a feeling of well-being and reflect the beauty of God’s creation. At the same time, he also wants to draw people’s attention to the fragility and sustainability of our natural environments. If we pave over forests and build high-rise corporate buildings in the meadows, we lose precious resources that we can never get back.

So . . . Montgomery actively seeks out and finds the unspoiled, natural places. His happiest painting moments, he says, are those spent outside, regardless of the weather.

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The colors of spring create an almost audible melody in LR Montgomery’s original oil painting, Spring Birch at Slavin

“I can be found painting out of doors at zillions of Northwest natural areas. I am the Artist in Residence for Dishman Hills Conservancy, so I paint there often.

“Most recently, I have been painting the Palouse, Lake Chatcolet, Spokane River, Little Spokane River, the hills west of Corvallis, OR, and anywhere grapes grow.”

It’s not only when he’s behind the easel that Montgomery enjoys the outdoors. He spends significant time hiking, canoeing, and kayaking throughout the Pacific Northwest, and those outside experiences, eventually, find themselves as paint on canvas or panel.

Getting Outside as Often as He Can

“My art reflects the joy of outdoor adventures.

“Additionally, collectors and organizations often ask me to paint the areas they love or represent. I accept a very limited number of commissions a year.”

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A bracing blue sky adds to the sense of light and outdoor peace. Blue Halo at Painted Rocks, original oil painting, by LR Montgomery.

Montgomery’s collectors include private individuals, corporations, environmental groups, museums, and educational institutions throughout the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, Mexico, Africa, and Japan. In the Pacific Northwest, his work is in collections at Kaiser Permanente, Spokane Eye Clinic, Pacific Lutheran University, Washington State University, the city of Spokane, Loyola Marymount University, Shriners Children’s Hospital, Providence Medical Center, and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.

“Art is a happy business. People collect it because it brings joy, enhances life, or reflects personal experiences.”

Some families, he adds, have collected his work for generations, and to this day, he remembers the name of his first collector.

“Her name was Helen. I was 12 years old when I painted a watercolor of a cougar, which she and her husband acquired. They inspired my love for the outdoors and being outside in nature through their lifestyle and encouragement.”

In fact, his wife Carole swears that he was born with a crayon in his hand. Her assessment is understandable, given her partnership with him in the painting business: he paints, she is his manager. That responsibility requires as much flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and easygoing humor as wielding the brush.

An Artistic Marriage

“She never knows what will happen next. She may have to drop what she is doing at a moment’s notice to attend to the whims of the art business.

“The left brain of our marriage, she is a great supporter of our creative lifestyle. Her support allows me to focus on painting with purpose.”

And that purpose — celebrating the outdoor world, focusing on nature, pointing people’s hearts toward beauty — is well worth taking time to focus upon. Whether he’s in the comfort of the studio or out on the river bank, doing emergency repairs on the legs of an easel, Montgomery draws upon, and draws viewers into, a world that is far, far from the madding crowd, and crowds, period.

“My paintings bring the ambiance and memories of outdoor experience in. Collectors say they can hear the water and smell the forest.”

Wenaha GalleryLR Montgomery is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 19 through November 15, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Pottery Mom — Functional Clay by Merrilyn Reeves

huckleberry pottery ceramic bowl merrilyn reeves

The leaves and fruit of the Northwest’s wild blueberry are a signature embellishment on Merrilyn Reeve’s Huckleberry Bowl.

Not many women in modern USA boldly call raising a family a career, but potter Merrilyn Reeves isn’t afraid to do so. Years before she embarked upon a second career that is now 33-years in progress and counting, she raised four children on 17 acres in a remote area of rural Idaho. Their nearest neighbors were six miles away. The radio worked in the car, not the house. The deer that interacted with the family’s laying hens, goats, and cattle had to contend with a “rifle packing momma who had to feed her kiddos.”

The last thing on her mind, at that time, was throwing pots.

“Keeping dirty things clean (faces, bottoms, clothes, floors, dishes), food on the table, and clothes on little bodies occupied most of my time and energy,” the Plummer, ID, artist says. It wasn’t until she was on a vacation with her still-young family to Yellowstone and chanced to observe a professional potter plying his craft, that pottery first entered into her heart and hopes.

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Through the years, Merrilyn Reeves has developed her own special formulas for the glazes she used on her pottery. Blue Rice Bowls with Chopsticks.

“I was mesmerized as I watched him skillfully turn that lump of clay into a recognizable vessel. He was amazing and I was very taken with the process and result.”

She Gave the Pottery Wheel a Whirl

A few years later, she took a class where she sat down at the wheel for the first time, and, literally, gave it a whirl.

“I wore a suit — a poor choice for a pottery class! Prior to that day, the thought that I might be an artist had never entered my mind. I could not imagine doing anything passable with a paint brush.”

Since that memorable day in 1988, Reeves has created hundreds of pots using a wheel very similar to the one on which she threw her first pot. She also experiments with hand building and alternate throwing forms, using porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware clays in a variety of applications. The learning curve, like the wheel itself, is constantly turning, and each project is an opportunity to learn more about the medium: Moisture content in clay varies widely, and if it’s too firm or too soft, it won’t throw right. Glazes, too, are finicky, and must “fit” the particular clay, with both expanding at about the same rate to result in a good, durable glaze without major defects.

oval grass ceramic pottery platter bowl merrilyn reeves

Grass, leaves, and flowers are a favorite embellishment of Merrilyn Reeves to either paint onto the pottery or incorporate via organic materials. Oval Grass Bowl by Merrilyn Reeves.

And despite what Reeves thought, she did learn to use a paintbrush, frequently embellishing pieces with images of leaves and flowers.

God’s Creation Provides the Finishing Touches

“God’s creation provides much inspiration for my pots, particularly in the finishing touches,” Reeves says. “When I need an idea, I am apt to take a walk and see what is growing in the area. The grasses and weeds I collect just may end up on the next generation of my pots. Many items from nature are fun to play with, whether leaves, whole plants, stones or sea shells.

“I have to say that bugs don’t make the grade, and have never ended upon on a pot. Yet.”

Reeves specializes in functional ware, defining each piece as possessing a purpose, which, in part, is determined by the person who “adopts” it.

pottery mugs ceramic merrilyn reeves

Images of wheat embellish a series of pottery mugs by Merrilyn Reeves.

“My goal is to enrich the lives of others with my pots,” she explains. “I give my best to each pot, hoping that it will encourage and brighten someone’s day and life.”

Be Fair and Do What’s Right

This way of approaching pottery, she adds, is an extension of her world view, which is that God created the earth, and He has a plan for each person in it.

“For me His plan included pottery, and He gave me the skill and aptitude for it.

“I guess this is not a popular stance these days, but it should always be in style to do what is right. We should do the best job when making items for others to ‘adopt,’ charging a fair price, and dealing honestly with others. I hope that shows in my work.”

Reeves works from a free-standing studio, separate from the home she shares with her husband Waverley and their two black labs, Rosie and Sasha. The four children resulted in 14 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. The initial pottery class resulted in a business, Wildwood Pottery, where Reeves hand-crafts each piece from start to finish, including the all-important smoothing of the foot so that the finished pot will be kind to any furniture surface it rests upon. It’s these little things, Reeves believes, that aren’t so little after all — whether they are children being raised by a career mom or whether they are one of her signature huckleberry bowls.

“I give careful attention to each step of the process,” Reeves says.

“A person purchasing one of my pots reaps the investment of many hours of my time and care.”

Wenaha GalleryMerrilyn Reeves is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 5 through November 1, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

cabin homestead idaho house watercolor gottschalk

Watercolor Wonder: Art by Cathy Gottschalk

cabin homestead idaho house watercolor gottschalk

A weathered old house captures a homestead moment in the Idaho countryside. Original watercolor painting by Cathy Gottschalk

They say that first impressions are lasting impressions. And while this tends to be true, it isn’t necessarily the best thing. Sometimes, many times, it’s beneficial to re-evaluate how we feel about a person, place, or thing and see if, with time and wisdom, we think differently.

Painter Cathy Gottschalk of Deary, ID, discovered this about watercolor, which, ironically, is now her preferred medium. But it didn’t start out that way:

“In high school, I had a wonderful art teacher who exposed us to all types of mediums. I played around with acrylic, oil, and pottery, just to name a few.

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Quiet and peaceful, a group of Waxwing birds perches atop the branches. Resting Waxwings, original watercolor painting by Cathy Gottschalk

“But when she introduced our class to watercolor, I quickly gave up on this VERY frustrating loose medium in which the paper curled, the water ran, and the paints blended. I was completely overwhelmed.”

And yet she remained fascinated by watercolor, gravitating toward it through the years in galleries or at local fairs, wondering how it was possible for the artists to control the water and the paint.

“Many years later, at a Christmas show, I came across a display of beautiful and controlled watercolors by a well-known artist in Moscow, ID. I visited with him and learned that he taught classes as well. I was finally ready to give this medium another try. My husband contacted him and arranged for a few private lessons for my Christmas gift!”

Diving into Watercolor

That was it. She was hooked. In addition to being a more patient person at 50 than she was at 15, Gottschalk also learned what a difference high quality paint, paper, and brushes make. She dove headlong into the medium, experimenting with different brands of materials, subject matter, and technique. After her class with the professional artist, she joined the Palouse Watercolor Socius and Idaho Watercolor Society, where she continues her life-long journey of learning through interaction, collaboration, and informational critique with the artists there.

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Cows have a way of communicating by simply staring at you. Mooooove Over, original watercolor painting by Cathy Gottschalk

“At the monthly Palouse Watercolor Socius meeting, we have a show and tell or a critique time before adjourning,” Gottschalk explains.

“This can be scary, informative, as well as confidence building. Another painter may see a problem area that you did not notice or your work may help inspire your friends to try a new technique. It is my favorite part of our meeting, besides the group lunch afterward.”

Gottschalk paints both in her studio and outside in plein air, and appreciates each method. One of her favorite aspects of the latter is the camaraderie with other artists as they scout for new locations, chat while working, and, of course, eat lunch together. Learning happens through face to face interaction, and different people, with different ideas, keep us out of ruts, ditches, and mental carpeted cubicles:

“Seeing what my friends in our group select to paint, most often in the same location, is fun and inspiring.”

Lighting and Weather

adirondack chairs lake wallowa relaxing view watercolor gottschalk

An inviting view complements a duo of inviting chairs in Cathy Gottschalk’s original watercolor painting, Please Have a Seat

One of the biggest challenges with plein air painting, Gottschalk adds, is the weather and the lighting. She starts painting in the morning when the colors are vivid and the shadows are long. Three hours of concentrated effort later, all the shadows have moved, the light is overhead, or the clouds have rolled in. One way or another, the landscape has changed.

“It’s usually time for lunch then, and the bees have gathered and the temperature is hot. My inspiration may have become perspiration, and it’s time to quit for the day.” She packs up and goes home, hoping her next planned excursion will have similar lighting.

Recently, Gottschalk has discovered a new source of reference material for her paintings: old family photos. She enjoys bringing old black and white images to new life by painting them in color.

“I do small sketches and experiment with colors to find the effect I’m looking for. The biggest challenge I have using these old photos is the poor quality of the photos itself.

“However, this is also a wonderful experiment in stretching my ability to improvise, to make up what I think a blurred object is.”

Challenge

Challenge: that’s what it’s all about. What frustrated her at 15 fascinates her now, and wherever she sets up her easel — in the studio, in the middle of a creek, or on her back deck overlooking her own private Idaho — Gottschalk continually experiments, learns, tries and fails, tries and succeeds, and keeps moving forward. In the near future she plans to create her own website, try out guache, play with oils, and vary her watercolor technique. She paints what makes her happy, and is gratified when what results makes others happy as well.

“As long as I’m enjoying whatever medium I’m using, then I’ll continue to produce paintings and gain more confidence as an artist.”

Wenaha GalleryCathy Gottschalk is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 21 through October 18, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

beach coast oregon small painting paul henderson

Small Paintings Make a Big Impact

beach coast oregon small painting paul henderson

Step into the 9 x 12 painting, and walk onto the big beach. South Cannon Beach II, original acrylic painting by Paul Henderson.

Oftentimes, when we’re told opposites are true, it’s Orwellian-Speak: Peace through War. Submission is Freedom. Love is Tough. The author of 1984 lampooned such verbal flummery and warned wise people to be wary of it.

But when a two-dimensional artist speaks in opposites, he or she does so with magical intent, employing brush, paint, skill, and imagination to create a paradoxical, delightfully contradictory situation that intrigues, fascinates, bewitches, and charms. As in, Small is Big.

bird yellow muse color profile batik denise elizabeth stone

Artist Denise Elizabeth Stone, painter of the original Batik watercolor, Visit from the Muse, describes in haiku, Blackbird asks/What now?/I art my reply

“Painting small is a challenge!” says Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone of La Grande, OR.

“It’s a different way of thinking about my communication with the viewer. I’d compare it to the difference between writing an essay and writing a haiku.”

What Constitutes “Small”?

Because art is, presently, a free industry, unhampered by either medieval guild or governmental licensing and regulations, there is no official definition of what constitutes a small painting, but a loose interpretation is that it is less than 12 inches at its largest dimension. So, it could be 10 x 10. Or 6 x 8. But . . . it could also be 5 x 18, because while 18 is larger than 12, 5 is a lot smaller.

See? No rules. Just approximations. The main point is that a large landscape can, wondrously, fit into a small substrate. It then invites the viewer into a big, big place via a small, small space.

“Small objects, regardless of their detail, require an intimate proximity to appreciate and enjoy them fully,” says West Richland watercolor artist Steph Bucci, who often paints in 6 x 6 format.

“Small paintings are also a terrific opportunity to work out the bugs when planning a larger version.”

hurricane creek autumn landscape small painting bonnie griffith

In less than 7 inches, Bonnie Griffith tucks in a river, its banks, and a forest of autumn trees. Hurricane Creek, original oil painting.

Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson agrees:

“Small paintings give you a chance to quickly paint a loose rendition or study for a larger painting, as well as to try out different ideas.

“They also lend themselves to painting plein air painting outdoors where you have a very limited time to catch the essence of the scene. Painting small trains you to quickly establish the main focus and lay in the main shapes.”

The Sun Doesn’t Wait for the Artist

mouse cat friends flower small painting steph bucci

In a 6 x 6 square, watercolor painter Steph Bucci packs in a strong message of friendship. Still Friends? Original watercolor painting.

Montana oil and pastel artist Bonnie Griffith, who lived in Walla Walla, WA, for many years before migrating east, specializes in smaller paintings specifically because of her focus on plein air work. The sun doesn’t stop and stay in one spot simply because the artist needs it to do so.

“The challenge from working plein air is capturing the essence of the subject in that moment, recording the colors, the values, and composition as you are seeing them in real time.

“Small, definitive, and carefully chosen marks are made to create definition and to lead the viewer into the painting so they can make their own story as they enjoy their time in the painting.”

In other words, when the space you’ve got to cover is small, each individual brush stroke makes a big, big impact.

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Mountains, river, boulders and trees all fit into a space 4.5 inches wide by 11 inches tall in Steve Henderson’s original oil painting, Alpine Stream

“Painting small is a good challenge for the artist to see how much can be interpreted from the least amount of paint and brush strokes,” Dayton, WA, oil painter Steve Henderson explains.

“I enjoy doing all sizes,” he adds. “Some subjects demand a particular size. A sweeping view of the Grand Canyon just doesn’t quite feel right on something only six inches wide. Whereas a country road wandering through open fields could be interpreted on quite a small panel.”

Perfect for a Small Wall

All the artists agree that small paintings are a bonus for decorating a small wall, and, because small paintings tend to be accomplished more quickly than larger ones, the price is a factor as well.

“They are usually lower in price,” Paul Henderson says.

“Many people want something of the artist, but can’t afford the larger paintings. So they collect many small pieces of their favorite artists.”

Price, portability, placement, giftability, and an opportunity for the artist to experiment — small paintings are big indeed, and as Bucci notes, “Good things really do come in small packages.”

Or as Steve Henderson observes, “Small paintings are in a class all their own, and they call out to be noticed.

“Just because a painting is small doesn’t mean it deserves less attention or respect — it is simply small.”

Wenaha GallerySmall Paintings is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 7 through October 4, 2021. Showcased are Denise Elizabeth Stone, Paul Henderson, Steph Bucci, Paul Henderson, Teresa Adaszynska, Bonnie Griffith and Gordy Edberg.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

Imaginative Journey — Pastel Art by Shar Schenk

curiosity drawing pastel shar schenk

Imaginative creativity is the hallmark of the artist. Curiosity, original pastel painting by Sharley Schenk

Creative, imaginative people do not limit themselves.

They are constantly trying out new things, perfecting existing skills, looking forward and ahead to the next project, the next idea, the next step, all while intensely focusing on what they are presently doing. Because of this dynamic, energetic attitude, creative, imaginative people tend to be active as opposed to passive. They do things.

red fox profile scratch board art sharley schenk

It’s a thoughtful moment in the world of the red fox. Red Fox Profile, original scratch board painting by Sharley Schenk.

This is the paradigm around which Sharley Schenk has built her art adventure. While the Clarkston, WA, painter is presently focused on pastels, she does not limit herself, and never has.

“I am not bound by any one medium,” Schenk says. “Each medium has a character that tends to make me want to play with multiple mediums.”

Imaginative Play with Scissors and Magazines

It’s appropriate that she uses the word, “play,” because that’s how the whole journey started, years ago when she was five years old.

“My mother gave me the blunt scissors made for children and an old magazine to cut pictures out of. From there, I branched out into making doll clothes for paper dolls I cut out of magazines and the newspaper. My next adventure was drawing Donald duck, Pluto, and other Disney characters from the Sunday paper.”

Some years later, she attended Cass Tech High School, in Detroit, MI, which specialized in furthering students’ interest in special, and imaginative, subjects like art.

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Graceful in flight and landing. Wings, original pastel painting by Shar Schenk.

“You had to take a test to get into it: I qualified and was accepted. It was like a college in that you majored in specific fields.

“I chose costume design and commercial art. If I had gone on to college in Michigan, I would have entered as a junior — Cass Tech had that good of a reputation.”

Taking a Break, but Still Creating

Like many women in the immediate post-World-War-II era, Schenk took a break to raise a family, so she wasn’t able to spend as much time with art as she would have liked. That didn’t mean, however,  that she wasn’t creating with whatever time she found. Through the years, Schenk has explored pottery, photography, bronze sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, knitting, card making, quilting and photography, this latter including developing her own black and white prints.

red rose flower pastel drawing shar schenk

Emerging from the depths of green, a blossoming rose invokes sensations in both heart and imagination. Red Rose, original pastel painting by Shar Schenk.

But it wasn’t until 1992, when she retired from the Idaho Transportation Department where she worked as a draftsperson, that she got back into painting and the imaginative vistas it opened up.

“I heard about a class of scratch board that Judy Fairley was going to give, so I signed up. I have been taking Judy’s classes in scratch board and pastel ever since, as well as workshops put on at the Valley Art Center, spring and fall. There are also challenging options with acrylics on YouTube with the new acrylic pour experiments. It’s amazing what you can do with a balloon or a piece of plastic.”

Small Studio, Many Projects

Schenk’s studio consists of a space on her kitchen table in her apartment. Materials and supplies she stores in the walk-in closet, another closet in the spare bedroom, and a dresser behind the door in her closet. Despite the limited space, she creates on a daily basis, allowing the subject matter to determine the medium. If she is drawing animals, she’ll choose scratch board or pastel. Landscapes encompass pastel, watercolor, or acrylics. And her recent foray into painting rocks involved a radically different substrate than canvas or panel.

A member of the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, Schenk shows her work in both the Center’s front and back galleries. She also participates regularly in three shows a year there: Art for the Heart, the February Valentine Show; Open Artist Show in June; and the Miniature Show in November.

The journey of adventure, one that started a long time ago, began with an imaginative mother who wasn’t afraid to give her child a pair of blunt edged scissors. The child took it from there, and hasn’t stopped since.

Wenaha GallerySharley Schenk is the featured Art Event artists from August 24 through September 20.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

cat leopart spotted wildlife drawing photorealistic aimee croteau

Colored Pencil Photorealism — Wildlife Drawings by Aimee Croteau

cat leopard colored pencil wildlife drawing photorealistic aimee croteau

Big cats are fascinating, but they don’t often let us get close enough to them for us to see the detail. Aimee Croteau’s photorealistic colored pencil drawings give us that closeup. Rarity, original colored pencil drawing by Aimee Croteau.

The last time you saw an Amur leopard on the street, did you stop to truly look, or did you keep walking?

Okay, so maybe an Amur leopard on the street isn’t a common sight. And if it were, we probably wouldn’t sidle close, stop and stare. But thanks to artists like Aimee Croteau, who creates photorealistic wildlife paintings in colored pencil and airbrush, we can take the time to look, to observe, to absorb the detail of a world we otherwise are unable to get close to.

“With my photorealistic animal drawing, I am above all else demanding that more respect be paid to non-human life,” the Post Falls, ID, artist says.

wolf wings fantasy wildlife colored pencil photorealism aimee croteau

Within the detail of photo realism, fantasy has its place. Reborn, original colored pencil and airbrush drawing by Aimee Croteau.

She works in colored pencil because the medium allows her to render her subject matter with extreme — it’s no exaggeration to say exquisite — detail and precision. The addition of an airbrush background softens the effect, highlighting the finer points of the animal’s form and visage.

Taking Time with Colored Pencil

“Taking the time and physical labor to capture each tiny detail in my subjects indicates the importance I place on them,” Croteau explains. This is also an invitation to the viewer as well. They can take all the time they need to absorb the impact of the image, without the disadvantage of the animal not staying around to be looked at.

“Animals are skittish and hide easily, making them difficult to see and connect with. Drawing them gives the viewer an opportunity to look at an animal they would otherwise not be able to see due to the animal’s elusive nature or their geographic location.

“By drawing animals in a photorealistic style, I imply that they demand more than just a quick glance.”

Nothing about the process is quick, she adds, and that’s intentional. From choosing the subject, to composing the image, to rendering it, Croteau’s artwork reflects a sense of respect that encourages the viewer to join her on the journey. Using photos that she has taken herself or accessed through appropriate licensing or royalty-free channels, Croteau looks for a reference that reflects some aspect of herself: a sense of stillness, an expression, or a specific emotion. She then seeks to capture that element in the drawing, while simultaneously preserving and celebrating the animal’s unique personality.

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Every feather, every detail of plumage shines forth in Aimee Croteau’s airbrush and colored pencil drawing, Cynosure

“I encourage the viewer to more carefully consider the individuality and impact of the wildlife that I represent through my work.”

Details Matter

Attention to detail is a part of life to Croteau, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. Citing art as a lifelong passion, Croteau decided to be an artist in high school, and says,

“If I go too long without drawing, or painting, or simply making something, I legitimately get depressed. It’s like a piece of my soul is being neglected if I am not making art.” This is the fundamental reason she started doing art in the first place, she adds.

fox magic moment colored pencil photorealistic drawing aimee croteau

Caught in the moment — This Magic Moment, photorealistic colored pencil airbrush drawing by Aimee Croteau

Croteau has exhibited in various group shows in the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Cheney areas, and is most proud of her acceptance into the Terrain Show in Spokane.

“It was a juried show, and there were a little over 1,000 entries. They had to severely narrow that number down to fit inside the actual exhibition space, and the jury chose my work to be included in the show.” Nearly 10,000 people attended the one-night-only show.

The Challenge of Colored Pencils

Croteau’s medium of choice — colored pencils — has many advantages, and some challenges, she says. On the plus side, they are a dry medium, requiring little clean up, and they emit no harsh chemicals or odors. They’re portable, and are perfect for achieving the detail she demands. On the challenging side, they require numerous hours of focused concentration since she is covering a large, flat area using a fine point, with mistakes not easily fixed. And,

“It’s not a fun day when the pencil lead keeps breaking!”

Time, intensity, detail, concentration, patience, respect — all of these elements coalesce in each drawing. It’s worth every minute, every stroke of the pencil, every ounce of concentration.

Thanks to Croteau, we can see, really see that Amur leopard. With the advantage that it can’t see us.

Wenaha GalleryAmy Croteau is the featured Art Event artists from July 27 through August 23.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Japanese Wrapped Stones rocks cane calm denise wagner

Japanese Wrapped Stones — Calm and Design by Denise Wagner

Japanese Wrapped Stones rocks cane calm denise wagner

Using cane in both natural and dyed colors, Denise Wagner creates both traditional and self-designed wraps on rocks.

If you have ever skipped rocks across the river, you know that not just any stone will do. It needs to be flat, smooth, of a particular heft and weight.

Denise Wagner, a Kennewick, WA, artist who specializes in Japanese Wrapped Stones, is well aware of what the perfect rock looks like. The major difference between her and the rock skipper, however, is that the LAST thing she’ll do upon finding that perfect stone is hurl it into the water.

“I like to find stones that are oval and somewhat flat so they will lay well in a display,” Wagner explains.

“The stones I find come from all over. I take walks, bike rides, and strolls around the Columbia and Umatilla Rivers, and that’s where I find my rocks.”

Japanese wrapped stones design form denise wagner

A trio of Japanese wrapped stones by Denise Wagner showcases different colors of cane and finished designs.

So what, exactly are Japanese Wrapped Stones?

They are rocks, wrapped in natural cane, using Japanese basketry and knotting techniques. These wraps can be extraordinarily complicated or deceptively simple, but the resulting fusion of rock and cane exudes a sense of peace, calm, and tranquility within intricacy of design. Wagner, a licensed home health care provider, first encountered the art form through a “wonderful gentleman” she met while working at an independent living facility.

Wrapped Stones Caught Her Eye

“He noticed my looking at his wrapped rock and was eager to teach me. So we made an appointment for a lesson in the activities room.

“I brought the Starbucks coffee, and he brought his friend and his box of tools and tricks. It was there that I wrapped my first rock.”

Japanese wrapped stones wood platter design denise wagner

Rocks, cane, and wood — Denise Wagner takes natural elements and crafts them into an art form.

And she was hooked. After that first lesson, Wagner went home and practiced on all kinds of wraps, both traditional designs and ones that she thought up on her own. Using natural cane that she either leaves its organic color or dyes to a desired hue, Wagner creates groupings of stones on wooden or ceramic platters. The compendium of shapes, forms, and design synthesize into a coalescent medley of mood.

Again, calm is the word, and it’s an appropriate one. Because in order to wrap rocks in the first place, you have to be calm.

“You need plenty of patience,” Wagner says.

“Setting up, preparing, wrapping, re-wrapping when it comes undone, drying, spraying — it’s a process. In order to fully focus, I need to be free of distractions and in a creative mood.”

red cane japanese wrapped stones rocks denise wagner

Soft red balances with varying shades of gray in this collection of Japanese wrapped stones by Kennewick artist Denise Wagner

Rocks, and People

In many ways, working with the rocks is like working with people, she adds. You simply can’t rush through the process, and if you even try, you’ll lose out on something beautiful.

“As a licensed home care provider, I work with all kinds of seniors.

“Like working with my clients, wrapping stones takes patience. Each stone is unique. Some are smooth and easy to work with, and some are a bit rough around the edges.

“These stones have been around a long time, and I just imagine the stories they could tell. The stones’ stories would be just as interesting as those of my clients, except with my human clients, I DO get to hear the stories!”

Rocks around the Region

Wagner has shown her Japanese Wrapped Stones at the Indigo and Blue Shows at Drewboy Creative and Gallery Aglow at Gallery at the Park, both in Richland; the Serene Abundance Studio in Florence, OR; and the East Benton County Historical Museum in Pasco, WA. Working from her dining room table, she uses the cane itself for tension, tightly grasping the end as she makes the first wrap. The last wrap she tucks into the back, holding down with a bit of glue. The resulting design is sprayed with sealant and left to dry.

It’s very important to keep the finished wrapped stones out of wet or damp places such as outdoors or bathrooms, she says, as the moisture can cause the cane to relax, loosen, and unravel.

For Wagner, rocks, like people, aren’t simply things you pick up and throw away. They’re individual, unique, and capable of becoming works of art. You just have to take the time to look at them, work with them, and see their potential.

Wenaha GalleryDenise Wagner is the featured Art Event artists from July 13 through August 9.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

From Geese to Covid-19 — Jordan Henderson Communicates in Oil

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

Communication takes many forms, some louder, some quieter than others. Gaggle of Geese by the Water Bucket, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“That speaks to me.”

Those four words are invaluable praise to a two-dimensional visual artist. To one who applies paint to a substrate, communication involves not just creating an image, but an image that asks a question, tells a story, invites the viewer to step in and listen. For fine art painter Jordan Henderson, painting creates conversation.

“I view painting as a means of communication,” the Dayton, WA, artist says.

“The painter projects their vision onto the canvas by physically applying pigment in such a way as to convey that vision, refines it as long as the painter wishes to, and then the audience can see what the painter envisioned by looking at the canvas.”

longhorn cow cattle livestock communicating painting country jordan henderson

The tilt of its head communicates a sense of inquisitiveness and curiosity. Longhorn Cow, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

But it’s not a quick process, he adds — neither the act of painting itself, nor interpretation on the part of the viewer. Appreciating a painting, similar to getting to know and genuinely communicate with another human being, takes time, intensity, and effort.

Communicating Takes Time and Intention

“I am going to draw from popular culture here to make a point. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books this very slow speaking character (Treebeard) says of his slow language (Old Entish), ‘It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.’

“Well, that statement is a good analogy for an important aspect of painting. Painting is a lovely language, but it takes a long time to say anything in it compared to other forms of communication.”

studio landscape country view trees hills rural jordan henderson art

The country landscape communicates its message of contemplation and peace. Studio View, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

When you look at a painting, Henderson continues, you are looking at subject matter through an artist’s eyes. It is for this reason that Henderson, who grew up on a farm and developed a keen appreciation for barnyard fowl, cattle, goats, and horses, so enjoys painting them. The animals are so ordinary to most people, he explains, that few take time to stop and appreciate their charm and beauty. Or, as Treebeard might expound,

“By painting say, geese, I first make the value judgment that they are worthy of taking a long time to say something about, and then I can communicate with the viewer, ‘Look at this bird’s attitude,’ or ‘Look at how the light falls on these feathers.'”

If successful, he won’t so much have breathed new life into the subject matter as have conveyed worthy elements that were there all along. The geese are worth painting, because they’re worth talking about.

Geese, and Covid-19

This conveyance, he adds, goes beyond the barnyard into the political paddock, where Henderson explores the repercussions and reverberations of  deeply controversial topics, most recently, Covid-19. It is a subject matter he began focusing upon in Spring 2020 and continues into the present.

“My allegorical Covid-19 paintings might seem like a 180-degree turn from painting geese, but actually it is rather similar: Orwellian doublespeak, contempt for the rights of individual human beings, and total nonsense put forth as unquestionable truth, have become so commonplace that people fail to see their brutal significance, just as easily as they overlook the beauty of a domestic animal.

aititlan guatemala market people shopping communicating colorful art jordan henderson

What better way to communicate than face to face, person to person, up close and personal, than in a colorful market setting? Aititlan Market, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“Painting is every bit as useful for shedding light on these things, communicating their existence, as it is for highlighting beauty.”

Henderson’s Covid-19 paintings have attracted the notice and attention of independent media, including GlobalResearch.ca, Off-Guardian.org, WinterOak.org.uk/, Nevermore.Media, MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca, and LockDownSceptics.org. These and others have published Henderson’s images online or in print. The description and story of the paintings have been translated into other news platforms in French, Spanish, German Chinese, and Slovenian. He has been interviewed and appeared on podcasts by John Manley of Much Ado about Corona and Richard Jacobs of FindingGeniusPodcast.com. A number of indie book authors have approached him about doing the cover art for their books.

Communicating around the Globe

Henderson has sold prints and originals of both barnyard and political paintings throughout the world. One buyer in the UK purchased the originals of White and Grey Geese, featuring, well, geese, and Safe and Sanitized, an allegorical Covid-19 image of handcuffed skeletal hands holding aloft a skull gagged with a medical face mask, to hang together in his home. He wrote Henderson that visitors expressed approbation of each.

And whether he’s painting gaggles of geese or skulls in masks, Henderson appreciates the marriage of high tech digital communication with the timeless tech of oil painting. Combined they communicate, literally, across the globe.

“Oil painting is old tech, but it is also high tech in the literal sense that it is a highly developed technology, with hundreds of years’ worth of trial and error, and contributions by artist and art suppliers.

“I want a medium that I can use to say exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. I can do that with oil paint. The medium doesn’t get in my way, and does basically whatever I want it to.”

Wenaha GalleryJordan Henderson is the featured Art Event artists from June 29 to July 26.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

balsam root flowers watercolor sketch woods trees helen boland

Sketch, Draw, Paint, Create — The Art of Helen Boland

mountain palouse landscape view watercolor painting wilderness helen boland

Whether painting or sketching, Helen Boland connects with nature on both an artistic and scientific level. Palouse Farmland View, original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

Too many people, when stuck in a waiting room, spend the time head down, eyes glazed, fingers swiping as they scroll through their phone.

Not so Helen Boland. The Walla Walla, WA, artist carries sketch pad, pen, pencils, even brush and portable paints with her everywhere she goes. Everything she sees, every place she visits, provides an inspiration to capture, on paper, the world around her.

“Waiting in airports or for appointments are opportunities to sketch, capture characters and scenes, and practice technique,” Boland says.

wild garden sketch landscape mountains wilderness watercolor helen boland

Nature’s hand does the planting and cultivation at Wild Garden at the Top. Original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

“Sketching helps me focus and occupies me while waiting. There is no boredom or impatience. Sketching helps me to be present in the moment.”

This form of daily art practice, she adds, increases her awareness of color, light, and shadow, in addition to fluidity and attention to form. By the time she gets officially behind the easel — which may be at her studio/house, or in the forest as she paints plein air — she embarks upon a more detailed and concentrated form of artistic expression.

Sketching and Painting in Many Media

“I work in watercolor, ink, acrylics, pastel, and also collage,” Boland says.

“As a retired science teacher, homestead farmer, and lifelong naturalist, I focus on art that reflects my love of animals, nature, and landscape. I move between detail, realism, and impression.”

balsam root flowers watercolor sketch woods trees helen boland

Flowers attract the eye and attention of both the scientist and artist within. Balsam Root, original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

Her habit of sketching and drawing and painting anytime, anywhere, stems from when she was “an often ill but oddly energetic child.

“My mother frequently handed me crayons, pencils and a pad to pacify me during wait time in doctors’ offices or during long visits with relatives when all that was spoken was Portuguese.”

She describes drawing as a permissible activity when she was hospitalized or ill with fever. When convalescing outside, she took note of minute details of light, shadow, and color. She even took advantage of fevers, which brought her view slightly out of focus and allowed her to observe the surrounding world as if it were a Monet painting.

“This is my foundation as an artist as well as a biologist,” Boland says, explaining that while science took the lead in her professional career, she often used art expression as a means of processing, understanding, and teaching scientific concepts. Now retired, she focuses on painting full time, in fulfillment of a promise she made to herself years ago while pursuing her professional teaching career, raising a family, and running a small homestead farm.

Focusing Strongly on Each Painting

“My paintings are like my offspring that I set free. I have a true experience with each one, and they all reflect a piece of me and a moment in my life.

ponderosa pine woods tree forest wilderness helen boland watercolor

The forest is a silent and peaceful place, one worth painting and sketching. Ponderosa Hillside by Helen Boland.

“When I paint a person or an animal, I speak to it, and in a way it speaks back. I develop a love and a relationship through the painting process.

“And then I let them go.”

Some of the places where Boland has let her paintings go to are collectors’ homes in Walla Walla and Eastern Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Canada, and a goat farm in New Jersey, among others. She has regularly participated in the Artwalla Art Squared event, as well as been a featured artist in the organization’s First Friday Pop Up. She has shown her work at art walks and events throughout the Walla Walla, Dayton, and Tri-Cities regions. And for the last year and a half, she has participated in Sunday Self Portrait, an international Facebook group in which people from all over the world post their portrait, created from their image in a mirror, on Sundays.

Sunday Portraits

“I have posted one every Sunday for the past year and a half. That’s a lot of pictures of me!

“I have learned so much about the lives, experience, and art techniques from all over the world. This helps me keep perspective.

“It also has improved my skill at drawing the face, the same captive face, week after week. They all don’t show an accurate physical likeness of me, but they all show some aspect of me. I can look at the portraits and assess how I am doing emotionally and perhaps spiritually.”

Originally from rural Massachusetts and Vermont, Boland focuses her latest paintings on landscapes from Columbia and Walla Walla counties, reflecting her residence in each: her town home (and studio) is in Walla Walla, and she owns forest management property near Dayton. She is happiest both in the studio and out in the woods, because wherever she is, she is somehow drawing, painting, or sketching.

“Getting out on the land creates opportunities to observe, photograph, and find inspiration for art,” she says.

“The biologist and the artist within are both satisfied with my time spent in nature, both in my garden in town and the forest land in the Blue Mountains.

“My art reflects my world view and my deep love of the natural world.

“It is a truth in a moment.”

Wenaha GalleryHelen Boland is the featured Art Event artists from June 1 to June 28.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

Dollhouse Detail — Magic in Miniature by Erica Watts

dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

It’s all in the details. A tiny dollhouse sports all the trimmings of the real things, on a 1:12 scale. By Erica Watts of Spokane, WA.

It’s hard to resist the heartfelt request of a five-year-old.

And when that child is your daughter, and you’re an artist, and her request piques your creative interest, well, then, you’re on what Erica Watts calls a mini-adventure into unknown, but delightful, territory.

“My youngest daughter was the inspiration that started me on the path I’m on,” the Spokane, WA, artist, who creates miniature dollhouses and furniture, says.

closet miniature scaled dollhouse erica watts

No closet ever feels big enough, does it? But even in miniature, this closet manages to hold many fascinating items. Dollhouse art by Erica Watts.

“We were at a birthday party, and her friend got a custom dollhouse for a gift. My daughter asked if I could make her one and with that request, my love of minis began. I converted a shelving unit into a custom dollhouse for Mia, using found objects and making custom furniture and textiles along the way.”

Well, she couldn’t stop there. A lifelong artist who has completed art courses at Michigan Tech University and the Art Institute of Chicago, Watts found miniature work to be the perfect way to create across a broad spectrum of mediums. She works with textiles, wood, plastic, metal, paint, paper, and more, and beyond that, she integrates sustainability into the mix.

Sustainability

“I noticed that this happened organically,” Watts says. “From the beginning, I started out trying to use everyday things in a different way, then realized I can upcycle and recycle so much more.

“I try to live my everyday life that way, too, so it was only natural it would flow into my creative spaces.”

bathroom miniature sink mirror home decor erica watts

A double sink vanity is a luxury item for the bathroom, in a regular-sized home or dollhouse.

Caught capturing a cap or two from the garbage can, she has discovered ways to repurpose old toys, parts of plastic packaging, a hair curler, doll parts, egg cartons, and miscellaneous nuts and bolts.

“You really start to look at everyday items differently when you realize a little glass jar can be a plant pot, or an oversized bead can be a lamp base.”

Of course, you also have a tendency to keep just about everything, because you never know when you’ll need it. That’s not a problem when your studio is inside a warehouse, but when it is tucked into an 8 x 9 foot room in the basement of the house, you have to get creative with your organizational skills as well. Watts fits everything into three walls of pegboard and a fourth of shelving.

“When I build, I am messy.

“I don’t like to put anything away until I’m completely done with what I am building. For some reason, it just throws my creative groove when I have to pull things out every time I’m ready to work. Instead, I like it all to be out and visible. With having such a small space, that means I have to do regular deep cleans and organization days.”

One Inch Equals One Foot

dresser furniture drawers miniature dollhouse art erica watts

No matter the size of house, you just can’t have too many dressers. Dollhouse art by Erica Watts of Spokane, WA.

Working on a 1:12 scale (one inch equals one foot), Watts creates entire furnished dollhouses, as well as individual mini-pieces — pillows, tables, beds, lamps with those confiscated caps, even surfboards — on a custom and retail basis. It’s become a family affair, with her youngest daughter — the one who inspired her to start on the mini-adventure — suggesting new items and “test playing” with each piece before shipment. Watts’ teenage son, who “kind of laughs” at his mom for playing with doll stuff, nevertheless is drawn to the mechanics and technical skill required to recreate items in miniature. And her oldest daughter offers suggestions on coordinating paint colors and fabrics.

“She loves looking at the end result because EVERYTHING is cuter in miniature form.”

Not only cuter, but also detailed, intricate, and challenging. Watts has learned, and continues to learn, that miniature creation is a craft demanding copious amounts of patience, a virtue she progresses upon finessing.

“There is so much planning and waiting in miniature work. The glue has to dry; the paint has to dry; there’s multiple sandings, painting, sewing, ironing, gluing, sanding again, painting again, only to wait again.”

Reminders of Childhood

But oh, how it’s worth it, especially when she gets feedback from happy clients. Her most poignant sale involved a complete dollhouse shipped clear across the country to a woman who purchased it for her daughter’s birthday. Both girls are named Mia; they share eerily similar middle names, are the same age and have birthdays around the same time.

It was meant to be.

“My goal is to bring joy and wonder in each piece that I make,” Watts says.

“I want people to be reminded of their childhood or think of their grandchildren.

“And I want people to be amazed at how real something looks.”

That’s big. That’s big indeed.

Wenaha GalleryErica Watts is the featured Art Event artists from May 18 to June 14.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.