kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

What’s Important? Then Do It — Pottery by Collista Krebs

cowboy bull important pottery ceramics western collista krebs

The texture, the feeling, the form of the pottery work is as important as its visual presence. Cowboy and Bull, original pottery sculpture by Collista Krebs.

If something is important to us — really REALLY important — we somehow find time for it. Given that we are human and not omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, this commitment means that something else has to go by the wayside, but the exchange, we feel, is worth it.

For Collista Krebs, the choice came during nursing school, when one of her classmates announced that she was leaving the program. The colleague had just taken a ceramics class and decided to pursue pottery instead of nursing.

kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

In a state of gentle repose, a seated woman is graceful and relaxed. Original pottery sculpture by Collista Krebs.

“Right then and there I made up my mind: ‘I am going to do that too, only I am going to become a nurse first,’ and so I did,” the Colbert, WA, pottery artist says.

“After getting a BSN, I enrolled in a community clay class, and depending on my job, children, injuries and travels, I have always carved out time for clay.”

Time and Practice Are Important

That time has not always been a wild foray into creativity, along the lines of what we would see glorified in a movie. In real life, Krebs has worked as a ghost potter and “clay slave,” both experiences important to honing her skill through hard work and repetition.

“A ghost potter is someone who throws someone else’s shapes and signs the work as coming from that gallery,” Krebs explains.

A clay slave, she adds, loads and fires kilns, makes glazes, and does “other unglamorous jobs that only a true clay junky would find exciting.”

cows daisies flowers important time collista krebs pottery ceramics

An important part to the day is sitting and thinking, as do these ceramic cows with daisies, by Colbert potter Collista Krebs

Years of this work developed her skill with both handling clay and designing, and she now runs her own business, Jupiter’s Clayworks. She specializes in high-fire stoneware that is reduction fired, a technique that her husband dubs high stakes gambling for potters.

“I will take three months’ worth of work and put it into the kiln and cross my fingers. I’m hoping that the bottom of the kiln reaches the correct temperature before the top of the kiln overfires and destroys the glaze.”

When you fire clay up to temperatures of 2,400 Fahrenheit, she adds, things stick to the shelves or get bumps or pockmarks — “all sorts of things.

“I have come to love these blemishes. They are texture, stories, experience gained by fire.”

Unique and Individual Are Important

Each piece is unique, as is the creator. And this is important, as it should be, Krebs believes, because art, like its creator, reflects the individual — his or her outlook on life, experiences, likes and dislikes, interpretation of the world surrounding. To elucidate, Krebs described an experience that “rocked her world,” one that now permeates her work as a potter:

ceramic pottery bats wall hanging collista krebs artist

A series of ceramic bats by Colbert artist Collista Krebs hangs on the wall

While at Boston University Hospital, Krebs interviewed a young, suicidal blind woman and asked her to describe something that she was proud of. The woman responded that she was proud of her ability to dress well, going into great detail about her fashion talent.

“I was thankful that she could not see my face, because my first thought was, ‘Man, someone is really messing with this woman because she looks terrible!’

“But with further exploration, she revealed how she had been totally blind since birth, and how she dressed for sound and texture. How she ‘looked’ to people with vision had absolutely no influence on her decisions.”

Different textures rubbing together made distinctive sounds — bells on her purse and crumpled up chip bags sewn into her pockets warned of pick pockets.

“Ever since that encounter, I have asked myself, Would a blind person like my work? Does it feel good and balanced? Is there texture? Could one conjure up a tale after holding it in their hand?

“Personally, I think that even sighted people should ask themselves these questions.”

New and Innovative Are Important

She is always trying new things, Krebs says — both in how she thinks, and what she does. Success is determined by an assortment of factors, most of which, ironically, can’t be seen.

“If my work feels good and rings true when flicked with my finger, I consider it a success.”

That’s important. Important enough to take time to do.

Wenaha GalleryCollista Krebs is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 1 through December 31, 2020.

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

 

 

doll clothes sewing fabric christmas kathy snow

Fabric Stash — The Sewing Genius of Kathy Snow

doll clothes sewing fabric christmas kathy snow

Little clothes take big skill to make. Doll outfits by Kathy Snow of Dayton, WA

We’ve all probably met one, often without knowing. Chances are, you may be one yourself, even if it’s hard to admit. But your studio gives you away.

Fabricophiles.

People who sew, quilt, craft, and work with fabric often find that their love of textiles runs delightfully amok. Their “stash,” the supply of fabric for future projects, is as fascinating as the projects themselves, because it’s filled with so much possibility.

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Quilted holiday table runners featuring Thanksgiving and Christmas fabric, by Kathy Snow

For Kathy Snow, a sewing artist extraordinaire who, 57 years ago, regularly spent her $5 allowance on enough material to make a blouse or summer dress, fabric is fabulous. The possibilities to be created from her stash, while not endless, are pretty expansive.

The Fabricophile Stash

“I started collecting fabric boards from Joann’s so I could wrap my fabric on them,” the Dayton, WA, sewist says, describing how she and her husband recently re-did the shelves in her sewing room to hold her collection of cloth.

“I have 168 bolts of fabric. Most of them have at least four yards and some have eight yards.

“Plus I have several containers full of fabric for the holidays.

“Then let’s talk about several flats of fabric that are anywhere from one to two yards each.

“Oh, and I have a chest of drawers full of fancy fabrics for costumes or doll clothes.

“And I also have 16 large totes full of various fabrics.”

She has . . . a lot of fabric.

potholders kitchen gifts sewing fabric quilted kathy snow

Mug Rugs and Microwave Cozies are a fun way to use the small pieces from the fabric stash.

Snow, who sews just about every day, creates everything from doll clothes to full-sized quilts, from children’s dresses to mug rugs and microwave cozies, from child-sized aprons to adult kitchen fashion. While she’s game to take on just about any project and simply enjoys her time in the sewing room, Snow confesses an especial liking for Christmas, both the fabric associated with it and the holiday itself.

Christmas Colors

“I love all the pretty red and gold and green, and, well, just about everything about Christmas.

“One thing that makes the holiday so special is getting together with family, and this year I’m hoping for real snow this year for Christmas. The first year we moved here (from California) we had lots of snow, which was a bit of a surprise.” As an added bonus to the holidays, Snow also creates decor for the outside of her house, something she started doing upon moving to the area.

fabric towel kitchen aprons sewing kathy snow

Snow loves making fabric towel aprons, because each one is distinctly different, from the fabric to the trimmings to the towel itself.

“I like creating different decorations for the various holidays, and it makes me happy to display them. And I think it makes others happy to see them.”

Having sewn for so long, Snow has seen trends come and go, more-so with clothing patterns than with the fabric itself. But because of that stash, with some fabric dating back to when her adult granddaughter was a baby, Snow enjoys access to a broad selection of styles and designs. Sometimes, the fabric dictates the project; other times, the project cries out for a particular fabric. Either way, Snow has the means to meet the need.

Visiting Fabric Stores

And of course, because she is a true and genuine fabricophile, Snow is always on the lookout for something new, something different, something unusual, something distinctive from what she already has. She regularly visits fabric stores, both small and big, and speaks with pleasure of her visit to Hamilton, MO, home of the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

“They own the main street. There are nine different shops and a work area for retreats. It was overwhelming to visit each shop.”

Overwhelming, but memorable. As is each and every treasure from her stash, just waiting to be formed and fashioned into a work of creativity, something to bring pleasure to another. The only limitations, really, are time.

“I sure hope I can sew up all this fabric, so my daughter won’t have to deal with it. I need another 20 years, I think!”

And that’s if she doesn’t add any more to the stash . . .

Wenaha GalleryKathy Snow is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 17 through December 20, 2020.

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

 

Time to Paint, Timelessly — Impressionism by Lori Pittenger

flowers floral bush fruition season time pittenger impressionism painting landscape

Fruit, flowers, and paintings bloom at their right time. Fruition, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA

 

Do you remember when you last thoroughly, completely, and absolutely lost track of time?

When was it that you were so absorbed in the task at hand, so utterly involved in what you were doing, so deeply immersed in the moment, that you looked up and were surprised to find that hours flew by in what you thought were minutes?

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Every Good and Perfect Gift, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

For Lori Pittenger, that would be . . . yesterday. Or even this afternoon. The Ellensburg, WA, painter is so untrammeled by time that when she sits at her easel, paintbrush or palette knife in hand, she enters a state of such intensity that she is physically tired, and yet energized, when she is done.

“I love pouring myself into something to express myself and ‘feel,’ always listening to music and painting for hours at a time,” Pittenger says. “I lose myself in it.”

Taking Time to See

Inspired by landscapes, by concentratedly looking and seeing the colors and light in nature, Pittenger works two to three days straight to take a painting from first brush stroke to last. The process of being present in the painting process, she explains, begins with the first few strokes of paint on the canvas.

“After I have loaded my palette, I take a deep breath and know that I am beginning a journey in which I will lose all sense of time and what is going on around me.

“I have committed in my mind to devote an uninterrupted time to focus on what I am creating, really seeing the scene evolving as if I am in the scene: mixing the paint, feeling the brush in my hand, the sound it makes as it strokes the canvas, even the smell of the paint.”

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Golden Beets, impressionism original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

The View Stays the Same, and Changes, with Time

She works in a spacious room in her family’s ranch house where large windows overlook the pastures of Kittitas Valley and its surrounding mountains. There is a sense of peace and well being, integrated with an inherent excitement derived from a view that stays the same, yet changes with weather and seasons. She looks up to look out. When she tires at the easel, she steps away from the painting and returns with fresh eyes. Throughout the process, she photographs the work in progress, especially as it nears completion.

“I view the photo, and it almost always every time reveals something that I hadn’t seen before.

“Sometimes it’s a little something to blend out or fix, but often it’s something surprising or magical that happened unintentionally — like a little glow glimmer or shape that makes me smile with wonder.

“Being fully present while painting opens not only my eyes, but also my mind, to really seeing.”

sunrise landscape water morning dawn time peaceful impressionsim pittenger

Lavish Sunrise, original oil painting landscape with water by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA.

When Pittenger isn’t intently reviewing her own work, she curates the paintings of others. An artist member of Fine Art America, the world’s largest online art marketplace, Pittenger manages the Impressionism group, which receives hundreds of submissions every week submitted by its more than 500 members. It is her job to winnow those numbers down while giving all members an opportunity to be featured, and arrange the varied artwork into a pleasing gallery wall for visitors and potential buyers to peruse. She also advises members on everything from how to crop images to watching out for copyright infringement. In her “spare” time, she hosts contests on the site.

A Time of Concentration

It makes for a long, concentrated day. But every hour of it, every minute, packs intensity and movement, as does the art that Pittenger creates.

“My paintings always have a deeper meaning that flows out as I am composing and painting,” she says.

“The title and thoughts about life that I get from each artwork fall into place as I finish each piece, and I love writing about them.”

Her day begins and ends with art, she observes. It makes for an excellent sunrise, and sunset.

“Art touches the soul, creates a mood and expresses often what words cannot.”

Wenaha GalleryLori Pittenger is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 3 through December 31, 2020.

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

 

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

Leather Lux — Handcrafted Bags by Betsy Pozzanghera

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

Created from two repurposed leather jackets and decorative belt buckles, the Casey Weekender features, in its interior, material from a mission style love seat.

Do you know how sometimes, someone wants to give you a gift and they don’t know what to give? So they wrap up money and say, “Buy something fun that you really want. Don’t you dare pay  bills with this!”

Several Christmases ago, Betsy Pozzanghera’s mother-in-law did just that. And Betsy, quite rightly, did NOT pay bills with the money, but took a leather making class. After successfully sewing her first bag from a pattern and purchased leather hide, she began developing her own patterns and designs.

kirsten leather cowboy boot bag pozzanghera

Cowgirl boot tops make two exterior pockets on The Kirsten, handcrafted leather bag by Betsy Pozzanghera

“Once that first bag was completed, I wondered if I could use my old leather fashion boots as part of another bag,” the Spokane, WA, artist says. “The next bag after that, I used material from an old leather jacket.

“Then I really got the re-purposing bug.”

And so her business, B. Pozzitive Bags was born. (Betsy, by the way, is the “B” in the company name.)

Re-purposed Leather

“The majority of my creations use 90-100% repurposed leather (jackets, boots, horse tack, belts, etc.),” Pozzanghera says. “There are so many of those items, and if I can rescue them from the landfill, I will.”

Because the materials that she uses for each bag is unique, so also is each finished leather creation. Blue, brown, purple beige; suede or smooth; embellished with pockets, applique, buckles, and snaps — each bag is one of a kind and utterly distinctive. Often, the re-purposed materials themselves dictate what the finished creation will be.

Karol turquoise suede leather handcrafted purse pozzanghera

The Karol is crafted from a turquoise blue, suede leather jacket.

“Each jacket (or boot, or . . . ) is unique and tells me its story. I get my inspiration from them one at a time,” Pozzanghera explains.

“I’ve cut one part of a bag from a jacket only to decide it is not right for that bag.

“Sometimes I see two or three bags in one jacket, so I make them one after another. But there are some jackets that have been in my closet for years, awaiting inspiration.”

Leather Is Not a Forgiving Fabric

Sewing with leather, she adds, is challenging, because the material itself is not forgiving. Once you punch, poke, or sew a hole, that mark is there forever. On the positive, or, er, pozzitive side, the material is strong, whether it’s super soft and pliable or hard and stiff. (She prefers soft and pliable.)

emaline african deer hide bag purse pozzanghera

This version of the Emaline bag is crafted from African deer hide, a suede jacket, and a leather sample from a furniture store.

Over the years, Pozzanghera’s studio space has grown as the number of sewing machines she uses increases. Working out of a room in the basement of her house, she started with one machine, a portable cutting table, and an ironing board. Now, 200-square feet later (and she’d like more room), she has four sewing machines. Two are “regular” machines for standard fabric. One is for sewing canvas and light leather. The fourth, her new baby, is “huge, heavy, and can sew through an inch (yes, one inch!) of leather.”

Custom Projects Are Especially Meaningful

Some of Pozzanghera’s favorite creations are those fashioned as custom projects. Many of these use items from a family member, Dad’s old cowboy boots, for example, and result in a functional art piece that increases in meaning and memento every time it is held and handled.

Pozzanghera has sold her leather bags throughout the Western U.S. and Canada, and one is in Australia with a college student at Wollongong University. She has shown her work at festivals and art shows all over Washington, as well as in Idaho and Nevada.

That Christmas gift from her mother-in-law, the money that didn’t go to pay bills, has gone a long way. So . . .  the next time someone doesn’t know what to get you, and they give you money, and they say, “Don’t you DARE pay the bills with this,” don’t pay the bills with it. Instead, go do something fun, and pozzitive.

 

Wenaha GalleryBetsy Pozzanghera is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 6 through November 2, 2020.

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

 

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

Horse and Cattle — The Oil Paintings of Tanna Scott

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

Rodeo Bull, original Western Art oil painting by Kennewick painter, Tanna Scott

More than once, when artist Tanna Scott has shown her horse and cow paintings at an art festival or show, someone begins to cry.

The first time this happened, the Kennewick Western Artist was befuddled and perplexed. But she’s gotten used to it, and nowadays, when a viewer stands in front of one of her works and weeps, she knows why.

“I paint with lots of emotion,” Scott explains. “I care about each painting.

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You can almost see the dust fly as two horses rear up in Tanna Scott’s original oil painting Two Horses.

“Usually, the painting has a story or the buyer comes to me with a story. Some stories are very emotional: the buyer associates the painting with a loved animal.”

A Horse That Was a Friend

One time, an impassioned viewer approached a horse painting and began to tear up. Scott walked over to talk to her, and together the two looked at the horse. The woman then told Scott about a most beloved horse that had just passed away. It looked exactly like Scott’s painting.

Another time, a man gravitated toward a painting of a roan horse. He told Scott that the horse in the painting was his dad’s horse.

“I replied the painting must look like his dad’s horse,” Scott says.  “He said, ‘That horse IS my dad’s horse!’

“He told me that he had to purchase that painting for his dad, who was very sick with cancer. His horse stands on the top of a hill each morning and looks down on the ranch.

“By that time, we were all in tears. I was so happy he was able to take the painting home to his dad.

“That painting has a home.”

While no one wants to provoke someone to cry or be sad, Scott recognizes the power of animals in people’s lives. Raised as an only child on ranches in Texas and California, Scott bonded early to horse and cattle. As a young child, she sat on the fence and drew what she saw. Later, when her dad took her to rodeos, she fell in love with the dirt and action, the grit and courage of the rodeo world, and continued to draw and paint. Every artwork, somehow, incorporates and integrates the world of the Cowboy:

longhorn cow cattle livestock farm ranch tanna scott oil painting

Stately and majestic, a longhorn cow stands bold and proud. Longhorn, original oil painting by Tanna Scott.

“With my oil paintings, I support the Cowboy way of life — Past, Present, and Future.”

Teaching Art

For 25 years, Scott worked as a librarian and teacher at Eastgate Elementary in Kennewick, where she integrated art into her social studies curriculum. On the side, she taught art to students after school. Since retirement in 2017, Scott has added adult teaching to her schedule through the Kennewick Community Education program.

Scott has shown her work in various venues throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Western Art Association show (Ellensburg, WA); the Bonanza Art Antiques and Gourmet Expo (Pendleton, OR); and the Pendleton Cattle Barons Celebration Weekend.

purple horse equine animal ranch rodeo tanna scott art

Purple Horse, original oil painting by Tanna Scott

She is a member of Cyber Art 509, a cooperative of artists from the 509 area code who exhibit their work in businesses throughout the area.

Describing her home as her studio, Scott paints on a table in her kitchen, and fills the walls with works that are drying. Sometimes, she runs out of wall space and leans a work on a chair, but that shouldn’t stop people from visiting.

“Just move the painting out of the chair and sit down.”

Emotion Connects the Viewer with the Horse or Cattle

It’s all part of life: animals, action, relationships, memories, and like life, there are happy moments and sad moments. But what matters, Scott believes, is emotion: it is the glue that connects the viewer with the artwork.

“When a buyer identifies with a painting — when it resembles their animal or reminds them of a wonderful memory of an animal — it means so much more to them. And to me.

“I paint with feeling and want the animals to have character.”

Wenaha GalleryTanna Scott is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 22 through October 19, 2020.

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

 

pottery mugs production glazes pat fleming kennewick

Pottery Thoughts — Pat Fleming Creates as He Meditates

pottery mugs production glazes pat fleming kennewick

An array of pottery mugs, featuring a variety of shapes, sizes, and glazes, by Kennewick potter Pat Fleming

He teaches, paints, digs clay in out of the way places. And, over an art career that spans 54 years and counting, Pat Fleming has thrown a lot — LOTS — of pots.

“Back in the day,” the Kennewick potter remembers, “the local art community held several annual art exhibits and demonstrations at the local mall.

“While demonstrating at the mall during one of those regional art exhibits, we were approached by a buyer from The Bon about producing pottery for their store. I accepted.”

pottery wheel bowl production pat fleming

Each pottery piece, whether made as production pottery or a one-time-only piece, requires the time, attention, and skill of the potter

And therein Fleming, who at the same time was teaching art in the Kennewick school system, entered into the world of pottery production work. His pottery at The Bon attracted notice from Cole’s Plant Soils, Inc., which distributed his wares throughout the Western U.S. He also collaborated with local restaurants to provide coffee mugs, candle holders, serving items, planters, and ash trays. (“Remember them?” Fleming asks).

Along with that, he adds, his work has been distributed in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, France, and Spain.

Nowadays, Fleming has scaled down on production work, but maintains two commercial customers for whom he makes stoneware. He also takes commissions from individuals. Intriguingly, he finds the process of production pottery to be not frenetic, but calming.

Meditative and Calming

“Doing production work is meditative,” Fleming explains.

“One cannot concentrate on the process of throwing a pot with a thoughtful shape without concentrating.

“Doing that makes all the worries and concerns of the day disappear. It would appear to the uninitiated as drudgery, but is actually the opposite.

“It is the nature of craftsmanship to require concentration to the point of excluding everything else.”

From soup bowls to serving bowls, from mugs for hot drinks to vessels for wine, potter Pat Fleming is constantly experimenting with techniques and form.

For years, Fleming has been digging clay for his pottery from local areas, starting at the Ringold area at the Columbia River. He later moved to spots around Othello, Prosser, and the Walla Walla River Basin.

Fleming uses the dug clay it by itself as earthenware, or incorporates with fire clays purchased from local building suppliers. He also blends it, along with local soil and wood ash, into signature glazes. These range in color from ochre to brown, black to iron red.

Wood Ash Makes Innovative Pottery Glazes

“The coloring of most of my glazes comes from the iron in the soil, clay, or wood ash,” Fleming says. “I rarely use chemical colorants, and have limited their use to cobalt for blue and copper for green.” One of his more innovative resources for ash, aside from that collected from the Mount St. Helens 1980 eruption, is from Fleming’s barbecue pit.

“When firing a wood kiln, the wood ash flows through the ware chamber and settles on the pots to form its own natural although spotty glaze.”

Like many artists who become experts at what they do, Fleming loves to teach what he knows, and what he knows about a 12,000-year-old craft is significant. In 1971, he began his teaching career at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, and though after 33 years he theoretically retired from teaching, he never really did, and has been called back numerous times. He also instructs through numerous community venues.

Teaching Is His Passion

“Even though I really enjoy making functional and non-functional ceramic objects, teaching is my real passion,” Fleming says.

“One of the most rewarding positions was at Coyote Ridge Correction Center for Walla Walla Community College. The convicted felons were the most willing and motivated students ever.

“After Covid19 goes away, I will return to Kennewick Community School where I teach drawing and painting.”

Because a teacher, like an artist, never stops. Why should they? They’re creating, learning, innovating, giving, with the result that their job isn’t really a job at all.

“As I look back on my 54 years of art in one way or the other being my livelihood, I wonder how I could have been so lucky,” Fleming muses.

“I wish I could do it all over again.”

Wenaha GalleryPat Fleming is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 8 through October 2, 2020.

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

 

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Pastel Mystique — The Landscapes of Edna Bjorge

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

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

From Oil Paint Murals to Pastel Drawings

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

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

aspenglow trees orange woods forest edna bjorge art

Aspenglow, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

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

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

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

Outside and Outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

Disappearing Landscapes

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

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

Cooper ridge mountain lake landscape pastel painting Edna Bjorge art

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

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

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

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

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

Pastel: Sensuous and Immediate

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

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

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

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

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

 

paint number art framing unfinished bay mountain japan fuji

Paint-by-Number Treasure — Stored in a Box and Now Framed

paint-by-number art framing unfinished bay mountain japan fuji

This Paint-by-Number kit started out in a dime store. It spent years in a box. Now it hangs in a special place on the wall of the granddaughter of the woman who painted it.

Life is fragile. None of us knows how long we will be on the earth. And, when the time comes to leave, we frequently leave behind unfinished projects.

Kindergarten teacher Kelley Hubbard has a literal visual of this concept — a partially completed paint-by-number landscape worked upon by her biological grandmother, Betty Nelsen, in the 1950s.

“My Grandma Betty passed away from the effects of nephritis in February 1957, leaving behind two little girls, a husband, and many loved ones,” the Walla Walla, WA, Berney School teacher says. “A couple years later, my Grandpa remarried — this is the woman my cousins and I know as Grandma (Shirley) Nelsen.”

Recently, when Hubbard’s Grandma Shirley was downsizing, she went through the many boxes of stuff people tend to accumulate through the years.

Found in a Box

“Thanks to cell phones, the texts and images came at a steady pace for a couple of weeks as they asked if anyone would like things that Grandma Shirley was ready to let go of,” Hubbard remembers.

“In the process of sorting and packing all of her belongings, an image of this incomplete paint-by-number picture by Grandma Betty came through the text thread. My Mom and Aunt suspect this was a project their mom was working on while ailing from kidney disease.

“Grandpa likely thought this was a project she could work on despite having low energy.”

Hubbard jumped onto the painting as one she wanted in her own home. A creative herself, Hubbard — who sews, crafts, and knits — maintains a collection of artwork and creations made by the various members of her family.  These include woodworking, ceramics, needlework, paintings, stained glass, quilts, and garments.

“While I know that this paint-by-number is very likely an item purchased at a dime store, I can’t help but think of my grandma as she was painting it, knowing that she was so unwell and that her time with her family was limited.

“Her health and endurance, I imagine, is what left it incomplete.”

A Memento of Past and Present

Wanting to preserve a treasured memento of her past and present, Hubbard brought the artwork to Wenaha Gallery in Dayton. There, she spent a pleasurable time choosing mat colors to match, enhance, and draw out the colors of the painting. Framer Savonnah Henderson then assembled the mat choices and frame into a completed custom framing package. Interestingly, Hubbard feels, the paint-by-number’s very incompleteness adds to its totality and meaning.

“This will hang as a centerpiece on my fireplace mantle, flanked by a set of ink drawings from Grandma Betty’s father, Thorvald Heden,” she says.

“An unfinished dime store purchase has become something quite special to me some 63 years later.”

Wenaha GalleryIn addition to showing and selling fine art — originals and prints — Wenaha Gallery custom frames using conservation quality and acid-free materials. We design both in-house, at the gallery, and online via email and phone.

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

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

Landscape Magic — the Photography of Bill Rodgers

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

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

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

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

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

wallouse palouse landscape spring winter snow bill rodgers photography

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

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

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

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

Being in, Moving through, the Landscape

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

old grain elevator country landscape rural farm bill rodgers photography

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

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

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

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

Stonecipher Trees forest bill rodgers photography

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

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

The Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography

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

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

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

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

“Enjoy.”

 

Wenaha GalleryBill Rodgers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 28 through August 21, 2020.

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

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Photography in Action — By Gary Wessels-Galbreath

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

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

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

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

moss trees photograph light shadow wessels galbreath

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

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

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

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

Slowing Down and Seeing the World

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

highway 12 photography landscape farm dayton washington wessels galbreath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Life, and Photography, by Example

american crow photograph silhouette wessels galbreath

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha GalleryGary Wessels-Galbreath is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 14 through August 7, 2020.

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