high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

Fosbury Flop — Sweet Success in Bronze

high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

In the foreground, The High Jumper, by Larry Kessie; in the background, You Can Fly by Clay Lewis. The athlete is jumping with technique called Fosbury Flop.

Nobody embraces or welcomes bad experiences.

But here’s an odd thing about bad experiences: sometimes they produce sweet fruit.

high jumper bronze statue fosbury flop larry kessie

The High Jumper, bronze statue by Larry Kessie, captures the competitor just as he begins to leave the ground.

That’s what Clay Lewis and Larry Kessie, both of Richland, WA, discovered, years after they were in fifth grade together, and one of them was wrongfully accused of misappropriating a pencil. Through efforts to punish the alleged miscreant, their teacher unfortunately exacerbated a deplorable situation into a traumatic one, the results of which stayed with both men well into their adulthood.

Seeking Closure and Finding Friendship

“Even though Clay and I attended Kennewick High School together, we had not linked up until a few years ago, through the common denominator of my wife who had worked with him and urged me to have a discussion on how that event had affected me,” Kessie remembers.  “When we did link up, I found that it had negative impacts on Clay’s life as well.”

The result of this meeting was unexpected and . . . sweet. Not only did both men move toward closure of a negative experience, they opened up a novel, exciting chapter in their lives. As their newly revived friendship grew, they embarked, together, on an unforeseen direction: bronze sculpture and something called The Fosbury Flop.

The Fosbury Flop

Neither man had sculpted before. Kessie worked 35 years as an architect. Lewis’s career took him into coaching track and field, where he achieved a reputation as a guru of high jumping, most notably in the technique known as the Fosbury Flop.

you can fly fosbury flop clay lewis bronze statue

You Can Fly, bronze statue by Clay Lewis. It captures the high jumper just as he is clearing the bar. The backwards leap is the Fosbury Flop.

This backwards leaping technique, named after Dick Fosbury, who jumped 7’4.25″ to win the Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics, captured the attention of then 16-year-old Clay Lewis. He taught himself this new unique style of high jumping, and was soon recognized as one of the first Fosbury floppers in Washington State. As years went by, Lewis —  inducted in 2009 into the Washington State Hall of Fame for coaches — found himself speaking at a number of Northwest track clinics, giving specifics on how to do the Fosbury flop. As a visual aid, he was limited to using Barbie dolls to demonstrate the technique, and for varying reasons, was frustrated with the limitations Barbie invoked. He was looking for a better visual aid that wasn’t quite so . . . distracting.

A Life-Changing Idea

That’s when Kessie had an idea, and the two men started on their journey into the world of bronze sculpture.

“I bought two human armatures, some clay, and a lot of anatomy books, and we got started on creating the coaching aid Clay needed,” Kessie remembers.

larry kessie sculptor high jumper fosbury flop bronze

Larry Kessie, architect and sculptor of The High Jumper

“We both had no idea where this was going, or how they were going to turn out. We each selected independent positions of the jumper so that Clay would have two independent aids.”

Kessie’s sculpture, The High Jumper, focuses on the jumper just before he leaps; Lewis’s work, You Can Fly, catches him mid-air, clearing the bar. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, because that’s when the sculptures were done. Getting there took a lot of time, effort, researching, and determination.

“Our learning curve was very steep,” Kessie says.

“Correct form and musculature were very important to both of us. We continually reviewed the anatomy through pictures and anatomy books for artists and sculptures. We also used YouTube extensively.”

But . . .

“We found that the clay sculptures were developing in a manner not anticipated.”

Unsure of the direction things were going, Lewis invited a local international artist friend to give the two friends feedback on the project.

“The artist’s summary blew us away in that he compared our statues to some of the best he has seen professionally,” Kessie recalls. “He was amazed that it was our first sculptures, and there were two of them at that level.”

From Visual Aid to Bronze Sculpture

That was the encouragement they needed, and Kessie and Lewis advanced from clay prototypes to deciding to have their work cast into bronze at Valley Bronze in Joseph, OR. That move opened up a whole new dimension to their project, and the resulting art pieces encouraged them to broaden their horizons beyond a visual teaching aid —  because one thing they discovered upon receiving the finished sculptures is that large bronze works, with stands and tables upon which to place them, are cumbersome to transport from coaching clinic to clinic. It’s not impossible, just difficult, and there are better alternatives:

clay lewis coach hall fame sculptor fosbury flop

Clay Lewis, 2009 inductee into the Washington State Hall of Fame for coaches. He is the sculptor of the bronze, You Can Fly.

“I photographed both sculptures and have shown them to my track athletes,” Lewis says. “What I have found is, coaches and athletes are getting inspired by just seeing a photo as well as the fact that we created something that represents what they love.

“To quote one coach, ‘They are jaw dropping.’

“They do take apart and transport okay, but we don’t want them to flop, drop and break. So for the most part I will use the photos of the works.”

And the works themselves? They are now limited edition art pieces, with a 25 run for each. Each man is planning a second sculpture, as they continue walking on the new adventure path of marketing the first ones. They hope to inspire not only athletes, but anyone with a dream and desire.

The Sweet Fruit of Fine Art

“This experience, this sculpting journey has been what ‘art’ is supposed to be, at least in my mind,” Kessie says. “Art is integral with the culture of life.”

Lewis agrees.

“The sculptures represent a life changing time in one’s life who has had the experience of jumping. It is an emotional but gratifying time in our lives.

“To jump over a person’s own head is not a normal thing to do.

“We’re hoping that the sculptures will spark not only an interest in track and field, but in art and sculpture.

“It’s fun, rewarding, and therapeutic.”

Not to mention, sweet.

Wenaha GalleryLarry Kessie and Clay Lewis are the featured Art Event artists from May 11 to June 7, with both of their sculptures on display, and for sale, at the gallery.

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.

 

 

 

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

QR Code Art — Lorna Barth’s Paintings Tell a Story

deer yorick skull qr code watercolor lorna barth

Dayton watercolor painter Lorna Barth embedded the QR Code for the framed print, At Last, Deer Yorick, in the lower left-hand corner of the print. Viewers scanning the code with their phone or tablet access the story behind the artwork.

We’re all hearing a lot about QR codes these days.

For the uninitiated, QR codes are matrix barcodes that smart phone or tablet cameras “read” when we point and scan. The square blocks of contrasting dark and white shapes contain long strings of information data — such as an Internet link leading to a web page — and eliminate the need to accurately type in all the letters, numbers, and symbols of the actual link.

“QR codes have been used for decades,” says Dayton, WA, watercolor artist Lorna Barth, who has developed a unique way to integrate them into her paintings.

quilt show tent boldman house original watercolor lorna barth

After the Quilt Show, original watercolor painting by Lorna Barth. On her original watercolor paintings, Barth affixes the QR code to the painting’s video to the artwork’s back.

“These little codes have become instant transport for almost everything from your grocery receipt to the information on any product.

“But they are SO BORING!

“And they take you to BORING PLACES. Or to places that sell you things, or boring information that nobody ever wants to read.”

So one day, while she was painting, she had an epiphany:

“What if they went to Art? or Poetry? or Both? It would give people just a little minute or two of respite to look at art, listen to gentle music, and chill without a sales pitch or ‘Subscribe,’ or anything. Random phone art.”

Innovating with Old and New

And from that moment, her lifelong art journey took a new direction. She combined old with new: paper and watercolor paint — items that have existed unobtrusively for centuries and millennia — with contemporary tech. Now, in many of her works she incorporates a QR code. With original paintings, she places the QR code on the back. With prints, she integrates it onto the substrate and into the image. Other times, she paints it as a separate painting to accompany the artwork.

Where it leads varies as well, but the destination, Barth is happy to say, isn’t boring.

“For many of my works, I make YouTube videos of the painting being done, or lead into the work to give the viewer an extended view of this piece of art,” Barth explains.

“These are not instructional videos, but time with the artist and the artwork in the creation of it.”

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

Sometimes, Barth paints the QR code as a separate painting of its own. It then accompanies the work it describes. This is the code for the Bee and Zinnia nested art blocks series.

The codes themselves, she says, are independent artwork of their own, leading to other worlds and stories.

“The QR codes that accompany my paintings attest to the originality and authenticity of my work.

“They are short performance videos to go along with and tell the story behind the art the viewer is engaging with visually. They add a new level of engagement to the experience.”

Enjoying Art at the Bus Stop

This means, she adds, that her paintings impact in a multitude of places, not just the wall where they are hanging. Digitally, viewers access her art on the bus, at soccer practice, in a waiting room, over lunch with friends.

rock mountain blues landscape watercolor painting lorna barth

Rock Mountain Blues, original watercolor painting by Dayton artist Lorna Barth.

“The technology as part of the art has taken the art and put it in the hands (quite literally) of multiple viewers at the same time.”

As with all technology, there are glitches. Barth recalls the time she painted in plein air, on a golf cart at the Touchet Valley Golf Course in Dayton. After finishing the painting on site, she discovered that her tablet video camera had mysteriously stopped right after she started, and the only digital record she had was of her getting the paper wet prior to the first brush stroke. Other times, though the camera is rolling, Barth gets so involved in the creation of the piece that she forgets she is being recorded.

“My memory will be full, and the painting will be completed without any documentation.”

But the glitches are part of the journey. Every technical hiccup is an opportunity to learn, adjust, and finesse. And the ultimate result is worth it, because the fusion with technology adds dimension to the artwork, thereby enhancing the experience of both artist and viewer.

Multi-media and Multi-layer

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of multimedia artwork is the ability to experience the art on many levels.

“Yes, they are paintings, but there was so much more that went along with the creation of them. There was the place, the method, the action of painting, music, and then the travel of the artwork to multiple venues.”

This blend of old and new — watercolor and QR codes leading to video — is the perfect combination, Barth says.

“It makes artistic expression take on multiple layers of experience and transportability that has never before been available until the digital age.”

Wenaha GalleryLorna Barth is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from May 4 through May 31, 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.

 

 

white basket trio birch bark woven lisa kostelak

Basket Making — Lisa Kostelak Perfects an Ancient Art

baskets rattan organic cedar rushes woven lisa kostelak

Surrounded by grasses and trees, a series of hand-woven baskets by Colville, WA, artist Lisa Kostelak, celebrates the natural world.

Once upon a time, and not that long ago, there was no plastic. For thousands of years of human history, if people wanted to carry something around, from babies to drinking water, they wove a basket. It took, and takes, skill, patience, and an eye for artistry to create a useful basket.

“I have been making baskets for 35 years,” says Lisa Kostelak of Colville, WA.

“I made my first basket in a craft store in a mall in Florida, when I was in just the right place at the right time.

“Though I had been interested in learning for a long time, it was hard to know where to start in the old, pre-Internet days.”

dandelion birch bark rattan woven basket artisan lisa kostelak

It’s about two-inches high. This little basket is woven from dandelion stems, birch bark, and rattan. By Colville, WA, artisan Lisa Kostelak

Today’s technology worship aside, one of the best ways to learn a craft that employs our hands, hearts, and brain is from an actual person who learned how to do it from another actual person. And it is for this reason that Kostelak, who taught herself painstakingly through books and a tremendous amount of trial and error, passes on what she knows through teaching small, personal classes. Basket Making 101, contrary to what we’ve been told all these years, is not an easy A.

Basket Making 101 Is Not an Easy Class

“I learned to weave using rattan, which is a readily available material from Southeast Asia. It is lovely to work with, and I still use it to make many baskets.

“Over the years I have expanded, using material that I forage locally, including cedar bark, tules or rushes, birch bark, bear grass, red osier, even dandelion stems. I am always on the lookout for stuff to weave with.”

white basket trio birch bark woven lisa kostelak

They’re graceful, elegant, yet connected to the earth. The bark-based handles of this trio of baskets adds the perfect finishing touch. By Colville basket weaver Lisa Kostelak.

So it’s not just a matter of unpacking a cardboard box of materials and following a sheet of directions. For Kostelak, basket making involves a solid knowledge of plants and their environment, as well what to harvest, when and how, and what to do with it afterwards to prepare it for weaving. (Show of hands here: who in the room has even heard of “red osier” or “tules,” much less knows how to identify and gather them?)

“I forage anywhere — my backyard, where I’ve planted willow, juncus, red osier, to weave with. I also use my fruit tree pruning, among other garden plants.

“My tules, or rushes, I get from a friend’s pond. We have a nice visit, then cut rushes and load them into my van.”

Sustainable Thinking

For cedar, she gets permission from a private landowner to select a tree that is damaged and will need to be taken down. Once it is cut, she strips off the outer bark, then peels the inner bark or cambium layer, which she coils up and cures for a year before soaking and cutting it into strips for weaving. On hikes through the Colville National Forest, she looks for bear grass, birch bark from dead trees, scouring rush, and whatever else catches her eye.

white basket woven handle lisa kostelak artisan

The basket itself has something to say about its final shape and form. By Lisa Kostelak, artisan weaver from Colville, WA.

“I always ask before harvesting live material,” Kostelak says, because an essential part of making baskets — by real, regular people throughout history — has been working with the environment, not against it. In today’s arena of industrial, profit-driven, multi-billion, even -trillion, dollar corporations, this respect for, and awareness of, sustainability is becoming as lost as the knowledge of making baskets.

“I love working in 3D, with shapes, textures, and colors, making something that is functional and beautiful,” Kostelak says. Her studio, she adds, was formerly known as the family room. With the kids grown and flown, she has commandeered the entire space, with foraged materials stashed everywhere.

“I love spending time there, with the music turned up as loud as it goes, just getting into the rhythm of the weave.”

Baskets Are Timeless Technology

Kostelak sells her work through area shops and regional craft shows, and her wares have found homes from Seattle to San Francisco, from New York to Florida, from Nova Scotia to New Zealand. There is no end to creative inspiration, she says, because the materials themselves are dynamic, redolent of life, tactile, and almost demanding to be touched, handled, interlinked and intertwined.

“I get new ideas while I work. Sometimes I get an idea from the colors or textures of material stored together. Sometimes I dream a basket, and write it down when I wake up.”

The skill, and the baskets, transcend time, and there is a rush (no pun intended) to creating something that artisans have been making for far, far longer than industry has churned out plastic bags and petro-chemical products. There’s a human touch that endures from one age to the next.

This is good to remember the next time we overhear someone scoffing that a class is as easy as Basket Making 101. We can be free to retort,

“Have you ever actually woven a basket? It’s not as easy as you think.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Kostelak is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from April 20 through May 17, 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.

 

Opuntia Fruit colorful Southwest watercolor Lisa Hill

Maverick Thinker and Doer — Watercolors by Lisa Hill

morning glory floral flower maverick watercolor painting lisa hill

It takes a maverick to paint what she wants, how she wants to, without listening to voices seeking to control her thoughts and actions. Morning Glories, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

Movies, ads, pop music– they theoretically encourage people to be mavericks, to do things their way. As My Way, the song popularized by Frank Sinatra, croons,

“What is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.”

But in real life — not the make-believe one of movies, ads, pop music — doing it your way isn’t cool or easy, and those who persist fight against a relentless wave of mass media impelled social conformity that seeks to keep them down, submissive, obedient, boring.

“Do it our way,” is the message. “And call it your way.”

rocks colorful maverick watercolor painting texture lisa hill

Rocks aren’t just gray. But it takes a wise, creative, maverick eye to see this. Rock Solid, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

Watercolor painter Lisa Hill isn’t interested in this message. As a representational painter of flowers and foliage, she is fully aware of the industrial and urban art world’s decree that representational work is passe, demoded, archaic. What she hears from the “modern” art movement — which, ironically, began in the late 19th century — is that “true artists” focus on abstract.

She dissents.

Representational and Realistic

“I have always been attracted to realistic representational art,” the Richland, WA, artist says.

“While I respect and can appreciate the skill and knowledge involved in creating purely abstract or vaguely realistic art, it does not move me.

“And I take exception to negative attitudes and comments about the realistic style I love. It is often described with discouraging and depressing adjectives: belabored, overworked, too technical, muddy, fussy, tight, tedious, photographic, controlled, imitative, copied, conservative, unimaginative, stifled, calculated, rigid, stiff, not ‘fresh.'” Why not words like meticulous, detail-minded, skillful, precise, accurate, competent, imaginative, energizing, dexterous, proficient, adept, observant, and beautiful?

Several years ago, she adds, she found this statement by French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919):

“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.”

Delicate flower floral garden watercolor painting Lisa Hill

Renoir is right: what could possibly be wrong with painting beautiful things? Delicate, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill of Richland, WA.

This way of looking at things, she feels, is a timeless one — neither contemporary nor nostalgic, trendy nor outmoded — an attitude that allows freedom of expression for artists to use their creativity in conjunction with their skills and interests, not to mention their maverick personalities.

“I have a lot of plant knowledge and thoroughly enjoy gardening,” Hill says, explaining that, before she turned to art, she spent years working in ornamental horticulture and landscape design.

“It’s natural for me that the subject I most love to paint are flowers and foliage. I don’t think that I am making a statement by painting these things — I just love them.”

Science & Art: A Maverick Combo

Another thing she loves — really, really loves — is the watercolor technique. It is a blend of maverick magic and science, skill with the willingness to play with chance. The medium requires the artist to observe, question, experiment, analyze, examine, speculate, study — in short, do everything you would expect both a scientist and an artist to do.

Opuntia Fruit colorful Southwest watercolor Lisa Hill

Definitely not ordinary but unusual — which is pretty much the definition of maverick. Opuntia Fruit, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

“Understanding how water behaves puts the artist in charge (mostly) of what happens to the paint on the paper.

“Why do backruns develop? How do I get the paint to spread out and dissipate? Why does this passage look streaked and blotchy when I wanted a smooth wash?

“The answers are almost always related to the water: how much is on the brush, the paper, and in the puddle of paint.”

Getting those answers, and thereby achieving success with watercolor techniques, requires a high level of scientific knowledge of the behavior of water.

Sing It, Frank; Paint It, Lisa

If she sounds like a teacher, that’s because she is. Ten years ago, Hill and her husband tore the roof off their garage and built a second-level, spacious studio complete with bathroom, kitchenette, storage, windows, and enough room for four students. She holds regular classes for beginning, intermediate, and advanced (“I very specifically do NOT mix beginners with experienced painters if I can help it”) — once a week per class, three hours at a time, over four weeks. Many students return, progressing from beginner to experienced, and this keeps her on her toes.

“I have to come up with new, interesting, challenging projects all the time.”

Not that she’s complaining, because, you see, painting itself is new, interesting, and challenging. In the world of representational art, there is no limit to the creativity, exploration, inspiration, and driving force to learn and see and capture light and color, emotion and movement.

It takes a maverick to understand and do this.

Or, back to Frank and his crooning,

“I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.”

Or better yet, in Hill’s own words,

“I paint what I want when I’m ready.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Hill is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from April 6 through May 3, 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.

 

Life Is Made for Living — Cat Paintings by Steph Bucci

cat life romance love kiss hug feline steph bucci art watercolor

Life is about relationships with one another. Cat Kisses, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Some people say life begins after high school. Others insist it really begins after retirement. But life, which goes on whether we choose to jump into it with joy or not, progresses forward when we move, learn, breathe, experience, get out, experiment, turn off the TV, take chances and just plain, well, live. When we wait, and wait, and wait, we don’t get to the things that we really want to do.

And that’s a waste of human creativity.

Artist Steph Bucci discovered this years ago when she found herself repeating the same sentence to her husband, Bud:

“When we retire . . . I want to learn watercolor.

cat dance life joy balance watercolor steph Bucci

Life is a dance that teaches us to balance. Cat Dance, original watercolor painting by West Richland, WA, artist Steph Bucci.

“I don’t know why I relegated the idea to a retirement pastime, or what kept me from pursuing it earlier.”

Why Wait? And Wait, and Wait?

But life, which was moving forward, invited her to join on the journey. With retirement far off in the horizon, she found herself with a home decor project to complete now.

“We felt some existing artwork no longer worked as well in its space.

“When costs for a replacement piece seemed high, Bud — always my great encourager and steady ally — said, ‘I think you can do it!'”

She did some research, bought paint, experimented on 4×6 practice canvases. She made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and kept at it. Little realizing how different working on mini-canvases is from the 42 x 60 piece she was aiming to create, she refused to give up. Eventually, she finished the project, successfully.

“The painting still hangs in the living room, and my long-term desire to try watercolor was launched.”

A self-motivated student who learns best by reading and imitating, Bucci has worked in watercolor, batik watercolor, mixed media, colored pencils, markers, and acrylics. Describing herself as a minimalist, the West Richland, WA, artist paints out of a studio consisting of a small desk in her guest room, a couple shelves in the closet, and a petite, highly portable pochade box she made from two wooden cigar boxes, which hold her limited paint palette of eight colors, plus a tube of white gouache.

Small Space, Big Living

In this small space she works on big things, including illustrations for two children’s books about a rescued Golden Retriever named Gus. The first book in the series won three awards, including the Royal Dragonfly and Moonbeam, recognizing exemplary work in both editorial content and illustration.

Pinks cat mouse flowers friends feline watercolor art steph bucci

In many of her cat paintings, Steph Bucci incorporates a small mouse with and around the cat. Pinks, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Bucci approaches each project, each new technique, with an energy that carries her through, up, and over the learning curve. For a year, she focused on stylized cat paintings, experimenting with subject matter and composition, and incorporating, in many of the images, a small mouse.

“My dad’s pet nickname for me as a child (I’m petite) was ‘Mouse,’ or ‘Miss Mouse.” Early on in my painting experience I decided to include a mouse in my cat images as a pointer to that dear memory.

“The Mouse doesn’t make an appearance in 100% of the paintings, and her shape and style vary, but she’s getting more consistent. She embeds a touch of ‘Father’s Love’ in my images in a way I experienced it as a child.”

cat mouse life abstract friends together collage steph bucci watercolor feline art

Cat and mouse in the game of life — Cat Mouse Abstract, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Indeed, in all her work, the image of a Father’s love is always in the background. It is what inspires her to create, with everything she creates, beautiful things that are to be used and enjoyed.

A Father’s Love, and Creativity

“I believe appreciation of beauty and creativity is placed in all human beings by our Creator . . . and that it pleases Him when we use the abilities He’s given to express His creation in a meaningful way.

“I also think it pleases Him, as it does me, when I try to develop skills of expression. He enjoys my practice and my outcomes, and He’s really the source of all the creativity and skill.”

And no doubt He is also pleased that Bucci has chosen to live her life, as opposed to just waiting things out, as she discovers more about the world she lives in when she continues to explore it.

“Painting has brought me into contact with a wonderful new world of friends, people who have enriched my life, amazed me with their giftings, and encouraged me to branch out,” she reflects.

“I am so glad my husband encouraged me to take the plunge into the art world.”

Wenaha GallerySteph Bucci is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 9 through April 5, 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.

 

 

water dance swan bird painting impressionist relaxed not uptight

Not Uptight but Relaxed — Impressionist Paintings by Carol Betker

water dance swan bird painting impressionist relaxed not uptight

The Water Dance, original oil painting by Carol Betker. Relaxed and calm — you can’t get more opposite from uptight than that.

When you jump out of an airplane with a parachute, you have a pretty good idea of where you’ll end up: on Earth. It’s the process of getting there that you can’t predict. Unnerving? Yes, but that’s also part of the adventure.

For artist Carol Betker, starting each painting is akin to jumping from the plane: she knows what she wants the finished painting to look like, but the process of getting there is flexible, dynamic, even mercurial, more so because she paints Alla Prima, a method by which the artist applies wet paint on wet paint.

blue springs horse equine water wading impressionist painting carol betker

It’s a relaxed splash and plash through the water in Blue Springs, original oil painting by Kennewick artist, Carol Betker

“It’s a method that allows fresh brushwork,” the Kennewick oil painter says.

“I often feel in the beginning of all the creative messiness like I’m sky diving. I know I’ll land eventually, but I have to learn to enjoy the process and not get uptight.”

On Her Feet and Behind the Easel

Betker describes her style as loose, impressionistic, expressive, so she can’t be uptight when she’s behind the easel.  Her background as a public school art teacher (she retired in 2010) means that she has worked in, and taught, many mediums: from pottery to printmaking, and in the painting realm — watercolor, acrylic, oil, charcoal, pencil, and more. For years she worked in acrylic, with which she describes having a love/hate relationship.

“Acrylics are easy to clean, odor free, and dry quickly.

“On the other hand, drying quickly can inhibit the blending of edges which I like in my work. So I’ve been leaning toward oils in the last five years. I am intrigued with how oils blend in the wet on wet technique.”

landscape not uptight relaxed breathe peaceful impressionist painting carol betker

Who could feel uptight in a landscape so calm, so peaceful? Breathe, original oil painting by Carol Betker.

Working out of her dining room studio, where she paints pretty much every day, Betker explores subject matter from florals to landscapes, from pet portraits to the human face. If she doesn’t have another painting planned when she finishes her latest project, she doesn’t worry — or get uptight — but rather, relaxes into free fall.

“I think every successful person knows that, if you just show up, that’s half the battle.

“Showing up at the easel — not waiting to be inspired, but simply showing up every day — well, you will BE inspired as you begin.”

Remember the Camera

Exhibiting her work in multiple venues around the Tri-Cities and Prosser, Betker has garnered collectors in Washington and Oregon, as well as Missouri, Virginia, South Carolina, and Canada. She names Richard Schmid, Jessica Zemsky, and Dreama Tolle Perry as artists whose work and technique inspire her. She also credits her education at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, where she received her B.A. in Art Education.

With a husband who loves photography, and with her own trusty Canon Rebel camera nearby when not in hand, Betker says that she reaps the benefit of having more images than she could possibly paint. Her main problem is remembering to bring the camera.

garden flowers color path happy plants carol betker impressionist painting

It’s a place for a quiet and gentle stroll. Color My World, original oil painting by impressionist painter, Carol Betker.

“I can’t tell you how many shots I’ve missed by leaving it behind.

“Judging from sales, though, even using a shot taken at 60 miles per hour through a windshield is usable as inspiration. I love a challenge!”

The image she photographed from the moving car, she explained, was “a spectacular Dogwood tree in full bloom with a little picket white fence, and parts of a white house peeking through. My husband was driving, and for some reason he doesn’t like to stop every time I see a great shot. But it did turn out, as the painting I created from the photo sold very quickly.”

Relaxed, Not Uptight

Betker looks for a feeling in her reference image: the turn of a head, glance of the eyes, a ray of light dancing across the surface of the landscape. When she isn’t in a moving car, she finds inspiration closer by, at a more leisurely pace:

“I enjoy the endearing expressions of my tortie calico cat, Missy, as I maneuver around, camera in her face.”

Seize the moment. Land on your feet. Make sure the parachute is packed. Let go of being uptight. Don’t forget the camera. And show up every day.

Along with art, Betker taught these life lessons to her students at Finley and Burbank schools during her teaching career, and the reason she could do so is because she lives by them herself. Painting art and living life both take imagination, creativity, a willingness to work, and an appreciation of joy. The result is well worth the act of jumping out of the plane.

“I’m in a good spot in my art where more times than not I am finding satisfaction in my work,” Betker says.

“I’m not going for perfection but rather for being authentic — capturing the Creator’s little treasures that come into my view.”

Wenaha GalleryCarol Betker is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from February 9 through March 8, 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.

 

 

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Time to Create: Clocks by Leonard McCreary

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Maple Burl Clock with Pendulum, an elegant way to keep time, by Leonard McCreary

Time.

With the advent of a New Year, it is always a . . . timely subject. Like the air we breathe, time is not something that can be conglomerated, hoarded, or created out of nothing. No matter who we are, or who we think we are, we are given a limited supply.

And then there are trees. When it comes to time, they tend to enjoy a greater chunk of it than humans do. Sequoia, yew, Bristlecone pine — these have lived in the low to mid thousands of years. But even trees reach the end of their time, and when they do, Leonard McCreary has a means of keeping them going:

He makes clocks out of them.

clocks wood maple walnut time leonard mccreary

An array of clocks in maple and walnut, by Leonard McCreary

The Salem, OR, artist has been working around wood for most of his 88 years, having worked as a logger and road builder with artistry on the side. He started making clocks 40 years ago.

Clocking Time in the Workshop

“The father of a ‘kid’ I worked with in the woods gave me a 4′ x 7′ piece of redwood burl. I made a table out of it. After that, I discovered making clocks.

“Most of the wood I use is either cedar, maple, or black walnut, and I cut most of it myself when I was clearing land.”

The wood itself is integral to determining the shape of the finished clock. A cross section cut from the felled tree, each clock reflects the unique shaping that time and weather, environment and circumstances played upon the stem and main wooden axis of the tree. One looks like a bursting star in walnut; another, burled maple, features a swinging pendulum in the midst of a hole in the wood. Still another looked so much like the state of Washington that it wound up being so.

maple burl wooden clock time leonard mccreary

Shaped like a heart, a maple burl clock shows a richness of texture and color, reflecting the life of the tree. By Leonard McCreary

Working out of a shop at his home, McCreary says that the sanding process is time intensive, and when he has brought the shaped piece to a state of perfection, he coats the wood with resin to add a shine.

Each Tree Is Unique

In addition to clocks, McCreary continues to make tables, and later added birdhouses to his repertoire. For years, he sold his work at the Saturday market in Salem, as well as a clock store in Sisters, OR. He wouldn’t describe his clock-making as a labor of love, because it’s not so much work as creative joy. Each piece is as unique as the tree from which it comes, and what it eventually results into being is the result of a “conversation” between McCreary and the wood. Trees, like people, are most interesting when they are most individual.

It is time well spent, McCreary feels. Now retired from logging and road building, he enjoys focused time on creating clocks, and appreciates that there is no hurry about the process. Time is something well worth savoring, appreciating, and using for good purposes.

How we spend it, makes a difference.

Wenaha GalleryLeonard McCreary is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 29, 2020, through January 25, 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.

 

Painting, Thinking, Meditating — Frankie Laufer Abstracts

Riptide, original oil painting by College Place, WA, artist, Frankie Laufer.

When we are not vigilant, we find ourselves hobbled by pronouncements that seem to mean something, but in reality, don’t.

Take, for example, the widely accepted assertion that if we don’t start an activity — playing the piano or speaking a second language, say — by the age of five, or seven, or three, then we won’t succeed. Too many people give up before they start because they’re convinced they missed their chance.

silent way abstract painting oil art frankie laufer

In a Silent Way, original abstract oil by Frankie Laufer

Fortunately, many others choose to believe in themselves as opposed to “expert” asseveration, and, as a result, find themselves happily doing things they were assured they could not do. Frankie Laufer is one of these people.

A self-described late-bloomer, the College Place, WA, artist began painting at the age of 40, and 30 years later, he’s still intensely at it. With hundreds of finished works behind him, he looks forward to a future of hundreds more to go.

One Day He Decided to Paint

It all began on a day, he said, when “I just felt internally that I wanted to paint, so I went to the art store and opened up a tube of paint. I smelled it, and put some on my finger, and at that moment I guess I knew . . . ”

Born and raised in Walla Walla, Laufer moved to California in the late 70s, and while there, met and learned under Benjamin Blake, a painter in his own right. On a regular basis for 30 years, Laufer painted at Blake’s studio in a 110-year-old house, a situation he described as perfect for talking about his work as well as creating it.

lost highway colorful abstract painting oil frankie laufer

Lost Highway, original oil abstract by Frankie Laufer of College Place, WA

“Ben never talked about right or wrong. He only addressed the painting in terms of what was working and what wasn’t.

“This is how the painter hones their skills: painting, absorbing, and listening.”

These elements — painting, talking, meditating, listening, thinking — form the basis of Laufer’s training, and they have served, and continue to serve him, well, he says.

“I didn’t have any formal training at all, and really developed my style through painting,” he explains.

“Art school can help teach formal technique but cannot teach passions or creative process. That is an internal process, not external.”

A Place for Creation and Creativity

Laufer moved back to the area last year, saying that he feels “nature more fully supports us in our birthplace.” When looking for a house, he kept an eye out for one that had two dedicated rooms: one for the actual painting process, and a second for storing the work.

“In my past studios, I often had very little space. It’s nice to be able to spread out and have room for paints and easels.” Nice, but not necessary he adds, recalling the time he painted in a garage.

Untitled abstract original oil painting Frankie Laufer

Untitled, original abstract oil by Frankie Laufer

“Space is nice, but one should be able to paint anywhere.”

As much as he enjoys painting, and spends a significant amount of time behind the easel, Laufer describes his favorite moment of each day as that which he devotes to meditation. The time spent in intense thought spills over to when he paints. Thinking, he says, inspires creativity.

“When I settle down to quieter fields of activity, this allows the mind to experience the Self — which gives rise to more creativity, silence, and energy.”

Success Requires Time

He does not try to make a statement with his work, he adds, nor does he make conscious external decisions about what will be his next work. While he may have a vague idea or intent, he finds that when he starts the process, the paint usually dictates the direction. And that, he points out, is what matters: the actual process of creativity:

“Success in painting is having the time to paint.

“If you have time to produce your work, you already have it made.

“Don’t spend much time worrying about making it, selling work, being famous, or any of that.

“Spend time painting, only focusing on that: what follows is not important.

“A painter paints. That is their role.”

Wenaha GalleryFrankie Laufer is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 12, 2020, through January 11, 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.

 

 

 

 

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.

quilting holiday table runners fabric

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.