Lauralee Northcott

“I gather my needles for baskets from Ponderosa Pine trees mostly here in the Methow Valley,” explains basket artist Lauralee Northcott of Winthrop. “After removing the connective end and washing the needles, I put them in a bath of water and glycerin and boil them for about three hours.

“They’re cooled, rinsed, and left to dry for a month. Now they are ready to weave.”

With weaving comes the eye for detail, an incorporation of color and beadwork, and the swift, deft hand movements that, after a while, leave one’s fingers feeling stiff.

“All basket making requires patience and perfection,” Northcott says. “While weaving is relaxing, it is also physically demanding, and requires a lot of time.  But the payoff of making a beautiful item to go out into the world is very satisfying.”

Gathering Wool — The Felt Art of Linnea Keatts

felted wool scarf with silk highlights linnea keatts felt artist

A felted scarf with gossamer drape, by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

Some of the most enduring technology is the oldest.

Long before the development of Kevlar vests, Roman soldiers wore felted breastplates to deflect arrows. And even longer before that in Turkey, evidence of felting — non-woven fabric created when sheep’s wool and other natural animal fibers are subjected to heat, moisture, and agitation — dates back to 6500 BC.

felted wool santa squares felt artist linnea keatts

Sweet Little Lady and Pierre, felted art squares by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“Felting is an old hand craft,” says Linnea Keatts, a fiber artist who, over 40 years, has explored weaving, Navaho Weaving, creative stitchery, knitting, and felting.

“The techniques are quite simple using controlled shrinkage of carded wool, soapy water, manipulation, and agitation to create a fine lightweight fabric. This technique is called Nuno-felting or wet felting.”

Some people, who have accidentally tossed Aunt Minerva’s Christmas gift of hand-knit, woolen sweater into the washing machine, have discovered — to their chagrin or relief, depending upon Aunt Minerva’s skill and taste — that wool turns into a completely different, um, animal, when it encounters hot, soapy, moving water.

Felting by Choice, Not Accident

Keatts embraces the felt process by choice and design, creating everything from lightweight, gossamer scarves out of merino fleece and silk to heavier, three-dimensional pieces shaped into purses, vases, and bowls. Recently, she has been incorporating recycled fabrics and silk embellishments into the mix, blending them with the wool to create pictures and special design elements.

textured felt layered wool square linnea keatts

A layered, textured, wool felted square by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“It’s fascinating to watch the colors of the fleece and fabric designs blend together,” the Walla Walla artist says. “The shrinkage that occurs during the felting process creates unique designs in the finished product.”

From the very first felting class she took in 1981, with the thought that, “Hmm . . . this would be interesting to learn,” Keatts has developed her artistry and skill through hours of practice, as well as numerous classes and workshops. Several of these took place in Norway where she lived on and off during her career as an Occupational Therapist. Instrumental in founding, and later directing an occupational therapy school in Trondheim, Norway, Keatts later hosted in Walla Walla, with her husband, 25 Norwegian students for their three-month long OT internships.

Wasting Time on Video Games, Not Felting

One of these students is the reason why her home studio, where she works prodigiously to create her art, is called The Wasting Time Room.

wearable wool felt art clothing linnea keatts

A collection and selection of wearable, wool, felted artwork by Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts

“At the time the student was staying with us, from 1999 to 2000, the space was only a room with a TV, where he and his friends played X-Box and other games,” Keatts explains, adding that the student himself aptly named the space. “We have since redone the room, but the name stayed.

“The TV is still there and I do tend to watch and work at times — but I am wasting time with the watching, not the felting!”

Upon retirement in 2005, Keatts devoted more time to felting, but found that she didn’t have as much time as she wanted because she also served as Master Gardener through the Washington State University Extension program, participated in the Choral Society and Walla Walla Community Band, and volunteered as hosting coordinator for the American Field Service International Exchange Program in Walla Walla, Columbia, and Garfield counties.

“Needless to say, there was enough to do in retirement!” Keatts observes.

Too much, in fact. In 2015 Keatts scaled back,  focusing  primarily on felting. But because she wants others to know about this ancient craft, she took on another project and began teaching classes through the Quest program at Walla Walla Community College.

“My statement with my felting and especially with my teaching is for the students to learn to enjoy this amazing craft and make something that makes them happy and satisfied,” Keatts says. “In my scarf classes, I always tell them they will go home with something beautiful, and so far that has happened to the 20+ students I have had.”

Penguins, Penguins, and More Felt Wool Penguins

Always up for a personal challenge, Keatts used a trip to Antarctica as the springboard for her penguin project, in which she created 10 felted penguins, representing double the number of species she had observed on her trip. One penguin found its home in the office of a University of Washington professor involved in researching Magellanic Penguins of southern Chile.

wool felt artist linnea keatts and felted penguin

Wool felt artist Linnea Keatts with one of her felted penguins

“The professor can enjoy him without worrying about  being attacked by his very sharp beak!”

Locally, Keatts is a member of ArtWalla of Walla Walla and Arts Portal of Milton-Freewater, and on a more global note, the International Feltmakers Association in London, England. She recently participated in Art Squared at Cavu Cellars.

“My goal as a felt artist is to make beautiful things that are pleasing and also practical,” Keatts says. “And my goal as a teacher is to encourage others to try this unique activity by exploring and expanding their creativity.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Linnea Keatts is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 9 through Saturday, November 11, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Richland watercolor painter Maja Shaw.

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.

 

 

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Flowers — Bold, Bright Beautiful Watercolors by Maja Shaw

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Bold, bright yellow sunflowers against a blue background in Maja Shaw’s watercolor, Sunflowers II

People who are not early risers get tired of this catching the worm thing, which, frankly, is literally for the birds. As watercolor painter Maja Shaw knows, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and still get the perfect photo reference for her next painting.

shasta daisy flowers colorful impressionist watercolor painting Maja Shaw

Shasta Daisies, a close-up view of bold, impressionist watercolor flowers set against an abstract background, by Maja Shaw

“Conventional wisdom says photographs are better made in early morning, or late  evening,” the Richland, WA, artist says. “But I’m not a morning person, so my reference photos are made in the middle of the day, which is bad for people  shots, but great for flowers.”

Shaw, whose first name is pronounced Maya, as in the ancient Central American people, focuses on florals with bold, sculptural shapes and exuberant color. Inspired by a childhood spent with art-collector parents, Shaw explores ways of rendering images using negative space, as opposed to intricate detail, to define a form. The resultant paintings blend the best of both worlds: representational and abstract.

Flowers, Landscapes, and Brushwork

“Highlights and contrast are characteristic of many of my paintings,” Shaw says. “Two of my favorite painters are Andrew Wyeth and John Singer Sargent.

“If you look at their paintings, especially watercolors, their subjects are defined as much by what is not painted, as what is. I take some of my inspiration from them by trying to define forms with a few strokes which convey enough visual clues so that the viewer’s eye can fill in the rest.”

Palouse Harvest watercolor impressionist abstract painting Maja Shaw

Palouse Harvest II, an impressionist landscape painting in watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Shaw, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, credits one of her art professors with providing a working definition of the category in which her artwork fits — organizational, as opposed to decorative or expressive.

“It’s a style that is concerned with shape, color, and composition and is not so concerned with making a philosophical statement, or, as my professor said, ‘What is the state of man in the world,'” Shaw explains.

People React to Color

“I don’t make social commentary with my art, and I’m not trying to make the viewer figure out any obscure meaning.

“I find people react emotionally to color and to subject matter: if my paintings are  appealing to a viewer in either of these, then that is fine with me.”

lily family flower watercolor impressionist painting Maja Shaw

Lily Family, white flowers against a deep blue background, impressionist watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw

In the spirit of being inspired by the masters, both old and new, Shaw also experiments with collage, in which she takes watercolor paintings with which she is not 100 percent satisfied, cuts them into shapes, and “repurposes” them into a new art form.

“I have taken inspiration for these from Henri Matisse and Eric Carle,” Shaw says, explaining that when 20th century French artist Matisse could no longer paint because of failing eyesight, he cut out shapes and had assistants paste them on large pieces of paper at his direction.

“They were mostly semi-abstract shapes, many with lots of white space around them, although many were reminiscent of plant shapes or body shapes.”

Regional and National Shows

One of Shaw’s early cut paper piece won third place in the Waterworks Art Center Show in Miles City, MT, for an exhibit with a paper theme.

Golden River southeast washington landscape watercolor maja shaw

Golden River, an impressionist interpretation of the Southeast Washington landscape, by watercolor painter Maja Shaw

“Mine are different from most collage work because I put them together to actually form a recognizable subject, rather than the mishmash of most collage artists.”

Over the last several years, Shaw has juried into major regional and national shows, and recently garnered First Place at the 311 Gallery Flowers and Garden Show in Raleigh, NC, where she won Honorable Mention last year. She has collected First, Second, and Third Place winnings at shows in Michigan, Colorado, Montana, and Washington, and has been the featured artist at the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR and the Cheryl Sallee Gallery in Auburn, WA.

Showcasing Eastern Washington

A member of CyberArt509, an artist’s cooperative encompassing artists in the 509 phone area code, and the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, Shaw shows her work throughout the Tri-Cities. In addition to painting flowers, which she describes as being good subjects because they don’t move around, except in the wind, and are as close as her backyard, Shaw also creates landscapes in the same spontaneous, colorful style.

“I strive to create recognizable images without being photographic,” Shaw says.

“While some compositions lend themselves to metaphors, mostly I want the viewer to enjoy the beauty of color and shapes based on the world around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Maja Shaw is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 25 through Saturday, October 21, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts.

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

 

 

side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Weaving Wisdom: The Basket Art of Lauralee Northcott

basket weaving native american blue beads northcott

A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket featuring blue beads and color weaving, by Lauralee Northcott

 

It’s funny that, when we want to describe an easy course at a university, we roll our eyes and say, “It’s, um . . . like Basket Weaving 101, you know?”  — because basket weaving, an art that dates back more than 9,000 years, isn’t easy at all.

“I gather my needles for baskets from Ponderosa Pine trees mostly here in the Methow Valley,” explains basket artist Lauralee Northcott of Winthrop. “After removing the connective end and washing the needles, I put them in a bath of water and glycerin and boil them for about three hours.

Cherish ponderosa pine needle hand woven basket northcott

Cherish — Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Winthrop weaver Lauralee Northcott

“They’re cooled, rinsed, and left to dry for a month. Now they are ready to weave.”

With weaving comes the eye for detail, an incorporation of color and beadwork, and the swift, deft hand movements that, after a while, leave one’s fingers feeling stiff.

“All basket making requires patience and perfection,” Northcott says. “While weaving is relaxing, it is also physically demanding, and requires a lot of time.  But the payoff of making a beautiful item to go out into the world is very satisfying.”

Basket Weaving and Country Music

Northcott’s fascination with and ability to create baskets joins with a plethora of other life skills, including a career (now retired) as a public school teacher, 30 years as a wilderness horseback trail guide and pack cook, motivational speaker, and professional singer/musician whose group, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, was the 2015 Western Music Association’s Group of the Year. That same year, their album, “All I Need,” soared to the #2 spot of the U.S. Western Music Category.

woven ponderosa pine needle native american basket northcott red beads

A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket with red bead embellishment, by Lauralee Northcott

“Our shows feature great music, cowboy poetry, and lots of humor,” Northcott says, adding that they often travel with poet/comedian Dave McClure. One day, the group was rehearsing a skit involving the pretend product, Buck’s Crack Cream — “It was set to the tune of the George Jones song, ‘He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today,” Northcott remembers. “Dave had changed the lyrics to, ‘He stopped rubbing there today; Buck’s Crack Cream took the itch away.'”

In the midst of practicing, Northcott glanced over at McClure’s mother, Jeri,  who was sitting on the hotel bed with a low cardboard box in her lap.

“Inside the box were pine needles. Her fingers were moving swiftly as she wove the needles into a coil — I was drawn to her  immediately. The color variety of the needles, and the way they looked as they formed a circle was absolutely rich and vibrant.

deep woven basket beads and shells native american northcott

A deep woven pine needle basket, embellished by beads and shells, by Lauralee Northcott

“I was instantly smitten, and knew I wanted to make a pine needle basket.”

Persistence and Patience

She hasn’t stopped since, but then again, Lauralee Northcott is rarely still. Two years ago, she traveled to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City to see the work of basket maker Dat So La Lee, a member of the Washoe tribe who lived from 1829 to 1925. Dat So La Lee’s work, which Northcott describes as flawless, required a particularly gifted mathematical mind in order to produce the patterns for which she is famous.

“I read that one of her baskets recently sold at an auction for more than one million dollars,” Northcott says. Northcott had tried once before to see the famous basket maker’s work, but was turned away because of museum renovations. The second time around, her luck wasn’t much better when the desk man in uniform brushed her aside with the news that the work was still unavailable for viewing.

“I felt dismissed. I stood for a moment to gather myself and then in a polite voice asked to speak to the curator. He picked up the phone, making no eye contact, and made a call. ‘He’ll be right out,’ was all I heard as the man turned away.”

side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Side view of a blue beaded, hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Lauralee Northcott

Persistence paid off, and for the next hour Northcott enjoyed a personal tour conducted by a man who loved and appreciated the work of a master. Northcott found herself crying tears of awe as she watched, listened, viewed, and, in her words, “literally heard voices coming from the basket makers in that room. I could feel emotions being emitted by the baskets, and sensed warmth from their creators.”

Small World, Big Connections

In one of those small world moments, when Northcott mentioned she was from Winthrop, WA, a town of 300 people, the curator started and said, “My brother lives in Winthrop!”

Northcott makes friends wherever she goes.

“The most lasting takeway from the Carson City Museum experience was the deeply spiritual realization that we are truly all connected through time,” she reflects.

“Weaving gives the same gift to me as it did to Dat So La Lee and all weavers: your breathing slows down and your mind relaxes as the work takes you along.

“Really, I think peace is a gift from all craftsmanship. The force of creativity works through us in many ways, and it is our task to get out of the way.”

Wenaha Gallery

Lauralee Northcott will be at Wenaha Gallery in person Saturday, September 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.  to talk about and demonstrate basket making; free refreshments by Savonnah, the gallery’s framer who is also a professional chef, are also featured. Northcott will return to the gallery Saturday, October 7, as a featured speaker at Wenaha Gallery’s ArtWalk. Northcott’s Art Event, featuring a collection of her baskets, starts Monday, September 11 and runs through Saturday, October 7, 2017. 

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

rabbit garden pottery ceramic tile wilburton

Pottering in the Garden — Hand-carved Tiles by Wilburton Pottery

garden tiles nature theme wilburton pottery

A compendium of 4-inch, nature-inspires, hand-carved art garden tiles by Wilburton Pottery

It’s difficult to see how 14th century Chinese history and the 21st century design of printed circuit boards relate to a successful business of creating hand-carved garden tiles. Difficult, however,  is not impossible.

frog dragonfly grapes garden wilburton pottery

A frog and dragonfly in the garden — hand-carved pottery tile by Wilburton Pottery

For Bob Jewett, the potter and painter half of Wilburton Pottery of Bellevue, WA, it’s all part of a rich life history, one that started out with two masters degrees and the pursuit of a PhD.

“Bob stayed in college until he was 35,” says Iris Jewett, the other half of the marriage and the business (she’s the glazer). “He was getting his PhD when he was advised there was no hope in getting a teaching position.

“This was in the 1970s  and there was little interest in Chinese history, especially the Ming dynasty.”

From the Ming Dynasty to Circuit Boards

So Bob did a 360 and started designing those printed circuit boards, originally working for large corporations in Los Angeles until moving to Seattle where the couple started their own business there. And while business was successful, something was missing, and Iris suspected what it could be.

“I suggested to Bob that he needed an artistic outlet, and he started taking ceramic classes at Bellevue Community College.” Iris remembers. “An inability to throw pots led him to hand build garden pots.”

So build garden pots, Bob did. Because the couple is avid about gardening (“fanatical, actually,” Iris says), Bob developed a method to make pottery that could be left  outside all year round, something that was not common at the time. He also focused on carving intricate designs in the pottery. In 1993, when the couple participated in the Bellevue Arts Fair with their wares, Wilburton Pottery officially launched.

And from Circuit Boards to Pottery Garden Tiles

Since that time, they have added hand-carved, hand-painted garden tiles which enthusiastic buyers use as art by the front door, in the garden, around the fireplace, in the kitchen, bathroom and all over the house. Designing circuit boards is long gone, replaced by a garden-themed pottery business that sells via Wilburton Pottery’s website, galleries, gift shops, and art fairs throughout the country.

wilburton pottery outdoor garden flowers

Pottery in the outdoor garden, by Wilburton Pottery

“We used to do 22 art fairs and garden shows a year,” Iris says. “I think we have stayed in over 600 hotel rooms during that time, and we became very efficient packers. Once we did the Salem Art Fair and realized we forgot our suitcases — that never happened again!

“Through the fairs, our tiles were sent by customers to family and friends around the world — a Japanese monastery, Finland, Australia, England, Holland, China, and more.”

So China does come back into the picture.

Serious about Pottery,  and Gardens

But the art festivals, with the incredible amount of time and traveling involved, slowed down to two per year as the couple focuses more on website sales and custom design orders. One steady venue for sales is the garden shop at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, 53 acres of flora cultivation which receives more than 300,000 visitors per year. Bob and Iris started the organization in 1984, when they put up posters all over town inviting residents to attend the first meeting.

rabbit garden pottery ceramic tile wilburton

Rabbit in the Garden, one of Wilburton Pottery’s most popular designs

“Yes, just the two of us,” Iris confirms when asked if she and Bob were the original impetus for the Gardens’ existence. They now volunteer for various events, focusing especially on the Gingerbread display for the Garden D’Lights in December, and helping children make graham cracker houses.

“Mostly we quietly walk through the gardens and are overjoyed to see so many people there,” Iris says. “The Garden is located just a few blocks from our home.”

More Than 500 Garden Pottery Tile Designs

Back at that home, Bob and Iris work out of their various studios, Iris in “a lovely room with a skylight,” and Bob in “an unfinished garage that he was always going to improve, but never did.” Bob creates his intricate hand carvings — more than 500 designs and growing — in his den or outside among the plants, and images range from bunnies a la Beatrix Potter to blacksmiths working in a forge surrounded by vines. There are frogs, mermaids, beech wood forests, angels, grapevines, the Buddha and crickets — something for everyone, and every environment. Like plants in the garden, the ideas never stop growing.

“We purposefully make the tiles look old with cracks and an uneven border,” Iris says. “To quote our customers, they think the tiles add a peacefulness to life, and they enjoy the antique look.”

It’s a unique combination of something old — like the Ming Dynasty of China — and something new — 21st century technology — perfectly blended into an element timeless to human existence: the garden.

“We let the pottery speak for us,” Iris says.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Bob and Iris Jewett of Wilburton Pottery are the featured Pacific Northwest artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 28 through Saturday, September 23, 2017. 

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

ceramic terra cotta pottery platter with cow mary briggs

Ceramic Terra Cotta — Functional Beauty by Mary Briggs

ceramic terra cotta pottery platter with cow mary briggs

Ceramic terra cotta platter, with painting of cow by Mary Briggs

Mary Briggs is a woman who rarely sits. So much is her desire to keep active that she changed specialties in college because her first choice, graphic design, was too sedentary.

“I was the kid whose foot was always wiggling,” Briggs says, explaining why she became a studio potter after earning her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the University of Iowa.

ceramic terra cotta pottery vase mary briggs

Ceramic terra cotta pottery vase with romantic landscape painting by Mary Briggs

“The wedging of clay or manipulation of clay is a physical activity that might be likened to a baker or chef — moving around the kitchen and using your arms and creating a physical end product.”

Ceramic Terra Cotta Inspired by Folk Pottery

For the Eugene artist, the completed physical end product is terra cotta functional ceramicware — platters, plates, vases, candlestick holders, mugs — inspired by historical folk pottery as well as the works of 19th century Old Masters painters. Briggs began incorporating imagery on her work 15 years ago when she observed how brush marks and drip lines formed impressions of landscapes. It was a short, but significant, step to drawing period images on her work, adding to its sensation of timelessness and meaning.

She focused upon the 19th century landscape for its calming, romantic element, likening the feeling to that inspired by a country drive.

“I find rural life and nature to be calming and beautiful. By using that imagery on my work, I hope it brings a sense of calmness to those who encounter it.

“I also hope to create an awareness of how important nature is to all of us personally and globally.”

Nature: In the Garden and the Ceramic Studio

Nature, for Briggs, is an element that factors throughout her day and week, whether she is in the studio, creating a body of work that, from start to finish, can take up to three months,  or out in the gardens of area residents, who commission her skills in this area.

earthenware ceramic terra cotta painted mug mary briggs

An earthenware, terra cotta ceramic mug by Mary Briggs

“I work as a gardener for a week and then in my studio for a week,” Briggs explains, adding that she began gardening as a side job in graduate school, finding it a natural counterbalance to the intensity of studio work.

“It’s interesting to note that most potters are fabulous cooks and gardeners,” she observes. “It was not my experience that graphic designers were much interested in either of those. It was that sense of community that also attracted me to the field of ceramics.”

Briggs’s studio is based in the garage of her home, and has been renovated with added windows and insulation, additional electricity for her kiln, and ventilation. Because there is limited space for storing inventory, Briggs keeps her work moving, and a major means of doing this is through the Schaller Gallery of St. Joseph, Michigan, which represents some of the finest functional ceramic artists of the world. Most recently, gallery owner Anthony Schaller told Briggs to add Rebecca Sive — who may or may not be the Huffington Post writer who penned Every Day Is Election Day; Briggs isn’t sure  —  to her list of collectors.

ceramic painted landscape pottery platter mary briggs

A ceramic, painted landscape platter with gilded edging, by Mary Briggs

Dedicated to the Ceramic Art

Briggs has shown her pottery in group and solo exhibitions in galleries and universities in Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Montana , Wyoming, Indiana, and Oregon. Her work is in the permanent collection at Bermuda National Gallery, Contemporary Ceramics, and she has been published in Ceramics: Art & Perception, an international journal dedicated to ceramic art. Her art  also appears in the book, 500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility & Grace by Suzanne J. E. Tourtillott.

Ironically, though Briggs chose to leave graphic design for ceramics, its influence does not go unnoticed in her art.

“I think all my art classes in college have helped with my decoration process,” Briggs says. “From color theory to composition to art history: all those things are in my tool box.” Each piece is individually decorated, in accordance with its shape, size, and form, with the result that every ceramic Briggs creates is uniquely, singularly distinct.

Choosing Terra Cotta

ceramic earthenware terra cotta pottery vases mary briggs

Ceramic earthenware vases by pottery artist Mary Briggs

The very choice of terra cotta — known as poor man’s clay because it is not as dense and white as porcelain — is deliberate, with Briggs being drawn to its rustic quality and unexpected, but welcome, irregularities. It’s of the earth, after all, just like gardening.

In the end, Briggs says, that’s what it’s all about: the earth, and beautiful places, and exquisitely shaped ceramics that capture that beauty and encourage those who see the work.

“My work is not about politics or social commentary.

“It is simply meant to serve as a window into a peaceful place.”

Wenaha Gallery

Mary Briggs is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 14 through Saturday, September 9, 2017. 

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

1950s home in formica ad

How to Avoid the Outdated, Trendy Home

1950s home in formica ad trendy fashion of 1950s

A 1950s home represented in a period formica ad. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

Recently, I ran across an Internet article on how to update your outmoded, thoroughly unfashionable early 2000s kitchen. It seems that the trends of that era — which my mathematical skills date a mere 12-17 years ago, about the age of the average teenager — are embarrassingly passé. It’s time to take what was once heralded as fashionable and modern — but is no longer fashionable and modern — and update it into what is now . . . fashionable and modern.

Such is the nature of trends, and the one thing you can say about them is that they never end.

pride and prejudice interior living room bingley's house

A cozy interior from Pride and Prejudice Days, from the 2005 movie. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor. The Greek pillars add that finishing, aha! touch.

Remember gleaming, stainless steel industrial kitchens, the Must Have of the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Out.

Mason jars as a decorative element, everywhere, anywhere, here and there, and all over?

Out.

How about ugly, retro lamps that look like what secondhand stores offer for $5 but decor gurus sell as part of their designer collection for $80?

Back in the secondhand stores.

Oh, and let’s not forget, let’s never forget, the ubiquitous paneling from the 1970s.

The kitchen from the Brady Bunch. Some of us, who spent too much time watching TV, spent a lot of time here. Fashionable, trendy, and modern

Way out, but not as in groovy.

HOWEVER, shiplap, which kind of looks like horizontal paneling to people who remember watching original episodes of The Brady Bunch, is in. For now.

Fashionable, Trendy & Modern

For now. Those two words encapsulate the nature of trends, modes, crazes, styles, rages, and vogues — the last word, ironically, of fashion, and those who follow the words of the gurus, whether they’re on HGTV or Houzz, or writing a column in a decor-themed magazine, will wind up, 12-17 years from now, with not just a kitchen, but an entire home that needs to be modernized and brought up to date.

Victorian home interior 1885 trendy fashion

A home interior from the Victorian age, 1885 photo. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

(“Just add a pop of color with an accent pillow, within your highly neutral grey-, beige-, or white-themed interior. Oh, and get rid of the granite countertops and replace them with concrete. And knock out that wall. Chic. Trendy. Modern.” The Victorians of the mid and late 19th century called their homes Modern. If we wait long enough, Victorian Modern will be back in style.)

Now there’s nothing wrong with changing and updating, and a coat of paint on the walls renovates a room, but the crucial factor in decorating any home is not what is — for the next nine months –“in,” but what the people living in the home like. Generally, this last element is accorded the least importance by reality design/decor TV experts because, quite frankly, what people like doesn’t sell products. What people are convinced that they like does sell — season by season, trend by trend, new look by new look.

Trendy: Classifying Home Decor — and People — by Type

Are you traditional or contemporary? Industrial or country? Coastal or Southwest? Romantic or Mancave?

Cave drawings of lascaux france trendy for their time

Authentic decor from the original mancave — cave drawings of Lascaux, France. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

True to our nature of classifying everything, including people (Choleric or melancholic? Lion or lapdog? Fire or water? Extrovert or introvert?), the corporate decor world prods and nudges home residents into precise, definitive decorating categories. In order to fit those categories and get that day’s chic, modern, themed look, the homeowner needs to buy this, replace that, paint over this (faux paint, textured walls, accent wall, splatter paint, smooth finish, photo mural, shiplap) and refurbish the furniture to match the new rug which coordinates with the artwork.

It never ends, because by the time the home is totally coordinated to expert specifications, it’s out of date.

Home Decor That Isn’t Trendy, but Reflects Your Fashion

So what is the homeowner to do?

In solving any problem, commonsense reigns supreme, and indeed, if commonsense were the prevailing, enduring fashion trend, reality TV, and its many satellites in the print and Internet world, would not exist.

Let’s number a few thoughts, albeit simple ones, but enough to hold in the back of our mind before we determine that our home is hopeless:

  1. Figure out what you like, and incorporate it into your home. In other words, buy what you like.  Even if you consider yourself an idiot when it comes to design, you have personal likes and dislikes that matter.
  2. Tune out the voices, and determine that the central voice you’re hearing is yours, in tandem with that of the other people who live in the house.
  3. If you must classify your style, make it Eclectic.
  4. Gravitate toward what makes you happy.
  5. If it requires a huge renovation and major cost, run through items 1, 2, 3, and 4 — over and over again.
  6. Never forget that this is your home, and you and your family live in it. Decorate for you, and not the guests you imagine will be critiquing your tastes. (Why are you inviting people like this into your life anyway?)
  7. If you hire an interior decorator, find one you like and who listens to you.

Commonsense doesn’t sell trendy products, and it doesn’t drive ratings — but it may make you happier with your home.

Wenaha Gallery

Wenaha Gallery features distinctive artwork and home decor, ranging from original paintings and sculpture by Pacific Northwest artists, to fine art prints from The Greenwich Workshop. The gallery also custom frames artwork, certificates, photos, treasures, and other mementos that add that unique touch to our clients’ homes.

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.

An article complementing this one is 5 Super Easy Tips for Choosing the Right Artwork for Your Home.

 

colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Colombia Churches and Cows — The Charcoal Drawings of Jordan Henderson

colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Church Near the Hills, charcoal drawing of Colombia by Jordan Henderson

 

The best time to hear of your adult children’s adventures — the really exciting ones that make good stories — is after they are home and —  your parent’s heart says — safe. When my son Jordan Henderson announced to his dad, Steve, and me that he wanted to visit Colombia, where we had bicycled through 30 years before, we tried to be laudably cool, calm, and chill.

Colombia cows walking country road charcoal drawing

Cows in the llanos of Colombia are fascinating drawing fodder, artist Jordan Henderson says

After all, when we put our own parents through this, there were no cell phones or social media, so any worries they had weren’t allayed for weeks. Steve and I experienced relief — or anxiety, depending upon the story — instantly.

“Learning a second language and traveling abroad is something I always wanted to do,” Jordan says, mirroring our own reasons for traveling. That’s great, we nodded. Immersion is the best method. For Jordan, whose Spanish at that time would generously be called embryonic, this meant flying to Medellín, a city of 2.4 million that in our younger days was known as the drug cartel capital of the world.

“It’s improved,” he reassured us beforehand. At least he would be staying with our friends of 30 years before, Héli and Ana, who Facebook messaged us on Jordan’s arrival, “We opened the door, and thought we were seeing Steve.”

Learning Language and Doing Art in Colombia

On the month-long trip to Colombia in 2015 and a second, three-month journey in 2016-17, Jordan immersed himself in both the Spanish language and the culture. An artist like his father, he set up his easel in public parks (when he was in cities) and along pathways (in the country), attracting genial attention from passersby who felt free to comment upon his art and growing language skills.

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The Iguana in the city park, artfully posing for Jordan Henderson during his trip to Colombia

“In Pamplona, a town of 60,000 with beautiful churches and cathedrals throughout, people seemed genuinely pleased to see that I admired and was drawing the church that they themselves attended,” Jordan says.

“One time, a nun in full, traditional habit came running down the steps from the church I was drawing to see what I was doing — she had a very energetic personality. I simply did not expect someone in such a somber dress to come running across the street like that. The next day, when I returned to finish the drawing, she brought a group of other nuns. They liked my rendition of their church.”

Traveling by Bus through Colombia

For a month, Jordan spent three hours a day intensely studying Spanish with Juan Carlos, who 30 years ago was a slender young man just out of high school, and now, mysteriously like Steve and me, was in his 50s. One on one teaching from Juan Carlos’s universal language institute catapulted Jordan’s Spanish to new competency, and we didn’t worry (as much) when he announced plans to travel by bus through the country, staying with new friends along the way.

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A view of the llanos, or lowland grasslands, of Colombia. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“I visited Tauramena, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Yopal, Riohacha, Barranquilla, and Cartagena,” Jordan says, listing out cities and towns of Colombia that range from metropolitan centers to small hamlets in the llanos, flat grasslands that are the equivalent of America’s Wild West.

“The people I stayed with are what made this such a fantastic trip — they generously showed me around the towns where they lived, and I ate meals with my hosts, allowing me a lot of conversation with some great people.”

Loving the Lowing of Colombia Cows

In the llanos, Jordan encountered distinctive cattle of Colombia that are a mixture of European and Indian breeds. He was enthralled, snapping reference photos and doing plein air studies in the field.

“Cows are a fantastic drawing subject,” he enthuses. “Sometimes they regard you with great suspicion; other times they barely manage to give you an uninterested gaze before they return to their grazing, as if you are the most boring thing in the world.

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Humilladero Church in Pamplona, Colombia, one of the principal architectural designs of the city. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“Once I had a cow walk alongside me as far as her fence allowed, all the while looking straight at me as if I were a very curious sight.”

In the botanical gardens of Medellín, he met a different sort of animal, an iguana.

“It was sitting in the middle of the path and politely posed for me while I took some photos, before deciding it had had enough, when it calmly walked away.”

Attracting Attention

As in Pamplona while drawing churches, Jordan attracted attention wherever he went, the lanky, long-haired foreigner who looked like he could be Dutch or American, and always carried a sketchbook. Visiting a village school near Cúcuta, on the border of Venezuela and Colombia, Jordan found himself invited by his host’s father to a small radio station, where he was interviewed as “the visiting foreigner.” In Medellín, he was “the jogging foreigner,” and regulars at the city parks, some of whom a mother would classify as less than savory, assessed his accent and affably corrected grammar.

“I am drawn by the opportunity to be completely surrounded by another language, culture, and way of thinking that is different from what I am used to,” Jordan says, explaining that future plans include further travel, as well as concerted drawing, painting, and artistic pursuits.

“I am fortunate to have a highly skilled, talented artist as my father, and I will make the most of the opportunity to learn from him.

“Ultimately, my long-range goal is to work as a full-time artist so that I can dedicate the lion’s share of my time to something of such great interest to me.”

He’s his father’s son all right.

Wenaha Gallery

Jordan Henderson is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 3 through Saturday, July 29, 2017. There will be a special Art Show Saturday, July 15, over Alumni Weekend. Meet and greet Jordan, see his art, and ask about his adventures from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery. Free refreshments provided.

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

 

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

The Dentist Artist — Sculpture by Shelia Coe

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

Sculpted woman with fabric skirt by former dentist, now artist, Shelia Coe

Childhood Christmas gifts create lasting memories. Often, they even shape our future. And so it was for ceramic artist Shelia Coe . . . sort of. It just took a little longer than her mother, whose biggest desire was that her daughter grow up to be an artist, envisioned.

“My mother was a frustrated artist,” Coe remembers. “With six children, she didn’t have much time to pursue art, but she tried to channel me into becoming an artist. To that end, she bought me art supplies for every holiday, and dragged me along on her trips to paint barns and still lifes.”

cow sculpture by dentist artist shelia coe walla walla

Cow sculpture by dentist artist Shelia Coe of Walla Walla

Like so many things we plan for and try to direct, however, the future turned out differently, and instead of using her hands to wield a paintbrush or palette knife, Coe picked up the tools of dentistry, practicing the profession for more than 34 years.

“My mother was disappointed when I was accepted into dental school,” Coe says. “She said something like, ‘If you have to do something in the health field, couldn’t you at least be a medical illustrator?’

“I’ve gotta laugh at how it’s all turned out, and if she’s looking down, she’s probably happy to be getting her wish for me.”

Looking for a Creative Outlet

The latter part of those 34 years in dentistry, Coe spent in Walla Walla at a private practice, finishing out the final six of her career at Yellowhawk Clinic in Pendleton for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. Upon retirement, she found her hands and mind seeking a creative outlet, and when the women in her spinning class at the YMCA suggested taking a sculpture class by Walla Walla artist Penny Michel, Coe decided to give it a try.

fish sculpture shelia coe dentist artist walla walla

Fish sculpture by Shelia Coe of Walla Walla. Coe worked as a dentist for 34 years before turning fulltime to art

“After the first class, I was hooked.

“For a week I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the things I wanted to try to make.”

Fortunately, her sleep patterns have returned to normal, with the added bonus of Coe continuing to explore a variety of subject matter, from people to animals to design work. The possibilities are endless, because Nature herself never runs out of providing ideas.

“I love nature, and as a child was always drawing horses and animals of all kinds along with plants — for awhile I wanted to be a botanist.

“So all kinds of things in nature inspire me, and oftentimes it can be a drawing or a photo, or the animal itself.

“I have made llamas, deer, horses, cows, fish, and sheep on a hill. I recently finished a horse that is 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide — the largest piece I have ever made.”

An Unusual Studio

Coe’s studio is split between Michel’s studio for classes and firing, and Coe’s home utility room and kitchen. And while the kitchen and laundry rooms are not generally associated with the wild, exuberant, abounding world of nature, they are good places to capture it. Kitchen implements, basic tools, and simple elements of nature — like pine cones, for texturizing — create mesmerizing effects when wielded in the right hands, and what hands are more accustomed to fine, precision work than that of a dentist?

horse sculpture shelia coe wenaha gallery

Horse sculpture by Shelia Coe, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“Sculpture, like dentistry, demands the use of the hands — but with loads more creative freedom (of course),” Coe observes.

Creative freedom or not, clay has its own rules, and part of learning to work with it is respecting its properties, taking the scientific approach to art, so to speak. Observation, theorization, deduction, experimentation, and the willingness to learn from failure all come into play, and Coe willingly gives time to each.

“My favorite part of creating sculpture is figuring out the structural and engineering aspect of each piece,” Coe explains. “It is not always easy to get the clay to do what you want it to.

“Glazing is also a challenge because they never look the same once they are fired. In fact, even the same glaze will look different depending upon its thickness and its position in the kiln. Glazes are very finicky.”

World Traveler

A member of ArtWalla, Coe takes advantage of classes, both in the area and out, to finesse and further her skills. An avid traveler, she also maintains a collection of her own, picking up pieces by local artists from areas such as Palau, Yap, Tibet and Tunisia as well as more mainstream destinations.

In the end, everything works together when it comes to art, life, and dreams. It may have taken awhile to get to the art part, but all the time Coe spent as a dentist shaped her hands to a fine and acute sensitivity, and sensibility.

Her mother would be pleased.

Wenaha Gallery

Shelia Coe is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 19 through Saturday, July 15, 2017. 

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

 

 

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

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

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

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

She bicycled from Portland, OR to Portland, ME.

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

Hiked the high Sierras.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fly fishing clark fork watercolor dream painting Barbara Janusz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery

Barbara Janusz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 5 through Saturday, July 1, 2017. 

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