spring snow winter memories tulips flowers valerie stephenson photography

Memories of Life: Photography by Valerie Stephenson

harvest memories sunset wheat farmland valerie stepheson photography

Memories of summer transition into fall in Before the Harvest, a photographic capture of life by Valerie Stephenson

We live life day by day, as opposed to a year at a time. Because of this, we assume that the everyday things we did yesterday we’ll do today, and then tomorrow. We won’t forget.

But that’s not the way it is. A year later, two years later, ten, we’re no longer doing the everyday things that we thought would never end. Too often, the only remembrance we have of them is our memory.

Photographer Valerie Stephenson wants to provide something more tangible than memories. Driven by the idea of catching life in its moments, the Burbank artist, who lives just above Sacajawea State Park over the Snake River, works with individual clients to capture vignettes of their day, in effect creating a visual journal of a slice of their lives.

spring snow winter memories tulips flowers valerie stephenson photography

The last memories of winter dance across the tulips of spring in Spring Snow, photography by Valerie Stephenson.

“These types of photos are cherished many years down the road, especially the everyday memories,” Stephenson says. “Because these moments are so everyday, so expected, we don’t realize that we don’t have a photo of them — like reading a book with our child, or the decorations in grandma’s house, a childhood spot by the lake, or the neighbor lady we grew up next to and talked with.

“Often we don’t have those memories captured before the seasons permanently change. I aim to provide a customizable photography experience, one built around a person’s unique story and capturing memories that will be important many years down the road.

“And then when we see these photos, they bring an array of feelings — like thankfulness, joy, wonder — at being able to relive those moments.”

Moments and Memories to Hang Onto

As an example, she described a photo shoot she did with a nephew and his uncle on the family ranch. Before this session, there were no photos of the uncle doing what he had done his whole life on the ranch, and there were no photos of the nephew who spent his childhood summers there working with his uncle. Though she couldn’t go back to the nephew’s childhood, she could capture the essence, the moment, the memories of what the two did every day.

peacock feather green glowing bird valerie stephenson photography

The luminous glow of a peacock’s feather adds a sense of mystique to beauty in Feather Glow by Valerie Stephenson

“The photographs enable us to relive, rewrite, and preserve some of the things we hold dearest in life,” Stephenson says.

When she isn’t doing commissioned photo shoots of people’s lives and memories, Stephenson is outside with her camera, capturing Nature, and her day to day moments. An outdoor enthusiast, Stephenson is a lifelong forager of wild edibles and medicinals, as well as a participant in numerous sports — backpacking, canoeing, road biking, skiing, snowboarding. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation, she has a long and varied career of leading and teaching others in these areas.

“I have always found my peace outside, and I enjoy doing most things outdoors,” she says.

“I enjoy most things that go back to a simpler, hands on, more family oriented way of life. That is what I am aiming to capture in my photography — relationships, the emotion of the moment, the wrinkles, the honesty.”

Words to Accompany Photography

power sea memories splash surf rocks ocean valerie stephenson

The Power of the Sea lies not only in the majesty of the ocean, but in its tug upon the memories of those who once visited or lived there.

One of her dreams is to write devotionals that are enhanced with her photography. In them, she wants to include science along with scripture because God, she believes, is the author of both.

“I have been doing lay counseling since I was very young. It involves listening to others, being there as they go through what they’re going through, sharing what I have learned in life. The devotionals are a way of combining visuals with words to create a statement of hope and encouragement.”

Good, bad, funny, sad, light, dark, colorful, grayscale — life is all of these, Stephenson believes, and like a path in the forest, it unfolds before us as we walk, each day, on our journey. There’s so much to it that it’s hard to maintain perspective, keep it fresh in our mind before another experience, another place, another element comes to the forefront. Photography enables us to stop each moment and make a tangible, visible image we can hold onto, hang on our wall, reflect upon before we take the next step.

“Printed photos in my hands bring me back to the moment, the memories, and the feeling,” Stephenson says.

“That’s where I want my photos to take people — to a place they want to be.”

Wenaha GalleryValerie Stephenson is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 23 through September 19, 2022.

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.

 

 

mushroom pickers women polymer clay imagination nancy gresham character dolls

Imagination Play — Artwork by Nancy Gresham

mushroom pickers women polymer clay imagination nancy gresham character dolls

Two friends picking mushrooms invoke a smile from the viewer. Character dolls require a keen eye, skillful hand, and a dose of imagination. Mushroom Pickers, polymer clay sculpture by Nancy Gresham

In the art world, what you paint on is called the substrate. Many times, this is canvas or panel, although parents of toddlers know that walls are also options. The major limitation, really, is that paint adhere to the surface, so one’s imagination is free to go wild.

And that’s what artist Nancy Gresham let her imagination do — go wild. While the White Bird, ID, painter uses traditional canvas, panel, or paper when she works in acrylics, watercolor, and colored pencils, she also accesses more untraditional fare: river rocks.

“I love painting on smooth river rocks,” Gresham says. “For some unknown reason, I actually prefer painting on rocks to canvas.”

heart hummingbird painted rock nancy gresham

With a dose of imagination and skill with the paintbrush, Nancy Gresham transforms a rock into a painted masterpiece. Heart Hummingbird rock painting by Nancy Gresham.

Now when Gresham says she paints on rocks, she means it: she creates intricate and detailed images of flowers, birds, butterflies, undersea gardens, and even commissioned pet portraits on rocks of all sizes, from those you can hold in your hand to her largest so far, a 50-pound rock with three dogs, surrounded by Asian lilies. Some rock art works are freestanding, others lie flat, and still others Gresham trims around the edges to make them stand upright. Finding them is the first step, then scrubbing them clean, letting them dry, and priming them before getting out the indoor/outdoor patio paint. A non-yellowing protective varnish is the final touch.

Using up Her “Stash”

“I started painting on rocks 10 years ago when a client made a special request. I found it addictive and so easy to take on trips for evening projects.”

Gresham, who readily admits that she is “an art supply hoarder,” is always looking for new and unique ways to use her stash, and that’s where that go-wild imagination comes in handy. About the same time she discovered rocks as substrates, she stumbled upon a block of polymer clay in her studio. It had been there a long time, and she decided she either needed to use it up or give it away.

pelican bird swimming rock painting nancy gresham

A pelican swims through its circular rock substrate space in Nancy Gresham’s rock painting.

“At the time, the Salmon River Art Guild, to which I belong, was getting ready for its Fall Regional Show, and we were considering removing the sculpture category due to a lack of sculptures. I brought up playing with clay to one of my art friends, and we decided to give it a try.”

Trying Something New

Though her first creation was “one of those masterpieces that live forever in the closet,” subsequent online research introduced Gresham to the concept of character dolls, creations in clay that reside within a certain environment or  setting that creates a story. Not only did Gresham use up the polymer clay in her stash, she now had reason to buy more:

fisherman polymer clay imagination sculpture nancy gresham

Using accessories that she creates from clay and other materials, Gresham creates an imagination story around each of her polymer character dolls. Catch of the Day, by Nancy Gresham.

“My character dolls are primarily created from imagination,” Gresham says. “I love them to be whimsical but somewhat believable.

“I love unique features and expression, everyday people such as the ’roundtable’ coffee drinkers who meet at the cafe and solve the problems of the world.”

Gresham incorporates her character dolls into specific sets revolving around a theme, such as the coffee drinkers, or people waiting at a bus station, a fisherman reeling in a big one, or two women searching for mushrooms. To this end, she also creates the necessary accessories, whether from polymer clay or carefully chosen, organic items, to complete the visual vignette.

“I build the story as I am creating the dolls,” Gresham explains.

Variety Inspires

One day, Gresham will focus on creating character dolls; on another, she paints rocks; on still another, she paints elephants on a Masonite board: “I bounce back and forth depending upon my mood and the commissions I receive.”

It’s all inspired by using up that “stash,” whether Gresham is painting on rocks, barn boards, saw blades, canvas, or anything else she can get her hands on.

“I’ve been fascinated with creating ‘stuff’ since the beginning of mud pies,” Gresham says.

“My creations begin with an object that strikes my fancy, and it grows from there. It may be a piece of driftwood, or an odd shaped rock.

“But once I get started, it just develops as I go.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Gresham is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 21 through July 18, 2022.

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.

 

 

 

weather improvising plein air climate joan eckman

Improvising and Adapting — the Paintings of Joan Eckman

weather improvising plein air climate joan eckman

As any plein air painter knows, sudden changes in weather are an improvising factor that keep us from being static. Weather Moving In, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

You’re taking a journey. You’ve packed your bags, and in short time, get to your destination. And then you discover that you forgot your toothbrush.

While it’s not a disaster, it is an inconvenience, and how far you are from a -Mart store determines how creative you get about improvising.

For Joan Eckman, an acrylic painter from Yakima, the destination was out in the boonies. And the brush, quite unfortunately, wasn’t just a toothbrush. But Eckman wasn’t about to let a major inconvenience become an overwhelming obstacle:

“I was on a plein air painting outing, and I had forgotten my brushes.

“So I wrapped a piece of paper towel around a pencil and painted with that along with a twig to make scratches and some detail lines. It turned out very loose and impressionistic.

Sun river naches woods forest joan eckman

It’s a quiet moment in the wilderness, far from the noise of the city. Sun on the Little Naches, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

“And though it was nothing to brag about, I kept it as a reminder of what can be done, and because I actually like the spontaneity of it.”

Adapting to Change

Improvising, adapting, being willing to change are characteristic of Eckman. An avid enthusiast of the outdoors, Eckman found herself forced into temporary inactivity after a skydiving accident when she was 22 left her partially paralyzed. Rather than rail against fate, she turned fervently to art, focusing on detailed pencil renderings and watercolor paintings. This latter medium was easy for her to take on what she calls her meanderings, which she accomplishes with the aid of crutches and braces.

“I keep a backpack of art supplies for plein air outings,” Eckman explains. “Everything in it is small and lightweight, keeping the pack under 20 pounds for mobility.”

canyon morning improvising wilderness brushes joan eckman

Eckman was far away from a store when she found she had forgotten her brushes on a plein air outing. Improvising was the only solution. Canyon Morning, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

Eckman, who uses a spare bedroom as her studio, has now moved on to acrylics, which she turned to when she became frustrated with not getting the detail and texture that she wanted with watercolor.

“However, there were many attributes that I loved about watercolor, so I chose acrylics as a medium that I could utilize in both those applications. I can get transparent glazes and texture. I’m still learning, and what a fun process it is.”

Right Brain, Left Brain Improvising

Like many artists, Eckman had to put full-time painting on hold while she and her husband raised their family and she pursued her career as the city clerk-treasurer of Connell, WA. Upon her retirement after 25 years with the town of Connell, Eckman and her husband resettled in the Yakima Valley, when she pulled art out of the backseat of the car and plunked it firmly in the front behind the steering wheel.

“My work as a city clerk/treasurer required such high left brain usage! It’s nice to pursue right brain activities to balance things out.

“I enjoyed my job, and now I have opportunity to pursue my art. Life is good.”

pond calm lilies mallards ducks joan eckman

Calmness and stillness reign in a peaceful moment on the pond. Mallards and Lilies, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

Eckman regularly presents her work at various shows in the area, including the Larson Gallery Guild Members Show, the Annual Central Washington Artists Exhibit juried show, and the Oak Hollow Gallery Holiday Show, all in Yakima. She has also exhibited at Gallery One (Ellensburg); the BOXX Gallery (Tieton); and the Plein Air Washington Artists online show. Her sold work resides in the homes of collectors in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Canada, and Washington, D.C.

Prose, Poetry, and Art

An integral part of Eckman’s creative process involves the use of prose and poetry to help her visualize what she is trying to say with any one artwork.

“My inspiration may come from a song, or even just a word. It may be a beautiful scene outside or a combination of all. Sometimes the picture idea comes first, and sometimes the picture idea develops around some words in my head, which then becomes part of the whole.” She places the prose and poetry journal entries on a note that she attaches to the back of the artwork, and also adds the information to the image description on its website page.

It all integrates, it all matters, and each brush stroke — whether it’s from a sable brush in the studio or improvising a pencil wrapped with a paper towel — is one step further on the artist’s, and viewer’s, journey. Nature is a great teacher, Eckman believes, and there are many life lessons to learn if we take time to ponder and observe the world around us.

“Our world is beautifully created, and we should be diligent caretakers of that.

“Each moment is not its own, not a means within itself, or of itself. It’s a culmination of events leading up to and beyond that moment — as is life.

“There is so much beauty around us and life lessons to be learned.

“Hang on to the beauty.”

Wenaha GalleryJoan Eckman is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 7 through July 4, 2022.

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.

 

 

 

peaches colored pencil watercolor fruit art cheryl bush

Painting Beauty — The Artwork of Cheryl Bush

peaches colored pencil watercolor fruit art cheryl bush

A blend of media, Peaches features colored pencil and watercolor. Original mixed media painting by Cheryl Bush.

There aren’t a lot of people who have talked to someone who has met Charlie Chaplin, but Cheryl Ann Bush is one of those people.

The Yakima, WA, artist, who creates artwork in colored pencil, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and pen and ink, remembers the time she met her great-grandfather Herman Steuernagel at a family reunion.

“I was in grade school,” she says. “My great-grandfather was a well-known artist in Germany before retiring to New York in 1910. When he was in Germany, he had done background sets for the theater, and when he relocated to New York, he did background sets for the silent movies. During that time, he met Charlie Chaplin.”

Apples fruit red delicious colored pencil painting cheryl bush

Bush enjoys the incredible detail that working in colored pencil brings. Apples — Nature’s Beauties, original painting by Cheryl Bush.

As the art director of the Pathe Film Company from 1909 to 1917, Steuernagel sold his theater sets worldwide, but what excited the young Cheryl most was that he was a painter.

“It was so special to be able to meet and share my love of art with him,” she says.

Paintings on the Walls

Growing up in a house with lots of art on the walls (Bush’s great aunt, Alice Leo Oldright, was also an artist, a landscape and still life painter who lived in Walla Walla from 1900 to 1921 and later moved to Utah) Bush developed an appreciation for representational art, and regardless of the medium she chooses, she focuses on the essence of her subject matter. It does not matter whether she is painting a landscape in acrylic or a cluster of apples in colored pencil. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages, and she immerses herself in the uniqueness of each.

“I enjoy the precise detail that can be obtained with colored pencil. It can be tedious and time consuming, but the results are well worth the effort.

“Combining watercolor with colored pen, I believe, gives award winning results, which they literally did with Still Life in Red, White, Blue. That included red petunias from our garden. It received Third for watercolor at the Western Washington State Fair.

blue poppy flower petals oil pastel cheryl bush

The glow of light dances around the petals in Cheryl Bush’s oil pastel painting, Blue Poppy.

“Vine Ripened and Peaches featured colored pencil along with watercolor which gave the results I was looking for.”

Every Painting Has a Story

Not only the medium used, nor subject matter, enhance the story of each artwork, Bush adds. During the process of creating the artwork, life happens, and those moments of life incorporate themselves, visually or metaphysically, into the finished piece.  Bush recalls the time she was working on Hailey’s Dahlia, an oil pastel she focused on one summer.

haileys dahlia flower oil pastel painting cheryl bush

Named for Bush’s granddaughter, Hailey’s Dahlia celebrates the joy of life.

“At the time, my daughter was expecting her first child, and she was two weeks late. I joked that she was waiting for grandma to finish her piece.

“The day after I finished the artwork Hailey was born, so I named the piece for her.”

As an added bonus, the painting was accepted into the South Sound Four League Art Exhibit in Tacoma, where it won the Tacoma Mayor’s award.

Another piece, a charcoal of Mount Rushmore, was accepted into the Puyallup State Fair, a fact about which Bush was happy because it was the first show in which she publicly exhibited her work. She was even happier, however, when the drawing sold.

“I was so surprised I borrowed a Polaroid camera to take a picture of it on the gallery wall so I could have it for a portfolio.”

A Light Happy Space for Painting

Retired from a career in education, Bush is grateful that she is no longer restricted to vacation breaks for working on her art.  For years she set up her studio in a corner of the family room, but since moving to Yakima from Pierce County in 2014, she has worked out of a designated studio room in her house. Ledges on the wall hold finished paintings, and storage cabinets keep in one place all the accoutrements for artistic creativity. It is a light, happy space, and she spends many hours there. That happiness finds its way into her art.

“I believe that God has given us this beautiful world to enjoy, and I love to create works of art that reflect the beauty of His creation,” Bush says.

“It is rewarding when I can bring joy and a smile by bringing happy memories to mind with my work.”

Wenaha GalleryCheryl Bush is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from May 10 through June 6, 2022.

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.

 

 

illusion woodturned bowl basket louis toweill

Illusion Baskets — Woodturning Art by Louis Toweill

illusion woodturned bowl basket louis toweill

It looks like a woven basket, but is actually a painted, woodturned bowl. Aqua Terra Cotta Illusion Basket by Louis Toweill

In the right hands, by the right people, for the right reasons, illusion is a delightful thing.

For instance, when it comes to a news story, illusion has no place. At. All. But when it comes to a block of wood, illusion turns a bowl into a basket that isn’t a basket at all.

“They’re called Basket Illusion Pieces,” says Louis Toweill, a woodworker who creates bowls, platters, vases, even pens turned on a wood lathe. “They are woodburned with a pyrography tool and embellished with acrylic paint. The results are single pieces of wood that appear to be woven beaded baskets.”

mountain scene basket illusion woodturned bowl louis toweill

Toweill graphs out his designs on a software spreadsheet first, and then paints the pattern onto the cells of the bowl. Mountain Design Basket Illusion Woodturned Bowl by Louis Toweill.

Highly complex and time consuming, basket illusion pieces start out as bowls turned on a wood lathe. While the piece rotates, Toweill (whose name rhymes, appropriately, with bowl) shapes the horizontal grooves. Afterwards, he burns on the vertical lines, one ridge at a time, by hand with the pyrography tool. What results is a series of squares or cells covering the entire surface of the bowl. He then maps out a design for the piece, using a software spreadsheet as a form of graph paper.

Spreadsheet Design and Painted Wood

“I put in asterisks on the spreadsheet to mark the major elements of the design,” the Yakima, WA, artist explains, “and from that I start painting the cells on the actual bowl. You have to know exactly how many cells surround the piece (usually it’s 96), and then once you start painting, you have to be awful careful about counting — if you miss by one cell, you mess up everything. It’s very . . .  well, the best word for that part of the process is trepidating. I don’t think that’s an actual word, but it describes the feeling exactly.”

natural edge maple woodturned salad bowl louis toweill

Toweill’s non basket illusion pieces include this natural edge maple salad bowl.

Toweill, who started seriously creating woodturned art in 2000, had long been interested in illusion work but was daunted by the time required, as are many woodworkers, he adds. “A lot of people are interested in it, but don’t follow through because of that time factor,” he says. “I myself started an illusion piece way back in 2009, but set it aside. Finally, in 2020, I pulled it out and finished it.” Pleased with the design and feel of the finished piece, Toweill put aside his misgivings about the time factor and leaped into basket illusion.

“It’s very precise, but it’s also a little by the seat of your pants,” he observes.

Distilling Information

A member of the Mid-Columbia Woodturners, Toweill is receiving increasing requests from other woodworkers on the process. He is more than willing to share what he’s learned, he says; the problem is distilling so much information and actual work into the three-hours or so allotted for a presentation.

“It really is time consuming,” he says. “It’s hard to condense and fit it all in.”

Two Blues Basket Illusion Woodturning Bowl Louis Toweill

The color of the wood itself, left unpainted, gives the illusion of woven straw in a basket. Two Blues Bowl by Louis Toweill

The resulting artwork, however, is worth it — a wooden bowl that mimics the feeling and look of a woven basket, creating a fusion of medium that is unique, original, and unexpected. Sycamore, maple, and walnut are three of Toweill’s favored woods with which to work, and while he does purchase material for his woodturning creations, he prefers to find someone who has a tree they are downing and glean.

“A friend of mine had a sycamore tree and I have made bowls from that. I’ll also use wood from my own yard. I’m always on the lookout for wood.

“It’s serious challenge obtaining seasoned hardwood thick enough to make a piece of art. But wood is a great medium since it is so pleasant to touch and is very workable. It’s fun to see what shapes can be made from each block of wood.”

Full-time Retirement Work

Growing up with a background in logging and road construction, Toweill first used a wood lathe in high school wood shop in the early 1960s, but never used a lathe again until he bought an old one in the 1990s. He replaced it with a new model in 2000.

Upon retirement (he worked as an electrical engineer for Pacific Power and Light until 1992, then taught mathematics and business courses at various colleges as an adjunct faculty member until 2013) Toweill immersed himself full time into woodworking art. He displays his work in various retail art galleries and at festivals, shows, and other sales events. Twice he has shown his art at the American Association of Woodturners national symposiums.

Each artwork, illusion piece or not, is as unique as the tree from which it derives, Toweill says, and while the skill of the artist is a major factor in the finished artwork, the wood itself  has say in what it eventually becomes:

“There are innumerable numbers of tree species to work with, and each piece has its own unique grain pattern and color. One never knows what pattern will be revealed while turning.

“The beauty of wood inspires me.”

And, he hopes, inspires others as well.

Wenaha GalleryLouis Toweill is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from April 26 through May 23, 2022.

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.

 

 

 

 

God never foget bible verse shawna wright birds watercolor

God Speaks and Birds Tweet — The Inspirational Art of Shawna Wright

God never foget bible verse shawna wright birds watercolor

The promises of God in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are inspiration for Shawna Wright’s watercolor artwork. I Will Never Forget You, original watercolor painting by Shawna Wright

There is a tired old joke in church circles that goes like this:

“Watch out what you pray for, because God just may give it to you!” The idea is that God, like a genie in a fairy tale, enjoys a little flimflam.

But not all people see God in this light, and Shawna Wright, a Milton-Freewater, OR, watercolor artist, is one of them. Seven years ago, when she uttered a deeply heartfelt prayer:

bluebird everything possible god bible verse shawna wright

Shawna Wright knows from experience that Everything Is Possible with God. Original watercolor painting with Scripture verse.

“God, please give me something to do for You,” she didn’t know what the answer would be, but she knew it wouldn’t be bad, or wrong, or painful, or unpleasantly undesirable. She knew that it would be, like God, good. And it came about, slowly but determinedly, like this:

God Listened and Answered

For more than a year, she had been sending journal pages with Bible promises on them to her father — 1200 miles away — who was discouraged and in pain because of an accident. On his birthday, with the idea of making the page extra special, she painted a bird.

“My family and I were surprised at how well it turned out, and I knew in my heart something special had happened.”

That something special grew into a fast-track project (“I never do anything moderately; it’s either all or nothing!”) of Wright painting 11 more birds, with the idea of creating a calendar with images embellished by Bible verses. Those calendars took off like an eagle diving for a fish, and Wright has been so busy looking forward, that she hasn’t looked back.

joy morning songbird shawna write scripture

Joy Comes in the Morning, a promise of God painted by Shawna Wright in this original watercolor artwork.

“A ministry was born,” Wright says. “It is wrapped around the theme of Bible promises and that God can be trusted.

“The motto on my website is, ‘Encouraging people to take God at His word and equipping them with tools to encourage others.”

In addition to the calendars, which require 12 original paintings with verses each year, Wright has added note cards (God Tweets), bookmarks, refrigerator magnets, spiral journals, and art prints to her collection, and has sold her work throughout the U.S, as well as Norway, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Uganda, and South Africa. Digitally, her art goes around the world daily, and Wright has been interviewed on many platforms where her story has been told and her art shared. Most recently, TCB Entertainment Network invited her to turn her devotional/blogs into a radio show, “Secure Under His Wings.”

Comfort from God

But while business success is exciting, Wright finds the ministry element more exciting still. And what makes Wright especially happy is when she is able to support other ministries by giving her work to them, so that they can pass it on to others.

brave not afraid god with you shawn wright birds

Do Not Be Afraid, a most excellent counsel for today’s world. Original watercolor painting by Shawna Wright.

“My cards, bookmarks, etc. are things I would have purchased in the past and given to those who needed encouragement,” Wright says. “Now I have the ability to make my own ‘tools’ of encouragement, and can afford to give much much more away than I would have ever dreamed of doing before. It is fun to support various ministries across the nation this way.

“Thousands of note cards have gone to both men and women’s prisons, women’s shelters, addict recovery centers, food banks, first responders, and places devastated by natural disasters.

“Bible promises comfort those who are hurting in a way that nothing else can.”

Encouragement to the Encourager

Nearly every day, Wright receives a note or email telling her how her art has encouraged the recipient or viewer. At one shelter for women in recovery, a young girl had trouble sleeping in a room by herself because of anxiety from her past. Her counselor put in a print of Psalm 4:8 — In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

“It is gratifying to hear how God uses a Bible promise to encourage or comfort someone at just the right time.”

With expanding reach comes more work, Wright says, and she has hired someone to look after her bimonthly newsletter and website, as well as someone to deliver packages to the post office. A team of local volunteers helps assemble bookmarks and package cards. It is an impressive, and continuing, answer to Wright’s prayer.

“Little did I know when God inspired my prayer, ‘Lord, give me something to do for you,’ that the answer would be so big and far reaching,” Wright says.

“There is no better joy than being used as a messenger of comfort to a hurting world.

“To God by the glory!”

Wenaha GalleryShawna Wright is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 15 through April 11, 2022.

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 Thursday, 9-4 Fridays, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

sunflowers platter pottery judie beck

Beckoning Sunflowers — Pottery by Judie Beck

sunflowers platter pottery judie beck

An array of sunflowers adorns a pottery platter with handles by Judie Beck.

Oftentimes, parents groan when their child comes home from school with a “project.” We know, although some teachers apparently don’t, that there will be hours of parent-time required to help, and the very prospect is daunting.

But for Judie Beck, her son’s school project, years ago, made a major change in her life.

“His class was studying American Indians, specifically the Cherokee,” the Richland, WA, pottery artist remembers.

“He wanted to make a traditional house, in which the Cherokee used saplings that they wove together, plastered with mud and roofed with bark.

“We lived in Tennessee at the time and our soil was red clay. So we dug up clay, found some nice bendable twigs that he used as the saplings, and I helped him construct the house.

“Now I don’t garden because I hate getting dirt under my fingernails, but I thoroughly enjoyed helping him manipulate the clay.”

sunflowers mug pottery judie beck yellow happy

Mugs and bowls are among Judie Beck’s favorite pottery items to make. Sunflowers mug by Judie Beck.

So pleased was Beck by the experience that she mentioned it to a friend, who replied that she (the friend) had always wanted to take a class in pottery making from a local artist at the Oak Ridge Art Center in town. Two days later, after Beck had signed herself and friend up for the class, the friend’s response was,

“Oh my gosh! I was thinking I’d do it after the kids were grown!”

Functional Pottery with Sunflowers Design

Why wait? was Beck’s opinion, and she hasn’t stopped getting clay all over her hands ever since. (As an aside, her friend is now an instructor at the center, teaching pottery.)

Working out of a studio built into a section of her garage, Beck creates functional pottery from serving trays to lidded butter crocks, “just what I like, basically,” she explains.

“I’m always making mugs. And bowls — I love making bowls. Everyone needs bowls. Bowls hold just about anything.”

sunflowers spoons pottery serving judie beck

A series of small pottery spoons, with the sunflowers motif, by Judie Beck.

Beck’s main challenge doesn’t come so much from working with the clay — which potters know can be “fussy” during the kiln firing, when pieces can explode under the high heat — but rather, from the designs she incorporates onto the finished work. Describing herself as a person who couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler, Beck credits her friend, Irina, with the latest design of a sunflower.

“Her initial reply was, ‘Just draw one; it’s easy,’ at which I laughed. So she drew one for me to use. She’s a fabulous artist and it probably took her less than five minutes to draw the original sunflower that I am now using on my work. I call it Irina’s Sunflower.”

Patience and Persistence

Transferring the image onto each piece is time intensive, Beck says. After finalizing the design, she effectively creates a transferable decal by tracing the image onto newsprint paper, then applying multiple layers and colors of underglazing, each of which needs to fully dry before the next application.

french lidded pottery butter crock judie beck

A French lidded butter crock with sunny yellow design by Judie Beck

When the transfers are finished she then makes the pottery pieces onto which the designs are to be applied, for example, the mugs. She throws multiple mugs, lets them dry to the proper stiffness (leather hard), makes the handles, trims the mugs, and then applies the transfers. It all takes patience, precision, and persistence.

Beck has sold her work throughout the country, including Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, and of course, Washington. Her work has been juried into the Allied Arts Gallery at the Park in Richland, where she sells through the gift shop. She also participates in festivals and fairs, focusing on three events per year: an April and October bazaar in Patterson, WA, and a November event at the Calvary Chapel in Kennewick, the Make a Difference Bazaar. Throughout the year she brainstorms on what people will buy for spring, fall, and Christmas, with some of her regular customers offering suggestions on what they want her to make.

Happy Pottery and Sunflowers

Beck also teaches classes, one on one, in her studio. Between the teaching, the three yearly events, and, of course, the actual making of pottery, she keeps plenty busy. It is a busy-ness that is satisfying, and crowning that satisfaction is knowing that the people who buy her work have an opportunity to enjoy it every day. That’s her goal: making people’s day better through pottery.

“I want my work to make people smile,” Beck says. “I want it to make them happy, every time they use it.”

That’s a good goal. And it all started with one of those school projects . . .

Wenaha GalleryJudie Beck is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 1 through March 28, 2022.

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.

 

 

beginnings flowers impressionist romantic karen powers

Flowers, Birds, and Beauty — The Photography of Karen Powers

beginnings flowers impressionist romantic karen powers

Beginnings, by Powers, flowers photography, represents God making a way through the darkness and helping her find her way to the light and having hope again.

Parents make a huge impact on their children’s lives. That’s one of those things we say and deep-down believe. But there are those days — we’ve all had them —  when we think, “I’m talking to the air here. I don’t think what I say or do is making any appreciable difference.”

If you’re having one of those days, think about Karen Powers, a nature photographer from Richland, WA. She is walking proof that mom’s words matter:

“When I was younger, my mom gave me an Instamatic camera as a gift,” Powers remembers.

“At summer camp I took a picture of a waterfall. Later, after the film was developed, there was a similar photo in our local newspaper.

“I still remember my mom saying that my picture was a lot better than this one in the newspaper. Well, I don’t know if she was biased or not. But I believed what she said, and that gave me confidence.”

burgundy hollyhock flowers photography romantic karen powers

Hand rendered brush strokes applied to original photograph add a sense of impressionism and romance. Burgundy Hollyhock, photography by Karen Powers.

Powers went through high school with that Instamatic. Years later, she “wore out” her first digital (dslr) camera, a gift from her husband. She launched a business doing senior portraits, wedding photography, and images for stock photography before concentrating her energy on fine art photography, with an emphasis on flowers and birds. Unsatisfied with the camera alone, she began experimenting with “developing” her images into artistic representations by incorporating digital enhancement using graphic and illustrative software.

Endless Possibilities

“By using brushes and editing techniques in the software, I fell in love with the process and endless possibilities,” Powers says.

“There is a huge learning curve, but the possibilities are absolutely limitless. After processing, each piece is a truly and completely unique piece of art.”

Powers’ studio is both outside and inside, and it all starts outside, either in her garden, where she is constantly growing new varieties of flowers to photograph, or in the mountains, through which she bikes to find wildflowers, or public and private gardens in the region. In the winter and early spring, she photographs birds. A bird feeding station outside her kitchen window attracts smaller birds, while river walks open up the world of waterfowl and birds of prey.

dram queen purple pansy abstract colorful photography karen powers

Deep purple pansy blended with rich colorful tones creates a painterly effect. Drama Queen, photography by Karen Powers.

“I’m frequently thinking about how light is falling, and what a good composition would be for a certain plant.

“Typically, I look out the window, see what’s blooming, grab my camera, and go. I follow the bloom schedule of the flowers around my garden. Iris, tulips and rhododendrons in early spring; roses, calendula, daisies, dahlia, and on and on in the summer.

“I think it’s safe to say that if it’s blooming, I would love to capture it.”

Flowers in the Studio, Too

And then it’s time to move to her indoor studio, a large room in her home with two floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on an atrium filled with flowerpots and plants. An oak corner desk houses computer and digital tablet. Another desk is space for matting prints, practicing calligraphy, and dabbling with watercolors, her latest foray for enhancing photos. Her artwork covers the walls. A bookshelf groans with volume after volume on flowers, flower arranging, wildflowers, flower identification, gardening, birds, art history, and photography.

gladiolas garden flowers romantic colorful karen powers photography

Joyous and colorful, garden gladiolas are a Voice of Gladness, photography by Karen Powers.

“Finally, there are comfortable chairs that provide a space to just sit and ponder.”

An emerging element to Powers’ work is reprography, the process of reproducing, reprinting, or copying graphic material by mechanical, photographic, or electronic means. Working part time as the reprographics specialist at a local church, Powers has access to five separate copier machines, a Riso (mimeograph printer) machine, and an Epson large format printer.

“This has been a tremendous opportunity to apply my knowledge of digital art and to learn the geeky side and the technicalities related to the printing side of creating artwork.”

Honoring the Creator

All the observation, learning curves, research, floral and bird identification, and, ultimately, the capture of images on film and subsequent enhancement, have a central goal: that of creating a work that honors the work of the original Creator. Powers believes that God has created much beauty for us to behold as a reflection of who He is, and as an artist, she celebrates that beauty.

“He is so gracious and loving that He gives us beautiful sunsets, majestic mountains, and the most intricate, delicate flowers to top it all off.

“I try to capture some small bit of that stunning beauty to bring honor to God, the original creator.

“My desire is to share the beauty I see all around as well as a sense of peacefulness.

“I want to show viewers a place where they can step out of the traffic and rest.”

Wenaha GalleryKaren Powers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from February 15 through March 14, 2022.

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.

 

buckskin appaloosa horse beaded suncatcher tamara reily

Winter Hawk — Beaded Jewelry by Tamara Reily

buckskin appaloosa horse beaded suncatcher tamara reily

In Native American culture, the horse represents strength, passion, and great energy. The color of the horse, also, plays a big role in its meaning. Buckskin and Appaloosa Horse Beaded Sun Catchers by Tamara Reily

Whether or not you like winter doesn’t change the weather. What does change is how you feel about it.

And while many people groan about the cold, the long nights, the snow that makes driving difficult, Tamara Reily rejoices in the season.

“I named my business Winter Hawk because I enjoy winter time,” the Dayton, WA, bead and leather artist says.

“I love the cold crisp mornings when the frost hangs thick in the air, and the earth mother is blanketed in a white winter coat of snow. It reminds me of Alaska and all the time I spent outdoors running my dog team, exploring the frozen white wilderness that surrounded our home.

“I always have a sense of contentment while being outdoors in the wintertime.”

snowy owl beaded blue white necklace tamara reily

The Snowy Owl represents spiritual growth, a deep change releasing a lower state of being and embracing a higher purpose. Snowy Owl Beaded Necklace by Tamara Reily.

Reily, whose heritage includes Pawnee, a Native American people who historically lived in what are now Nebraska and Kansas and later Oklahoma, also connects with the red-tailed hawk, which she says she knows as a brother.

“I love to watch the hawk fly above me high in the sky while I sit upon the earth mother. Whenever my heart is burdened with the stress life brings he flies out from the woods, finds me in my time of need. Just watching Hawk fly in circles and dip and dive takes my mind to another place, a place of peace.”

Many Animals — Much Symbolism

Another place Reily finds a sense of peace is her studio, where she creates bead and leatherwork art drawing upon the symbolism of not only the Pawnee people, but many other Native American groups of North America. In addition to fashioning numerous types of bags (medicine, gathering, pipe, tobacco) which we focused on in an earlier article, Finessing Ancient Skills in a Modern World, Reily also designs and makes necklaces, bracelets, and earrings incorporating the rich symbolism of Native American culture.

“The many animal patterns that I bead have certain symbolisms. I enjoy sharing what they are to help people learn and understand Native cultures.

“For example, there is the Snowy Owl, which represents spiritual growth. Seeing Snowy Owl represents deep change resulting in the releasing of a lower state of being and embracing your higher purpose.

“The Grey Wolf represents loyalty and success. It is powerful, and heals humans who are sick. Grey Wolf is also a teacher, pathfinder, and survivalist.

sunrise beaded necklace summer winter colors tamara reily

The Sunrise Necklace incorporates the colors of dawn, which warm both summer and winter. By Tamara Reily

“The Tlingit (pronounced Klinket) Bear, as a spirit totem, as a power animal, can help teach you to trust your instincts and let go.

“And then there is the Horse, which symbolizes strength, passion, and great energy. In the Native American culture they also represent wealth and power.

“You will see a lot of my necklaces and patches with these animal totems on them.”

Winter Mountain Snow

Raised in Walla Walla, Reily has somehow or another managed to live in or near the mountains with appreciable winter snow. Years ago, she raised her children in the Yaak, a remote area of Montana, where she also began seriously beading (“working under lantern light as the long winters came and went”). From there she moved to Alaska to become a recreational dog musher, spending many winter nights running through the Alaska wilderness while the Northern Lights danced above her head.

Tlingit Bear beaded necklace tamara reily

The beaded Tlingit Bear Necklace honors the bear, a teacher who is often misunderstood. Bear is friendly, a symbol of strength learned, humility, and motherhood. By Tamara Reily

And in Dayton, in that studio of refuge, she surrounds herself with a “chaotic, creative mess.

“My studio is a small bedroom in the back of the house, where I put a small rolltop desk in a corner of the room. It has lots of drawers to put my treasures I have collected for years to use in my artwork.

“The beads I’m using for a project are spread all over the desk. Piles of leather and containers of crow beads and wampum sit near the desk. Drawers and containers of beads are in every nook and cranny of the desk. Even a few of my favorite rocks sit atop the desk.”

Every piece she creates has meaning, Reily says. And every piece represents a proud people whose culture should be remembered and honored.

Honoring a Proud People

“My people who passed on before me were from the Pawnee tribe, and making items from this tribe makes my heart happy.

“My pride for the Native Americans shows in my many items I make or bead.”

And although the winters of Dayton are milder than what Reily encountered in Montana or Alaska, it is the perfect place for doing what she does now, regardless of the season. All year round she beads. In the spring she sets up a tipi in her yard and invites people from throughout the area to gather and talk, teach, and share each other’s culture with one another. And every day, in every season, she finds opportunity to appreciate life, breath, and earth.

“Touch Mother Earth as much as you can. The soil is where we came from, and it is where we will go.

“We are a part of all things.”

Wenaha GalleryTamara Reily is the featured 3D Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from February 1, 2022 through February 28. Her 2D work, which includes leather and beadwork bags, is featured through February 14.

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.

 

 

paintings pottery journal calendar candles gifts

January Blues: Chase Them away with Art

paintings pottery journal calendar candles gifts

Two- and three-dimensional art inspires us to slow down, contemplate, and think — and January is the perfect time to focus on such an activity.

For many, January is not an easy month.

Type “January Blues” in an Internet search engine and you’ll get digital pages on the subject. According to the experts at the top of the algorithm, January Blues is anything from a “dip in positivity” to a critical health issue that requires the expertise of more experts to manage (since overcoming or solving problems, in the world of experts, is rarely an option).

art paintings wall january display

Few of us have home walls filled with this much art. What we do have, however, is worth taking time to stop and view, ponder, and contemplate. January is a great month for doing this.

Commonsense, however, and when we choose to use it, tells us that January will be rough because it comes on the heels of the holidays. In a normal world, we’ve just experienced weeks of bright lights, good cheer, and families and friends getting together to eat, play games, exchange gifts, and generally experience joy and acceptance in one another’s presence.

Often during the holidays, we set aside various issues and challenges for the future – January – and when January comes, well, those various issues and challenges are waiting for us. Oh, joy.

All Problems Have Solutions

Okay, so that’s the problem, but all problems have solutions. The first step to achieving any solution is serious thought, and for opportunity to think and reflect, January positively glows.

candles beeswax glow flame colorful calming

Candles add a glow of light and warmth to our environs that inspire a sense of thought and contemplation.

There is time, quiet, and solitude. In the northern climes, weather is generally hostile to active gardening or sun bathing, so we’re inside. And if we eschew the TV, phone, or screen of any sort (if you want to make a New Year’s resolution, this is a good one), we take advantage of that time, quiet, and solitude to think, contemplate, meditate, plan, innovate, and even create.

And here’s where art comes in. If you’ve got a work of art on your wall, January invites you to brew a cup of something hot, snuggle up in a chair, behold the artwork, and ponder. We had a client once who wrote us about a painting she bought:

“I hung the artwork in my bedroom. In the morning, I bring my coffee there and contemplate the piece while I sip. Throughout the day, I stop what I’m doing, sit on the bed, and look at the scene. In the evening, before I go retire, I look again, and think. This has brought me great peace.”

Art Promotes Pondering

Aside from being the client from paradise, this intelligent thinker has discovered that two-dimensional visual art, unlike TV sitcoms, talk talk “news” analysis, “reality” fare, and made-for-the-moment dramas, allows the mind time to ponder, uninterrupted by commercials, proselytizing, and propaganda.

January entertainment jigsaw puzzles pottery candles

It’s the perfect entertainment for January evenings — putting together a jigsaw puzzle while sipping tea. A candle in the background provides a sense of calm.

Art inspires thinking. Thinking is a crucial element to freedom. And freedom is a worthwhile pursuit every month of the year. Why not start with January?

And while we’re at it, let’s go back to that coffee cup. Three-dimensional functional art – as in pottery, for example – is also a means to contemplation and thought. There is pleasure in holding something that human hands have crafted, stimulation to the mind through touch. Brewing hot fare and pouring it into a beautiful mug is a self-directed, mini-ritual that slows us down, and slowing down is the first step to thinking. You can’t think deeply when you’re multi-tasking.

And don’t stop with the cup. Another artisan means of slowing down is the humble candle – timeless technology perfect for January’s early dark days. You don’t have to get into a lotus position and chant om to reap benefits from the candle’s light. Just bask in its glow.

As we think more, as we ponder and contemplate, we begin to find that we want to express what is going on in our heads. Communication, after all, is not the exclusive province of those who can afford to buy the airwaves and the publishing companies. Expression of thought is necessary for individual and societal health.

It Feels Right to Write

note cards greeting art nostalgia journals write

Whether you write personal notes in a journal or a letter to a friend in a greeting card, writing is an excellent way to share the things we’ve been thinking about.

Some people blog. Others keep diaries. Still others – rare gems indeed – write notes and cards. As with the pottery mug, art cards and hand-crafted journals are tactilely pleasurable to use, adding to the experience.

And before I leave this essay, let me put in a word for jigsaw puzzles. If you want to break the worry, angst, anxiety, frenzy, and fear that will gladly be our Normal if we let them, spend an hour each evening putting little pieces of random-cut cardboard together. The act of concentrating on something that ISN’T chronically agitating is calming. Calm is good.

Art is good. All these elements – paintings, prints, pottery, candles, cards, journals, jigsaws – we have at the gallery, and we invite you to take one of these January days to step into a warm, bright place and just look at the array of beauty that individual humans create.

Creativity is an essential element to be human. And we create because, first, we think. Take advantage of January, and allow yourself time and place and scope and freedom to think.

Wenaha GalleryArt Brings Joy to January is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from January 4, 2022 through January 31.

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.