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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

chocolate labrador dog ringneck ducks wildlife painting catherine temple

Conventional Advice Is for the Birds — Wildlife Art by Catherine Temple

chocolate labrador dog ringneck ducks wildlife painting catherine temple

As an entry to the Washington State duck stamp contest, Chocolate Lab and Ring-necked Ducks was the 2019/20 winner. Original acrylic painting by Catherine Temple. It pays to ignore conventional advice.

When you follow conventional advice, you generally get conventional results.

Some people are fine with this, but others . . . aren’t. They have a dream, a desire, a goal that impels them through each day, and regardless of how many people tell them what they want is impossible, even silly, they keep striving.

“From early on, I knew that I wanted to be an artist and that animals and birds of all kinds would be my subject matter, but it took a good number of years for my dream to become a reality,” says Catherine Temple, an acrylic painter from Clarkston, WA, who focuses on wildlife artwork and pet portraits.

“While many people thought I had a lot of talent, they weren’t very encouraging of my dream to be a wildlife artist. It could be a nice hobby, I was told, but it wouldn’t earn me a living.

“For years, I tried to go the conventional route with things, but it never worked out well.”

bird wildlife green catherine temple art

Green is the backdrop for a contemplative bird in Catherine Temple’s original acrylic painting, Sunlight and Shadows

It didn’t work out well because Temple refused to give up. She kept painting, focusing on what she loved, what she knew. And what Temple — who grew up on a farm with a father who had a passion for exotic animals — loved was the outdoors, wildlife, animals of all kinds.

A Flamingo among the Chickens

“Our backyard was full of a diverse array of birds and beasts. Flamingos lived near cows and chickens. Small Sika deer lived near exotic pheasants and ducks. There was plenty to inspire me.”

When the farmyard wasn’t enough, Temple wandered off to the wetlands and pastures near her home and built a makeshift blind. There, she sat and observed nature in quiet study. For hours at a time she lost herself watching frogs and dragonflies, birds and snakes.

“It didn’t really matter what creature it was, it eventually made it onto the pages of my sketchbook.” She knew, just knew, that she needed to be an artist.

But, as conventional advice warns, you can’t make a living as an artist. At least that’s what “they” say. Fortunately for Temple, other voices were stronger.

“The animals and birds and wild places continued to call strongly to me, and I would find myself frustrated and unhappy with trying to be something I wasn’t.

“I almost gave up on the dream, but then God opened a door for me.”

ducks waterfowl birds wildlife catherine temple

It takes patience and a soft step to capture wildlife in its home, and Catherine Temple has both. Wetland Jewels, original acrylic painting.

She had painted a portrait of her beloved dog, Jake. People seeing it asked if she were able to paint their pets as well. Soon, she was taking commissions and handling a growing client list. At the same time, she kept painting wildlife, because she simply wouldn’t, couldn’t give up. And in 2016, God opened another door through the duck stamp competition. (As an aside, federal and state duck stamps are not postage stamps, but permits for waterfowl hunters. They additionally offer an opportunity for artists to showcase their work, collectors to enjoy it, and the environment to benefit with sale proceeds dedicated to acquiring and protecting wetland habitat.)

From Pet Portraits to Duck Stamps

“I heard about a duck stamp contest for the state of Delaware. The stamp was to feature a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with Canvasback ducks. I had already been painting many hunting dogs with birds in my pet portrait business, so this seemed a good fit for me. Also, the featured dog was the exact breed I owned, giving me more incentive to give this contest a try.”

marsh wren bird wildlife wetlands painting Catherine Temple

Marsh Wren, original acrylic painting by Catherine Temple

Knowing that duck stamp contests drew some of the best wildlife artists in the country, Temple hoped, at worst, that she wouldn’t embarrass herself, and at best, she would win. She didn’t do the first, but she did do the second.

“When I got the call that I was the winner, I could scarcely breathe. That win changed a lot for me.

“Suddenly, I went from fighting for my dream all those years to stepping into the realm of a recognized wildlife artist!”

Two years later she won her second duck stamp contest for the state of Washington and took second for the Michigan Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Print. She began receiving invitations for solo shows and more contests. Presently, several of her pieces are being considered for the Ducks Unlimited National Art Package.

Unconventional, and Blessed

“I feel I have been particularly blessed and privileged to live in an area where I have access to so much of God’s magnificent creation,” Temple says, adding that almost every wildlife painting she creates comes from a personal experience with that bird or animal.

“It is because of these blessings that I feel compelled to create paintings that showcase God’s handiwork.

“Through my art I hope to bring the wild things to those who may not have the opportunity to experience it for themselves.”

And it all started because she refused to be conventional.

Wenaha GalleryCatherine Temple is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 16 through December 13, 2021.

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

 

 

 

 

candles self love natural beeswax healing sierra faflik

Natural and Calm — Candles and More by Sierra Faflik

candles self love natural beeswax healing sierra faflik

Faflik’s self-love candles feature natural beeswax, botanicals, crystals, and a pendant.

“Do you want fries with that?”

It’s a familiar question for anyone ordering a fast-food burger, and as a statement it accurately represents the iconic “American” way of life. Fast food, hectic schedule, overworked, overanxious, stressed out, and, most lately, pumped with fear.

For this reason, it’s time to change that question to one that is more meaningful, and well, essential:

“Do you want some peace today? Or calm? Tranquility? Serenity?

beeswax candles natural colorful sierra faflik gifts

Faflik creates blends of colors that are rich and deep for her candles made from natural and white beeswax.

“Maybe even a little happiness?”

And while politicians, techno-magnates and mega-corporations eschew concern for this question, everyday people are looking for the answer. Sierra Faflik understands this deep, driving need to find peace, having embarked on that journey long ago. The Dayton, WA, artist focuses on using natural ingredients, herbs and botanicals, crystals, and scents that don’t overpower the senses when she creates her candles, personal care products, and jewelry.

Getting in Touch with the Natural World

“My artwork is about relaxation, self love, and getting in touch with ourselves and the world around us,” Faflik says.

“With the constant bombardment of distractions and stressors associated with modern life, it’s easy to forget the natural beauty that surrounds us. My hope is that by lighting a unique candle, drawing a bath with salts and flowers, or wearing a calming crystal in some form, we can have a second to slow down and be reminded of that beauty.”

candles tins apricot coconut wax sierra faflik

Faflik uses a combination of apricot and coconut wax for her tinned candles. She embellishes these with botanicals and crystals.

As a dispatcher with Columbia County, Faflik is aware of what stress looks like. And with a background in personal training, she knows the importance of de-stressing, eating real food, and seeking out natural, non-chemical-laden products for consumption and use. For her candles, she uses a blend of apricot and coconut wax, or beeswax.

“When I first began making candles in 2015, I would get any candle wax I could find and use it.

“As I began researching different ingredients, I discovered that most of what is available at stores (whether raw ingredients or finished products) is full of lots of harmful chemicals and is not something you want burning in your home.

Organic Herbs and Botanicals

“To most of my container candles and my plain pillar molds, I add various organic herbs and flowers as an embellishment, as well as specific crystals.

“I do this so that when paired with a particular color or scent, the candles will be for a specific purpose or intention.”

bath salts himalayan crystals calm relaxing sierra faflik

Lightly scented and embellished with botanicals, Faflik’s bath salts do not have the strong artificial scent of industrial made products.

As an example, she says, her self-love and relaxation candles are lightly scented with floral overtones. She chooses soft, calming colors such as white, light pink, or lavender and adds rose petals and lavender botanicals. The crystals she chooses are traditionally associated with certain properties, such as amethyst to remove negativity, or emerald and rose quartz for love.

When Faflik first started creating, she did so out of necessity. As a teenager she experimented with jewelry when she couldn’t find styles that fit who she was and what she liked. Bath salts she embarked upon several years ago because she couldn’t stand the overpowering scents of commercial products.

“My baseline mixture is Epsom salts, pink Himalayan sea salt, various essential oils, and a small amount of baking soda to counteract the oils.

“When I was pregnant, I was researching how much is absorbed into our bodies through our skin. I began adding various herbs and flowers to the salts to help further the detoxification and relaxation that come with a calming bath.”

Researching is Natural to Her

When Faflik talks about her art, the word “research” comes up a lot. An avid reader who is not afraid of questioning the status quo or media-approved narrative, she appreciates independent sites and maverick writers and thinkers. These provide perspective in a world where only certain voices, generally associated with industry and big business, are promoted.

“I use natural products for several reasons. I first began going ‘back to the basics’ with food, when I realized that our bodies don’t know how to recognize artificial ingredients and overly processed foods. That research sent me down a rabbit hole of how our bodies respond to so many of the chemically derived artifacts we use every day.

“Basically, I try to use ingredients for all my projects that someone could eat and not have any discomfort from. I want to add joy to people’s lives, not more stress.”

Wenaha GallerySierra Faflik is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 2 through November 29, 2021.

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

 

 

 

 

Imaginative Journey — Pastel Art by Shar Schenk

curiosity drawing pastel shar schenk

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

Creative, imaginative people do not limit themselves.

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

red fox profile scratch board art sharley schenk

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

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

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

Imaginative Play with Scissors and Magazines

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

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

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

wings crane heron bird shar schenk imaginative

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

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

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

Taking a Break, but Still Creating

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

red rose flower pastel drawing shar schenk

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

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

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

Small Studio, Many Projects

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Japanese Wrapped Stones rocks cane calm denise wagner

Japanese Wrapped Stones — Calm and Design by Denise Wagner

Japanese Wrapped Stones rocks cane calm denise wagner

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese wrapped stones design form denise wagner

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

So what, exactly are Japanese Wrapped Stones?

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

Wrapped Stones Caught Her Eye

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

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

Japanese wrapped stones wood platter design denise wagner

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

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

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

“You need plenty of patience,” Wagner says.

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

red cane japanese wrapped stones rocks denise wagner

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

Rocks, and People

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

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

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

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

Rocks around the Region

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

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

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

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

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

gun boxes magnet handles ron jackson

Wood Master — Artisan Woodworking by Ron Jackson

wood maple rocking chair furniture ron jackson

On the porch or in the living room, the handcrafted maple wood rocking chair by Ron Jackson invites the visitor to sit a spell.

Here’s your riddle for the day:

What is natural, renewable, sustainable, and recyclable that comes in an array of hues and densities? You can do everything from build a ship out of it to crafting a box. It rhymes with good, hood, should and could. And . . . it begins with w.

“My wife Dianne and I craft furniture and wood accessories that allow wood’s natural beauty to speak for itself,” says Ron Jackson of Walla Walla.

“The diversity of grains, color, figure and light reflectance make appealing visuals. Wood items are tactile. The warmth of wood feels good to the hand.”

small jewel box wood with feet ron jackson

Ron Jackson’s small jewel box with feet incorporates various woods in its tops, sides, feet, and handle.

Jackson, who began working with the answer to the riddle 67 years ago while in junior high school, has been involved with trees, somehow and in some way, all his life. Primarily self-taught, he credits his working at the Walla Walla Whitehouse Crawford sash, door, and cabinet shop in the early 1960s as the foundation for his knowledge of his medium. And while he hasn’t built a schooner (yet), he has designed and constructed three homes — including the couple’s “forever” home that they have lived in for 30 years — as well as filled that home with furniture and cabinetry of his own making.

Learning Woodworking by Salvaging Trees

“My woodworking education took a significant leap when, with a partner, we started a business salvaging hardwood trees,” Jackson explains.

“We milled the trees into lumber and sold the resulting lumber. We shipped the wood to users as far away as New York and Hawaii.

“The learning curve associated with the process of falling, hauling, milling and drying hardwood to successfully obtain an end product that did justice to this region’s beautiful hardwoods was substantial.

“The knowledge obtained from this process has helped me become a better woodworker.”

bloodroot jarra wood tall box jewelry drawers ron jackson

The Tall Box by Ron Jackson is made from Bubinga Wood. Slices from the bloodroot plant rest on top and as a cover to the drawers.

Now theoretically retired, Jackson spends his days in his 450 square foot shop, where he creates commissioned work for clients throughout the country. He also crafts small things — boxes, charcuterie boards, jewelry and hobby boxes — that he sells at gift stores, craft shows, and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton. Working from a stock of hardwoods primarily salvaged from trees in eastern Washington and Oregon, Jackson mixes and matches walnut, mahogany, maple, yew, Bubinga, and even something called Bloodroot and Jarra into his one of a kind, always evolving creations. He incorporates inlay, mortise and tenon, tongue and groove and other methods of blending and design, taking advantage of the different colors and textures of the wood.

Boxes and Boards for Guns and Cheese

Especially popular are his gun boxes, which stay locked until opened with a magnet, decoratively hidden within a separate wooden handle.

“Wives whose husbands own guns and keep them beside their beds especially like these,” he says. “In the middle of the night if you think you hear something, the last thing you want to do is turn on the light and fumble with a combination lock. The magnet is quiet and quick.”

Boxes of any sort fascinate Jackson. They are perfect for experimenting with new techniques and finishes on a small scale before incorporating them into larger pieces.

gun boxes magnet handles ron jackson

An assortment of gun boxes with decorative, magnet handle openers, by Ron Jackson

“I enjoy making boxes for a variety of reasons:

“They have a purpose. They take a reasonable time to make and are a great way to use special pieces of wood. The opportunity they offer to experiment with artistic ideas is great.”

And they make great gifts. Who doesn’t have small treasures that fit perfectly into a decorative box?

A Living Tree, and Then Its Wood

For Jackson, wood is a treasure of the earth that has a long and productive life: first as the tree that draws nourishment from the ground and gives back to its landscape, then, when that life is over, as a raw material transformed into items of beauty, usefulness, and artisan skill. It’s neither joke nor riddle that wood is natural, renewable, sustainable, and recyclable in a way that few materials are, and its versatility in its afterlife is limited only by the imagination and skill of the person working with it.

“In collaboration with my wife, Dianne, our work seeks to express the order and diversity of nature fused with people’s need for functional furniture and accessories,” Jackson says.

“The fascinating thing about working with wood is there’s always something else to learn.”

Wenaha GalleryRon Jackson is the featured Art Event artists from June 15 to July 12.

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

 

dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

Dollhouse Detail — Magic in Miniature by Erica Watts

dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

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

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

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

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

closet miniature scaled dollhouse erica watts

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

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

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

Sustainability

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

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

bathroom miniature sink mirror home decor erica watts

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

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

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

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

“When I build, I am messy.

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

One Inch Equals One Foot

dresser furniture drawers miniature dollhouse art erica watts

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

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

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

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

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

Reminders of Childhood

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

It was meant to be.

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

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

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

That’s big. That’s big indeed.

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

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

 

 

 

 

high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

Fosbury Flop — Sweet Success in Bronze

high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

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

Nobody embraces or welcomes bad experiences.

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

high jumper bronze statue fosbury flop larry kessie

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

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

Seeking Closure and Finding Friendship

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

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

The Fosbury Flop

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

you can fly fosbury flop clay lewis bronze statue

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

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

A Life-Changing Idea

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

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

larry kessie sculptor high jumper fosbury flop bronze

Larry Kessie, architect and sculptor of The High Jumper

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

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

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

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

But . . .

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

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

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

From Visual Aid to Bronze Sculpture

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

clay lewis coach hall fame sculptor fosbury flop

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

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

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

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

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

The Sweet Fruit of Fine Art

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

Lewis agrees.

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

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

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

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

Not to mention, sweet.

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

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

 

 

 

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

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

deer yorick skull qr code watercolor lorna barth

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

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

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

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

quilt show tent boldman house original watercolor lorna barth

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

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

“But they are SO BORING!

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

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

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

Innovating with Old and New

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

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

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

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

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

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

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

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

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

Enjoying Art at the Bus Stop

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

rock mountain blues landscape watercolor painting lorna barth

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

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

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

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

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

Multi-media and Multi-layer

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

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

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

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

Wenaha GalleryLorna Barth is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from May 4 through May 31, 2021.

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