Exhausted pickup truck old abandone vehicle randy klassen watercolor

Old, Bold, and Beautiful — Pickup Trucks by Randy Klassen

hand doodle card markers artwork jennifer schock

Doodle Art — Hand-Crafted Cards by Jennifer Schock

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Hand-doodled, one of a kind note card by Dayton artist, Jennifer Schock

Doodle Art explores the world of design and creativity

Technology changes constantly, and its siren call of something new — NOW — beckons and attracts. But the most important elements of human existence and ingenuity remain constant through time: our hands, our minds, our hearts, and our ability to create with these, using the materials around us.

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Blue doodle art on a vertical note card, by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

Jennifer Schock understands this concept. The Dayton artist is hard to pin down to one medium, because she does everything from dance to sewing, from jewelry making to her latest endeavor, creating one of a kind, hand doodle cards with “plain old fine point black markers” and fine point Sharpies in their full array of colors. She launched on this project a year ago, as a means of keeping herself busy as she, her husband, and five dogs made the move from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest. Never one to sit on her hands, she found herself using them in the down times when there was nothing pressing to do.

“Doodling seemed the perfect occupation for these times,” Schock explains. She started with Valentine’s cards for family members, and then just kept going through the months and seasons, resulting in hundreds of one of a kind, totally hand-created cards. Later, as household items arrived in the moving vans and her vast supply of creative treasures arrived, she set up studio in a nook in a larger room, and embarked upon fashioning nostalgic collage cards as well.

“I have books, magazine, all sorts of things to peruse until one photo jumps out at me. Anything is game,” Schock says.

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Love Is in the Air, nostalgic collage card by Jennifer Schock

Doodle and Collage Cards

Because she never knows what she’ll make next — depending upon her mood Schock will doodle a card, sew a grocery bag from repurposed jeans, string beads, knot leather, or fashion wall art from old, scratched (“unplayable — promise!”) vinyl records — she collects all sorts of objects. These she stores in that small nook studio, which also houses one of the most important pieces of furniture in the house: her work table.

“It’s scratched and nicked. It was purchased by my parents when they married in 1945, and it’s the only dining table our family ever sat around. My small TV sits in a corner and is only on Channel 132, Turner Classic Movies, the only channel I really need!”

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Black and white doodle art card by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

It should not come as a surprise that Schock does not own a computer, nor desire to do so. And while she does not object to today’s technological wonders, she is concerned about how their overuse affects society, changing us in a way that is not necessarily positive. As a counteraction to digital overload, hand-crafted cards — both her doodled and collage creations  — add humanity back to the mix.

Adding Back Humanity

“We live in a text, email, social media world, our heads bent down seemingly unaware of surroundings,” Schock says.

“Maybe my cards will bring a moment of laughter, joy, gratitude, healing, tears, or reflection to the recipient.”

If she makes a statement with her art, she adds, this is it. She considers it “cool” that the people who purchase her cards make a statement of their own through the message they write within, and her art piece serves as a vehicle for love, sympathy, birthday, missing you — “plain old fashioned thoughts” from one human being to another.

“My mother was a wonderful note writer,” Schock says. “For this reason, my doodled and nostalgic cards carry her name: Winnie Cards.”

Incorporating Old with New

Humanity matters. And in every creative pursuit she, well, pursues, Schock seeks to connect what she makes or does with who people are. For years she performed and taught dance, eventually focusing on movement therapy, in which she worked with all age groups and backgrounds in a psychiatric facility. Later, she taught art to children in 4th through 8th grades. Whatever she does, wherever she is, her focus is on hands and heart, mind and human creativity.

These elements are timeless, transcending technology, trends, and technocracy. The old ways aren’t necessarily outdated, and the latest and greatest isn’t always the best. The simple note card, which seemed on its way to becoming obsolete in the light of its e-card competition, has a very real, very necessary place in the modern world.

“Isn’t it just so nice to receive something in the mail? And isn’t it even better to write a few words out and send it along?”

Yes, it is.

Wenaha GalleryJennifer Schock is the Featured Art Event from Monday, August 12, through Saturday, September 7 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

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Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

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Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

Plein air painters get used to all sorts of weather. Because of the nature of their studio — outside, in the plain air — they operate without a roof over their heads. Unless, of course, they choose to bring one of their own.

“During the Paint du Nord Quick Draw competition in Duluth, MN, we painted in a huge rainstorm,” watercolor artist Jan Vogtman remembers. “The competition lasted two hours, exactly — they blow a horn to start and stop.”

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Bob’s Pond, plein air landscape painting by Jan Vogtman.

Told to paint what she saw, Vogtman took the challenge literally.

“My painting shows all the artists painting around me with colorful umbrellas.”

Another time, the Troy, ID, painter joined three plein air artist friends out in the wilderness, keeping watchful eye as a memorable storm took an hour to build up.

“When the wind and rain came, we huddled in the car, ate lunch, and had a few beers. But the storm had no intention of stopping anytime soon, so we gave it up and went home.”

Even Vogtman’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had its moments. While the weather was grand during the Andy Evansen watercolor workshop she took there with a friend, sunny skies disappeared on the way back.

“We got stranded in Seattle during the Big Blizzard and got home two days later than planned.”

Not Just the Weather

Weather inconsistencies, however, are so much a part of plein air painting that one comes to accept them as constants. So is the issue of travel. Because landscapes do not transport themselves to the artist’s studio, it’s up to the artist to transport herself. And for Vogtman, who lives on Moscow Mountain, four miles from the nearest city of Troy (population 600), getting together with plein air artist friends for an afternoon of painting often involves significant time in the car.

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Exhibit Bee, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“Because I live rural, my travel time is normally one hour each way.”

Vogtman discovered watercolor 24 years ago while working at the University of Idaho. Side by side with students barely out of high school, she took as many university level art classes as she could while maintaining a full work load. Plein air she discovered in 2009, and since then has competed in regional plein air competitions as well as the event in Duluth. She is a member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, the Idaho Watercolor Society headquartered in Boise, and the Northwest Watercolor Society in Seattle.

All A’s in Art, Not Math

And while art is something she was interested in from a very early age, it was not something she was able to focus on until she was an adult and had a “real career” in the business and academic worlds. That’s just the way things were when she was growing up, even though all her A’s in school were in art, and not math.

Vogtman recalls the time she entered a drawing competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Art Institute in her hometown.

“I was maybe around 12 years old — and when I saw this competition in the newspaper, I entered. I think the amount of the prize was $250, which had to be used for classes.

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Palouse Falls, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“My parents could not afford to send me then or at anytime for art education. I was told I could not collect the award.”

She went to school to become a secretary. In a career spanning 36 years, Vogtman worked up to Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Northern Europe for the Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, and later, upon moving to Idaho, served as the Coordinator of the Executive Speaker Series, reporting to the Dean of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. On retiring in 2000, she challenged herself to dive into the art world, returning to the passion of her childhood.

The Hobby That Became a Business

In addition to plein air, Vogtman paints in her studio, a daylight basement of her home where furry forest friends peek through the window and watch. Most recently, she has added teaching workshops to taking them herself, conducting an introductory course for 20 students at the Center for Arts and History in Lewiston, ID. She has had a studio at the Artisan Barn in Uniontown, WA; earned her merit membership with the Idaho Watercolor Society upon being juried into three annual shows; and served as treasurer of the Palouse Watercolor Socius.

What started out as a hobby has become a business. And what’s perfect about that is how the non-art experience blends and melds well with the brush work of paint.

It’s unexpected, and not something that could have been predicted when she exchanged an art scholarship for business school. Life, though, like weather for the plein air painter, is never static. The best stories — and often paintings — involve the stormy days.

Wenaha GalleryJan Vogtman is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 24 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

 

blue rocket ceramics pottery mugs kassie smith

Ceramics Dynamics — The Pottery of Kassie Smith

Ceramics Artist Teaches with Passion

By the time she was 17, ceramics artist Kassie Smith was done — absolutely DONE — with school, and wanted nothing to do with college.

So, in one of life’s unique twists, the Moscow, ID, artist found herself completing eight years of higher education, resulting in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio Arts from the University of Idaho. She stayed on to work as a ceramics instructor. A short time later, she moved to Washington State University, where she joined the ceramics department there. When she isn’t at WSU, she’s the Dahmen Barn, an artisan instruction and studio co-op in Uniontown, where Smith both teaches and manages the pottery studio.

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Rocket-themed ceramic bowl, bottom view, by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID

“I realized there was nothing I could do with my life without a degree,” Smith explains, adding that since childhood, she has always wanted to work with clay and glass art. The turning point came when she met an artist at a Baltimore gallery who created an “alcohol reduction” process similar to Raku.

“He took time to explain the process and connect with me, a 17-year-old rebellious creative soul who wanted to completely abandon academia, on a very human level. His passion was evident. After that interaction, I gave up the quest for glass art and focused solely on ceramics.

“I have kept his passion and philosophy, seeking to use my work and research as a way to connect with people, and hopefully spark a similar passion in others.”

Functional — and Beyond Functional — Ceramics Art

One of Smith’s specializations is functional pottery: she creates custom ceramics ware for local restaurants. She also focuses on female empowerment — both as a female entrepreneur and artist serving as a role model for other women, as well as with the specific subject matter she chooses.

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Smiling Teeth Mugs by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID. The gold tooth in each features real gold.

“The content of my art often has imagery relating to the female body — either with objects that suggest a relationship or forms that allude.

“Most of my work is meant to be introspective, but recently I’ve been getting louder and more bold, getting closer to a ‘statement.'”

Although she has dug and processed her own clay — a process she calls both fun and incredibly labor and time intensive — Smith generally orders a pallet with 1,950 pounds of material. It’s cost effective. It also requires a lot of storage — in both its raw state and in the finished products.

“There’s never enough space,” Smith says, describing one of the many challenges of the ceramics lifestyle.

“Build shelves, fill shelves, need more shelves.”

The Benefit of Challenges

Finding enough space is just one challenge, or as Smith prefers to call it, life benefit. Another challenge/benefit is clay itself, because the material is a never-ending source of wonder. It adds a scientific element to the art that demands constant learning and experimentation.

“Clay is a fickle material, and all clays are different,” Smith says.  “Firing clay is an art form in itself.

“I am a super nerd for glaze chemistry. There is never enough time to run all the experiments I’d like. I could spend the rest of my life on glaze chemistry if I didn’t get tired of wearing a respirator.”

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Rocket-themed pottery mugs in red tones by Kassie Smith

Another challenge involves waiting, something every ceramics artisan spends more time doing than they’d like.

“Waiting for kilns to cool down is challenging. I want to see the things NOW!!!

“Patience . . . ”

Smith has shown her work at the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, as well as at the Moscow Farmer’s Market, every Saturday from May through October.

She shuttles her work in progress between three studio spaces. One is at WSU, one at her home in Moscow, and a third at the community pottery studio at the Dahmen Barn. Logistical planning for transporting ceramics is a nightmare, she admits.

“And I break things.

“But having three studios keeps me on my toes.”

Clear as Mud

Learning, teaching, researching, experimenting, creating, even the interminable waiting. It’s all part of being a ceramic artist, well worth all the extra schooling it took to get here. Whether in classroom or studio, Smith is where she wants to be, doing exactly what she wants to do.

“There are very few things I’d rather do than be elbows deep in the mud.”

Wenaha GalleryKassie Smith is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 15, through Saturday, August 10 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

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Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

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Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

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Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

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Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

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Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

feathered seed jar pottery dennis zupan artist teacher

Teacher, Potter, Advocate — Dennis Zupan Uses His (Right) Brain

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Feathered Seed Jar, Carbon Imprint by lifetime pottery teacher and artist, Dennis Zupan

Dennis Zupan was on the exam table for an endoscopy, when the doctor glanced at the chart.

“He was pulling on his gloves before my lights went out when I heard, ‘Ah . . . Mr. Zupan. I have been waiting for this.'”

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Abstract, pottery by lifetime artist and teacher Dennis Zupan

It wasn’t the first time that the retired teacher of pottery and jewelry ran into a former student. Another time Zupan was pulled over by security in the parking lot at the community college where he was teaching.

“With red lights flashing and a uniformed officer at my window, I heard, ‘Hi, Mr. Zupan. It’s me, Jonathan. I thought that was you. I just wanted to say hi.'”

Saying Hi to the Teacher

That’s what students wanted to do: just say hi and thank you to a man who not only taught them about an ancient and enduring art form, but who also believed that students have a right to learn in an environment best suited to their way of thinking. For Zupan, this comes down to right brain (creative) versus left brain (analytical) thinking. The latter, he feels, has overwhelmed the school system. It’s to the point that there is no refuge for those who are interested, and excel, in the arts.

“According to all the left-brained people in charge of our education needs, right brained thinking is wrong,” Zupan, who taught arts for 30 years Provo High school, says.

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Green Raku, Fired, by lifetime pottery teacher and artist Dennis Zupan

“All the process and results that make a right brained person function needed to be sanitized into a left-brain format so it could be understood and validated in their left-brain world.”

Instead of actually learning to draw or make a pot, Zupan continues, students are channeled into classes on art theory, history, appreciation, aesthetics, critique, and analysis — all elements that come naturally to a right-brained artist over time as they strive to perfect their art. The result, Zupan mourns, is that “the refuge class for right brained students is gone, replaced by another list of left-brain tasks.”

Right-brain Teacher

Promoting art is a lifestyle for Zupan, who now lives and creates both pottery and jewelry in Richland. While in Utah he taught art at community education classes in the evenings, during summer school, at workshops with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H. He conducted university and college classes. And he participated in some unique opportunities to work with ancient pottery techniques.

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Pit Fired Pot with Feathers by retired teacher and lifetime artist Dennis Zupan

One of these opportunities was through the Colorado Archeologist Group, National Geographic Magazine, and Mesa Verde National Park. They joined together to replicate Anasazi (Southwest Pueblo people) pottery making and kiln firing. Zupan was one of 20 potters asked to replicate pieces, with each step documented as if were being done 1300 years ago.

Another time he partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in creating a series of Bible-based films on the New Testament era.

“At that time in history, a potter’s work was essential and found in every aspect of everyday living,” Zupan says. “Cooking, serving, lamps, and storage containers all came from the potter’s shed.” With three other potters, Zupan created hundreds of pieces for the films.

A recipient of numerous state and national teaching awards, Zupan says he approached teaching art as an artist and not an educator.

Teaching Future Artists

“I was sharing art methods and marketing to potential future artists,” he explains.

Because, when it comes to art, it’s not the theory, it’s not the analysis, it’s not the endless talking about it that matters: it’s the finished work of art. And achieving a beautiful finished work of art takes the hands, the soul, and the skill of an artist.

“I enjoy the challenges of working with a piece of clay because there are no limits to the possibilities,” Zupan says. “I often push clay to its edge of failure.

“There is always an air of excitement opening a kiln — the patterns on the pottery are created in the kilns. Raku glazes always have a bit of chance happenings to them; the same is true in a pit fire.

“They cannot be totally controlled or replicated. They can be truly exhilarating.”

Exhilarating. That’s a worthwhile goal to aspire to, and it is one Zupan has spent his life teaching students to reach for, and to find.

Which is probably why they go out of their way — wherever they are — to say, “Mr. Zupan, hi. Do you remember me?”

Wenaha GalleryDennis Zupan is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 20 through Saturday, June 15 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Partridge and Soap — Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Art

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Cow, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge. In addition to painting, Partridge also creates metal sculpture, woodcarving, and tooled leatherwork.

David Partridge’s 60 years (and counting) as an artist started with a fourth grade art assignment and a bar of soap. Or rather, the lack of a bar of soap.

“We were told to carve a buffalo out of soap, but my family did not have the money for a bar of Ivory Soap,” the Walla Walla oil painter recalls of his childhood in rural Idaho.

“The teacher, Mrs. Hill, wanted to know what I was going to do for a grade. I told her I was going to do a painting of a buffalo.”

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Hooked Fish, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist, David Partridge.

“Amazed” upon seeing the completed watercolor, Mrs. Hill framed and hung the work in the school trophy case for a year. Partridge, encouraged and emboldened by the experience, began incorporating art studies and artwork in all his grade school and high school classes. As an adult in the early 1960s, he took advantage of two six-month tours for the Navy in Naples, Italy, to learn oil painting techniques from local artists.

Millwright Partridge

And then later, during a 33-year career as a journeyman millwright with Boise Cascade, he honed his art skills, both two- and three-dimensional, at every opportunity.

“The meaning of the word ‘millwright‘ comes from making the mill right, so my job was to keep Boise Cascade running properly and to fix anything that was broken,” Partridge explains. The welding skills he developed to both fix broken things and create new ones — such as catwalks and handrails — now translate into metal art sculptures, many of which incorporate horseshoes in their design.

Colleagues and management at the mill, when they noticed Partridge’s ability to draw, increasingly approached him with art-based projects and jobs.

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Colorful Bear, original oil painting by David Partridge of Walla Walla.

“Boise Cascade commissioned me to do as many paintings as I could do in thirty days for the new human resource building,” Partridge remembers. They also commissioned him to paint a mural depicting how paper is made, create coloring books for children on safety issues at the mill, and develop the image for Gus the Goose, the mascot for the Wallula Paper Mill. Engineers at the plant asked him to make drawings of projects so they would have an idea of what the job would look like when it was done.

Painting Partridge

Outside the mill, Partridge painted western landscape and wildlife scenes, which he showed and sold throughout the Northwest. In the 1990s, he joined a group of artists who worked with the late Idaho artist Robert Thomas to paint the murals on Main Street in Dayton. Upon retirement from Boise Cascade, Partridge plunged full time into art, varying what he does with the seasons: in the winter, he paints, carves wood, and tools leather; in the warm months he welds, sculpts, and builds covered wagons reflecting the 19th century. His latest summer project is a doctor’s buggy fashioned from white oak. The wheels, made out of hickory, took two years to complete.

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Barn, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge.

“I like to change what I do so I don’t get tired of the same medium,” Partridge says.

Hundreds of Paintings

Over the years, Partridge estimates, he has done hundreds of paintings, including a large image of an elk that hung for years at the former Walla Walla Elks Lodge on Rose Street. Locally, he has shown at various Walla Walla businesses and The Little Theatre, and served as a coordinator for a Fort Walla Walla western art show. His most memorable award to date is the Grumbacher Award for best use of color, which he received at a Milton-Freewater art competition.

But what is most satisfying, Partridge says, is challenging himself to do new things and create artwork that others enjoy.

“To brighten just one person’s day with a form of art — that is why I paint. I love having the opportunity to take a small portion of what surrounds us every day and put it on canvas for people to enjoy.”

And to think that it all started, really, because of an inability to buy a bar of soap, and Mrs. Hill’s insistence that the problem, somehow, be solved.

Whatever happened, by the way, to that very first painting that launched it all?

“I gave it to Mrs. Hill.”

Wenaha GalleryDavid Partridge is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 6 through Saturday, June 1 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

Sentinel gap camera photo landscape eastern-washington columbia river john clement

Camera Magic — The Photography of John Clement

Sentinel gap camera photo landscape eastern-washington columbia river john clement

Sentinel Gap, capturing the Eastern Washington landscape on camera by John Clement, Kennewick photographer

Everyone has a camera these days.

Whether it’s at an office party or the family Thanksgiving dinner, many people have been buttonholed by an enthusiastic traveler’s  sharing a (seemingly endless) collection of photos. It doesn’t take long to realize that enthusiasm does not always equate with expertise, and while anyone can press a button, far fewer people know how to capture a moment, a memory, and an emotion.

“The challenge of being a photographer is capturing the images that I have created in my mind’s eye — capturing an emotion that connects someone with that image and draws them into it,” says Kennewick photographer John Clement, who has had a camera in his hand for more than 49 years now and counting.

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The Eiffel Tower, by John Clement, photographer and camera artist from Kennewick, WA

“Finding those type of images takes lots of planning, prayer, and knowing your landscape locations. It’s understanding how and when the weather, the light, and the subject all work together for that moment in time, never to be repeated. There is so much to this side of the story . . . ”

He Borrowed His First Camera

Clement’s story started in 1970 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where he double majored in geology and geography. Needing an elective class to fill a gap in his schedule, he chose photography — although to get through the class he had to borrow a camera because he didn’t own one.

“But I was hooked,” he said. He spent five years with a church pictorial directory company in St Louis, and another five with Battelle in Tri-Cities doing lab and photography assignments. On the side, he shot landscapes and marketed his work, and in 1980, left Battelle to venture out on his own.

“I’ve been really blessed in this business by faithful clients and opportunities to try new ventures in photography,” Clement explains. “I’ve been involved in book publishing, calendars, multimedia production, and scouting movie locations for clients in California.

“I have clients all around the world, and have prints in more than 80 countries.”

morning landscape eastern washington tree photo john clement

Morning, capturing on camera that moment in the morning, by photographer John Clement of Kennewick, WA

Clement’s photos have garnered more than 65 regional, national, and international awards, including first place at the National Park Service’s National Natural Landmark Photo Competition. He has been published in Country Music and Northwest Travel Magazines, and one of his prints hangs in the permanent collection of the International Hall of Fame of Photography in Missouri. He installed 17 of his works as murals at the Century Link Field in Seattle, home of the Seahawks and the Sounders, and an additional 17 as 4×8 glass panels at the recently remodeled Pasco Airport. Last year he completed a major project at the Othello Medical Clinic where nearly 200 images — ranging in size from 24 inches to 35 feet — decorate the facilities.

Traveling with Family and Camera

For 20 years, Clement operated a gallery at the Columbia Center Mall in Kennewick, but closed it in 2005 so that he could devote more time to traveling with his wife, Sharon, and capturing landscapes on camera from different locations. The past several years, he has traveled regularly to the Midwest with his daughter, Colleen, for storm chasing. (“My interest is in the big skies and the landscape.”) Other travels have taken him to Russia, China, continental Europe and the British Isles, “with more to come, Lord willing.”

vineyards grapes country fields eastern washington camera photo john clement

Vineyards, by camera and photography artist John Clement of Kennewick, WA

“I have thousands of stories — some funny, some serious, and some scary,” Clement says. “When you do what I do, you can get into some interesting situations, places, and crazy scary weather.” One major memory is the time he lugged his 42 pounds of camera equipment onto a four-foot wide, mid-range ledge at Palouse Falls. Without warning, a baseball-sized rock hurtled from above, barely missing him.

“Quit throwing rocks! There are people below you!” Clement shouted to the voices overhead. The next voice he heard was that of an upset mother yelling, “I told you not to throw rocks, didn’t I?” There was a slap, a wail, and then silence. But at least there were no more rocks. Clement stayed on the ledge, unmolested from above, for four hours, waiting until the light and the sky were just the way he wanted.

Camera and the Artist’s Eye

“This world is a wonderful place of color, textures, lines, and patterns,” Clement says. “When some or all of these elements come together in the right light, they can stir the emotions to stop and think.”

It’s his job, he says, to capture that moment on camera, and translate it visually into an image that speaks to the heart as well as the eye.

“I believe God has given each one of us a gift to share with others,” Clement says.

“My gift is seeing his wonderful creation in a unique way that communicates His love for all of us — through what He has created for us to see.”

Wenaha GalleryJohn Clement is the Featured Art Event from Monday, April 8through Saturday, May 4at Wenaha Gallery. He will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where he will be joined by Milton-Freewater steel sculptor Anne Behlau and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

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

Metal (and Horse) Lover: The Steel Sculpture of Anne Behlau

forkupine porcupine fork steel metal sculpture anne behlau art

Forkupine — a metal sculpture of a porcupine fashioned from forks. Steel metal sculpture by Anne Behlau of Milton-Freewater, OR

If you ever have a run-in with a porcupine, you’ll probably remember the experience. Anne Behlau certainly has.

“When I was a six-year-old child, a porcupine came into the tent I was sleeping in with my brother on a mountain pack trip,” the Milton-Freewater metal artist recalls.

“It ate the tops out of my cowboy boots.”

horse equine metal steel sculpture anne behlau art

Metal Horse, steel sculpture art by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau

Years later Behlau, who creates steel sculpture from found, repurposed, and recycled metal, fashioned a forkupine, a whimsical, 3-D statuette of a porcupine created from forks.

A Family History of Metal and Blacksmithing

A retired registered nurse, Behlau grew up on small farms, and has been involved with animals all her life. As a young adult she moved to Dayton and raised four children on a 100-acre farm on the North Touchet, and after the kids grew and flew, went back to school for her RN degree. After 27 years of working in the medical field, she retired and turned to the welder, torch, and blacksmith forge. She now also trolls through salvage yards, junk piles, yard sales, and farms looking for metal materials to transform into her art.

“My father was a blacksmith and farrier,” Behlau explains. “My brothers continued the tradition as well as my nephew.

“Since there was such a strong family tradition of blacksmithing, I was drawn to metal work utilizing welder, torch, and forge.”

There is a learning curve, she says. In the three years she has been honing her skills with her tools, she has encountered challenges along the way.

Red Hot Metal

“Working with red hot metal can be tricky and painful at times if you are not careful,” Behlau says. “The upside of working with metal is that, unlike with wood, if you cut it wrong or put it together wrong, it is very forgiving.

small scotty dog animal sculpture metal steeel anne behlau art

Small Scotty Dog, metal sculpture by Anne Behlau, artist from Milton-Freewater, OR

“It can be cut apart and rewelded until it looks how you want it. It just takes patience and persistence . . . which I have a lot of.”

Citing a love for all things cowboy, Behlau expresses enthusiasm for creating metal sculptures of horses, ranging from the whimsical to serious.

“I have a lifelong love for horses. I’ve competed in horse shows, trained horses, team roped, barrel raced, and ridden in endurance rides.”

While raising her children, she threw herself and them into 4-H and FFA. Nowadays, that love for horses comes out in the work of her hands.

metal rose steel sculpture art anne behlau

Yellow Rose, metal sculpture by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau.

Behlau does not limit herself to equine subjects, however. All farm and ranch animals, as well as porcupines, attract her interest, along with flowers, people, and graphic design shapes. Her two Scotty dog pets provide constant inspiration, and she has created a 30-pound Scotty sculpture using sections of heavy walled metal pipe, as well as a tiny Scotty, fashioned from a railroad spike. People who see both sculptures express surprise over what makes up the finished product.

Turning Metal Scraps into Art

From forks to garden tools, from scraps of farm machinery to old horseshoes, they all find themselves with new life in a new shape, after a little bit (or quite a lot, actually) of heat and inspiration. What Behlau ultimately creates depends upon the materials she has gathered, along with ideas she picks up from the Internet, personalized by her own spin.

Working out of an unattached shop/garage at her Milton-Freewater home, Behlau markets her work as Anvil Annie Metal Art. She has sold her pieces as a vendor at festivals, through her Facebook page, and at Hamley & Company Saddle and Western Store in Pendleton, OR. Learning as she goes with “a little instruction along the way,” she never quite knows what she will make next, but is certain that it will reflect her love for country and for country life: its people, its animals, its lifestyle.

“My art,” Behlau muses, “is inspired by things that are deep in my heart.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Behlau is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 25 through Saturday, April 20 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where she will be joined by Kennewick photographer John Clement and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

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

 

country landscape acrylic painting becky melcher

“They” Speak, But She Ignores Them — Becky Melcher Paints Acrylics

country landscape acrylic painting becky melcher

On the Fence, acrylic painting by Becky Melcher. She doesn’t worry about what “they” say when she chooses a subject to paint

In the back of our minds, “they” always speak.

Who “they” are is a mystery, but their voice — if we let it — dictates what we do, how we do it, and who we do it with. Call it peer pressure, societal norms, tradition, or propaganda from the advertising industry, all people feel it in some format or another, and how we deal with “them” impacts how we live our lives.

sailboat sailing water lake acrylic painting becky melcher

Too Calm to Sail, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She paints what she wants and not what They dictate

“According to the rules, you are always supposed to have a plan, but my plan is constantly changing,” says Yakima fine art painter Becky Melcher, who has spent most of her life not listening to the voices of convention. During the 1970s, to pay for college in Los Angeles, Melcher got her pilot license and ferried airplanes between the Santa Monica and Van Nuys airports, but while she loved flying, she wasn’t so excited about where all her money was going.

“They” Say College; She Says, No

“College seemed to promise nothing, so I eventually quit and went to work for a law firm summarizing depositions. Back in the day there weren’t very many college paralegal programs, so this was learned on the job. I was self sufficient and independent!

“But as satisfying as that time was, I was fed up with Los Angeles. So I visited my aunt in Yakima, was spellbound by what I saw and never returned to California.”

She married, had triplets six months into her pregnancy, and eventually arranged to work from home, summarizing depositions for a local law firm. And when she could, she painted: representational landscapes during a time when abstract was the art world’s favorite child. After 40 years of being in the legal field — ranging from working for a government contractor making parts for nuclear submarines to administrating the business office of a private law firm — Melcher retired and threw herself full time into what she never had time enough for before.

“I have poured myself into learning and experimenting: the computer age and the Internet have afforded me great instruction on techniques, color, values, composition and the like.”

summer farm home house landscape country becky melcher acrylic

Summer at the Farm. Yakima acrylic painter Becky Melcher creates landscapes from photo references as well as images from her mind

Finding that watercolor “doesn’t allow for change of mind,” and oils require more patience than she has, Melcher focused on acrylic paintings, with her favorite subject matter being landscapes.

Landscapes: They Draw You In

“They draw you into a story that the artist is telling — You can live in landscape paintings!

“They exude the life experience and the extraordinary world around us.”

Working out of what she describes as “a tiny office in my home — more tiny art studio than office,” Melcher has created a body of work welcomed in various area restaurants, wineries, and businesses, from which she makes brisk sales. Buyers have mentioned that they like the feeling and emotion of her works.

well traveled path country rural landscape becky melcher acrylic painting

Well Traveled Path, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She listens to her heart and mind before she pays attention to what “they” say.

“Most of my landscapes are out of my imagination,” Melcher explains. “I take a lot of photos. Not necessarily of scenes I want to paint but of skies or lighting that I especially like and want to incorporate into a painting.”

One of the next items on Melcher’s learning list is exploring the world of abstract, with the idea of incorporating it into representationalism. She aims to bring out the best of each.

“They” Don’t Define Art

“Abstract art is not what people think: I believe it is painting the essence of a subject, incorporating color and texture, but I don’t believe a red stripe on a white canvas or a black dot on a blue canvas is truly abstract art.”

“They” may disagree, but then again, Melcher isn’t concerned with them. Each artist, Melcher believes, is a unique individual, and must be free to paint in accordance with their heart, soul, skills, vision, and being. There is no room for an imperious, monolithic voice imposing its views upon the world, dictating what is, and isn’t art.

“I love reading what other artists have to say about their vision, journey, and focus of artistic endeavor,” Melcher says.

“I will always be an artist in training, because there is so much more to learn and try.”

Wenaha GalleryBecky Melcher is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 11 through Saturday, April 6 at Wenaha Gallery.

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