mission gate vineyard courtyard home house june carey

Stay Home, Thinking: Mission Gate by June Carey

mission gate vineyard courtyard home house june carey

Walk among the flowers, hear the gentle sound of birds, feel the sunshine. Mission Gate by June Carey.

Home is a place of refuge, of freedom, of privacy. Within our homes, we are — or should be — free to speak our thoughts, voice our doubts, set forth our questions.

Within our homes, and for those who have them, in our yards, our gardens, the patio, we roam amidst material things that matter to us, because we have taken time to gather them together in one place. As the owners of our homes, we determine who enters them, whether actual people, or influences from outside: TV shows, streamed movies, online fare, social media, magazines. The junk mail we throw away; the spam calls we block. The phone, the computer, the screen — these need not be on.

We can look at our home as a visual representation of our minds: do we allow in things discordant, unpleasant, unsavory, undesirable, uninvited?

The artwork, Mission Gate by June Carey, shows a most delightful home, a beautiful home, set about by a garden of greenery and grace. How lovely to wander through the paths, experiencing the quiet, the freedom from distractions and discord, and thinking. The only sound is the trickle of the fountain, and it is a gentle sound, a peaceful sound, a sound that is not harsh or fearful, strident or insistent.

That silence, that gentle sound, is in our own homes, if we let it be so.

Add a Thinking Home to Your Day

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Mission Gate by June Carey. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation. Mission Gate is also available as a print already framed, as a canvas at this link, and as a limited edition paper print at this link.

More works by June Carey are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

scarlet tanager bird blossoms wildlife rod frederick

Stay Outside the Fray: Scarlet Tanager by Rod Frederick

scarlet tanager bird blossoms wildlife rod frederick

What a beautiful place to stop and be for awhile, enjoying the silence and a time for thought? Scarlet Tanager by Rod Frederick.

Have you ever been at a big sale, when people are pushing and shoving at one another, intent upon buying some loss leader item at a box store, as if it were something worth getting so intent about? You find yourself right in the middle of the fray, pushing back, when you suddenly think,

“What on earth am I doing? Did I just push that person aside????”

Maybe you’ve never done this. That’s good to hear. But, all of us, in some way, are tempted to jump into the fray sometimes, to enter the room swinging, to determinedly push another person aside. One of the frays of our day is social media. This is a place, we’re told, that’s like a party, a social gathering where people are free to say what they want and the others in the room, like polite people, nod if they agree. And if they don’t, they may pass by and get another drink, or politely — like polite people — engage in a meaningful dialogue of dissent.

Hmm. I wonder where that particular platform could be . . .

The artwork, Scarlet Tanager by Rod Frederick, shows a most beautiful little bird, set within a riotous environment of spring blossoms. The scene is serene, the bird quiet.  He (she?) isn’t squawking, scolding, screeching, but rather, stands poised in an attitude of thought, of contemplation. Out of the fray of the flock, the Tanager is in place of peace and beauty. Should another Tanager show up, perhaps they will chat — face to face, because that is the best form of communication — but for now, the Tanager is able to just . . . think.

Out of the fray.

Stay Outside the Fray in a Quiet Place of Thought

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Scarlet Tanager by Rod Frederick.  You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Rod Frederick  are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Bible Promises and Song Birds — Watercolor by Shawna Wright

Isaiah never forgotten bird bible promises shawna wright

Never Forgotten, inspirational watercolor painting featuring Bible promises from Isaiah 49:15, by Shawna Wright

The Comfort of Bible Promises

When someone we know is hurt and needing, we so often want to help, but just as often do not know how. What gesture can we make, what action can we take, to bring comfort?

Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Joy Comes in the Morning, inspirational watercolor painting by Milton-Freewater, OR, artist Shawna Wright

The answer that watercolor painter Shawna Wright found for this question not only made a difference for the person she was trying to help, but launched her on an unexpected life journey. After earnest prayers to God that He would show her a ministry, something to do for Him, she found herself creating paintings of birds incorporating hand-written promises from the Bible.

And those paintings are resonating with people.

But first, let’s go back to the beginning:

It Started with Stick Men

“In January 2015, my father was in excruciating pain from a severe injury,” the Milton-Freewater, OR, artist remembers.

“Dad was over 2,500 miles away, and my heart ached, wanting to help him. I was inspired to make him a journal of Bible promises and hymns. It wasn’t beautiful — in fact, it was rather rough as my art ability at that time stopped at stick men — but it was from my heart.”

Every morning for two years Wright emailed her father a scanned copy from her journal. Every day, the pages became more detailed and colorful as, bit by bit, Wright began experimenting with her images. On her father’s birthday, inspired by the desire to do something distinctive, she created her first bird painting.

Possible with God bird watercolor Luke Shawna Wright

It’s Possible with God, original inspirational watercolor painting by Shawna Wright

“Both Dad and I knew that something special had happened,” Wright says.

Within two months, she was sharing her work on Facebook, had launched a website, and published her first set of inspirational calendars.

Birds and Bible Promises

Crediting God for her artistic advancements (“Little did I know that He had enrolled me in His own art class”), Wright has published her sixth yearly calendar, as well as numerous prints, cards, and recently, two prayer journals for mothers featuring 100 of her works. She writes a weekly blog of short stories and thoughts on the topic of Bible promises, pairing each article with one of her paintings. She has created numerous commissioned paintings for people who want a customized work in memory of a loved one. And she finds herself invited to share her story at local events, on podcasts, and in televised interviews.

“Bible promises have been a key part of my life, one that has given me comfort, hope, and happiness.

“My goal is to encourage the discouraged, bring hope to the helpless, and comfort to the grieving.”

A Memorable Commission

One of her most memorable commissions involved a woman who sewed blankets for children who have cancer. The client wanted Wright to design a tag to accompany the blankets.

strong courageous joshua bible promises bird hand shawna wright

Be Strong and Courageous, art tags commissioned for pediatric brain cancer awareness by Shawna Wright

“I felt a tender spot in my heart for the families of these children, and agreed to do it free of charge,” Wright says.

“Not long before I took on this project, an eight-year-old girl, Julianna Sayler from Walla Walla, lost her fight with brain cancer. Julianna’s favorite Bible verse had been Joshua 1:9.” (Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.)

Wright drew a golden bird and hand, symbolizing both pediatric cancer awareness and the concept of Jesus holding people in the palm of his hand.

“It is titled, ‘Jesus has me,’ quoting Julianna’s words right until the end.”

Wright gave the original painting to Julianna’s parents. All proceeds from the hundreds of mini-cards, tags and prints that have been sold of this image are donated to the Julianna Sayler Foundation, which helps families of children with cancer.

Each Calendar Has a Feeling of Its Own

With the exception of some commissions, all of Wright’s work features birds with Bible promises. Designed around a theme — courage, faithfulness, assurance, etc. — the calendars are the driver of each year’s art. One year the images were rustic and country, another focused on bold colors and bright flowers.

“I like to mix it up so that each calendar has a feel of its own.

“A theme and harmony is important to me; it’s the glue that holds what I do together.”

She’s come a long way from stick men and scanned journal pages. And she knows, as with any journey, there are many paths ahead, many twists and bends and switchbacks. But she takes seriously the Bible promises she incorporates into her artwork, and she knows that her Art Teacher is serious about working with her.

“I have never taken classes, watched YouTube, or read books. I’ve kept my story true — ‘God Taught.’ It’s what gives my work a unique style.”

Wenaha GalleryShawna Wright is the featured  Art Event from Monday, March 9 through Saturday, April 4 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. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

shell butterfly beach coast sand doug paulson details photograph

Details Matter — The Photography of Doug Paulson

shell butterfly beach coast sand doug paulson details photograph

Most people walking by see broken shells, but Doug Paulson sees a butterfly. Sun Kissed Wings, photography by Doug Paulson.

People who go on hikes with Doug Paulson don’t just move their feet. After few minutes with the nature photographer, they learn that details matter. And to see detail, you have to look not just around, but up and down, with a willingness for and expectation of encountering the unusual.

“My focus of detail runs deep,” the Salem, OR, artist says. “I even work and play with a focus on detail.”

On hikes, he frequently points out things that are “old hat” to him, but never noticed before by his companions.

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Lost in Thought, an owl perches by a rippling river. Photography by Doug Paulson.

“My hikes are a learning experience to fellow hikers whether they like it or not.

“And I do have an overwhelming sense of humor (whether you like it or not). I call it the family curse. My dad’s side is full of undiscovered comedians.”

God’s Handiwork

Paulson has been playing around with a camera since he was twelve, and after years of working with images on film, he is especially appreciative of digital technology. Carrying his camera with him wherever he goes, he likes the freedom of taking numerous shots from varying angles, without having to wait days to see if they turn out.

“I work in God’s world, and capture bits and pieces of his handiwork,” Paulson says.

“My material is everywhere — I can find a picture that is unique just about anywhere. Thank God for digital and no cost to take pictures other than a new SanDisk card.”

Paulson is rarely still, his mind and eye as active as his feet. Prior to retirement five years ago, he worked 33 years in a factory making Andersen windows and doors. He also coached wrestling — in both volunteer and paid positions — and extols the benefits of the sport for the determination and perseverance it demands, as well as . . . attention to detail.

“Wrestling is definitely in my blood — I am a former wrestler in Osceola, Wisconsin, wrestled varsity as a freshman on, and was a co-captain of the school’s best record team my senior year — still the record today.

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White water cascades over the rocks and through the forest in River Rush, photography by Doug Paulson

“I recognize the life benefits wrestling gives to the participants. I’ve been there hands on with plenty of kids who have had great success — in wrestling, and in life.”

Wrestling with the Details

This year, in “retirement,” Paulson is head wrestling coach at Judson Middle School in Salem. It keeps him in top form both physically and mentally, so that when he heads out to the woods with the camera, he’s good to trek for hours, or, when need be, stand patiently for what seems like hours until the light is right, the atmospheric conditions perfect, and the necessary moveable details to the picture naturally fallen into place. Rather than let photo manipulation finish the picture, Paulson prefers to cooperate with nature.

“I will stand at a wonderful coastal sunset and wait for a seagull to fly through, to add the bird to the picture.”

Paulson says he learned early on that it’s the details in the photo that establish the mood, rather than his trying to fit a large panorama into a set space. In focusing on the details, he also pays attention to the background, because it sets the stage.

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It’s a matter of being at the right place, at the right time. Birds on the Rocks, photography by Doug Paulson

“Background  adds or highlights the color in the subject, and it can wash out the subject, too.

“I do a lot of foreground inclusion, too, and also like to shoot through trees to get a silhouette. The ability to isolate or focus on details — this is what makes my pictures unique.”

Details, Not Defects

Some of those details, Paulson adds, other people would describe as “defects,” but he doesn’t consider them that way. With a little time and patience, a changing of perspective, one sees the same scene in a different manner.

“I will circle a subject until I get the best contrast of color and light, thus enhancing the subject.

“Shapes and features in wood, stumps, leaves — these all attract my attention. Sometimes I will let my shadow cast over the subject, as light will wash out the colors.”

It’s a matter of, well, wrestling with the subject matter, not so much to dominate it as to pin it down to its essential, and most interesting, elements. And it’s also a matter of stopping, looking, observing, not being in a hurry — of allowing the wonder of what is there to slowly reveal itself. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t know everything, and then willing to learn.

“I am a gotta know why guy.

“I see pictures everywhere, so I take them.”

Wenaha GalleryDoug Paulson is the featured  Art Event from Monday, February 10 through Saturday, March 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. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

Road of Life –The Acrylic Paintings of Mary Soper

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

An old road, that once used to be a new path, surrounds a country cabin. Cabin with a View, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

Life isn’t static. We may start out on one road, heading to a particular destination, and by the time we’ve lived for awhile — say, 90 years — discover that we have been to all sorts of unexpected places.

Such has been the journey for Mary Soper, who spent 23 years teaching art in the Prescott (WA) School District and Pioneer Middle School (then junior high) in Walla Walla, and finishing out as the head of the art department of Garrison Middle School (then also called junior high).

country barn wheat field landscape mary soper acrylic painting

The road leading to it is covered by wheat, but the memories remain. Barn in the Blues, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

But a bit prior to that, she competed in the Miss Washington Pageant, as Miss Grays Harbor, in 1949. That gave her scholarship money to attend the University of Washington where she enrolled as a drama major, quickly switching to business and interior design when she discovered that while the world of theater was beautiful, it was not her world. She subsequently worked as office manager of a furniture store, at a telephone company, as payroll clerk at a milling company, then accountant and secretary to the Walla Walla County Engineer.

A Change of Road Direction

After 11 years at the last job, she decided it was time for a change — a big change. She returned to school for her teaching certificate in art and history. This particular path twist brought fine art seriously into her life.

“I started painting a little while I was teaching,” Soper recalls. “The kids I worked with were so creative that it made me want to explore more.

“I read somewhere, ‘We begin to learn when we begin to teach,’ and this is so true, at least for me.”

old blue truck abandoned road field mary soper acrylic art

A trusty old pick-up rests in a field, possibly in an abandoned, overgrown road. Old Blue, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

She discovered acrylic painting, a medium she connected to immediately upon studying under a visiting professor from the University of New Mexico. Later, she traveled to the United Kingdom for a six-week study abroad program entitled, “Design Resources from London.” Returning with hundreds of reference slides, she embarked upon painting in earnest, never running out of ideas because, when she wasn’t working on a scene from London, she looked around the Pacific Northwest and found continuous inspiration.

“With the collection of photos I have, it is never difficult to decide what I want to paint. It is more difficult to determine which one I want to do next.

“When I start working on a painting, it will often suggest another one, so I guess you could say I work within a theme.”

On the Road to Creativity

Through the years, Soper exhibited her work extensively throughout the Walla Walla Valley, especially at the Carnegie Art Center when it was still extant as an exhibition venue. She has also shown at the Russell Creek Winery, Walla Walla Little Theater, Darrah’s Decorator Center,  Williams Team Homes Realtors, and the Walla Walla Country Club.

Working out of her studio in an insulated garage (“When my little heater can’t keep it warm enough, I put down a tarp in my den and that takes me through the cold weather”), Soper describes herself as both a realist and a perfectionist. She loves old buildings and landscapes, often trying to visualize the people who, in the past, inhabited the space, visited it, or wandered through.

wagon country road pioneer vintage vehicle mary soper acrylic painting

Stopped on the road in front of an old, abandoned stone building, a wagon invites the viewer to stop as well. 1812 Trading Post, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper

“When I saw an old blue pickup in the bushes beside the road, I started wondering, where has it been and what was it used for? Did children or pets ride in the bed of the truck?

“An old combine made me think of how hard it had to work in the sun. Why was it left where it was?”

Commissioned to Paint

Many of her paintings start as commissions for people who have seen her work. With these, the story of the person commissioning is as intriguing as the pieces they commission.

“My painting, Music in Park — a painting of the park bandstand — was purchased by a mother for her daughter in California. She bought it because her daughter swung on the low hanging branch of the Plane Tree when she was a child.”

Old Oasis Barn found a corporate purchaser at the former Frontier Savings & Loan. Harvest made its way to the Senior Center. The Old Wallula Shack was commissioned by a woman, originally from New Zealand, who wanted a color painting from an old black and white photo.

Continuing on the Journey’s Road

“I think viewers look at my work and it tells a story to them based on their experiences,” Soper says.

“I really enjoy creating something that the people who commission it love.”

For a while, Soper took a break from painting, but she is back at it, inspired ironically by an element associated with this article.

“When I started reading the articles Carolyn (Henderson) writes in the Marquee, I thought maybe I should start painting a little more, even though I am in advancing years.”

And so she continues on her journey . . .

Wenaha GalleryMary Soper is the featured  Art Event from January 13 through February 8 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. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

quiet country photography landscape barn luann ostergaard

Country Landscapes — Peaceful, Serene, & Timeless

quiet country photography landscape barn luann ostergaard

Quiet Country, mixed media by LuAnn Ostergaard

Country living.

It’s the subject of numerous songs, books, home improvement shows, stories, jokes, and even Facebook groups.

red vineyard landscape river todd telander

Red Vineyard near the River II, original oil country landscape by Walla Walla artist Todd Telander

Whether it’s better to live in the country or the city is a debate that’s been going on at least since the sixth century B.C., when the former slave and storyteller Aesop related the tale of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. His conclusion? It’s better to live with little (in the country) and be content, than live with much (in the city) and exist in fear.

A couple millennia later, 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde quipped, “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there,” reflecting the age-old argument that life in the country is boring, and there is nothing to do but milk cows and chew on pieces of straw.

Really, there doesn’t have to be contention. As 20th century author Louise Dickinson Rich, known for her fiction and non-fiction works on New England, put it,

“I think, probably, whether you’re better off in the country or in the city depends, in the final analysis, on where you’d rather be. You’re best off where you’re the happiest.”

Country Is Their Happy Place

For many of the regional artists at Wenaha Gallery, their happy place is the country, and they find themselves painting or photographing it in all its seasons and moods.

storm maiden woman grand canyon southwest landscape steve henderson

Storm Maiden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, capturing the wilderness country landscape of the Southwest

Walla Walla painter Todd Telander, who loves the open space, agriculture, and mountains of the region, finds an astounding amount of visual interest in the country landscape. He focuses on this through his representational paintings, which are strongly imbued with impressionism.

“If my art makes a statement, it is up to the viewer to decide,” Telander says. “But for me I promote peace, contemplation, beauty, and solidity, and I suppose I like to share my vision of these things with others.”

Peace, contemplation, and beauty are also major factors in the art created by Steve Henderson, the Dayton painter who often incorporates people, especially women, in remote, wild landscapes and coastal scenes.

“I grew up in the country, and live now in the country, and it is part of who I am,” Henderson says. “It is my goal with every painting to create a place that the viewer will want to step into, a place of beauty and goodness where there is quiet and space. We need this quiet and space in order to deeply think.”

Out in the Open Country

Jim McNamara, a Walla Walla artist who prefers to paint en plein aire, or out in the open, agrees.

blue mountains wilderness country landscape jim mcnamara

The Blues, country wilderness landscape, original oil painting by Jim McNamara

“I believe the natural world deserves being looked at intensely and wordlessly,” he says. Some of McNamara’s favorite painting experiences involve donning a backpack, hiking to remote wilderness areas, and setting up his easel for an afternoon of concentrated, but pleasurable, work.

In this penchant for truly being outdoors — literally out in the country — he is joined by pastel and oil painter Bonnie Griffith, a former Walla Wallan who has relocated near Boise, ID. Griffith loves to paint outside in the natural light of the outdoors, and, like Henderson, seeks to create a place where viewers will want to stop, and stay, and be.

“My goal is to create paintings that draw the viewer into the painting, to experience the time of day, the temperature, the sound, the smells.”

cows-landscape-country-field-farm-ranch-bonnie-griffth

Living on the Land, original country landscape painting by Bonnie Griffith

Another Wenaha artist, LuAnn Ostergaard of Kennewick, finds and interprets her landscapes in an unusual, but highly effective way. Ostergaard haunts scrapyards, where she photographs the rust and patina of old cars and broken down appliances. She uses these images as the backdrop for landscapes which she then digitally creates with photo editing software.

“I feel a bit of an alchemist as I transform an image of scrapyard castoffs to a thing of beauty that resonates with harmony and balance.”

Unique Styles Capturing a Unique Place

The style of each of the artists is different, ranging from abstract to impressionist to representational; their mediums span from charcoal to oil, from acrylic to digital, but their love for their subject matter harmonizes in a manner best expressed by another artist who also extolled the country, Claude Monet:

“I’m enjoying the most perfect tranquility, free from all worries, and in consequence would like to stay this way forever, in a peaceful corner of the countryside like this.”

Or, as 18th century poet William Cowper so succinctly observed,

“God made the country, and man made the town.”

Wenaha GalleryCountry Landscapes, featuring the work of multiple Wenaha Gallery artists, is the Art Event from Monday, December 16 through Saturday, January 11. Featured artists are Nancy Richter, Steve Henderson, Jordan Henderson, Bonnie Griffith, LuAnn Ostergaard, Jim McNamara, Todd Telander and Gordy Edberg.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

Old Ropes and New Baskets — Nancy Waldron Creates

Rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

A collection of rope baskets by Colfax artist and team roper Nancy Waldron

Turning Rope into Art

Humans innovate, figuring out creative ways to solve problems. For example, consider the difficulty of capturing and restraining a full grown steer.

While this is not something the desk worker worries about, cowboys on ranches did, and they developed a technique, called team roping, which eventually segued into a popular rodeo event.

kitchen rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

A collection of kitchen rope baskets by Nancy Waldrons. Waldron does not dye the ropes; their coloration is unique to the style and manufacturer of the rope.

“Team roping involves two people on horses, a header and a heeler,” explains Nancy Waldron, a Colfax artist who is also a lifetime team roper. “The header catches the horns of a steer and takes one or two dallies around his saddle horn. He then rides to the left so the heeler can rope both hind legs and dally his rope around the saddle horn.”

The whole process is fast (a professional team takes between four and eight seconds) and exciting, but for Waldron, it doesn’t stop there. She gets really, really excited about another element of the sport:

The rope.

“I make rope baskets from old team roping ropes,” Waldron explains. “A lot of old ropes get tossed or just piled in a barn, so I am recycling and repurposing material that often would end up in a landfill. Each basket is one complete and continuous rope. Each is free formed and hand crafted — I don’t use any molds.”

New Baskets from Old Ropes

Waldron started making the baskets 10 years ago, after seeing them in catalogs. Her first thought was one that many people have when they encounter artisan craft work:

“I figured I could make my own. Being a team roper, I had more than a few old ropes lying around.

“Well, I was wrong. I had no clue how to make them. My first attempt was horrible, but I kept at it, and now am proud of the products I turn out.” Those products are both decorative and utilitarian, ranging from planters and flower pots to kitchen utensil holders, from egg collecting baskets to ones for holding kindling, and, the largest basket yet — consisting of four ropes — a pet basket. (By the way, the ropes are 30-35 feet in length.)

Rope baskets handles western gifts nancy waldron

Using one rope, Waldron incorporates the handle into the finished rope basket.

From the beginning, Waldron determined to forego shortcuts, choosing not to glue but rather melt the nylon layers together using a soldering iron. Working with a hot tip has its moments — generally short — when something other than the rope gets burned.

“I have burned myself many times,” Waldron says. “One time when I was a guest speaker giving a presentation of my baskets I was asked, ‘What does the tip look like that you use?’ I was able to show the questioner a fresh burn that was exactly shaped like the hot tip. The audience all laughed, but I sure didn’t when it happened!”

Made to Be Coiled

One of the questions Waldron most frequently encounters is whether she makes square or rectangular baskets. And the answer to that is, no.

“Think about it: try coiling your garden hose in a square and see how well that works out. Ropes are coiled and are not made to be bent: they fight you the whole way.” This trait increases the challenge of shaping the final product, especially when the rope Waldron starts with is very old. Several times, people have given her ropes from their grandpa’s days. And while these ropes are unique and vintage, they were probably also used to break a horse to tie, meaning that the rope has been wrapped many times around a standing railroad tie. So, in addition to kinks is the pungent aroma of creosote.

rope baskets brightly colored western gifts nancy waldron

Brightly colored baskets by Colfax artist Nancy Waldron — each basket is hand-fashioned and is one of a kind.

It’s all part of the challenge.

Waldron markets her rope baskets at regional gift shops, and also attends fairs and festivals throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. A chance meeting at the Pendleton Round-Up resulted in Waldron selling her wares through Woods Trading Company from Missouri, which sets up at larger rodeos and horse events throughout the U.S. Through this contact, Waldron achieved her dream to get her wares to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas:

“I pretty much had no life except making baskets between September and December. But I was thrilled they made it to the NFR.”

Never a City Girl

Born and raised in Portland but never a city girl, Waldron raised her children in Pomeroy, WA, while also farming, raising and showing cattle and sheep, breeding and training Border Collies, and, of course, team roping. Often, she says, both work and play were done with rope from the saddle of a horse, and it’s only fitting that those ropes transform into an item that is both utilitarian and artistic.

“Part of my design and trademark is ending some of my baskets with a loop around the outside, almost as if the loop and hondo are catching the basket, completing the lasso image.

“My baskets are functional, but I try to maintain the authentic concept that a rope is intended to catch something.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Waldron is the Featured Art Event from Monday, November 4, through Saturday, November 30 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery for the Christmas Kickoff Art Show Friday, November 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. Waldron will be joined by Walla Walla photographer Nancy Richter.

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.

 

 

puma mountain lion cat feline panther parowan jan fontecchio wildlife

Wildlife & Western Living — Paintings by Jan Fontecchio

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A horse finds itself in A Little Bit of Heaven by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio of Moscow, Idaho.

Wildlife Wonder

Parents remember the oddest things about their children. And given that most adults do not recall their toddler years, we accept those memories with a gracious nod. Our own recollections often start later.

“I’ve done art since my first memory,” western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio says.

rancher cowboy western horse equine jan fontecchio art

Rancher, by western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio

“My parents say I drew a three-dimensional wedge of cheese when I was three. I don’t remember that, but my book covers at school were covered in sketches. A pencil was always in my hand, and if the teacher didn’t grab my tests quickly enough, there might be a little horse drawn in the corner of the paper.”

When Fontecchio was 10, a family friend who worked as an artist for Disney drew a horse portrait in charcoal for her. The resultant memory of this event stayed in Fontecchio’s mind and affected her life’s future plans: she went to art school.

“I think it took him two minutes or something. That little demo hooked me good!”

Western Upbringing

Raised on a horse ranch in the low deserts of California, Fontecchio spent her growing years immersed in the worlds of western wildlife. While earning a degree in fine art, she worked at California wild animal and big cat rescues, including the Wildlife Way Station, a non-profit sanctuary that for over 43 years housed, cared for and rehabilitated more than 77,000 wild animals; and the Shambala Preserve, which provides sanctuary to wild felines.

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Puma of Parowan Gap, portrait of a cougar by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio

Later, while working in the craftsman department of Six Flags in Los Angeles, Fontecchio — who moved to Moscow, ID, ten years ago — befriended one of the dolphin trainers, who helped her get hired as the trainer’s partner. Every experience added to Fontecchio’s captivation with animals: their form, their thought process, their movement and grace and beauty.

A Fascination with Animals

“I became especially fascinated with the musculature of animals in stressful situations: stalking, fighting, running, etc., and in the case of dolphins, swimming and leaping.”

Fontecchio has explored this world of wildlife in a variety of mediums, beginning with baling wire, which was plentiful on the ranch where she grew up. She has sculpted in wire, clay, and blown glass. A stamped leather cover found itself on a Hollywood movie (“I wish I could remember the name of the movie, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a blockbuster or anything!”), and the first pieces she sold to her first gallery were colored ink on textured board. From there she moved to watercolor, then to pastel, and finally to oil, which she calls her dream medium.

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Summer Pasture, by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio of Moscow, ID

Her studio situation is as eclectic as her experience. As the mother of four children, Fontecchio carves out a working space from what is available:

From Floor, to Washing Machine, to Studio

“I used to paint on the floor, then switched to the top of the washing machine in the laundry room.

“I did that for years until a room opened up when our two oldest moved out.”

While the space is still small (does any artist every consider the studio big enough?), it is Fontecchio’s sanctuary, filled with her collection of skulls, furs, Indian artifacts, cactus skeletons, a vintage can of her dad’s favorite beer, and the skin from the rattlesnake that Fontecchio shot in the barn when she was 15: (“It was coiled, so there are three bullet holes in it”).

Fontecchio is a member of the American Plains Artists, Women Artists of the West, and the Out West Artists. Through the latter, she has participated in Western Art Week in Great Falls, MO, the biggest art show of western and wildlife art in the U.S., revolving around the CM Russell Art Auction. Her art resides in the homes of collectors throughout the nation — including the CEO of Exxon Mobil — as well as from England to South America to Australia, with buyers from the latter especially drawn to her horse paintings. In 2016, her painting, On the Upper Pecos, juried into the prestigious London, UK, show, The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition. What makes this notable event extra memorable is that it represented the very first time she applied for this particular show.

From Cheese to Western and Wildlife

Whether or not Fontecchio’s first foray into art was a three-dimensional wedge of cheese, her artistic portfolio today revolves around the western lifestyle, and the animals she loves. The subject matter is endless, and the main problem she sees is the lack of time to paint it all.

“I have so many things I want to paint. They’re stacked up in my mind and I’m always working on the comps for new work.

“I’ll never run out of things that I want to bring to life on canvas.

“That’s the reason I’ll live to be 100.”

Wenaha GalleryJan Fontecchio is the Featured Art Event from Monday, October 21, through Saturday, November 16 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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Highway 101 — Paul Henderson Paints Its Moods

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Cannon Beach Glow, by acrylic painter Paul Henderson, part of his Moods of Highway 101 series.

Moods of Highway 101

From rocky cliffs and chilling fog to warm, sunny beaches, Highway 101 is one of the longest, most scenic highways in the U.S. Driving it is not fast by any means, but given that it winds through the coastal scenery of Washington, Oregon, and California, who’s in a hurry?

Not artist Paul Henderson, who with his wife Letha took a 16-day trip on the highway from Astoria, OR, to Eureka, CA.

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It’s a beacon of light and beauty on Highway 101 at Newport, OR.  By Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson

“We wanted to take our time enjoying all the wonderful scenes of ocean, old farms, old communities, forest, gifts shops, galleries, boat harbors, and lighthouses,” the Yakima painter says. “We stayed one to three days around each major town, traveling 50-120 miles with each move we made.”

They visited eight lighthouses out of 13, and stopped in at state parks, farmers markets and festivals.

During that time, Paul  took more than 1200 reference photos which, after the trip, he went through with the intent to create a series of 40 to 60 small paintings of the coast.

“I’ve finished 14 so far, and have started another 10 paintings on the subject. I work on them simultaneously, and am about 60 percent done.”

Working in Multiples, and Singles

Working out of a bedroom converted into a studio in his house, Henderson often employs the multiple painting approach, lining up canvases with their reference photos and moving from one image to the next when he wants, literally, a change of scenery. Other times, on larger works, he focuses on one image. This he paints with incredible detail, devoting multiple hundreds of hours to its completion.

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Nehalem River Edge, original acrylic painting by Yakima artist, Paul Henderson

He doesn’t like to be stuck in one place or way of doing things, whether he’s traveling Highway 101 or creating in his studio. An artist from the time he was old enough to hold a crayon, Henderson has been painting professionally for 46 years, and he has experimented with everything from highly realistic representational work to abstract pours. A strong interest in history, archaeology, and multi-national cultures infuses his work, and because of this, he refers to himself as “The Northwest Artist with an International Touch.”

“I love to try different methods; it keeps me fresh and invigorated,” Henderson says. “After all, ‘variety is the spice of life.’ I am full of passion to express and create life . . . colorful living images.”

With his present project, the variety of imagery acquired on his Oregon Coast trip keeps him traveling from one canvas to another, from one scene to another, in all sorts of weather. It’s almost like taking the trip all over again.

Sun, Rain and Fog on Highway 101

“It was quite cloudy in the northern part of Highway 101. In the middle it was somewhat sunny, and then rainy and foggy when we reached the south end. But it was all very beautiful.

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Water’s Edge, a view of the beach and ocean off of Highway 101, by Yakima painter Paul Henderson

“Because of the variety of weather, I am calling the series that I’m painting, The Moods of Highway 101. The variety of moods — from stormy to soft rain to the sun breaking through to the beautiful sunsets — these all define the landscape and the scenery of this long and historic highway.”

Henderson has exhibited his work at shows, galleries, and wineries in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Iowa, and California. He has been interviewed by Evening Magazine, the weekly TV show of KING 5 in Seattle, as well as by assorted newspapers and publications, including The Mzuri Wildlife Foundation Conference and The Artist’s magazines. He has had special shows at Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla; AntoLin Cellars of Yakima; Wenaha Gallery of Dayton; and Gallery One in Ellensburg.

In 1986 he attracted national attention when he began painting with coffee, the first artist to seriously consider doing so.

Realism, Abstract, and Everything in Between

“I’ve gone from drawing every leaf and brick as a child to abstract when I first started professionally painting,” Henderson says, describing an artist’s repertoire that is as varied and complex as the scenery along Highway 101.

“I am comfortable working in any style or subject matter from abstract to detail, to fantasy, to loose style, to just experimenting.”

It’s all part of the journey of being an artist — constantly moving, observing, exploring, and doing. It’s never being static. But it’s also staying long enough in one spot to fully capture its essence, its personality, its mood.

“Watch what’s coming next,” Henderson says. “Who knows?”

Wenaha GalleryPaul Henderson is the Featured Art Event from Monday, October 7, through Saturday, November 2 at Wenaha Gallery. He will be at the gallery Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Autumn Art Show, also featuring bead weaver Alison Oman and Heppner, OR, wildlife painter Sandra Haynes.

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.

 

bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

Wildlife Woman — The Artwork of Sandra Haynes

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Bear and the Bird, wildlife scratchboard art by Sandra Haynes of Heppner, OR

Wildlife Is a Way of Life for Sandra Haynes

The unusual nature of Sandra Haynes’ childhood is best evidenced by her baby blanket: a bobcat hide from an animal her mother found raiding the family hen house. As a little girl, Haynes’ first pets were domesticated, non-descented skunks (“They were pretty easy-going except in the winter when we left them to their semi-hibernation, undisturbed, as they were usually pretty cranky by then”) and a pet fox that she befriended by standing in a clearing, very still, and proffering biscuits.

By the age of four, she had learned to move slowly, talk softly, and keep her eye contact brief.

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Born Wild, colored pencil on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

“I was raised in Molalla, a timber town on the west side or Oregon,” the wildlife artist says.

“Being around wild animals was just part of my life as Dad and some of his brothers — all woodsmen — spent a lot of time in the heavy timber teaching me everything about the life of its inhabitants.”

Her favorite uncle, a government trapper, frequently brought an unknown animal to Sandra, then about eight. He enjoyed quizzing  her on what it could be and how it would live:

“He would ask me to tell him about it based on its fur color pattern, where it lived in the forest based on its anatomy, what it ate after examining its teeth, jaws, and claws, whether it was nocturnal, and was it likely to live mostly alone or in a group or herd.”

Later, a mountain man friend taught her how to sneak up on herds of 350 cow/calf elk pairs while remaining in their plain sight. Haynes also learned how to climb the sides of a cliff to feed apples to wild Big Horn Sheep rams.

Hunting Wildlife with a Camera

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Foxy Lady, graphite and pan pastel on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

Yes, it was an unusual childhood, and it’s not surprising that Sandra — who started drawing at the age of three — grew into a wildlife artist, capturing deer, elk, bears, cougar, moose and more in oil paint, pastel, graphite, watercolor, and scratchboard. Now residing in Heppner, OR, Haynes travels throughout the Pacific Northwest — especially its most remote spots — to photograph the animals she eventually turns into artwork.

“Hunting wild animals to photograph outside of animal parks is a difficult and far-from-guaranteed adventure, and is the reason why most artists who do their own photo reference gathering go to game parks or farms,” Haynes says, explaining that while she does visit animal parks, a photographer friend and she take the time now and then to go into the wild and do things the hard way. Accompanying them is Zora, Haynes’ Doberman bodyguard who more than once has kept her mistress from harm.

“One time my photographer friend and I were close to a herd of wild horses. We decided to walk to the other side of a pond when much to our surprise, the entire herd of about 12 horses decided to follow us.”

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Fire Cat, by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

When two especially aggressive stallions sidled too close, Haynes and her friend bent to pick up rocks to chuck when Zora streaked past them and scattered the herd in a rush.

“After that, she went back to her playing without a glance at me or them. She knew she had done her job and did not expect a praise-filled fuss. But that showed me she had what it takes to protect me in any circumstances.”

Jumping into Scratchboard

Haynes’ medium of choice is scratchboard, a technique she first encountered 16 years ago when an artist friend gave her a small board and told her to get something sharp and scratch out an image.

“That was the end of my training.”

She persevered, found she loved the fine, etched lines that brought out details, and went on to enter shows and win awards with her work. A short list of shows includes the Phippen Western Art Show in Prescott, AZ; the Western Heritage Art Show in Great Falls, MT; Montana Charlie Russell Days; the Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, WA; and the Western Art Show and Auction in Ellensburg, WA.

Haynes is a member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, and has published a series of scratchboard instructional books, as well as stories on her adventures as a wildlife artist.

In the Studio or Out in the Wild

It’s hard to tell where she is happiest — in the studio or out in the wild — but in both places she feels very much at home. The child who loved to draw, immersed in the world of wildlife and the woods, has grown into a mountain woman herself, one who shares, through her art and through her wisdom, the beauty of the world she knows.

“Art, to be good, only has to touch you in someway,” Haynes says. “Maybe it reminds you of someplace you have been or would like to be, or it makes you smile.

“For me, creating a piece that makes that connection is what it is all about.”

Wenaha GallerySandra Haynes is the Featured Art Event from Monday, September 23, through Saturday, October 19 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Autumn Art Show, also featuring bead weaver Alison Oman and Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson.

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.