Life Is Made for Living — Cat Paintings by Steph Bucci

cat life romance love kiss hug feline steph bucci art watercolor

Life is about relationships with one another. Cat Kisses, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Some people say life begins after high school. Others insist it really begins after retirement. But life, which goes on whether we choose to jump into it with joy or not, progresses forward when we move, learn, breathe, experience, get out, experiment, turn off the TV, take chances and just plain, well, live. When we wait, and wait, and wait, we don’t get to the things that we really want to do.

And that’s a waste of human creativity.

Artist Steph Bucci discovered this years ago when she found herself repeating the same sentence to her husband, Bud:

“When we retire . . . I want to learn watercolor.

cat dance life joy balance watercolor steph Bucci

Life is a dance that teaches us to balance. Cat Dance, original watercolor painting by West Richland, WA, artist Steph Bucci.

“I don’t know why I relegated the idea to a retirement pastime, or what kept me from pursuing it earlier.”

Why Wait? And Wait, and Wait?

But life, which was moving forward, invited her to join on the journey. With retirement far off in the horizon, she found herself with a home decor project to complete now.

“We felt some existing artwork no longer worked as well in its space.

“When costs for a replacement piece seemed high, Bud — always my great encourager and steady ally — said, ‘I think you can do it!'”

She did some research, bought paint, experimented on 4×6 practice canvases. She made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and kept at it. Little realizing how different working on mini-canvases is from the 42 x 60 piece she was aiming to create, she refused to give up. Eventually, she finished the project, successfully.

“The painting still hangs in the living room, and my long-term desire to try watercolor was launched.”

A self-motivated student who learns best by reading and imitating, Bucci has worked in watercolor, batik watercolor, mixed media, colored pencils, markers, and acrylics. Describing herself as a minimalist, the West Richland, WA, artist paints out of a studio consisting of a small desk in her guest room, a couple shelves in the closet, and a petite, highly portable pochade box she made from two wooden cigar boxes, which hold her limited paint palette of eight colors, plus a tube of white gouache.

Small Space, Big Living

In this small space she works on big things, including illustrations for two children’s books about a rescued Golden Retriever named Gus. The first book in the series won three awards, including the Royal Dragonfly and Moonbeam, recognizing exemplary work in both editorial content and illustration.

Pinks cat mouse flowers friends feline watercolor art steph bucci

In many of her cat paintings, Steph Bucci incorporates a small mouse with and around the cat. Pinks, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Bucci approaches each project, each new technique, with an energy that carries her through, up, and over the learning curve. For a year, she focused on stylized cat paintings, experimenting with subject matter and composition, and incorporating, in many of the images, a small mouse.

“My dad’s pet nickname for me as a child (I’m petite) was ‘Mouse,’ or ‘Miss Mouse.” Early on in my painting experience I decided to include a mouse in my cat images as a pointer to that dear memory.

“The Mouse doesn’t make an appearance in 100% of the paintings, and her shape and style vary, but she’s getting more consistent. She embeds a touch of ‘Father’s Love’ in my images in a way I experienced it as a child.”

cat mouse life abstract friends together collage steph bucci watercolor feline art

Cat and mouse in the game of life — Cat Mouse Abstract, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Indeed, in all her work, the image of a Father’s love is always in the background. It is what inspires her to create, with everything she creates, beautiful things that are to be used and enjoyed.

A Father’s Love, and Creativity

“I believe appreciation of beauty and creativity is placed in all human beings by our Creator . . . and that it pleases Him when we use the abilities He’s given to express His creation in a meaningful way.

“I also think it pleases Him, as it does me, when I try to develop skills of expression. He enjoys my practice and my outcomes, and He’s really the source of all the creativity and skill.”

And no doubt He is also pleased that Bucci has chosen to live her life, as opposed to just waiting things out, as she discovers more about the world she lives in when she continues to explore it.

“Painting has brought me into contact with a wonderful new world of friends, people who have enriched my life, amazed me with their giftings, and encouraged me to branch out,” she reflects.

“I am so glad my husband encouraged me to take the plunge into the art world.”

Wenaha GallerySteph Bucci is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 9 through April 5, 2021.

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

 

 

Robert McCall

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Robert McCall

More About Robert McCall

Robert McCall was an American painter, most well known for his space art, but he also dabbled in being an illustrator for Life magazine; and he also spent time creation promotional artwork.

Robert McCall
dayton depot planned etching print barbara coppock landmark

Plans Change — The Etchings of Barbara Coppock

dayton depot planned etching print barbara coppock landmark

The Dayton Depot, an intaglio print etching of the Dayton, WA, historic landmark, by Barbara Coppock of Clarkston, WA

 

All humans make plans, but frequently forget something most important: the only thing certain about life is that it’s uncertain.

Or as poet Robert Burns — not Shakespeare, not Einstein — put it, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

For artist Barbara Coppock, the last thing on her mind when life hit hard was Burns’ musings “To a Mouse, on Turning up in Her Nest with the Plow,” but she, like the mouse, found that plans she made for the future could change, drastically, in a microsecond.

Plans Change Fast

After her daughter and son graduated from high school, the Clarkston, WA, artist ordered a small printmaking press to pursue intaglio etching. As she had done with many other art mediums, Coppock planned to research and work with this new venture until she had learned all the ins and outs of the method. It would be a slow, enjoyable process, upon which she would focus all her concentration.

teacher schoolhouse lesson plans landmark intaglio print etching barbara coppock

For the Teacher — oh, the many lesson plans teachers made in this pioneer schoolhouse! Intaglio print etching by Clarkston artist Barbara Coppock

“Around that time, my husband Bill was in an auto accident which left him paraplegic,” Coppock remembers. “Medically, he required full time care, which meant I would be home.”

In addition to being caretaker, Coppock needed a plan, a means of making money that allowed her to remain by Bill’s side — and that’s where the printing press came in.

Printmaking Plans

“The answer was right in front of me: printmaking,” Coppock says. “As I was working out the intricacies, Bill was regaining use of his right hand by working on framing for my etchings.

“It proved to be a win-win, giving both Bill and me a way to support ourselves.”

The couple outfitted an RV so that Bill could travel. A friend who showed work at the C.M. Russell show in Great Falls, MT, introduced directors to Coppock’s work, and they invited her to the prestigious annual event. While at the show, Coppock attracted the interest of various galleries, and in a short time was represented by more than 20 — in Great Falls, Missoula, Helena, Ennis, Bozeman, Billings, and Lewistown. On the Oregon Coast (“I never saw the ocean until I was an adult — love at first sight,”) Coppock picked up galleries in Cannon Beach, Newport, and Bandon.

thirty bushes acre farm plans country intaglio etching print barbara coppock

The plans were for Thirty Bushels an Acre at this country farm, and sometimes plans work out, and sometimes they don’t. Intaglio print etching by Clarkston artist, Barbara Coppock

Following a Dream, and Planning out Each Day

From the mid-80s, through the 90s, and until 2008, Barbara and Bill worked as a team, at one point selling more than a thousand etchings a year through Coppock’s network of galleries.

“Art was good to us, and we were able to follow a dream,” Coppock says.

“It was very hard to realize that Coppock Etchings were being collected, some across oceans. Several collectors had amassed over 60.

“What in the world do you do with 60 etchings?”

Though they were able to travel only a few weeks each year, Coppock planned and used the time well, focusing on the subject matter of an area to develop a niche portraying homesteads, towns, local landmarks, and landscapes. Believing that the land we choose to care for, and the things we build upon it, define us, Coppock created images connecting viewers to the space with a simple glance.

“This look at the past helps us to understand those who were here before,” Coppock explains.

It was a good time. It was a memorable time. But it was a finite time, and like all such times, came to an end — in Coppock’s case, quite abruptly.

Plans Change, Again

“This amazing lifestyle lasted til Bill’s kidneys failed, the market crashed, and thankfully, I qualified for Social Security,” Coppock says. “All this happened in 2008.”

old civic theater theatre building evening plans barbara coppock print intaglio etching

The Old Civic Theater — how many people had plans to attend and enjoy a night at the theater! Intaglio print etching by Barbara Coppock of Clarkston, WA.

Almost overnight, plans changed, and Coppock went from selling in 20-some galleries to five, the rest having failed in the economic downturn. Dialysis for Bill and regular trips for treatment cut into the hours Coppock needed for the time intensive etchings. Like the mouse in Burns’ poem, Coppock found her life turned upside down.

“So I learned how to make jewelry.”

A Time, a Season, a Plan

And she told herself that there was a time and season for everything, and this particular season belonged to Bill. In 2015, when Bill passed away, Coppock found herself, again, looking at an uncertain future and figuring out how to interact within it. She moved from Montana to Clarkston, WA, to be close to family.

“So here I am, rebooted.

“I was at the top of my game when the unplanned hiatus came calling in 2008. I have a lot of unfinished editions and artist’s proofs that need to find home.

“The big bonus is Southeast Washington is filled with subjects calling my name.

“Retire? No need.

“Most folks retire to do what I do every day.”

Wenaha GalleryBarbara Coppock is the Art Event from Monday, February 4 through Saturday, March 9 at Wenaha Gallery. Her etchings include familiar and nostalgic scenes of the west and Pacific Northwest.

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.