two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

two kittens cats snuggling family pet simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

crab apple blossoms spring flowers simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

doe fawn wildlife animal spring simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

leafy bridge country rural forest woods simple living ellen heath watercolor

Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

cat family pet animal simple living ellen heath watercolor painting dixie

Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 2018.  

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



bottom blue fusion coral glass bowl art gregory jones pasco

Glass Fusion — Vintage Wave and Coral Bowls by Gregory Jones

bottom blue fusion coral glass bowl art gregory jones pasco

Bottom Blue, a coral glass fusion bowl by Gregory Jones, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Pasco, WA

While the question, “What is art?” isn’t about to be satisfactorily resolved anytime soon, what it takes to make and be an artist is less ambiguous:



And the willingness to make a lot of mistakes.

“I am self-taught, and stubborn,” says glassmaker Gregory Jones of Pasco, who works with new and recycled glass to create bowls, plates, and platters using a technique called glass fusion.

orange glass wavy bowls gregory jones costalota glass

An orange glass wavy bowl, with vintage form fused to modern color choices, by Gregory Jones of Pasco, WA

“The technical aspects of working with glass have been a long and interesting process,” Jones adds, explaining that he began working with glass in the 1970s as physical therapy for his fingers after a hand injury. He started with stained glass, but eventually settled on fusion, which involves joining two or more glass pieces together under high (think 1100 to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit) heat, and often shaping it over a mold.

Calling the three kilns in his studio the heart of his creations, Jones spends a lot of time in the shop attached to his house, with the result that, “I don’t have to far to go to lose myself in my craft.

“I have no day job — I’m retired, and am loving the freedom to create my art.

“Art is so much better than a real job.”

Vintage Wavy and Coral Glass Bowls

Using both new and recycled glass, Jones creates artistic, yet functional wavy glass bowls with a vintage yet modern feel, as well as coral bowls, which look like what they sound like: coral reefs from the sea.

“Nothing inspires me more than the beautiful ocean — with all of that life under the seas, on the beaches.

periwinkle coral blue glass fusion bowls gregory jones pasco

Three Periwinkle blue glass fusion coral bowls by Gregory Jones, glass artist from Pasco, WA

“Coral bowls are proving to be a great challenge and very labor intensive, taking a number of days to make a single piece. I have been inspired to make these by my diving and exploring the Pacific Ocean from Southern California to beautiful Hawaii.”

It’s a process indeed, requiring the laying of glass strips one over another, firing the shape at a temperature far higher than what’s needed to bake a cake, and then annealing — or allowing the hot glass to cool slowly to strengthen the final piece. Then the artist can add more strips and fire again, followed by another annealing. In the final firing, the artist sets the shape over the bowl-shaped mold, often made of stainless steel to withstand the heat, and fires it all up again.

Of course, writing it out in one paragraph grossly simplifies the matter, and a series of sentences does not begin to describe the potential for the unexpected, which happens so much with creative glass making, experimentation, and the continual learning curve that it’s . . . almost expected.

Experimenting with Glass

“It has taken a lot of trial and error to get the pieces I like, and a lot of errors have ended up in the landfills,” Jones says.

yellow fusion glass coral lace bowl gregory jones costalota Pasco

A yellow glass fusion coral bowl, filled with the treasures of the sea, by Gregory Jones from Pasco, WA

“I’ve never been to a workshop — I’ve always been self taught. Maybe that’s why there have been so many errors, but there are also many beautiful and unique pieces which make a lot of people smile.”

For Jones, making people smile is as important as creating the artwork itself, and whether he sells his work or gives it away, success lies in the reaction of the person seeing, and holding, his art. For years, Jones has been creating and gifting the Jewish Star of David to synagogues throughout the Pacific Northwest, out of deep respect for what the symbol means in his family heritage.

“A lot of times I make things just for the love of making a piece and seeing the smile and joy on a person’s face.”

The Challenges of Recycled Glass

When it comes to using recycled, vintage glass — which is increasingly difficult to find — Jones looks for old windows in old buildings, explaining that the bubbles, waves, and imperfections inherent to vintage windows translates into fun and exciting patterns in the final piece. Several contractors in the region keep him in mind when they are dismantling structures, and Jones is constantly up to the challenge of working with a material that is eminently unpredictable.

blue wavy fusion glass bowl gregory jones costalota pasco wa

Blue fusion wavy glass bowl, a touch of vintage, a touch of modern, by Pasco glass artist Gregory Jones

“After several years and lots of effort, I have developed a workable process that has been very rewarding.”

It goes back to that determination, curiosity, and willingness to make a lot of mistakes.  The result — beautiful artwork and the beautiful people who are drawn to it, is a winning combination indeed.

Meeting People

“My art is a unique way to meet so many people,” Jones says. “There is no boundary as to the type of people you can visit with, and hear the great stories of their lives.

“I think that might be the best part: the people you meet and interact with, and who knows? You may have a new friend.”

Whatever the definition of art, that sounds like an important component.

Wenaha Gallery

Gregory Jones is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, February 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, March 24, 2018.  He will be at the the gallery Saturday, March 3, showing his glasswork and chatting with visitors from 1 to 4 p.m.  Joining him that day will be artist, writer, and historian Nona Hengen of Spangle, WA, who will be speaking on the Native American/U.S. Government wars at 1:30 and 3, and watercolor artist and musician Roy Anderson of Walla Walla, who will play live music in between Hengen’s talks.

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

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

Community Giving — All Year Round

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

What is a community, really, but a family of human beings who share their resources? The Harvesters, by Steve Henderson

Life happens.

And while there are other, more expressive ways of voicing this observation — some singularly  inappropriate for the family newspaper — the intimation is the same: people lose their jobs, get sick, or have an accident, resulting in life not going on the way it did before.

art of peel chef painting ken auster

Food is a celebration, a necessity, and a gift. Art of a Peel by Ken Auster

When we learn of another’s pain, our common response as decent human beings is to feel a sense of sympathy, sometimes going beyond this to see what we can tangibly do to help our fellow humans in their distress. After all, we realize, the unexpected blows of life can hit any of us, at any time.

But sometimes, in our effort to keep our own world secure and safe (because who wants to feel that we can be hit, randomly, by a meteorite?) we probe and parse the issue:

“I bet he was texting too much at work. Maybe a little alcohol problem there, too, eh?”

“I heard she smoked a lot when she was younger. It was lung cancer, wasn’t it?”

“All those kids in the car making noise — it’s a clear case of distraction and not paying attention. Distracted driving is against the law in this state.”

We Are a Community of Family, and Families

And then, once we imagine a possible cause unlikely to mirror any in our own experience, we’re off the hook when it comes to feeling compassion, because, really, the person sort of deserved what they got. It’s tempting to assign a mental number to the tragedy — with 1 accorded very little sympathy because the person acted foolishly and really should have foreseen the consequences and 10 scoring high because this tragedy was in no way the person’s fault.

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Things seem bleaker, and colder, in the winter, especially after the holidays. Candleman by James Christensen

But there are problems with this natural tendency to sort through our world and makes sense of it by classification, notably,

  1. We are not gods, and never, ever know the full situation, and
  2. Because we are not gods, we chronically, consistently, and masterfully make very human mistakes, many of which frequently do not — fortunately for us — result in our getting the desserts we “deserve.” But sometimes . . . they do.

A wise person once said that the criteria we use to judge others will turn around and be used thusly on us ourselves, and if this is so, it is sensible to approach the misfortunes of others with compassion, understanding, thoughtfulness, and empathy — reactions we ourselves embrace with relief when undergoing our own trials.

Supporting Our Community

It is with this awareness that Pat and Ed Harri, the owners of Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, started an annual canned food drive at the gallery, with everything collected during the month of January dedicated to the Community Food Bank in Dayton.

“We purposely chose January, because during the Christmas season, there is so much focus on gift-giving and celebration that once you are over the seasonal holidays, people are almost burnt out,” Pat explains.

Canned food community drive wenaha gallery

It’s a sculpture of canned food, representing the bounty given by community members to the Dayton Food Bank

“But when it comes to helping people, this is a need that exists all year. And January can be a very cold, bleak month.”

Entering somewhere around its tenth year (Pat isn’t sure), the Annual Canned Food Drive regularly brings in some 500 pounds of food, spanning everything from tuna fish and diced tomatoes to artisan chocolate bars and organic sugar. The gallery collects it through the month and creates an artistic display, one that changes as new items are dropped off.

Having Fun Giving Back

“We’ve had several  people through the years who really get into the spirit of the giving,” Pat says. “They go shopping especially for our canned food event, and ask themselves — ‘What would I buy to put in my own cupboard?’ and that’s what they bring.” Others burrow through their pantries and gather largesse. All leave off their wares with a sense of satisfaction and joy.

It’s fun — and humbling — to see what arrives each day, Pat adds, and by the end of the month, what starts out as a trickle winds up as a flood. Before food bank volunteers arrive to cart the food away, the gallery staff enjoys setting up the totality and taking a photo, adding with it their own warm wishes to fellow community members who are going through a tough time.

“The cans of food that people bring in are gifts — gifts to people in our community who are having a hard time and need encouragement from others,” Pat says. “I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of the people in this area.”

Wenaha Gallery

The Annual Canned Food Drive is the featured Art Event  at Wenaha Gallery from Thursday, December 28 through Wednesday, January 31, 2018.  During this time, for every can or non-perishable item of food brought into the gallery, the giver will receive $2 off their next framing order, up to a total of 20% off. Additional cans brought in after the 20% maximum will apply toward a subsequent framing order.

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


tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

Sew Happy — Fiber Artist Kathy Snow Creates the Perfect Gifts

tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

A series of decorative apron towels, to be used in the kitchen or worn by a doll, by sew happy sewist Kathy Snow

Santa Claus could use a person like Kathy Snow on his staff, and not just because her last name fits well into his company theme.

Nor is it because the Dayton sewist  (a recently coined term that combines the words “sew” and “artist”) creates doll clothes to fill the dream wardrobe of every child who owns and loves an 18-inch American Girl style doll.

holiday themed nostalgic hand sewn aprons by kathy snow

Holiday themed, hand sewn aprons with a nostalgic flair, by sewist Kathy Snow

Snow’s prowess with the sewing machine, and her ability to transform fabric, notions, lace, and buttons into intricately sewn items of art, approaches a proficiency that borders on wizardry, a level of achievement in line with what St. Nicholas demands at his North Pole shop.

Appropriate for the correlation, Snow discovered the magic of hand sewing as a 9-year-old child, fully launching into the craft in 7th grade, when she took a sewing class and decided to never stop.

The Sewist in the Studio

“I have made LOTS of things in my lifetime,” Snow says. “Dresses for myself, dresses for my daughter when she was growing up, costumes for her and my grandchildren. I have made many many things through the years that I have given away to family and friends.”

Snow’s present passion focuses on dresses, coats, nightgowns, jackets, slacks, skirts, and blouses for those 18-inch dolls, which she purchases on sale at box stores and decks out in fashion for every season. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time to create a multiplicity of items from fabric, ranging from kitchen tea-towels that look like old fashioned aprons (and fit, incidentally, an 18-inch doll, should you happen to have one on hand) to quilts, from full-sized 1930s style aprons for full-sized humans to Christmas stockings.

quilted christmas stockings by sewist kathy snow

Quilted Christmas stockings by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing holiday happiness of which Santa would approve

“I  get involved in making other things that steer me away from the doll clothes,” Snow says. “I tend to start too many things at the same time, but I do  manage to get things done, just not as quickly as I once did.”

Business Is Sew Good

After all, she does this for fun, although like many endeavors we start, fall in love with, and get really proficient at doing, Snow has turned a lifetime love into a business, and operates a regular booth at the Village Shoppes in Dayton. After retiring four years ago from her position as a pharmacy technician, she finds time to spend in her basement sewing studio, complete with the ironing board that is supposed to easily fold away, but never does; a wall peg board loaded with thread and other notions; and a prominent sign that announces, MY HAPPY PLACE.

“And of course, I have cupboards of fabric and lots of totes full of fabric — Imagine that! Sometimes I wonder if I will get all of this sewed up into something.”

matching doll and girl frilly dresses by sewist kathy snow

Frilly, matching dresses to fit a doll and her girl, by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing good cheer throughout the year

And while Snow has been sewing pretty much all of her life, she’s managed to tuck in a few unexpected experiences between the seams, so to speak, offhandedly mentioning that she used to sing professionally, notably in California with the Doodletown Pipers, an easy listening group of the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as The Kids Next Door group at Walt Disney World in Florida, in 1972. After her daughter was born, she left the music business, but that’s when she discovered the County Fair:

“I entered several items I had made and won several First Place, Second Place, and Third Place ribbons.” If she wasn’t hooked on sewing before, she was now.

Sewing Happiness

But actually, it’s all about the sewing, whether the work sells (it does) or whether it wins ribbons (how can it not?). The items Snow creates in her Happy Place spread a message of joy to whoever buys or receives the final work, and in these glad tidings, Santa would be pleased as well, because Snow’s mission statement closely parallels his own.

“This is something that I choose to do for fun, and hopefully if I sell some things that make others happy, that makes me happy.

“That’s what I want to do: make others happy with the things I create.”

Wenaha Gallery

Kathy Snow is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 4 through Saturday, December 30, 2017.   

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


talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

Talented Trio — Three Different Artists Keep it All in the Family

talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

The Talented Trio of Michael Rastovich, LuAnn Ostergaard, and Joseph Rastovich inspire one another to heightened creativity

We’ve all heard that two heads are better than one.

But then again, too many cooks spoil the broth. And because it’s wise to take all maxims with a grain of salt, we recognize that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Numachi abstract photograph print LuAnn Ostergaard talented trio

Numachi, abstract photograph print by LuAnn Ostergaard, one of the Talented Trio family of artists

Such is the experience of the Talented Trio — a husband/wife, parent/son amalgamation consisting of Michael Rastovich, illustrator and animator; his wife LuAnn Ostergaard, digital abstract photographer; and their son Joseph Rastovich, metal sculpture artist of both home decor and public art.

The Kennewick family works, lives, collaborates, encourages, critiques, and innovates together as professional artists, or as LuAnn puts it,

“We are closely connected in our personal lives, and it shows in our collaborative, creative professions as artists. There’s a lot of cooperation. We work together to help the others with inspiration, new ideas, and methods of creating.”

Joseph agrees, wryly observing:

“Art by committee is fraught with difficulties.

“However, when the right minds come together, the synergy can create outstanding results.”

Joseph: “Powerful Brainstorming” by the Talented Trio

Crediting his parents as critical mentors in his creative career, Joseph describes “powerful brainstorming” sessions featuring (three) different perspectives, sometimes vastly contrasting, with an outcome that is often superior to the original single perspective.

metal sculpture home decor furniture lamp joseph rastovich talented trio

A metal sculpture home decor lamp by Joseph Rastovich, the youngest member of the Talented Trio

For Joseph, art has been a part of his life since childhood, growing up with full-time artist parents, and being “unschooled” in a creative environment that allowed him to have the time, freedom, and tools to create whenever he wanted. By the age of 25, he had installed 11 public art projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, in addition to creating an array of home decor wall art and furniture that he sells through various art galleries, festivals, and retail stores.

“He literally grew up with a paintbrush in his hand, and flourished as a young artist,” LuAnn says.

LuAnn: Leaving the Corporate World

She, however, experienced a different world before she entered that of a full-time independent artist. Though LuAnn comes from a long line of artists dating back to her great grandfather, she started out in a corporate work environment. The memory of a different way of doing things enhances her gratitude for the way things are now.

“After spending five years working in a windowless office with a powerful, good -paying job in the corporate world, I made the decision to take the journey as an artist,” LuAnn says.

“Some evenings, when I came out of the building to go home after work, I would see a glorious sunset and realize I was missing it. I would just stand there, reveling in it as it quickly faded away.”

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Chalice, original drawing by Michael Rastovich, the patriarch of the Talented Trio

She wanted to do work that she believed in, experiencing a flow of creativity in which she expressed her own ideas. Seeing the world with an intensity that caused her to notice thing other people didn’t, she wanted to bring her creative visions to tangible reality. So when she walked away from her corporate job, she never looked back: every day since then reaffirms that decision.

“I take pride and have a sense of accomplishment when completing my creative work for the day.”

Michael: A Passion for Drawing

Michael knew from a very young age that he was an artist, incorporating both commercial and independent work into his professional dossier: he does design, animation, illustration, etching, digital, and graphics, with his true passion being drawing.

“I have spent my life trying to understand our world, by drawing it,” he says. “The challenge of seeing the world, and suggesting its forms with accuracy, economy and simple tools is joyful for me.”

Michael studied under master artists Siegfried Hahn and Howard Wexler, living in an adobe hut in the New Mexico desert while honing and perfecting his skills. He has worked for a museum design company in Portland, OR, creating conceptual drawings for the creation of new museums through the U.S., and presently develops animation projects for businesses of all sizes and scope. He also custom builds the framing boxes upon which LuAnn mounts her digitally enhanced, abstract photographs.

A Trio of Talent and Collaboration

It’s all part of working together.

“As a family of working artists, we spend nearly every waking moment creating and helping each other with our creations,” Michael says. “Over the years, we have each developed specific skills, and we depend on each other for support in this sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, life as artists.”

“Holidays, weekends, and down-time are meaningless,” LuAnn adds. “You are an artist, and your life’s work is all that matters.

“You were born to be an artist, and it is your purpose in life and your life’s work — you can do nothing else.”

Wenaha Gallery

LuAnn Ostergaard, Michael Rastovich, and Joseph Rastovich are the featured Pacific Northwest artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, November 6 through Saturday, December 2, 2017.   The Talented Trio will be at the gallery in person Saturday, November 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for a special show also featuring Kennewick watercolor artist Laura Gable.

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




leather billfolds shelby sneva nanna grandma inspiration Bellingham

Leather Craft — Handcrafted Beauty from Bellingham Artist Shelby Sneva

leather billfolds shelby sneva nanna grandma inspiration Bellingham

Handcrafted leather billfolds by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, who credits her Nanna Grandma for opening up the world of art and sewing

It doesn’t matter whether you call her Nanna, Nona, Gramma, Grams, Babushka, Abuela, or any of the thousands of  variations of “Grandmother” — if that woman makes a positive influence on your life, she makes a lasting one.

Leather designer Shelby Sneva, who creates hand-crafted wallets, clutches, cuffs, shoulder bags, and jewelry from fine and reclaimed leather, credits her artistry today to a Singer sewing machine gifted by her Nanna when Sneva was six.

colorful bracelets by bellingham leather artist shelby sneva inspired by nanna

Colorful leather bracelets by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva. It all started with the gift of a Singer sewing machine by Shelby’s Nanna Grandma.

“I always thought it was the most fantastic hunk of metal, gears and knobs!” the Bellingham artist remembers. “I fumbled around on that machine for several years, making outfits and teaching myself to be a crafty little stitcher.”

Nanna’s Lasting Gift

From crafty little stitcher, Sneva eventually graduated to professional artist, earning her BFA from Western Washington University with a primary focus on painting and sculpture. Ironically, despite taking every studio art class available at the university — from photography to fibers and fabrics, from papermaking to welding — Sneva didn’t discover her particular niche until her mother, an interior decorator, passed on some leather samples from her furniture business.

“That’s when the passion of  leatherworking was ignited,” Sneva says. Like many passions, it had been burning underneath, but so steadily and quietly she hadn’t recognized its importance. She simply accepted its existence as normal.

Leather and Sewing Are Timeless

Though Sneva had initially fallen in love with oil painting, to the point of moving to the East Coast to apprentice with landscape oil painter Curt Hanson, she never stopped the sewing she started when she was 6, and found greatest pleasure in creating fabric wallets and gifts for friends and family.

leather wallet handcrafted shelby sneva bellingham artist inspired by nanna

Handcrafted leather wallet by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, whose first art forays began with a gift from her Nanna Grandma at 6

The discovery of leather, then, was a momentous one, and in 2004 Sneva opened her business, Sown Designs, which she markets through Etsy, her online website, the Bellingham Farmers Market, and her studio in downtown Bellingham at the Waterfront Artists’ Studios.

“Thanks to the online marketplace,” Sneva says, “I have sold wallets all around the world — from Switzerland, Germany, London, Norway, Canada, and all over the U.S.” Sneva’s work has been juried into and vended at shows like Urban Craft Uprising and the Fremont Fair in Seattle, and is featured at more than a dozen gift and retail shops in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, California, and Alaska.

The Aroma of Leather in Bellingham

“I love the smell of leather,” Sneva says, adding that her studio exudes the aroma. “I am always learning new things, new techniques with leather work, so I am never bored!”

leather earrings by bellingham artist shelby sneva

A collection of leather earrings by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva

From the discontinued leather samples passed on by her mother, Sneva has added a number of local stores and leather distributors to provide the materials for her work. The combination of working with local resources as well as reclaimed materials is a benefit to suppliers and clients, as well as to the environment, Sneva believes.

“It is my priority to connect with suppliers/buyers who also appreciate the effort, quality, and uniqueness of handmade pieces,” Sneva says.

“The great thing about my accessories is that they are all one of a kind. That makes it unique for the owner to have something no one else has, and it makes it fun for me to create without feeling like a factory.

leather cases by bellingham artist shelby sneva inspired by nanna grandma

A collection of leather cases by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, who began her art career at age 6, sewing on a Singer machine given to her by her nanna grandma

“I really pay attention to details with each wallet, using my sewing machine like a drawing tool to draw stitch patterns and make designs with leather geometric shapes and colors.” For her wallets, Sneva chooses upholstery leather, which she describes as durable and soft, acquiring a beautiful patina over time. Hand-crafted art, Sneva believes, becomes a part of its owners’ lives, adding dimension and beauty to the day.

A Nanna Aphorism

Quite recently, Sneva enjoyed one of those rare, but memorable full-circle moments that we all treasure when they happen.

“I was a presenting artist at our Bellingham Museum for Art Career Day,” Sneva explains. “As I spoke, I remembered participating in similar workshops with Spokane (where Sneva grew up) artists when I was a high school student and young aspiring artist.”

In effect, what goes around comes around, a timeless aphorism that sounds like something one’s Nanna, or Nona,  or Abuela, Babushka, Baba, Yaya, Oma, or Gram would say. But that only makes sense, because the things that woman says and does really do make the difference of a lifetime.

Wenaha Gallery

Shelby Sneva is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 17 through Saturday, August 12, 2017. 

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


Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Escaping the Office Cubicle — The Paintings of David Schatz

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Out of the office cubicle with Pink Roses, Oil on Panel by Portland artist David Schatz, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Office cubicles are not known for being spacious, liberating, beautiful places.

Grey, carpeted, windowless, and with walls too low for privacy, the ubiquitous modern “office” is a venue that artist David Schatz left far behind on weekends and holidays, when he explored landscapes, floral gardens, and wildlife refuges in search of meaningful images to paint.

morning waldo lake original painting david schatz out of the office cubicle

Definitely outside of the office cubicle, Morning on Waldo Lake, original oil on canvas by David Schatz

“I try to capture the beauty of what I see outside and bring it inside,” the Portland, OR, artist explains.

“I have no agenda except for trying to find and express the beauty in this world.”

Schatz, who has been drawing and painting since high school when an aunt gave him a set of oil pastels, was told during university studies that he should find something else to do as he would never become a painter. In a characteristic combination of practicality with stubbornness, Schatz turned to circuit board design for the electronics industry as his day job, and pursued painting when he was, literally, free.

Fine Art & The Day Job

Ironically, the day job — which appears to have nothing to do with the finer nuances of fine art — benefited from Schatz’s artistic bent, requiring the sense of spatial relationship demanded by drawing and painting.

“My painting skills helped me to visualize how a circuit board would have to be arranged to fit the space available,” Schatz says.

“I got my first job in electronics because I could draw.”

One of the most challenging aspects of Schatz’s dual sets of skills — aside from the cubicle — had to do with Schatz’s coworkers because, outside of concerns to do with the job, there was nothing to talk about:

patience green plant with leaves david schatz acrylic painting

Patience, original acrylic by David Schatz, capturing the world outside of the office cubicle

“I was surrounded by engineering geeks who had no idea of why anyone would want to paint when he could be playing computer games,” Schatz recalls.

“For my part, I had no idea why anyone would want to play computer games when he could paint.”

Schatz speaks of this situation in the past, having “escaped the cube,” as he puts it, through retirement, and is presently pursuing the full time career in art that he was earlier assured he could not have. Carrying a camera with him everywhere (“So does everyone,” he notes wryly, “with their cell phones”), Schatz captures reference photos nearby — taking advantage of Portland’s many public gardens to find floral images — as well as across the country in Florida, where he haunts wildlife refuges.

Easygoing Birds

“The birds in the refuges know that they are safe, and ignore the photographers,” Schatz says. “The camera that I use has a wonderful zoom lens, and the birds do seem to be posing for us.

“There are often 5-10 photographers lined up shooting the same bird.”

stalker crane bird acrylic painting david schatz

The Stalker, original acrylic painting by David Schatz

But a reference photo is just that — a photo — until the artist shapes and forms it into a painting, incorporating light, shadow, atmospheric perspective, color, and that elusive sense of feeling and emotion resulting only after much careful attention from the artist’s hand and soul. The highly realistic nature of Schatz’s work commands that he work closely on a small area at a time, addressing with his brush a petal or rock until it’s precisely the way he wants it to be.

It is because of his method that Schatz prefers working with reference photos over painting in plein air.

“My passion is for nature and I will paint anything that I can photograph,” he says.

“But I am a slow painter, and anything that I choose to paint will be long gone before I get started painting!”

Schatz has sold his work throughout the Pacific Northwest, and his art has been spotlighted at watercolor society exhibits in both Texas and Louisiana. One of his works was featured on the front cover of the British edition of Best of Flower Painting, and his floral images have been published by Wild Wings, a licensing agency specializing in wildlife, Americana, and nostalgia images.

It’s all part of focusing on the natural world — flora and fauna — and bringing it, as Schatz determines, into the inside where it can be seen, appreciated, longed for, and loved. Fine art belongs everywhere including — and maybe especially — the office cubicle.

Wenaha Gallery

David Schatz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 8 through Saturday, June 3, 2017. Schatz will be at the gallery Saturday, May 27 for a special two-person art show with Kennewick artist LuAnn Ostergaard, and both artists will be on hand to meet and greet visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free refreshments are provided.

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


Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Kindled by Encaustic — The Paintings of Lauri Borer

Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Blues, encaustic painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

While Lauri Borer did not learn all she really needed to know in kindergarten, she did pick up a lot from the world of Walt Disney. The Walla Walla artist, before she moved to the Land of Many Waters in 2005, lived in Florida and worked with merchandising and human resources at the Walt Disney Company.

Who'll Stop the Rain Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

Who’ll Stop the Rain Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

“It’s worth remembering the characteristics that made me successful in my positions there,” the painter — who specializes in hot wax (encaustic) creation — describes how she applies past experiences to present endeavors. “Show up every day and do the work. Be flexible and open-minded. Don’t give up when something doesn’t work.

“Call it a lesson, not failure.”

Borer, who has been creating art since she was 7 and holds a fine arts degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa, focuses on the landscapes of wherever she finds herself, capturing that world in both representational and abstract formats.

Currently, that capture employs “the seductive mediums of encaustic painting and oil and cold wax,” Borer says, explaining encaustic as an ancient art form dating back to at least ancient Greece.

“The derivation of the word is from the Greek word enkaustikos which means to burn in. Heat is necessary to call the work encaustic as opposed to painting with cold wax.”

Mixing molten beeswax with damar resin – a hardening agent which increases the melting point of the wax — Borer paints on wood substrates that do not flex and thereby cause the cooled wax of the finished work to crack. Her preferred surface shape is square, a non-traditional dimension that adds a sense of stability, solidity, and balance.

Nailed It, Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer

Nailed It, Encaustic landscape painting by Walla Walla painter Lauri Borer

“The versatility of the medium is unlimited,” Borer says.

“Paintings can be finished to a smooth polished surface; transparent layers reveal colors and dimension as wax cures and hardens over time.

“Textures can be created, marks made with ink or graphite, ephemera added . . . on and on.”

Frequently, she finds a work takes on a life of its own, starting initially with her plan for its existence, but resulting in something pleasingly, uniquely different.

“One of the paintings that I had in the last show in Joseph (Wallowa Valley Valley Festival of Arts) began its life as a very realistic landscape — it looked exactly like the photo from which I drew my inspiration.

Lauri Borer's encaustic artwork in the permanent collection of The Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

Lauri Borer’s encaustic artwork in the permanent collection of The Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

“But the photo was perfect — it didn’t need to be copied.

“So I scraped and moved the paint around until it was almost broken, a de-constructed and abstract interpretation of a Hell’s Canyon sunset.”

In addition to creating her artwork, Borer draws upon her organizational skills to showcase area and regional art, encouraged by the first person she met in Walla Walla, former area artist Bonnie Griffith, to volunteer at the Carnegie Art Center, then active as a community gallery.

“I became part of the gallery committee responsible for hanging the shows each month, and became close friends with Bonnie and the other committee members, M’Lisse Moerk and Dianna Woolley.

“I found my tribe.”

To Sleep, Encaustic painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

To Sleep, Encaustic painting by Walla Walla artist Lauri Borer

Later, Borer jumped into ArtSquared, Art Walla’s annual fundraiser benefiting arts education, becoming active on the committee from the event’s inception in 2013, and from there, joined a series of local artists producing a regular winter group show at CAVU Cellars.

“Half a dozen artists of various mediums share our work in a lively, colorful, and diverse, yet cohesive show.”

Presently showing at Wenaha Gallery, Borer is preparing for a summer exhibition at Initial Point Gallery in Meridian, Idaho. With artworks found in personal and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Borer has participated in juried shows in the Pacific Northwest; Santa Fe, NM; California, and Montana. One of her pieces is in the permanent collection of the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe.

She’s busy, active, moving, creating, snapping reference photos with an enthusiasm and diligence that even has her husband alert to a potential painting.

“He’s become an expert at quickly pulling over or spotting vistas he knows I’ll want to capture.

“I see ideas for paintings everywhere, even abstract paintings.”

In the spring, summer, and early fall the couple goes fly-fishing (with camera) on the Wallowa River. Summer finds them (with camera) on their small boat on the Snake River, fishing for bass and scavenging for flotsam for Borer’s art. All year round is studio time, and studio time is creation time.

“I paint landscapes because I love nature,” Borer says.

“From wide vistas to macro views, towering mountains and crashing seas, stormy lines of hurricane clouds and endless blues of a summer sky — it’s all inspiration.”

Wenaha GalleryLauri Borer is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 13, through Saturday, March 11.

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!



Dayton Community Food Bank volunteers sort through boxes of food donations

Community Service, Vital Volunteers, & Generous People

Dayton Community Food Bank volunteers sort through boxes of food donations

Dayton Community Food Bank volunteers sort through boxes of food donations

It takes a special kind of person to volunteer at the Dayton Community Food Bank.

But not so uncommonly unreal that everyday humans need not apply. Indeed, regular, compassionate, intelligent human beings are what keep the food bank, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, successfully reaching out to some 550 Columbia county residents — 160 households — every Tuesday.

Unobtrusive from the outside, the Dayton Community Food Bank houses an array of products within

Unobtrusive from the outside, the Dayton Community Food Bank houses an array of products within

“What are the requirements to be a volunteer?” muses food bank coordinator Laura Thorn. “Being professional and having commonsense are very important, as well as being physically able to meet the demands of a variety of situations — there is no heat inside the building where we work, so it can be quite cold. There is also a need for strong backs — we’re looking for people who can lift between 20 and 50 pounds or more.”

One of those heavy-lifting people is Dayton resident Clarence Bartlett, who read about the organization in the paper seven years ago and decided to give it a try. Every week, he drives to Walla Walla and loads up 1000 pounds-plus of fresh and frozen perishables — provided through cooperation with Blue Mountain Action Council — drives it back, and unloads it in time for the two-hour Tuesday distribution window.

“Clarence is extremely dependable, and we love working with him,” Thorn says. “He shows up, every week, right on time, just like clockwork.”

Bags of food at the Dayton Community Food Bank await weekly distribution

Bags of food at the Dayton Community Food Bank await weekly distribution

Dependable. There for the long haul. Steadfast and constant.

Also fulfilling these requirements is Aleta Shockley, president of the food bank board of directors, and volunteer of such long-standing that she can’t remember when she first began.

“I started out when the food bank was in the basement of the Dayton Hospital,” Shockley remembers. “They were independent and very small, but they grew as they built connections with other community service, ministerial, and city organizations.” From the hospital the food bank moved onto Main Street where the Washington State University Extension Office presently resides, then off to the fair grounds where they spent a memorable number of years contending with the climate.

Wenaha Gallery celebrates a canned food drive, for the Dayton Community Food Bank, every January

Wenaha Gallery celebrates a month-long canned food drive, for the Dayton Community Food Bank, every January

“It . . . was COLD!” volunteer Ruth Janes recalls. She was remembering the winter of 2008: despite five space heaters, the ink in the pens froze, as did some of the food.

The next move, to the old fire station space on First Street, adjacent to City Hall, is still a bit cool in the winter, warm in the summer, but this does not daunt volunteers who unload boxes, organize food items, transport food to cars using a couple rundown grocery carts that see regular and innovative repairs, and serve community clients. Janes, whose first experience at the food bank was that brutal winter, considers her present job to be one of the most satisfying of all:

“I give out the fun items to clients, things that they may not expect, like the chips, cookies, candy and such. These are the extra things that come in that aren’t necessarily necessities, but they make a difference.”

Making a difference is what it is all about, observes Shockley, who in addition to being there on Tuesday distribution days and serving as the president of the board, writes grants and works tirelessly with other organizations in the community to secure funds and contributions. Relatively new to the mix is the Grocery Rescue Program, spearheaded by Second Harvest Hunger Relief Network, which serves Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The non-profit organization arranges pick-up of unmarketable but usable food — fresh produce, dairy products, and deli meats — from participating grocers, that it then delivers to a network of food banks.

Wenaha Gallery's annual canned food drive for the community food bank

Wenaha Gallery’s annual canned food drive

It takes a lot of people, a lot of organization, and a lot of human kindness to run a successful food bank, and all of the volunteers agree on one thing:

Dayton is filled with generous, warm-hearted, giving people.

“People of the county are so good to donate to the food bank,” Janes says. “So many businesses, banks, churches, schools, scouts, and others sponsor food drives, not to mention all the individuals that donate EACH MONTH in consistent financial support.”

Shockley agrees, citing the efforts of local churches, school, civic groups, health care professionals, businesses, and the senior center in meeting needs. Several organizations, she adds, focus on working with the children of the area.

“Vacation Bible School kids during the summer have giving and service as part of their curriculum. Adults pile the kids into a wagon and they all come down to the food bank with their canned goods and financial gifts. They get a tour and they can ask questions and learn more.

“They are the future down the road who will be volunteering and giving.”


Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery conducts its annual Canned Food Drive, supporting the Dayton Community Food Bank, from now through January 31, 2017. For every canned or non-perishable food or personal care item donated, the gallery offers $2 off custom framing, up to 20% off the total order.

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

To learn more about the Dayton Community Food Bank, or to provide financial support, contact Laura Thorn at 509.382.2322 or Aleta Shockley at 509.382.2137.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson and Lael Loyd.


Felted wool vessels and table runners by Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Fiber Finesse — The Felted Wool Art of Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

When Sally Reichlin was a girl of four enrolled in her first art class, she had no idea that someday, she would have incredibly strong, well-shaped arm muscles — because of art.

“I’ve had instruction in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking,” the Olympia-based artist says, but it is her present focus, fiber arts, that doubles as a fitness workout.

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia, WA

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Reichlin creates wall art, table runners, and three-dimensional vessels with roving, carded wool with short fibers that she overlaps by hand, in layers — three layers for flat pieces, six for vessels. With the flat pieces, she creates finished fabric by rolling and rotating the thoroughly soaked layers with a cylindrical tool.

Back and forth. Back and forth, for two to three hours. Two, or three . . . hours.

“Felting is an art that requires patience, and it can also be physically demanding,” Reichlin observes.

To create her three-dimensional vessels, Reichlin puts away the cylindrical tool and picks up an inflatable ball. After layering the roving in alternating directions over the ball, Reichlin covers the mass with tulle and nylon netting to keep the layers intact, then immerses it all in a hot bath of water and olive oil soap, where the ball is rubbed and rotated for . . . two hours, until the fibers mesh into fabric.

“Once the layers of netting and tulle are removed, the ball is deflated, and the piece now resembles the shell of the ball,” Reichlin explains.

“It has no defined shape at this point, and it basically looks like a flat, wet sock.”

Framed felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Framed, felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

But not for long: Reichlin alternately stretches the newly formed fabric by hand, kneads it, and tosses it back into the hot water bath until she likes the shape. By this time, another two hours later, the piece has shrunk by 40 to 50 percent from where it started. Once the piece is dry, Reichlin embellishes it by sewing on, by hand, glass, stone, and/or semi-precious beads, a process which takes anywhere from one to five hours.

It is good that she is, as she describes herself, “slow and determined.” She is also experimental, valuing the process as much as the finished product, which is a major reason why she knows how to create such unique art pieces in the first place: she taught herself, through hours of poring through books, watching online videos, and just doing it.

“I look for ways to be challenged, to experiment and learn from my mistakes,” Reichlin says. “If I am not getting enjoyment from the process, I stop working on that particular piece and come back to it later.

“This gives me time to think about the direction I want to take and changes I might make.”

Felted wool vessel by Olympia fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Selling her creations in galleries, gift shops, and at Olympia Arts Walk, Reichlin has clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast, and in Denmark. For the past 15 years, she has offered private and group instruction, and her home studio, a converted one-car garage, is a model of organization with six rows of 18″ x 18″ x 18″ cubicles spanning one wall. When she isn’t working on a felt piece (with larger works, directly on the floor), she is standing at the easel, painting on canvas. Throughout the day, she is moving, standing, lifting, rolling, and going above and beyond whatever minimum amount of time is recommended for a person to exercise.

It’s all a process: learning, discovering, doing, re-doing, observing, trying, questioning, and finessing, but for Reichlin, the process is as intricately linked to the finished art piece as the wool roving is meshed and merged together. One does not get the final work of art without all the hard work — physical, yes, but mental and creative as well.

“The one thing I feel most passionately about is the importance of process,” Reichlin reiterates.

“I place more value on the process than the finished product, because it has always been my greatest teacher.”

Wenaha GallerySally Reichlin is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, December 5, through Saturday, December 30.

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.