Cowboy on horse roping calf by Sonya Glaus

Fish and Chips and Horses and Cows — The Oil Painting of Sonya Glaus

Cowboy on horse roping calf by Sonya Glaus

Roping, original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Fish and Chips. Bogie and Bacall. Two-year-olds and Tantrums.

Some things just go together, irretrievably linked in our minds, and when we see one, we think of the other. So it is, for oil painter Sonya Glaus, with horses and cows, three words that blend into one when she speaks them.

Cattle Fording river stream original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Cattle Fording, original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

“I grew up on huckleberries and horses, and spent many summer days riding the logging trails and hills around my Montana home,” the Waitsburg artist remembers. “My love of all things western is rooted in that childhood peppered with days spent on horseback out of range of humanity, and the natural draw toward the enduring combination of horse and cow.”

Upon moving from Missoula eight years ago, Glaus and her family immersed themselves in the horse races of the Walla Walla, Waitsburg, and Dayton areas. And while the bad news for Glaus is that the regional horse races no longer take place, the good news is that she has numerous photo references of the action. Inspired by the works of Sargent and Sorolla, as well as contemporary painters Richard Schmid and Carolyn Anderson, Glaus pushes color and texture to capture the sense of dynamic motion, focusing on the variations of light that make each image unique.

Girl sitting in chair with a red umbrella original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Girl with a Red Umbrella by Sonya Glaus

“It is a constant challenge to get the paint to represent the amazing color that you see in real life,” Glaus says. “I do love color, and usually find that I like the bold color on a subject that morning and evening light accentuates.”

Ironically, Glaus began her art career in black and white, her earliest memories involving a pad of paper, some charcoal, and a campfire around which people sat, and Glaus sketched. The distinct shape and shadows cast by firelight captivated the young girl, and her fascination for light, perspective, and rendering began early.

“I think my early limitations to black and white rendering actually created a strength in drawing,” Glaus says. “I had a professor who was fond of saying that you can get the color wrong and make it work, but you can’t get away with poor drawing. Our eyes immediately recognize when something — especially people — is shaped wrong, but not necessarily when the color is a bit off.”

Racing man on horse at tracks original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Racing, original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Focusing on whatever she finds to be interesting or beautiful, Glaus divides her creative time between outdoor plein air and indoor studio work, although a “wild schedule” of raising kids, working, keeping the laundry under nominal control and a menagerie of animals fed, limits plein air. Add to this that her love for action is divided as well — between painting it, and doing it — requiring the constant demand that she make a choice.

“The last time we went to cow camp, I packed painting supplies and my camera, determined that I was going to let my girls ride and I WAS going to paint and take photo references.

“Well, they started sorting cow/calf pairs, and my resolve lasted all of about 30 minutes before I was compelled to snag a horse and start sorting.”

Mountains trees and fields original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

Mountains and Fields, original oil painting by Sonya Glaus

The next day’s choice was between painting and swimming in the creek.

“Getting into the zone for me requires being alone and not having anything else on my mind that I should or could be doing,” Glaus explains, adding that, while what is going on around her can be distracting, where she paints really isn’t an issue.

“The smallest studio I painted in was in a converted garage apartment. I added lights to the tiny broom closet it had, about 3 feet by 5 feet, just big enough to keep an easel and palette table in, with my chair outside the room and room to step back.

“I painted some good stuff in there!”

By comparison,  her present painting space — a room in her house — is palatial.

With a background in children’s book illustration, Glaus has sold her paintings in various galleries in Montana, as well as undertaken commissioned portraiture for individual clients. With no deep ulterior motives or messages to her art, the painter describes her goals as “pretty simple.”

“I hope that my paintings are enjoyed in whatever form that simplicity takes, whether it is an appreciation of the subject, the patterns of light, enhancement of a space, or some contribution to a general sense of peace and enjoyment.”

Wenaha GallerySonya Glaus is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 21 through Saturday, December 17. She will be at the gallery Friday, November 25, from 3 to 7 p.m., as part of the Christmas Kickoff Celebration. Joining her will be jewelry artist Lynn Gardner of Sandpoint, ID. Free refreshments will be served.

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.

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.

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing

Flying to New Heights — The Aerial Photography of David Wyatt

Infinite Palouse, aerial photograph by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, David Wyatt.

Infinite Palouse, aerial photograph by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, David Wyatt.

“You need more elective credits.”

While few university students rejoice when told that they require additional classes, it takes a measure of adventure with practicality to come up with the solution that David Wyatt did. It was 30 years ago, and he was transferring to Oklahoma State University for his engineering degree.

Fingers of the Jolly Green Giant, aerial photography by David Wyatt

Fingers of the Jolly Green Giant, aerial photography by David Wyatt

“OSU offered Private Pilot Ground School, which I enjoyed so immensely, that I spent the next summer working three jobs in Alaska to earn money to do the flight training,” the Kennewick artist remembers. “But it wasn’t until I bought a small airplane in 2005 and started carrying a camera that I discovered my eye and passion for artistic aerial photography.”

That’s right: he flies and takes photos at the same time. And yes, it’s challenging.

“Combine photography with flying an airplane, and the challenges increase exponentially!” Wyatt says. “Weather, of course, can aid or hinder the drama of the aerial photo. And then there’s equipment cleanliness and maintenance — both the photography gear and the aircraft. Regulations, air traffic control, licensing, terrain!

“If it gets too complicated, I hire a pilot to handle the flying so I can focus on the photography.”

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing; photo credit Brian Powers

Focusing on photography has taken Wyatt to new heights, literally, and his views of Eastern Washington’s landscape from above are resonant of textured paintings, almost abstract in their lines and form, but recognizable as fields, rivers, hills, and plains. He has garnered awards locally and nationally, this year being named the 2016 EPSON Aerial Photographer of the Year by the international Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association.

A number of Wyatt’s works, including Canyon Gold — an overhead view of the Palouse River Canyon at Lion’s Ferry State Park — have received awards at PAPA’s annual competitions, and in May he received People’s Choice at Tri-Art for Giving’s regional and community show, for an aerial view of humpback whales in Hawaii. People are drawn, Wyatt says, to the different view of things.

Canyon Gold, aerial photography by Kennewick artist David Wyatt

Canyon Gold, aerial photography by Kennewick artist David Wyatt

“A couple from Boston walked into a local winery and saw my award-winning Canyon Gold. Realizing that just one day before they had been kayaking on the stretch of river featured in the photograph, they bought the piece.”

A licensed professional engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Wyatt flies and shoots as schedule and weather permit, and participates in a number of local activities each year, including Art in the Park in Richland, winery events, open studio tours, soirees, and holiday festivals. In addition to fine art prints of his work, he has created stone tile coasters, and this year began printing on, appropriately, metal aircraft aluminum.

Clients and customers live as far away as Spain, France, Australia, the Ukraine, Uganda, and Honduras. Wyatt mentally gathers ideas for future subject matter based on a location, season, or event, constantly thinking ahead about a particular place in the sky from which to photograph for a uniquely different perspective. Viewing things from above, he muses, brings one’s thoughts to a higher plain.

“It doesn’t jump out at you when you see my aerial artistic images, but if you get to know me and listen to the stories of how I ‘got the shot,’ there is a core belief — that is, that God is the Creator,” Wyatt says. “I give Him the honor and glory for allowing me to be at a point in the sky where I can capture in a photograph the amazing moment and grandeur of the earth He made.”

Ancient Flood Rhythmites, aerial photography by David Wyatt.

Ancient Flood Rhythmites, aerial photography by David Wyatt.

One morning, he continues, he awoke while it was still dark and drove to the airport, where he performed the preflight inspection of the aircraft while sunrise’s first light appeared on the horizon.

“Before I started the engine to take flight, I prayed, ‘Lord, I have no idea where you are taking me this morning. I ask that you lead me to something beautiful and amazing.'”

Strong winds carried him east, where he spent three hours over the Snake River and the Palouse taking photos of a spectacular landscape.

“It was an answer to my prayer.”

So, perhaps, was OSU’s demand for more elective credits — what initially seems vexatious turned into a boon.

Or as contemporary Turkish playwrite Mehmet Murat Ildan puts it,

“Flying is not only the art of the birds, but it is also the art of the artists.”

Wenaha GalleryDavid Wyatt is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, October 24 through Saturday, November 19.

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.

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!

The Wild Life of Wildflowers — Watercolor Art by Jean Ann Mitchell

 

Northwest Trumpet Honeysuckle by Jean Ann Mitchell

Northwest Trumpet Honeysuckle (detail) by Jean Ann Mitchell

Wildflowers are rarely associated with danger.

“Rarely” and “Never” are two different terms, however, and for watercolor painter Jean Ann Mitchell, capturing the area’s native flora has not been without adventure.

Upland Larkspur, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Upland Larkspur, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

“I’ve been stalked by elk in the fall, (inadvertently) clocked a bear running 35 miles an hour, glimpsed a cougar from inside a rig, experienced snakes under foot, and once a bird landed — briefly — on my clipboard,” the Milton-Freewater resident says. Over 13 summers in which Mitchell worked with the U.S. Forest Service, on projects largely involving plant identification and use of native plants in restoration, she has traveled, generally by foot, to isolated places.

“There was a LOT of hiking involved,” she remembers.”This was seldom on roads, and almost never on paths, but almost always cross country, reading maps and relying on compass orientation, aerial photos, and relocation directions — across dry open scab, through forested areas, mountain meadows, riparian areas, and sometimes through yew, alder or ceanothus thickets.”

Mitchell, who holds a university degree in art history and served three years with a mission in Nigeria, did not start out adult life with an expertise in Pacific Northwest flora and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants other than grass). But after “marrying into the Forest Service” and moving to the area, she became fascinated by the rich diversity of native plants. When her husband presented her with the Peterson Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers, she voraciously devoured every page, then embarked upon a self-directed study that included plant and botany courses at both Blue Mountain and Walla Walla Community Colleges. Concurrently, she worked for the Forest Service Native Plant Seed Program, identifying grasses; leading crews; teaching identification skills and gathering techniques; and learning to carefully catalog.

Queen's Cup Bead Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Queen’s Cup Bead Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

While she considers herself retired now from the Forest Service aspect of her work career, Mitchell continues to hike, research, study,  gather wildflowers (“I never take a plant out of the ground unless there are more than 20 others in the immediate area”) or get down on the ground to draw, in situ, an endangered plant, resulting in a collection of wildflower paintings that encompass more than 100 different species, and counting.

“Keen observation of the living plant is not something you can fake,” Mitchell says, adding that Ziploc bags, and refrigeration, are two friends that allow her to collect specimens (NOT endangered ones) and save them for later, although not too much later, for drawing.

“To draw a plant looking fresh — and you do want to have the buds, petals, and leaves oriented as though growing — it has to be done immediately, within a day or so,” Mitchell explains. Because the family refrigerator is the best place for temporary storage, it’s important to clarify what is, and isn’t, suitable for meal preparation.

“While my family has grown used to being cautious with any Ziplocs in the refrigerator, I always live in fear with guests,” Mitchell says.

Yellow Fawn Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

Yellow Fawn Lily, wildflower watercolor painting by Jean Ann Mitchell

As Mitchell grew in knowledge of native plants, as well as the artistic ability to render them, the student segued into instructor, and she has taught native plant botanicals for public school science classes, Walla Walla Community College, the Blue Mountain Land trust, specialty camps, and the Daniel Smith art supply center in Seattle. Working with the Native Plant Society of Oregon, she produced a number of drawings which were published in the Trailside Guide of Wildflowers in the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla.

Note card sets of her work “have been a great hostess gift while traveling,” with the result that Mitchell’s art finds itself in Germany, Finland, Poland, Jordan, Brazil, South Korea, and more. Closer to home, Mitchell’s  cards are available at the Fort Walla Walla gift shop, the Arts Portal Gallery in Milton-Freewater, and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton.

There’s something about botanical art that draws people closer, “like a bee to honey, or a . . . flower,” Mitchell observes.

“Native plants are breathtaking, the way they are truly, divinely put together, pigmented, orchestrated to carry out their life cycle and play their part in the ecosystem.

“‘Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.'”

Wenaha GalleryJean Ann Mitchell is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, September 26 through Saturday, October 22.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Otterstein

Featherlight Touch — The Wildlife Art of Debra Otterstein

Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Debra Otterstein

Great Horned Owl painting on feather, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Debra Otterstein

Frequently, our biggest life decisions are the result of little things.

For wildlife artist Debra Otterstein, her determination to paint intricate animal portraits on domestic turkey feathers came about because of

  1. her lack of success in home economics and
  2. guilt.
Calliope Hummer by wildlife artist Debra Otterstein

Calliope Hummer by wildlife artist Debra Otterstein

“I did not find art when I was young, nor did I know that I would be a wildlife artist; I had to discover art,” the Cove, Oregon painter says. In high school, when presented with the elective choice between home economics and art, she chose the latter, because her earlier foray into the former “didn’t go so well.” Quite fortunately, she was not doomed to repeat the experience.

“The first day I picked up a piece of charcoal and started to draw, my life changed, and art has been with me ever since.”

A subsequent associate of science degree from Boise State University led Otterstein to eventually adopt a dual identity — medical coder by day and wildlife artist by night — and although these two pursuits seem at variance with one another, they are surprisingly compatible:

“Both are very detailed endeavors, both take into account anatomy, and both require that you spend many hours  working alone after doing much research,” Otterstein explains.

If you’re wondering by now where the guilt factors in, it has to do with Otterstein’s brother-in-law, who regularly found photos he wanted to see developed into paintings.

“One day he brought me the strangest eagle photo and he wanted me to create, using this reference, a very large painting,” Otterstein recounts. “This photo did not inspire me, and I could not bring myself to do as he asked, so I painted a tiny painting.

Cougar Cub, by Debra Otterstein

Cougar Cub, by Debra Otterstein

“Then I felt guilty.”

A second attempt resulted in further dissatisfaction, and more guilt. Daunted by the prospect of permanent mental turmoil, Otterstein decided that the third time would definitely be the charm.

“I knew I needed something really fun and interesting, so I painted an eagle on a feather.

“My guilt went away, and I found feather painting.”

It is an unusual substrate, one that requires intense concentration, unlimited patience, a steady hand, and a light, yet firm approach. Viewers and purchasers of Otterstein’s work observe that she paints with a feather-light touch, capturing special wildlife moments on a canvas of feathers. One of the first questions many people ask is where she gets the feathers upon which she creates her art.

“I am an upcycler, as I use domestic turkey feathers,” Otterstein explains.

“Many people do not realize that there is a law that protects bird feathers and nests: it is called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This act makes it illegal to possess feathers and nests.” Designed to prevent decimation by commercial trade in both birds and their feathers, the act lists some 800 species on its protected list, which pretty much means that, unless the feather is from a domestic bird (turkey, chicken, or duck), or from a non-native invasive species (sparrow or starling), it’s not something one picks up, or paints on.

The Otterstein painting which wildlife artist Terry Isaac calls "a Masterpiece."

The Otterstein painting which wildlife artist Terry Isaac calls “a Masterpiece.”

With collectors throughout the United States, as well as in international locales as far flung as Australia and Qatar, Otterstein works closely with some of the top wildlife artists in the world: John Seerey-Lester, Terry Isaac, Daniel Smith, and John Banovich. Isaac labeled one of Otterstein’s works — depicting, on traditional canvas substrate, a cougar crossing a river — “a masterpiece.”

“From these top artists, I have learned the importance of always conducting research before I start to paint, by doing field work and studying the physical appearance of each creature and its environment,” Otterstein says.

“I have learned that this is truly the best part of being a wildlife artist.”

In the 14 years that Otterstein has participated in the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts at Joseph, OR — one of the premiere art exhibitions of the Pacific Northwest region — she has garnered numerous awards, including multiple First and Second Places, and People’s Choice. Other accolades include being named gallery featured artist in Baker City, OR, and receiving the Artist of the Year Award by the Eskridge Family Trust.

But what matters most to Otterstein, she emphasizes, is the subject matter — the wildlife with whom we share this planet, and which depends upon us to maintain a harmonious, peaceful, coexistence. If she can capture the viewer’s attention and evoke a sense of awe, then she has truly succeeded.

“By using a feather as my canvas, it symbolizes the balance of how delicate nature is, but also how strong it must be to survive.”

Wenaha GalleryDebra Otterstein is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, September 12 through Saturday, October 8.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

 

Coyote Winters, scratchboard art by Judy Fairley

Wildlife Woman – The Scratchboard Art of Judy Fairley

Great Blue Heron, scratchboard art by Judy Fairley

Great Blue Heron by Judy Fairley

There’s something mesmerizing about scratch art.

Many of us remember, as children, coloring a sheet of paper with wax crayons, then, once we filled the entire piece with hues, finishing it off with a black crayon over the entire top. Using a stick or sharp implement, we created magical pictures by scratching a design into the blackness, revealing the color underneath.

Such an experience is not limited to childhood.

Coyote Winters, scratchboard art by Judy Fairley

Coyote Winters, scratchboard by Judy Fairley

“I love this medium because of the fine detail it affords me,” says Judy Fairley, a Clarkston artist who has taught scratchboard for nearly four decades at the Clarkston campus of Walla Walla Community College. Portable, economical, but labor intensive, scratchboard for adults involves a thin layer of clay on a Masonite or fiberboard backing, which is then coated with an application of black India ink. The final image emerges as the artist scratches through the ink to the white clay below using an arrow point tool, X-Acto knife, or scalpel.

Often, Fairley applies watercolor or colored inks to tint the exposed clay before covering it with black, resulting in a full colored scratchboard painting. A signature member of Women Artists of the West, a professional organization that focuses on the promotion and development of female artists, Fairley specializes in wildlife art, creating intricately detailed portraits of wolves, coyotes, bears, deer, moose, and more. Her reference photos she takes herself, many from zoos and wildlife rescue operations.

“There was a woman near Hamilton, Montana, who had a wildlife rescue, and I would go there to get photos,” Fairley remembers. “She was the closest to a mountain woman that I could imagine, with skin as brown as a leather saddle and twice as worn, but she had the formulas to bring any wild creature back from the brink of starvation.”

Brown Pelican, scratchboard art by Judy Fairley

Brown Pelican by Judy Fairley

One time, when Fairley was having promotional photos taken for a brochure, the rescue professional suggested posing with a grizzly cub, comfortable with humans because he was part of an educational presentation for children.

“So I went, thinking, ‘what could possibly go wrong with this scenario?’”

When Fairley entered the cub’s pen, “he took one look at me and came running at full speed. When he got to me, he proceeded to climb me like a Ponderosa pine tree.”

The photos, capturing “this complete panicked and frantic look” on Fairley’s face, were unusable, but everyone but Fairley enjoyed the show. “He’s never done this before,” the rescue professional told Fairley. “He must really like you.”

Most of the time, creating artwork is not so dramatic, although even the most mundane of actions results in surprises.

“I had an incident when the person watching me do a bobcat, sneezed on the piece,” Fairley says. “It lifted the ink on all the areas of black that the phlegm landed on, creating a speckled pattern.

Wrangler, scratchboard by Judy Fairley

Wrangler, scratchboard by Judy Fairley

“So I put the bobcat in a snow storm . . . actually I liked it better.

“But, I make sure to tell people to please don’t sneeze on my work: everything can’t be in a snow storm!”

Fairley works out of two studios, one in her home, and one at the Dahmen Artisan Barn in Uniontown, 16 miles away, where visitors are free to watch – but not sneeze upon – the artists at work. In addition to the teaching Fairley does at WWCC, which also includes pastel drawing, the artist recently offered a scratchboard workshop on a Princess cruise ship from Seattle to Alaska, and is presently looking to organize another cruise workshop to the Mexican Riviera.

Thanks to the portability and inexpensive nature of the medium, Fairley packed supplies for 20 students, along with a personalized tote bag for each, in a roller suitcase.

“I tell people when I am doing demos, that the only cheaper method to do in art is drawing with a pencil and a piece of paper.” Cheaper, she adds, does not translate into faster: some works take months to do, and the concentration required is demanding.

With work in collections from England to Australia, Fairley participates in numerous shows, from those sponsored by the Women Artists of the West, which span the country, and the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (February’s show is in Australia), to events closer to home, including the Snake River Showcase in Clarkston and the Oldfield Western Art Show in Puyallup.

It is the perfect blend of travel, teaching, learning, networking, interacting and creating. Just so long as nobody sneezes, or mistakes her for a tree.

Wenaha GalleryJudy Fairley is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artists from Monday, August 29 through Saturday, September 24.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

 

Cowboys Still Exist — The Western Art of Chris Owen

BackToYourMomma.ChrisOwen

Back to Your Momma by Chris Owen

Thanks to the movies and TV, even the most citified of urban dwellers has a working knowledge of America’s icon, the cowboy: this legendary person wears a unique hat, sits a horse with cool assurance, swings a lasso, drinks appalling coffee, and speaks with a drawl.

But does this person still exist? Are there cowboys in the 21st century?

Comfort, by Chris Owen

Comfort, by Chris Owen

Yes, there are. According to Wide Open Country, an online platform showcasing country music and the rural lifestyle, more than one million beef producers in the U.S. are responsible for more than 94 million head of beef cattle. From major establishments to small ranches, cowboys are an essential part of cattle’s lives.

“My grandparents were salt-of-the-earth ranchers who lived the simple life,” western art painter Chris Owen of Billings, who was born and raised in Montana’s modern west, told writer Mark Mussari in  Southwest Art Magazine’s article, Chris Owen: Setting a Mood.

As a young boy spending summers on his grandparents’ small ranch in the Judith Basin, Owen embraced rural life, developing an appreciation for the importance of the agricultural community. His grandfather’s stories of meeting C.M. Russell — the late 19th, early 20th century cowboy, writer, environmentalist and artist — inspired dreams in a young boy that later, after art studies at Montana State University in Billings, and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, grew into a professional career as a painter, capturing the real, gritty, literally earthy life of the contemporary cowboy.

Holding Things Together by Chris Owen

Holding Things Together by Chris Owen

“After my formal art education, I decided to work with the western cowboy and horse theme,” Owen explains. “I spent the first few years on several operating ranches in the region, and made acquaintance with working cowboy owners and employed cowboys.

“The experiences with them taught me a great deal.”

Not only from humans did Owen learn his subject, and learn it well. The owner of three horses — Jake, Buck, and Badger — Owen clues in on the animals’ non-verbal language with each other and their human companions, translating that language to canvas in works that, according to Mussari’s article, “are surprisingly dark and make rich of contrasts between light and dark.”

“There is a difficulty of the subject matter, painting human and horse figures with gesture, light, shapes, color and anatomical accuracy,” Owen says.

“Much of the western art has been more about illustration than the use of a more subjective approach of nonrepresentational art.

Early Morning y Chris Owen

Early Morning y Chris Owen

“I wanted to establish my own unique style which moves more toward these fine art concepts.”

By major indications, Owen has successfully created his signature style, garnering both awards and exhibitions at major western art events such as the Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show, Cheyenne, WY; the National Coors Western Arts Exhibit, Denver, CO; and the C.M. Russell Western Art Auction, Great Falls, MT. In addition to Southwest Art Magazine, Owen has been featured in Heartland USA, Wildlife Art, and Western Horseman magazines.

In 2001, Owen contracted with Ashton Company, and later Somerset Art, to create prints of his work, but in 2011 he began his own publishing company, which provides high quality giclee art prints through select galleries.

Standing By, by Chris Owen

Standing By, by Chris Owen

With a strong focus on earth tones — browns, umbers, burnt orange, and gold — Owen’s work celebrates the symbiotic relationship between cowboys and their horses. This is the real world of today, not a pretend or romanticized view of the past, with movement, action, and force, even when the subjects are standing still.

“I soon learned taking pictures from a horse on the gallop was not going to work,” Owen says of capturing the action of real life. “So, the idea of riding a horse at a loop, keeping up with a cowboy on the move at the same time taking pictures at the right angle in the right light was not a viable option.

“There is a challenge of painting action pieces.”

It is a challenge he has solved, fusing representational art with abstract overtones, translating a world that most of us know only as legend into images that the viewer can experience today, in real time.

“The cowboy endures as the foremost American icon,” Owen says. “His ongoing endurance as the premier American cultural hero stands as testament to the spirit and values that have made the West great.”

Wenaha GalleryChris Owen is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, June 6 through Saturday, July 2.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Morel Mushrooms in bronze by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

Mushroom Love — Bronze, Stone, and Metal Sculpture by Andy de la Maza

Morel Mushrooms in bronze by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

Morel Mushrooms in bronze by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

In the world of dangerous work, “professional artist” doesn’t rank up there with “loggers,” “deep-sea fishermen,” or “commercial airline pilots,” but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments.

“I’ve been stalked by cougars, I’ve had bears come up to me and the people around me freak out,” says Andy de la Maza, a Walla Walla sculptor who works in bronze, metal, and stone. Lest one wonder just what kind of studio de la Maza inhabits, he was in the field at the time. Wilderness hiking plays a major part in his collecting specimens to be used in his art, which incorporates petrified wood, geodes, stone, bone, and one of de la Maza’s favorites, mushrooms.

Bronze Chanterelle by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

Bronze Chanterelle by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

“I love mushroom hunting,” de la Maza says, adding that he — like many people the world over — relishes the quest, one he has been avidly pursuing for more than ten years. So enamored is he of the shape, form, variety, and beauty of the humble fungus that he “immortalizes them” by casting them, at Walla Walla’s T. Hunter Bronze, into life-size metal sculpture, exquisite for detail and accuracy of replication.

“It’s hard to get a casting of mushrooms; they are so delicate,” de la Maza explains. “It’s taken a lot of knowledge of the mushroom’s unique characteristics, as well as practice in casting it, with a good dose of luck on my side.”

Some of that luck has to do with more than figuring out how to capture the essence of a fragile organic item without mutilating it in the process. Like most mushroom hunters, de la Maza enjoys eating what he finds, and is acutely aware that there are risk factors to the activity. Indeed, an old Czech adage observes:

All mushrooms are edible. Some of them only once.

In his personal experience, de la Maza concurs.

Trove of Valhalla metal mask by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

Trove of Valhalla metal mask by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

“I poisoned myself several years ago eating a false morel, but instead of running the other way and quitting, I went out and started buying books.” Bit by bit he educated himself in what was false and what was real, what was edible and what was . . . not. His repertoire of bronze mushroom sculptures includes fittingly titled pieces such as “King Bolete,” “Chanterelle,” “Morel,” and, more ominously, “Death.” It’s nothing to be afraid of: you just don’t eat it.

In regards to fear, de la Maza maintains a poised attitude toward danger, preferring to see it as an essential, and expected, part of adventure. In addition to regular encounters with wild creatures (“You know, every time somebody sees a bear, they freak out, but you just kind of look at them and they turn around”), de la Maza often finds himself, literally, between a rock and a hard place:

“There is nothing quite like pounding into a glass cliff face, trying to extract a piece of petrified wood.

King Bolete bronze mushroom by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

King Bolete bronze mushroom by Wenaha Gallery artist Andy de la Maza

“It’s quite laborious, and satisfying at the same time. I bring a piece home to my cutting room, make a slice, and see the natural beauty inside.”

Much of this natural beauty, which remains hidden until the artist’s eye and hand bring it forth, is remarkably nearby, with de la Maza scouring the Washington, Oregon, and Idaho mountains for their treasures; the Mattawa Saddle Mountains, a day trip away, are a rich source of petrified wood. Nearby Idaho is easily accessible by auto, but the real finds require some, or actually a lot of, walking.

“Some of the places in Idaho are brutal. The sign says it’s two miles up, so it must be two miles up and two miles back, but hiking it feels like four miles up and two miles back.

“The harder it is to get to, the better the material you find generally is.”

Even home has its hazards, with de la Maza’s studio and living space frequently blending one into the other.

“My work is on my kitchen table. Throughout the entire house. In the yard, in buckets, in the cutting room . . . on window sills, in piles I trip over on the floor.

“It’s my lifestyle.”

He hikes. He sculpts. He researches. He scrabbles over rocks. The fusion of thinking with action results in artwork that celebrates the shape and dimensionality of life itself.

“I strive to capture the beauty of these found objects. I’m looking for a window into nature, that can be added to the chaos of civilized living.”

Wenaha GalleryAndy de la Maza is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, April 25 through Saturday, May 21.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

 

Life on the Farm with a Paintbrush — The Watercolor Art of Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

She is an artist, living on a farm.

“Farm” brings to mind livestock and machinery, hard work, early mornings, and late nights.

“Artist” describes the person who sees beauty and interprets it onto canvas or paper, one who walks around a clump of flowers growing on the path and returns later in the day, when the chores are done, to capture that fragile innocence.

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

For watercolorist Jill Ingram, who grew up on a farm and married a farmer, art is as much of her life as wheat and pigs, and she first recognized that she had a creative gift in third grade, when she was part of a team of three assigned to create a bulletin board scene depicting the change of seasons.

“There was a feeling of apprehension facing that huge white blank wall,” Ingram remembers.

“I have no memory of what we did, but the reaction of my fellow students gave me such joy, as they looked into a crystal ball and said, ‘You are an artist!’

“And they spoke a new faith into my heart.”

The daughter of Dayton artist Iola Bramhall, Ingram dabbled with painting and drawing throughout her childhood, but things became more serious — both life and art — following a horse accident, when Ingram turned to art as part of the healing process.

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

“My belief in a loving God gave me the faith that this event would bring good into my life,” Ingram says. “He said art would be a catharsis for me.”

It was, guiding her into a world of color, hue, light, form, and movement, resulting in works that are resplendent in emotion, many zeroing in on the petal of a flower or an insulated growth of trees, rich with a hidden light.

“I believe in a personal God who created me to see beauty in the commonplace,” Ingram says.

“His hand is on my life, and He takes the hardest things, transforming the experience into some kind of beauty. He made me in His image, and so I think my creative imagination is an expression of Him, however blurry I may see and understand.”

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Ingram landed on her medium of choice, watercolor, for a prosaic reason: because it isn’t as messy as oil or pastel, but just because it’s easier to clean up doesn’t mean that it’s easier to do. Working through paper choices and pigment temperaments, Ingram addressed subject matter ranging from botanical to figurative, building a portfolio of work with a fluid, open style that, she says, matches her personality.

Along the way, she studied under renowned artists like Del Gish, Arne Westerman, and Nita Engle, and soon found her own name becoming known: she has won first place at the Colorado Watercolor Society (for her painting, “Jewel”) as well as at the Northwest Watercolor Society’s Juried Exhibition in Seattle, in which “Ruby Slippers” took the prize. For several years, Ingram operated a gallery in downtown Dayton, Jill Ingram Watercolors, and sold her work, nationally and internationally, through galleries in Seattle and Spokane as well.

For all that, she remains, at heart, an artist who lives on a farm, and the day’s painting schedule revolves around a household of people who all depend upon one another to get the many things that need to be done, done:

“Painting in my home means that I am more available to my family,” Ingram says.

“Some days might start with painting, then shift into helping the farm boys move combines, and end with Mom planning meals . . .  unless I’m on a roll, and I paint all day long until they yell at me to come and eat!”

And even then, she may stay in the studio, grabbing a few precious minutes for a well-placed brushstroke here, a subtle drizzle of color there. Art speaks — to her, and through her. Or, as Ingram likes to say,

“English is my second language.”

Wenaha GalleryJill Ingram is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, March 14 through Saturday, April 9. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, March 19, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Baby, Even When It’s Cold Outside, Plein Air Painters Paint — The Landscapes of Bonnie Griffith

Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Some people spend a chunk of their day outside — mountain climbers, builders, hotel doormen, and definitely not least on the list — plein-air painters.

Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

A central facet of 19th century French impressionism, plein-air painting is so called because it is done outdoors, in the plain, fresh air, and those artists committed to the method rival U.S. Postal carriers in their approach to rain, snow, sleet, wind and the occasional, much appreciated, sunny day.

“There really is nothing like painting outdoors; it makes you a stronger artist, I think,” says Bonnie Griffith, a painter who trilaterally focuses on oil, pastel and encaustic (hot wax) as her mediums of choice.

“You are in natural light and not utilizing the eye of a camera to dictate to you what you see to paint.”

Admittedly, she adds, some days are exceptionally inclement, and she has been known to paint from the interior of her heated car. Given the amount that Griffith travels — participating in shows, teaching and attending workshops, and rotating gallery stock throughout the west and Northwest — perhaps the car isn’t such an odd option.

Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

“I am a landscape artist, so I am always on the lookout for a place that catches my eye,” Griffith explains. “I love to paint water, so often I am seeking out spots with streams to paint.”

Griffith, who has lived in Walla Walla, WA; Montana; and now Meridian, ID, confesses a special passion for the landscapes of the west, from Canada to Mexico, and is happiest when ensconced in the canyons of the Colorado River, or by the waterways of Montana and Washington, and all that is in between.

“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.”

River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Much of her outdoor, onsite work is done in pastel, a highly portable medium that has the added benefit of capturing and translating brilliant color.

“It is so pure pigment that you can create this wonderful sparkle with ease,” Griffith says. “Oils can be mixed to create wonderful color and a visual story. And when you combine either with encaustic medium, you get wonderful, often surprise results.”

Good surprises are, well, good, but given that working with molten material presents the potential for perturbation, Griffith does find herself — when working with wax — indoors, in the studio, and well prepared for any contingency.

“I do have a spare room that I work with my encaustics, complete with fire extinguisher since I utilize hot wax and a torch to create these pieces!”

Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Born into a family of watercolorists, illustrators, and musicians, Griffith has been drawing and painting since childhood, seriously pursuing gallery representation and public recognition from the early 1990s. Her work is in the homes of collectors throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, Sweden, Germany, and England.

She has participated in numerous prestigious, competitive shows, including the Pastel 100 National Competition, the Northwest Pastel Society Member Show, the International Pastel Show, Plein Aire Moscow, and Plein Air Moab, garnering professional accolades such as People’s Choice, Juror’s Award, and Director’s Award. Most recently, Griffith has completed a one-month Artist in Residence for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, during which time she avidly painted, gave public demonstrations, organized a community paint along, and provided art projects to the local school system.

Traveling, learning, teaching, experimenting, and transporting medium, substrate and easel from the car to the painting site — it is all part of Griffith’s interpreting what she sees onto canvas or paper so others can see it, too. And when they do, then this is sweet success.

“It is about color and painting a work that invites the viewer to step in and make it their own story,” Griffith summarizes. “I say that, if that happens, than I have done my job.”

Wenaha GalleryBonnie Griffith will be at Wenaha Gallery Friday, November 27 for a special art reception during Dayton, WA’s Christmas Kickoff celebration. Join us at the gallery from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet the artist, view incredible art, and enjoy free refreshments. Griffith’s work will be on featured display through December 12.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

The Master Potter’s Student — Caprice Scott and Her Ceramic Art

Wildflowers platters by Caprice Scott

There’s no fixing an exploded piece of pottery.

This is not, however, sufficient reason for the average person to give wide berth to ceramic bowls, cups, saucers, and platters. It’s not on the shelf that a piece of pottery rends itself asunder but rather, in the kiln with a temperature ranging from 1112 degrees Farenheit to 2300-plus.

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

“We’re not talking about just hot enough to burn dinner in the oven here,” College Place potter Caprice Scott, who specializes in hand-built and sculpted ceramic-ware, says.

“Working with clay is a tricky business,” she adds. “I don’t think people realize how fickle and capricious clay and glazes can be.” If the environmental humidity is low, the clay dries too fast and cracks before it even makes it to the kiln; if it’s winter in the Pacific Northwest and the humidity is high, it can take forever for the clay to dry — frequently when the potter is working on a commissioned order with a timeline. Glazes add complications to the creation process.

And that eruption issue?

“If there happens to be an air bubble somewhere in the clay, you might find your piece has exploded in the bisque kiln.”

With all the things that can go wrong, it’s astonishing that anything survives, but that it does — as well as thrive in beauty, functionality, and form — is testament to the skill of the potter. Scott, whose experience in the art arena ranges from teaching in private and charter schools to painting murals in million-dollar Colorado spec homes, turned her central focus to pottery upon her family’s moving to the Pacific Northwest six years ago.

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Scott’s drive to learn and experiment, in conjunction with an attention to detail, impel her to create unusual pieces and collections — such as the sugar/creamer set shaped like European village houses which garnered an award at an art exhibition, or the commissioned clay box fashioned into a Dr. Who fez hat, tassel and all.

“I take delight in coming up with something no one else has done before and probably won’t ever do again,” Scott explains.

“I usually work within a theme or do a bunch of one thing for a little while. I find something new and get really passionate about it and I make as many pieces as I can for a few months, and then I move on to something new.”

One aspect that is consistent in all of Scott’s pieces is the signature at the bottom: her last name, and then the biblical verse, Isaiah 64:8, which, when one looks it up, says,

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Scott stumbled upon the verse in a period of frustration, when everything that could go wrong with creating pottery (including explosions), did, and she decided to dedicate each piece to Him, as a work of His hands as well as hers.

“So when the pieces were blowing up or coming out of the kiln cracked, I was like, ‘God, Your pottery is breaking. And it’s Yours, so I guess it’s okay. If You’re okay with it, then I am, too.”

Completing a part of Scott’s journey, the verse confirmed that her work gave meaning to others as well as to herself, and she felt as if God were saying, “You, Caprice, can call me ‘My Father, the Potter.’

“I really feel this verse sums up all that I am and all that my pottery represents. Without the Master Potter, I and my work wouldn’t be.”

Scott’s work is unique, skillful, eclectic, passionate, and illuminated by imagery that celebrates the outdoor world: flowers, leaves, Native American art, and wildlife, reflecting an appreciation for nature that Scott acquired through living in Colorado, and reaffirms in the Pacific Northwest.

“I need to be surrounded by beauty. If I can’t be out in nature, I try to bring beauty inside.”

Beauty ignites.

Wenaha GalleryScott’s work is on display at Wenaha Gallery. During the Christmas season, Scott is holding a Christmas Ornament Workshop at the gallery, gently leading students (who don’t have to have any experience in pottery, because Scott does) into making a customized pottery ornament for their tree. The two-part workshop takes place Sunday, November 15 and Sunday, December 6. Cost is $55 for both workshops, with all supplies, and firing of the ornaments, included. Read more about the workshop at our article, Christmas Ornament Workshop.

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.

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 at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.