puma mountain lion cat feline panther parowan jan fontecchio wildlife

Wildlife & Western Living — Paintings by Jan Fontecchio

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

Wildlife Wonder

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

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

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Rancher, by western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio

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

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

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

Western Upbringing

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

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

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

A Fascination with Animals

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

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

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

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

From Floor, to Washing Machine, to Studio

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

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

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

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

From Cheese to Western and Wildlife

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

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

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

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

Wenaha GalleryJan Fontecchio is the Featured Art Event from Monday, October 21, through Saturday, November 16 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

 

cannon beach oregon coast highway 101 paul henderson art

Highway 101 — Paul Henderson Paints Its Moods

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

Moods of Highway 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working in Multiples, and Singles

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

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

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

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

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

Sun, Rain and Fog on Highway 101

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

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

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

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

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

Realism, Abstract, and Everything in Between

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Teresa Adaszynska

Teresa Adaszynska

Born and raised in Poland, Adaszynska began her art career with contemporary abstract work. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1982, Adaszynska started hiking the western states in which she lived — California, Colorado, Washington — until a serious illness interrupted both painting and hiking. Upon recovery when she picked both up again, she found she wanted to paint differently than she had before.

“The beauty of the western landscape inspires me, especially the light. It can transform even ordinary places into something magical and extraordinary.”

Recognizing that she needed different skills for representational painting, Adaszynska began a self-directed study program incorporating mentorships, workshops, and painting with fellow artists. For three years, she took formal classes in studio and plein air painting at the Art Students League of Denver, studying under Doug Dawson, Molly Davis, Joe Kronenberg, Terry Lee, and others.

Adaszynska paints with a combination of plein air — setting up her easel and working outdoors — and studio techniques. She often begins a work by sketching directly onto the canvas, after she has mentally determined the composition by looking at large abstract shapes, light direction, and values.

Teresa Adaszynska

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Magical Western Landscapes by Teresa Adaszynska

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It’s a magical moment in the desert. Painted Horse, original oil painting by Teresa Adaszynska of Spokane, WA

Teresa Adaszynska paints the magical moments

One moment, the landscape is grey and flat, almost forgettable.

But then, something very strange and yet very ordinary happens: the sun breaks through, and everything changes. This is precisely the place, the moment, and the emotion that artist Teresa Adaszynska looks for and paints.

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Blue Algae Creek, a magical moment in the country, original oil painting by Polish-born oil painter Teresa Adasznyska

“My eyes are always searching for an enchanted moment in nature,” the Spokane artist explains.

“Sometimes, a particular place I may have visited numerous times before may appear magical on the next visit due to extraordinary light and shadows.”

Born and raised in Poland, Adaszynska began her art career with contemporary abstract work. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1982, Adaszynska started hiking the western states in which she lived — California, Colorado, Washington — until a serious illness interrupted both painting and hiking. Upon recovery when she picked both up again, she found she wanted to paint differently than she had before.

The Magical Western Landscape

“The beauty of the western landscape inspires me, especially the light. It can transform even ordinary places into something magical and extraordinary.”

Recognizing that she needed different skills for representational painting, Adaszynska began a self-directed study program incorporating mentorships, workshops, and painting with fellow artists. For three years, she took formal classes in studio and plein air painting at the Art Students League of Denver, studying under Doug Dawson, Molly Davis, Joe Kronenberg, Terry Lee, and others.

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Encounter on the Trail, original oil painting by Spokane artist Teresa Adaszynska.

Adaszynska paints with a combination of plein air — setting up her easel and working outdoors — and studio techniques. She often begins a work by sketching directly onto the canvas, after she has mentally determined the composition by looking at large abstract shapes, light direction, and values. One of her most memorable plein air moments took place near Kenosha Pass, CO, on a day so magical that she knew she had to paint.

A Not So Magical Storm

“I was more than halfway through with my painting when the notorious Colorado mountain thunderclouds started to build,” Adaszynska remembers. “I do not like being outdoors where there are thunderstorms, so I started to quickly finish and pack up.

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Crossing Water. Any moment in which we see a moose in the wilderness is a magical moment. Original oil painting by Teresa Adszynska.

“The storm was coming very quickly with very dark menacing clouds, lighting and rain. I was very anxious to leave.”

While packing her car, Adasyzynska set the painting on top of her vehicle, and in the commotion of the moment, forgot it was there and drove off. It was only when she arrived at a place of shelter that she realized the painting was gone.

“After the storm was past, I went back to find it.

“I did find my painting, but of course it was completely destroyed.”

Although that was most definitely NOT a magical moment,

“I can laugh about it now.”

Describing her hiking excursions as “too numerous to count,” Adaszynska has taken reference photos of, and painted, the Colorado Rockies, Hollywood Hills in California, Yellowstone National Park, Sequoia National Park, Eastern Washington and Oregon, as well as New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, her native Poland, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. The animals she paints are those she sees on her hikes, although the time she encountered a mama bear with two cubs in the Flatirons near Boulder, CO, she was more interested in extricating herself from the situation than taking a family portrait.

“It was extremely frightening, but I cautiously moved forward out of their area as they just observed me.”

Western Art Collectors

A member of the Oil Painters of America, Adaszynska shows her work throughout the Western U.S. She participates regularly in the Western Art Association National Show and Auction (Ellensburg, WA), Heart of the West and Western Masters (Bozeman, MT and Coeur d’Alene, ID), and the Annual Spokane Valley Arts Council Art Showcase and Auction (Spokane Valley, WA). Collectors of her work reside throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Poland.

Light, camera, painting easel, and action: they join together to create vibrant color and magical mood. It is a mood, Adaszynska hopes, that reflects the beauty of the landscape around her, a landscape she never tires of being in. And while she is happy wherever she is painting, she likes it best when she is doing so outdoors.

“I have a separate studio space in my home,” Adaszynska says. “But I consider the majestic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest as my personal favorite studio.”

Wenaha GalleryTeresa Adaszynska is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 1, through Saturday, July 27 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Partridge and Soap — Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Art

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millwright Partridge

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

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

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

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

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

Painting Partridge

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

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

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

Hundreds of Paintings

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

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

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

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

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

“I gave it to Mrs. Hill.”

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

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

 

country landscape acrylic painting becky melcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They” Say College; She Says, No

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landscapes: They Draw You In

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They” Don’t Define Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

painted-rocks-jacquelyn-silvester-dayton-random-kindness

Painted Rocks: Spreading Joy and Encouragement

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A series of painted rocks by Dayton artist Jaqulyn Silvester, who has been painting rocks for more than 25 years — long before today’s trend.

Rocks, these days, really rock.

Long overlooked because they’re so ordinary, humble rocks are newly feted as works of art that carry an inspiring message.

painted rocks dayton smith random kindness art

Focusing on the light — a series of lighthouse themed painted rocks by Dayton rock artist Mary-Jeanne Smith

“I love the idea of putting little random gifts of art out into the world, to bring joy to a stranger,” says Mary-Jeanne Smith, a resident of Dayton who has been painting rocks, and hiding them throughout the community for others to find, for a little more than a year. She is one of thousands of people around the nation who have joined the painted rocks grass roots movement, inspired by life coach Megan Murphy from Massachusetts. In 2015 Murphy wrote “You’ve got this” on a rock and left it on a beach in Cape Cod. After a friend found it and told her how the message had lifted her spirits, Murphy started the Kindness Rocks Project, encouraging others to paint “random acts of kindness” on rocks and leave them out for others to find.

Painted Rock Facebook Groups

“I painted my first  rock, a dragonfly, in 2016 and it was so terrible I put it away and decided rock painting was not for me,” says Ashly Beebe, also from Dayton. Two years later she discovered and joined a Facebook rock painting group from Dayton and participated in its monthly challenges which honed her skills and techniques. Now she hides her rocks throughout town, focusing on busy streets and parks — especially in and around statues — because she wants people to find them easily.

“The best place I have hidden rocks was all over my mother’s garden when I went home to visit,” Beebe says. “It was so fun hearing her find them all weekend long and she still displays them.”

painted rocks felice henderson dayton random kindness

Silhouette magic — painted rocks by Dayton artist Felice Henderson.

Part of the rock painting movement is posting found rocks on the local Facebook rock painting group, and many cities and geographical areas host one of these. Rock painters regularly check their local groups to see who has found their rocks and where, delighting in the stories and the smiles.

“The pictures I see posted of children finding my rocks have been particularly heartwarming,” Smith says. “They look so happy and proud, holding up their found rock. Knowing that my little random gift brought a smile is a lovely reward that keeps me painting more rocks.”

Hiding the Painted Rocks

For Dayton resident Felice Henderson, hiding the rocks is as much fun a painting them. On family walks through town her two children, 9 and 4, decide the final hiding place, which is sometimes really really obvious (the four-year-old’s choice) and sometimes not. Henderson remembers their own discovery of a special rock while vacationing on the coast, and it drove home to her how meaningful the ordinary rock has the potential to be.

“The rock we found was painted with the ashes of a deceased 2-year-old mixed into the paint,” Henderson remembers. “Her name was Cami Grace. Her mother painted the rocks with her ashes to have others find them and take them all over the world, since Cami died before her time and never got to travel.”

hummingbird painted rock ashly beebe dayton artist random kindness

A touch of spring and hope from a painted rock by rock artist Ashly Beebe of Dayton

That story pierces the soul. Others are more lighthearted, such as Walla Wallan Nathan Martnick’s reason for starting to paint rocks in the first place.

“I did it initially with the intent of impressing a most beautiful woman who paints rocks, but then I realized I actually enjoyed painting rocks.” He also likes hiding them, and while he recognizes the need to make the hiding place not too difficult, sometimes the temptation is strong:

“One of the more unique spots I’ve chosen is an umbrella hole on a patio table.”

“I once hid a rock in the pocket of the Waitsburg Founding Fathers’ statue,” Waitsburg rock painter Sonya Taylor says. She gravitates toward a “theme” when it comes to hiding places, with Jubilee Lake designated for nature images like kayaking, ducks, and fishing, and the Dayton General Hospital Therapy Department housing her Pokemon rock during last year’s Halloween theme.

Finding Painted Rocks

“I don’t hide rocks super well,” Dayton resident Savonnah Henderson (Felice’s sister, to whom she credits the introduction to rock painting), says. “I WANT people to find them and enjoy them.”

That’s what it all comes down to: taking an ordinary item; transforming it into a thing of beauty; and placing it someplace where a total stranger will find it. The combination of all these elements is what keeps many people painting and hiding rocks. It’s an individual mission of spreading kindness, encouragement, and goodness.

“I love creating something beautiful that someone else can find,” Felice Henderson says. Or, as Beebe sums it up,

“I feel so grateful to have found not just a hobby, but a piece of my heart, and to share that as a random act of kindness with others.”

Wenaha GalleryRock Artists is the Art Event from Monday, January 28 through Saturday, February 23 at Wenaha Gallery. A number of regional rock art painters are displaying their work — in plain site — at the gallery. Rocks will be available for purchase for $10 each.

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.

storm landscape snowy white owl flying wildlife keith rislove

Wildlife World — The Acrylic Paintings of Keith Rislove

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Storm Coming, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR.

If the world existed of only science, there would be no art. If all people focused on technology, no one would create paintings. If there were only engineers, there would be no poets. In math class, there is no time or reason to discuss literature.

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Winter Silence, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove

Life without art is incomplete, and just tucking it in alongside the “important” subjects — science, technology, engineering, math and saying this adds STEAM to the mix — isn’t enough. Being an artist demands as much time, focus, intelligence, and determination as being a rocket scientist — whatever a rocket scientist is — and many people who consider themselves artists pursue this path even in the midst of doing something else to make a living. The very fortunate ones find a career involved with art, honing skills and abilities throughout their lives.

A World of Art and Wildlife

Keith Rislove is one of these people, a lifetime artist who actually started out to be a baseball player, and credits his experience in the Korean War for his eventual career choice.

“When I was in high school, I studied art, and I also played all the sports — after graduation  I received two offers from major league teams,” Rislove, a wildlife acrylic painter from Salem, OR, says. Like many young men of the early 1950s, he found his plans rearranged for him, and a few months after high school was in the Air Force. During his three years in the military, he was assigned to work with an event coordinator doing graphic arts, and when that event coordinator left, found himself with the job.

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Foxy Lady, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

“That’s where my art career began,” Rislove says. “After being discharged, I enrolled in Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR) where I was an art major, then majored in advertising and graphic design at the Los Angeles Art Center.” Over the next 37 years, he worked in advertising and graphic design for national and Pacific Northwest companies, in addition to being a freelance designer, retiring in 1990. Five years later he started his second career as a fine artist, still going strong 23 years later. He focuses on wildlife set within pristine outdoor scenes.

Discovering Wildlife at an Early Age

“My love for the outdoors started with my grandfather who introduced me to fishing and hunting at a very early age,” Rislove explains.

“My approach to wildlife is to be as realistic as possible, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Living in the Northwest provides the many visual images of wildlife and landscapes that give me the inspiration.”

A prolific painter, Rislove fits everything he needs into 6 x 10 foot enclosed space in his garage, complete with window, heat, air, shelves, two bookcases and a filing cabinet.

“And I still have room to paint!” he exclaims. “There’s also room for frames, tools, saws, etc., and storage — you have to see it to believe it.”

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Tru Grizz, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

He has shown in galleries in the Salem and Portland areas, as well as the Oregon State Fair, and has served as show judge, teacher, and volunteer for various community art agencies and galleries. His roster of awards — displayed within that 6 x 10 foot studio — include three Best of Show, two People’s Choice, eight blue ribbons, two Judge’s Choice, and a bevy of red, white, honorable mentions, and senior artist awards. His work is in the homes of collectors throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as Texas and Minnesota.

The Hidden World of Wildlife

Getting into some math here, since we started out talking about STEM, 37 years as a graphic designer, plus 23 years as a fine artist, add up to 60, not to mention the time spent with art in high school and the military. Regardless of the final, official number, this signifies a lot of years as an artist — sketching, drawing, painting, creating — and Rislove’s contribution to the world around him consists of showing that world just what is around it — the wildlife that is hidden away, frequently unseen, but extraordinarily beautiful.

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The Catch, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

There is a fox, curled up within a bed of wildflowers. A snowy owl flies over a winter landscape. Mama bear and cub forage for food. An eagle flies, dance-like, over still, mirrored water.

The biologist can define the animals’ kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The engineer studies the birds’ wings and how they achieve flight. The mathematician calculates the weight of food both mama and cub bear need to maintain optimal health — all very important work.

And equally important, Rislove captures the moment, creates the setting, invites the viewer to stop what he or she is doing and enter a quiet, peaceful world. He completes the picture, so to speak, and adds soul to the equation.

“Nature and wildlife are in my heart.”

 

Wenaha GalleryKeith Rislove is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, January 12, 2019. 

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.

 

 

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch painting steve henderson

Beauty, Hope, and Joy — The Paintings of Steve Henderson

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch beauty painting steve henderson

Indian Summer, original oil painting by Dayton, WA, artist Steve Henderson. “I find much beauty in the patterns of fields cut through by country roads,” Henderson says of why he paints local, Eastern Washington landscapes.

It’s easy to point out what’s wrong with the world. We all do this, although only a few are paid well to impose their opinions on others.

It is far more difficult to see and identify beauty, truth, goodness, joy, peace, and love, and even more challenging to impart these elements in two dimensional form on canvas. But for oil painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, this is what he does every day.

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Moon Rising, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “The Southwest — its canyons are so deep, so profound, its land is so ancient and yet so quiet and peaceful.”

“I paint in what is called the ‘representational’ style — the world around us that we all see,” Henderson says. “But oftentimes it takes an artist to help us ‘really see’ it. And while items I paint are easily identifiable — that’s a tree; that’s Santa Claus; that’s the Grand Canyon —  each one of these subjects is interpreted by the artist to convey its deeper levels behind the lighting, the shadows, the turn of a face, the brush strokes that make up the form.

“The canvas becomes a stage upon which the artist presents the character actors — color, texture, form, design, value. On that stage, I choose to invite beauty, reminiscence, nostalgia, feelings of serenity, peace, tranquility — those emotions.”

A Tale of Beauty

Henderson’s scope of subject matter reads a bit like the opening lines to Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: He paints the Pacific Northwest forests; he paints the Southwest canyons. He paints the ocean; he paints the desert. He paints very young children; he paints adult women. What he does not paint is ugliness, despair, angst, fear or hatred: not because those elements don’t exist, but because they do, in too much quantity. It is far too easy, Henderson believes, to spark an emotional response by negativism, and it becomes a cheap, easy way to achieve a reaction.

Although Henderson has always wanted to be an artist — drawing his first three-masted sailboat at the age of five and attracting teachers’ attention throughout his schooldays because of his rendering skill — he almost quit, simply because what he was taught in his university art studies was so opposite to what he believes is commonsense, truth, beauty, and common good.

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Tea for Two, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “Children can teach us so much — they remind us to look at the world with fresh eyes,” Henderson says, adding that there is great beauty in innocence.

“At the end of four years, I was more confused than ever,” he recalls. “One moment, the professors instructed us not to listen to a thing they said, but to simply follow our muse; another moment they insisted that we essentially copy the latest post-modernist fads emanating from New York City. I found myself painting gritty purple abstract cityscapes, which my professors assured me was expressing what was deep inside me.”

Seeking Beauty, Truth, and Skill

For awhile, Henderson walked away from fine art into the illustration and graphic design industry that his professors declared would destroy him as an artist. Instead, his time in the publishing field further honed his skills as Henderson worked in a wide variety of media, creating everything from cartoon drawings to medical illustrations.

Time, life, and raising a family instilled in Henderson the confidence he needed to eschew the teachings of his fallible professors, and he resumed studying art his own way: one by one, he amassed a library of artists through the ages, and spent uncounted hours poring over their work, analyzing thousands of paintings and the varying techniques and styles of their painters. In the studio, he practiced. He knew what he wanted to achieve — skill, mastery, and the ability to convey beauty and truth — and he also knew that simply relying upon “the Muse,” or the “soul of an artist” was insufficient to do so.

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Sea Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “I find the ocean to be a central place for clear thoughts and meditation.”

“We all acknowledge that the piano player requires years of intense practice — his performance is proof of his obvious skill, or lack of it,” Henderson says.

“But in visual arts — both two and three dimensional — we glibly refer to anything as ‘art,’ and anyone as an ‘artist.’ I believe an artist should learn, train, and study as seriously as any orchestral musician.”

The World Needs Art, and Beauty

This learning, he adds, never ends, and there is no pinnacle ledge at which the artist arrives, shouts out Hallelujah, and quits learning, seeing, and experimenting. An artist’s education continues for as long as the artist is breathing, and the beauty that the artist (skillfully) paints gives life and hope to the world in which the artist lives.

“The world needs art.

“It sounds trite, but I believe it deeply.

“It has always been so, but especially today with our corporate, cubicle world and its emphasis on cold scientific facts, we need something more than ever before that speaks of beauty and something deeper that those cold facts.

“We need something that speaks to the soul, the heart, the inner working of our being.”

Wenaha GallerySteve Henderson is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 19 through Saturday, December 15, 2018. He will be at the gallery in person during the Christmas Kickoff Holiday Art Show Friday, November 23, from 2 to 6 p.m., joined by Joseph, OR folk art gourd sculptor Sheryl Parsons. Also at the show will be holiday music, artisan treats, a drawing for 3 holiday gift baskets, and up to 25% off purchases of $250 or more made on November 23 and/or 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.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour — The Happy Abstract Art of Joyce Klassen

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour 9, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

We’ve all heard of peculiar artists and capricious ones, edgy sculptors and angry painters, those who love to offend and shock, unsettle or antagonize. They are the stuff of movie fantasia and social media hype.

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Acrylic Pour 5, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

But in the real world, populated by real people,  there is another kind of artist: a happy person, loving what they do, creating with the idea of making others happy as well. Fitting into this paradigm is Joyce Klassen, a Walla Walla artist who has worked in everything from watercolor realism to her present abstract acrylic pours. She uses words like “fun,” “rewarding,” and “beautiful” when she talks about her art, as well as life itself.

“I’ve been interested in art since I was in preschool when I cut up my mother’s Simplicity patterns to make my own paper dolls and dress them in pieces of fabric — I only did that ONCE!” Klassen remembers.

This is a person who launches into the room with a smile, who experiments with new techniques and recognizes that failure is as much a part of success as, well, success is. It’s an attitude worth honing when it comes to the challenge of acrylic pour, a process that involves layering multiple colors of paint in a cup and cascading it onto the canvas:

Fun, Caution, Wisdom

The FUN comes from quickly flipping the cup upside down.

The CAUTION demands that the artist upright the cup quickly, then tilt the canvas back and forth so the colors run from top to bottom and side to side.

The wisdom of EXPERIENCE shouts “Stop!” when the pattern looks just right.

“Knowing when to stop is the secret to a successful acrylic pour,” Klassen explains. “Once you have learned to do this — EXPERIMENT and come up with your own unique method.

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Acrylic Pour 6, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

“When you find something that really works for you, keep it a secret! You want this to be your creation.”

Acrylic Pour Discovery

Klassen discovered acrylic pour literally by accident when she spilled mixed paint on a surface. Fascinated by the resulting texture, color formation and shape, she researched the technique, spending “hours and hours” learning from YouTube.

“I’ve done many forms of art, but I think I love this one the very best because I get so excited as I watch the colors evolve and mix — it often gives me terrific surprises.

“If the surprise happens to not be a good one, I simply wash it down the drain (followed by a healthy dose of drain cleaner) and start over. It’s a ‘Can’t Lose’ process.”

Acrylic Pour: Breaking and Following Rules

As Klassen is discovering, acrylic pour painting involves breaking the rules at the same time one adheres strictly to them, celebrating spontaneity in perfect proportion to meticulous thought. In some ways, this mirrors the yin-yang relationship she enjoys with her husband Randy, also an artist, but in a polar opposite sort of way:

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Acrylic Pour 1, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

She does abstract; he paints realism.

She’s messy; he’s neat.

She takes up three quarters of their shared studio; he carved out a small space against the window, just enough for his easel and palette.

“When I work on encaustic, he leaves when I light the blow torch.

“When I work on acrylic pour, he covers his work and leaves to avoid the mess.

“He has to find a lot of errands to run .  .  . ”

Oddly, for a person who describes her creative process as messy, Klassen spends a lot of time cleaning their house, because both she and Randy sell from the studio within their home.

“We never know when someone might ‘drop in’ to view the art. We love to share a glass of our local wine as we go from room to room looking at art.

“I’m often told that a viewer is amazed that I work in such a messy art form while still being such an intense ‘neatnik.'”

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 8, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

Helping the Homeless

When she isn’t creating in the studio — something that can happen anytime of the day or even at 2 a.m. if she finds she can’t sleep — Klassen works with the homeless through the Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless, coordinating the weekly shower project held Mondays at the Pioneer United Methodist Church.

She and her crew of 10 volunteers serve the needs of 10 to 17 people who would otherwise have nowhere else to shower, providing basic toiletry needs along with clean socks, underwear, and other clothing.

It’s all part of a happy artist’s life — giving, experimenting, dreaming, doing, making a mess and cleaning it up. With so much creativity and beauty, there is no place for angst, anger, shock, or awful.

“I love to watch ideas and colors evolve.

“And I love it when someone looks at an acrylic pour that I’ve done and sees something totally different than what I do — it’s almost like playing the game of ‘find Waldo.’

“Art should be rewarding, and especially, fun!”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Klassen is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 24, 2018, through Saturday, October 20, 2018.  She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of Wenaha Gallery’s Autumn Art Show, which also features jewelry artist Venita Simpson, a tribute to the late astronaut/artist Alan Bean, and a talk and visit by retired astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.

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.