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.

moon rising southwest tucson arizona desert beauty indian woman blanket steve henderson painting art

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.

tea for two party santa claus little girl christmas eve wood stove fire steve henderson art holidays

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.

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Christmas Cheer — The Holiday Gourd Art of Sheryl Parsons

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Santa Claus in gourd and paper mache, celebrating the whimsical aspect of Christmas, by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

When we are children, life possesses a magical fantasy interspersed with reality. This juxtaposition, seamless in the mind of a child, colors our memories and affects the adults we eventually become. For this reason, adults who are wise learn from children as much as they teach them, often by getting “down” to their level.

“My mother was a fabulous artist who loved to share her talents with me,” says Sheryl Parsons, a Joseph, OR, artist who specializes in folk art holiday sculpture made from gourd, polymer, and clay.

autumn harvest christmas holiday santa sculpture sheryl parsons artist

Autumn Harvest Santa, hand-crafted Christmas holiday gourd sculpture by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons.

“She would get on the floor with me when I was little and show me how to create shape and definition in the pictures we colored in my coloring books. She taught me basic sketching techniques such as shapes and human anatomy while we sat at the kitchen table. We dabbled in pen and ink, along with pastels, and she always had a stack of Walter Foster how-to art booklets around that I loved to look at.

“I dreamed of becoming as good as what I saw in those pages.”

Christmas Gourd & Holiday Folk Art

Parsons’ dream has come true in her folk art and sculpted pieces which celebrate holidays especially enamored by children, most notably Halloween and Christmas. It is testament to the child within that her work finds (adult) collectors from around the world, through her participation in major Halloween craft festivals in Petaluma, CA, (All Hallow’s Art Fest) and Bothell, WA, (Hallowbaloo), as well as selling via her Etsy shop, website, and Reasons to Believe, a year-round Santa Claus shop located in Kirkland, WA.

While art in general has been a part of Parsons’ life  since she was a child with a particularly perspicacious mother, the focus on Santa started years ago when Parsons lived in — really — North Pole, AK.

“I was a stay-at-home mom looking for a way to make some spending money when I came across the Better Homes and Gardens Santa Claus magazines full of artists from all over who used sculpting, carving, and sewing skills to create stunning Santa  figures.

northwood stump wooden santa sculpture Christmas art Sheryl Parsons Wallowa Oregon

Northwood Stump Santa, Christmas gourd art by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons

“While chopping wood one morning, I noticed that some of the slabs that chipped off when I missed the center of the logs had a shape that would lend itself to painting Santa figures on. The flat sides only needed a little sanding, and the rounded bark backs made for unique pieces.”

Christmas at the North Pole, Utah, & Oregon

Soliciting the assistance of her three children, who earned pocket money by helping their mother paint Santa ornaments and magnets made from wood chips, Parsons sold her work through the Knotty Shop on the Alaska highway.

On moving to Utah, Parsons continued her folk art sculpture, entering, winning awards, and later judging at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City. Relocating northwards to Joseph, Parsons now shows her gourd and other sculpture work at the art-themed town’s various galleries, and the only bad thing about her new home, from the standpoint of art, is that the gardening season is too short for her to grow her own gourds. But, actually, that’s not a problem.

“It’s funny: gourds seem to find me through friends, yard sales, and so on.

“Two years ago, an artist was moving away from the valley and gave her stash of gourds to another local artist, who then called me — and so I scored ten large bags of gourds of all shapes and sizes for free!”

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Victorian Dream Santa, Christmas holiday gourds sculpture by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

In addition to working with the gourd, Parsons innovates with repurposed materials, one of her favorite projects involving burnt out light bulbs or discarded glass bottles, which she covers in clay to become Santa, a snowman, or a Halloween-themed piece.

“Candlesticks, vintage tins, salt and pepper shakers, oil, cans, wood textiles bobbins — they’re all inspiration for a new holiday piece,” she adds.

As much as Parsons enjoys Christmas and Halloween, however, neither holiday is her favorite, with that accolade going to Thanksgiving, which she describes as a time to reflect on the blessings of the year past.

Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween

“There’s little commercialization of the day itself, so for me Thanksgiving is a time for family, and making memories, unencumbered by gift expectations.

“I take each season in turn, relishing in the delight of each, and don’t want to rush into Christmas before it’s time to — although it’s my favorite season to create for.”

The celebration of holiday seasons — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter — inspire the child within, and with every hand-crafted sculpture, Parsons seeks to send a message of goodness and hope:

“For me, I want my art to be something that brings joy, peace, or pleasure to the owner or viewer,” Parsons says.

“I like to focus on the positive, whimsical, and good in life. People and nature are my inspiration: I see the hand of God in all.”

Wenaha GallerySheryl Parsons is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 5 through Saturday, December 1, 2018. She 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 Dayton painter Steve Henderson. Also at the show will be live 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.

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Fractal Fascination — Photographic Art by Debbie Lind

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Butterfly Blooms, Debbie Lind’s first, and prize winning, foray into photographic fractals art.

You don’t have to like broccoli to admire it.

Seriously.

Broccoli and its close friend, cauliflower, consist of the same small shape multiplied into a larger one, a phenomenon both scientists and artists call fractal or algorithmic art. The term, coined in the 1960s by Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, describes using mathematical formulas to create digital artwork from the same repeating shape.

love layers red heart flower fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa

Love in Layers, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

“Fractals are a repeated shape that I didn’t give much thought to until I discovered them when reading a book about shapes to kindergartners visiting our public library where I’m the library director,” says photographer Debbie Lind of Wallowa, OR.

“I read to them about shapes like circles, triangles, squares and all the basic shapes we know, but when I read to them about fractals, a light went off and I thought right then, ‘How can I use fractal art in my photography?'”

Fractal Tulip Turns into Butterfly

Lind’s first experiment with fractal art involved her photographic image of a red tulip with rain drops on it. She began playing about with the shape, intending to create a conch-like snail shell from the repeating tulip blossoms, but “it wasn’t meant to be.

“What I created instead was a butterfly wing. From that I created a butterfly I named ‘Butterfly Blooms.’ I entered it in my first professional art show and won a blue ribbon.” (As an added bonus, a monetary prize accompanied the ribbon, a fact Lind says came as a complete, but welcome, surprise.)

Money or not, from that point on, Lind was hooked on fractal art, experimenting with more flowers and butterflies, then moving on to other shapes and subjects, such as a bright orange Koi fish, repeated smaller and smaller, in a series of bubbles. She prints her images on canvas and paper, as well as large format art cards that she sells in galleries, gift shops, and local businesses.

dragonfly delight purple insect fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Dragonfly Delight, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR artist Debbie Lind

Describing herself as a photo artisan, Lind has been playing with imagery, cameras, and technology since she was 15, when she received a 110 pocket camera as a gift. From there she moved onto an Olympus OM-1 35 mm, and once she entered the digital age, she found that the time spent behind the computer screen playing with an image was as fascinating as time behind the camera lens.

Fractal Art and Emotive Photography

“My goal is to create photography — fractal or not — that moves me first: it can be a child, flowers, landscapes, or a person leaning up against a truck,” Lind explains.

“My other goal is if my art can give someone a good feeling — to enhance their good day and help them on their bad day — then this is what I hope my art can do for them, even if it’s just one person.”

koi joy orange fish fracta art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Koi Joy, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

Since that first memorable and financially satisfying professional art show, Lind has entered many others, as well as published her work in calendars, telephone books, brochures, and flyers. Wherever she goes she has an eye out for the next intriguing shot, and while she describes herself as not a photojournalist, she seeks to create images that spark conversation, imbue emotion, and catch the viewer’s eye and soul.

“If I’m in the right place at the right time, I’ll be taking photos of it.”

Living in a rural area provides plenty of subject matter, but the downside is that if the printer runs out of ink, only two sheets of photo paper remain in the packet, or none of the frames in her studio are the right size, she can’t pop down to the local office or art store to replenish supplies. For this reason, she has commandeered the largest bedroom in the house for her studio, occasionally spilling into the guest bedroom with supplies and inventory.

Letting the Creative Process Lead

Prominent on the studio wall is a quote she found in a magazine, which she says encapsulates how she approaches her photographic and fractal art:

“Let go of needing to know what you will create before you have begun. Instead, allow the creative process to be one of self-discovery, moment-to-moment revelation, and pure freedom.”

Every day is a new opportunity to learn more about art, photography, the digital world, fractal creativity, running a business, and life in general, and while trying new things has its unnerving side, it results in great satisfaction as well. Lind reminds herself of this as she experiments with new ways of marketing her photography, the latest involving selling fine art cards at local farmers’ markets where, incidentally, one finds broccoli, and cauliflower.

“As I get older, I feel a little braver in putting myself ‘out there.’ I’ve been telling myself, if not now, when?” Lind muses.

“I’m almost, or already, considered a senior citizen: I already get discounts at restaurants.

“So what’s next for me? I’m taking chances.”

Wenaha Gallery

Debbie Lind is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 22 through Saturday, November 17.

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.

astronaut dorothy metcalf-litzenburger teacher geologist mission specialist

Astronaut Dreams — Reaching Goals and Flying High

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Is Anyone out There? The questions don’t end when a dream is fulfilled, and this astronaut on the moon asks the same question we still ask on earth. Fine art edition by astronaut/artist Alan Bean.

How does a toilet work, in outer space?

Thanks to a ninth grader’s curiosity, then science teacher Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger researched the question on a NASA website, and in the process, brought about the fulfillment of a big, bold childhood dream: she wanted to be an astronaut.

astronaut dorothy metcalf-litzenburger teacher geologist mission specialist

Retired astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger is the keynote speaker at Wenaha Gallery during our Autumn Art Show Saturday, October 6. The astronaut/teacher will be speaking at 10:30.

“On that same website they said they were hiring teachers,” Metcalf-Lindenburger said in a TED-x (Technology, Engineering, and Design) talk, Dream Boldly.

“This was the answer to my question: I wanted to be an astronaut, and I enjoyed teaching — I could combine the two things I loved into one.”

And so she did, although it takes much less time to write than it does to do.

Astronaut School

After a grueling application process and six months of waiting, Metcalf-Lindenburger joined NASA in 2004, trained for two years, and in 2010 flew as Mission Specialist on the STS-131 Discovery Mission to supply the International Space Station.

She’d done it: the 1997 Whitman College graduate, who, after taking a B.A. in geology went on to Central Washington University in Ellensburg to get her teaching credentials, was a genuine astronaut, orbiting 250 miles above the earth. It fulfilled what she wrote when she was 9-years-old, assigned the perennial question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

alan bean astronaut moon space exploration paintings art

The late Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, retired from being an astronaut to painting images of the moon and space.

“I knew what I wanted to be; I made this paper mache doll — I was hopefully not going to look like a ketchup bottle, but I wanted to be an astronaut,” Metcalf-Lindenburger recalled in a 2014 NASA video, In Their Own Words.

“But I had other dreams. I wanted to be a teacher like my parents and my heroine, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I loved digging in my backyard for fossils along the Front Range (in the Rocky Mountains). I enjoyed going up to Rocky Mountain National Park, and I love looking up at the night sky.”

A Teacher Like Wilder; An Astronaut Like Bean

So she became a science teacher who became an astronaut who then became a geologist for Geosyntec Consultants in Seattle. As dream fulfillments go, it’s a pretty good one.

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The earth, as seen from space. A Jewel in the Heavens, by astronaut and artist Alan Bean

A few months before Metcalf-Lindenburger’s 2010 launch on the space shuttle Discovery — which, in its 27 years of active service launched and landed 39 times —  she got a call from her mother, who was cleaning out Metcalf-Lindenburger’s childhood room.

“You know that shuttle model you made when you came back from Space Camp?” her mother asked, referring to Metcalf-Lindenburger’s attendance, 20 years before, at the NASA youth program in Huntsville, AL, where the U.S. space program was born.

“Well I looked, and it was Discovery.”

Coincidence? Chance? Design?

“It’s just kind of a neat connection,” Metcalf-Lindenburger says in In Their Own Words. “It happened just by chance, but it was a really cool chance that it happened.”

Meeting the Apollo Astronauts

Metcalf-Lindenburger stayed with NASA until 2014, during which time she commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16, an undersea exploration. As the lead singer of the all-astronaut band, Max Q, she sang the National Anthem at the 2009 Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals game, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Neil Armstrong astronaut space moon exploration Alan Bean

His name is perhaps the most recognized of the astronauts: First Men: Neil Armstrong by astronaut and artist Alan Bean.

And she met the Apollo astronauts:

“They are a brave group of men who changed how we thought about ourselves and our planet,” Metcalf-Litzenburger says. Years earlier, while working at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA, during her studies at Whitman College, she encountered the paintings of Alan Bean, who as an astronaut was the fourth human to walk on the moon, and as an artist, chronicled the experience.

“I was very impressed by his work, and interested in its details,” she said.

Bean enjoyed incorporating space-age items into his paintings, from footprint impressions of the astronaut’s boots, patches from his space suit, and sprinkles of moondust to textures made from lunar tools. It brings the moon down to earth, even as those who live and dream on earth, like Metcalf-Lindenburger, gaze up into the sky.

Achieving Dreams

Bean was an engineer/fighter pilot/astronaut/artist. Metcalf-Litzenburger is a teacher/astronaut/geologist with more descriptions to add, because dreams don’t end with fulfillment.

“I had achieved my dream, but does that mean that dreaming is over once you’ve accomplished the big one? Is that it?” Metcalf-Lindenburger concluded in Dream Boldly.

“Absolutely not.

“You see, the little girl that dreamed about being an astronaut, about floating in space – she’s still here, and she’s still dreaming.”

Wenaha Gallery

In tribute to the late astronaut/artist Alan Bean, Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger is the featured guest at Wenaha Gallery’s Autumn Art Show Saturday, October 6, and will be speaking at 10:30.  Also featured at the Autumn Art Show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., are jewelry artist Venita Simpson of Richland, and acrylic pour painter Joyce Klassen of Walla Walla. During the show, the gallery is offering 10 percent off all Bean fine editions in stock, free artisan treats, live music, and a free fine art note card to every visitor.

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.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

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:

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

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.

slab built curved pottery out of box dave raynalds

Out of the Box — The Slab Built Ceramic Pottery of David Raynalds

slab built curved pottery out of box dave raynalds

Curves and eclectic shapes don’t fit into a square box — Salt Cellar, slab built pottery by Portland ceramicist, Dave Raynalds

It doesn’t matter how big the box is: human beings simply don’t fit in them.

Creativity, experimentation, exploration — these elements rage against the sides of the box until they knock them down, freeing the spirit within. And the more stubborn and determined the person, the more he or she resists the box — and the more interesting their story.

floral slab built pottery ceramic platter dave ranyalds out of box

Floral Platter, slab built ceramics with a painterly flower glaze, by out of the box ceramic artist, Dave Raynalds of Portland.

So it is with Dave Raynalds, a Portland potter who specializes in slab ceramics, a technique that involves hand-shaping slabs of clay into finished platters, plates, and bowls.

Not a Box: Slab Built Ceramic Shapes

“All my work is slab built,” Raynalds says. “I prefer the spontaneous, loose, lively and organic shapes that slab building can give.”

Raynalds first experimented with the slab ceramic technique in college, when he took an art class every term, from drawing to macrame. During his pottery class, he created a vast and impressive array of items, all slab built, and then was mildly . . . irritated when he received a lower grade because he had done no wheel work. It was 40 years later that persistent insistence by his wife, enrolled in a pottery class at the Multnomah Arts Center, convinced Raynalds to give it another try.

“I knew I would love it, but I didn’t want to intrude on her thing,” Raynalds explains. “It didn’t take much convincing, though, and now we both spend four or five days a week at the studio at the center.”

Inspired by Betty Feves

globe round sphere slab built pottery ceramic dave raynalds out of box

You can’t get much further from a box shape than a round globe — Globe, slab ceramic pottery sculpture by Portland artist Dave Raynalds.

Raised in Pendleton, Raynalds attended junior high and high school when Betty Feves, the nationally famous ceramicist and musician, was on the school board, so all through his pre-college schooling, he received excellent education in the arts, due to the district’s commitment to providing it. In college, he took his degree in geology, and because of his tendency toward kicking the box, embarked upon a career as a cabinet maker, or as he puts it,

“I got into woodworking by buying so many woodworking tools that I had to turn professional. I worked as a cabinet maker for 30 years.”

Now retired from cabinet making, Raynalds incorporates his woodworking experience into  his pottery, as he takes a woodworker’s approach to clay using similar building techniques.

Out of the Box Woodworking Tricks for Slab Built Ceramics

“Many woodworking tricks translate well to slab-built ceramics. But unlike wood, if you cut something too short, you can add more clay and move on.

“Clay lends itself to more organic shapes than wood. This appeals to me because complex shapes and curves can be generated very fast, as opposed to wood.”

paper doll platter slab built ceramic pottery dave raynalds not box

Even shapes that are polygons aren’t conformed to the square box — Paper Doll Platter — slab built ceramic pottery by Portland ceramicist, Dave Raynalds

His geology studies come into play with painting watercolor landscapes, a pursuit he adopted five years ago on a canoe trip in Utah, complete with sketchbook and portable paints. And coming full circle, the painting incorporates back into the slab ceramics, as he chooses and uses glazes and creates designs. Nothing is isolated, and no experience is wasted.

“I am a born tinkerer and maker,” Raynalds says. “I’ve made my own recumbent bicycle, a replica of an Aleutian skin kayak, a ten-foot computer-controlled telescope, and many other gadgets.

“I enjoy sewing my own camping equipment — panniers, backpacks — as well as participating in family quilting round robins. As a cabinet maker, I worked for artists making large installations and custom framing.

“I was one of the first bicycle messengers in Portland, and have crossed the country twice on my bicycle.”

Eclectic, Unique, Out of the Box Resume

It’s an eclectic, highly personalized resume, one that evidences the owner’s willingness to try not only new, but seemingly unrelated things. For instance, regarding being a bicycle messenger, something many people have encountered only through Kevin Bacon’s 1986 movie, Quicksilver, Raynalds says,

“I got the job from an ad in a newspaper. At that time, there were no bike messengers except an old guy who delivered office supplies.

blue platter slab built ceramic pottery dave raynalds

Blue Platter, slab built ceramic pottery by Portland artist, Dave Raynalds, incorporating painting of non-traditional designs into the artwork

“I delivered mostly legal papers, real estate documents, and blueprints on a one-speed Schwinn with coaster brakes. I did this for four years.”

Citing Goodwill as a favorite source for texture materials and tools for his work, Raynalds creates his own molds and stamps to embellish his pottery, with the focus on each piece being as highly individual as its creator.

“While I was a cabinet maker, I tried to do high end work, or interesting work,” Raynalds says. As a potter, “I rarely make commissions or sets of things — I would be bored if I have to make something twice.”

Always a Surprise: Slab Built Ceramic Art

Tinker. Tailor. Potter Guy. Dave Raynalds is as eclectic, and unexpected, as the art he creates. And because he refuses to acknowledge the box, much less crawl into it, the end result often comes as a surprise to the artist himself.

“I usually have some vague idea about what I want to make when I start a project, but this can change as I progress.

“Many times the finished project is not recognizable from the starting ideas as other ideas are presenting themselves.”

Out of the box.

Wenaha Gallery

Dave Raynalds is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 10, 2018, through Saturday, October 6, 2018.  

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.

 

big sky mustangs dream old west montana horses tobias sauer

Montana Dreams — The Western Art of Tobias Sauer

big sky mustangs dream old west montana horses tobias sauer

Big Sky Mustangs, capturing the old west and the new, by oil painter Tobias Sauer. Sauer’s childhood dreams, while growing up in Montana, were to be a full time painter, and he is turning this dream into reality.

Dreams. Goals. Aspirations.

All humans have these, born within our childhood when we don’t realize how impossible what we want to do actually is. Some people abandon these dreams entirely, citing the need to be “realistic,” but others, who combine realism with hope, hard work, and a stubborn tenacity to get up when they’re knocked down, keep chipping away, moving forward, walking steadily toward that dream.

ogalala cowboys horses night dreams tobias sauer western art

All Night to Ogalala, oil painting by Coeur d’Alene artist Tobias Sauer, who is turning his childhood dreams into a very realistic art career.

Tobias Sauer is one of these people. As a child, raised in the Montana outdoors, he and his father biked, hunted, kayaked, and hiked; evenings, he joined his artist mother in trying to paint what he had experienced that day, frequently getting frustrated when what he saw in his mind did not make it successfully onto canvas.

“These are 40-year-old artist’s hands,” his mother would tell him. “You have little 5-year-old hands. When you have 40-year-old artist’s hands, you’ll be able to make it look just right, too.”

Dreams Die before They Live

Long before those hands could be 40, however, it looked like the dream had died.

“I started off as an art major in college, but quickly became disillusioned with the emphasis of abstract expressionism and the lack of instruction in form and technique,” the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, oil painter says. “I graduated in environmental science and worked in that field for years.”

Though he tried to continue painting, an injury followed by surgery and a series of painful life events drove him into what he calls a personal “wilderness,” one that drained him of time and energy, of dreams and the desire to create.

herdsire cow bull livestock cattle Montana rancher's dreams tobias sauer western art

Herdsire, embracing the rancher’s dreams of the future herd. Oil painting by Coeur d’Alene oil painter Tobias Sauer

But he kept chipping away, continuing to get up each time he was knocked down. After a long hiatus from painting, Sauer found an old watercolor set while going through his storage unit, and gave it a try.

“I wondered if I could still paint, or if I had lost it all . . . but you know, after all that time of not painting, I had somehow gotten better. It was the weirdest thing, and I still can’t figure it out — I don’t know if it was that suffering or just age had made me a more mature artist, or just a more patient person.”

Visions of Montana

Whatever it was, it impelled him forward, and Sauer found that his hands — still not yet 40 — were capable of making things look just right. Bison, elk, moose, cowboys, mountains, meadows — Sauer draws, literally, upon the scenes of his Montana childhood in celebrating both the Old West and the New.

“I grew up in Charlie Russell country, and I grew up wanting to ranch,” Sauer says. “My heroes were cowboys. I loved rodeo, ranching, and outdoors, and since I couldn’t live the life of a cowboy, I like to paint it.”

intense montana mountain lion puma wildlife cat western art tobias sauer

Intense, a moment of big cat reflection and dreams by western artist Tobias Sauer.

As paintings began to sell, Sauer gained confidence along with skill, and he soon entered the world of major juried and invitational shows: The Cowboy Classics Western Art Show in Phoenix, Arizona; Heart of the West in Bozeman, Montana; Miniatures by the Lake in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; The Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, Washington; and, appropriately, The Russell Exhibition and Sale in Great Falls, Montana.

Because he is gregarious and enjoys connecting with clients and art lovers, Sauer attends many of these shows in person, traveling back to back from March through September with his wife in a camper trailer.

The Reality of Living Dreams, In and out of Montana

“I see new places, go to places I never thought I’d go to,” Sauer says.

“I like the personal connection with the collectors and the feeling that the collector is buying a part of me.

“I also travel to workshops because I want to seek out the best artist to study from for the kind of work I want to do, and the artist who will most likely help me with specific goals I am trying to achieve.”

office space Montana cowboys herding cattle livestock cows western art tobias sauer

Office Space, embracing the dreams of office workers everywhere, by western artist Tobias Sauer of Coeur d’Alene, ID.

And then, when he isn’t traveling, Sauer is painting, marketing, blogging, connecting with collectors and galleries who are increasingly noticing his work. He presently sends his art to galleries in Sedona, Arizona; Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho; Whitefish and Billings, Montana; and, most recently, Jackson, Wyoming, resulting in his paintings residing in homes throughout the nation, west and east, north and south.

Dreams Achieved

It’s a lot of work for those not quite yet 40-year-old hands, but Sauer delights in the busy schedule, in the challenge, in the fulfillment of dreams that are very much imbued with reality. Because achieving dreams is not necessarily unrealistic:

“I thought an art career would be like the closing credits of Little House on the Prairie, with Laura Ingalls running through a beautiful field without a care in the world, but it’s not like that,” Sauer observes.

“It’s hard, stressful, nerve-wracking, self-esteem killing, and filled with deadlines and insecurity.

“But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s the most rewarding thing in my life outside of my marriage and my daughter.”

Wenaha Gallery

Tobias Sauer is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 27, 2018, through Saturday, September 22, 2018.  

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.

 

happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Murano Glass — The Lampwork Jewelry of Venita Simpson

happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Happy Place, lampwork Murano lampwork glass beaded necklace and earrings by Richland jewelry artist, Venita Simpson

It started out as a palette full of wood and screws and instructions, delivered from Costco. By the time Venita Simpson had finished with it, however, the 80-square foot storage shed had turned into a fairy tale cottage, its inside painted cheery yellow, the path leading up to it bedecked with flowers, windows and glass door inviting in light and view.

desert sand necklace earrings jewelry murano lampwork glass beads venita simpson

Desert Sand, necklace and earrings set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring handcrafted lampwork beads from Murano glass.

“It’s a sanctuary to leave the world behind and become the artist I dreamed of being for a long time,” the Richland jewelry artist says of her DIY studio. A computer programmer for more than 30 years, Simpson turned to glass jewelry making in 2006 as a mental antidote to the rigidity required by high tech. Now retired from programing, Simpson spends uncounted hours in her studio sanctuary, fashioning her own one of a kind beads using Murano glass from Italy and a flame torch.

Lampwork Murano Glass Beads

Employing a technique called lampwork, Simpson melts the glass at temperatures reaching 1200 degrees. She then forms the molten glass into shapes by using tools and hand movements. The beads are then placed in a kiln to anneal, or gradually cool.

“Working with molten glass requires a steady hand, attention to detail, and a healthy respect for a 1200 degree torch,” Simpson says. “Mixing colors and chemistry of glass results in wonderful reactions in the glass.”

You only burn yourself once, she adds.

sandstone turquoise desert earrings necklace jewelry lampwork murano glass bead jewelry Venita Simpson

Sandstone Turquoise Desert, necklace and earring set by jewelry artist Venita Simpson of Richland, WA, featuring handcrafted, lampwork Murano glass beads

After creating a series of beads using lampwork from the Murano glass, Simpson assembles the finished pieces, generally consisting of necklace and matching earrings, in a spare room in her home. Seasonal colors drive her design and color choices, and she showcases the finished work at Girls Night Out parties in her own home of that of others.

Murano Beads at Girls Night Out

“I’ve sold my work at craft fairs, but I really enjoy explaining my process in a more casual setting,” Simpson says. “I love bringing people into my studio so they can see first hand how the glass is melted. Girls Night Out is a way to bring women together in my home, to enjoy each other’s company, network, and have a great glass of wine.”

The glass that forms the basis for Simpson’s unique accessories is made only in Murano, Italy, a Venetian island that has specialized in the process for centuries. The beads adorn not only the necks and ears of  varied clients — “I like to travel and have been known to sell my jewelry right off my neck to a flight attendant or two!” — but also those of children battling a serious illness, through a program called Beads of Courage at the Children’s Hospital in Orange County, CA.

dreamy blues necklace earrings murano lampwork glass beads jewelry venita simpson

Dreamy Blues, necklace and earring jewelry set by Richland artist Venita Simpson, featuring her handcrafted lampwork, Murano glass beads

“Each time the child goes in to receive a shot, an appointment, surgery, x-rays etc., they are able to choose a bead and add to their necklaces to show how each milestone gave them hope,” Simpson explains. “Some of these treatments were painful episodes, but each bead told a story of the brave children and their courageous achievement.”

Since moving from California to the Tri-Cities, Simpson has also donated her Murano lampwork glass beads to Beads Behind Bars at the Benton Franklin Juvenile Detention Center, which, in coordination with Allied Arts of Richland, provides incarcerated juveniles a creative outlet in learning to make jewelry.

murano glass lampwork bead jewelry necklace earrings Venita Simpson

Natural Wonder, necklace and earring set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring lampwork Murano glass beads

Right Brain Left Brain

In between her career in computer programming and retirement, Simpson took time off to earn her certificate in commercial and residential interior design, and for several years freelanced and did side jobs in a field that used what she calls the right side of her brain. But finances called her back to full-time programming, and her left brain demanded total attention. With retirement, her full brain joins with hands and heart as she enjoys the slower pace of the Pacific Northwest, four definite seasons, and freedom from corporate life.

“Programming makes you very rigid in that you have to test for every scenario, test for every system hiccup, and document each step,” Simpson says of her former life. “I was process oriented, following strict specifications to complete tasks, so it’s been challenging to come out of the box sometimes.

“But since retirement, I’m making great progress with my imaginative side of my brain. Using both sides of my brain has become an asset, firing up both burners, so to speak.”

It’s a jewel of an opportunity.

Wenaha Gallery

Venita Simpson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 13, 2018, through Saturday, September 8, 2018.  

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.

 

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Brilliant Clouds — The Watercolor Paintings of Joyce Anderson

glenns ferry cliffs storm clouds sky joyce anderson watercolor art

Glenns Ferry Cliffs — storm clouds in the sky, original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Anderson

It is fortunate for Joyce Anderson that her latest series of paintings did not involve monsoons or hurricanes.

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Ashton, Idaho Silhouettes — dramatic clouds sweeping over the landscape, original watercolor painting by Joyce Anderson of Walla Walla

Because the watercolor artist tends to get really involved with her subject matter, it was wet enough focusing on clouds, many of which were heavy with rain and portending inclement weather.

“Holy cow! We were in our tent trailer during many a torrential, drumbeat, wind-shaking, storm,” the Walla Walla painter says of a recent trip she took to Idaho and Wyoming with husband and fellow artist, Roy.  Other times they were outside, clad in waterproof ponchos as Anderson studied the sky, took notes, and captured reference material in preparation for a series of paintings based upon “spectacular skyscapes.”

“The series incorporates a cornucopia of colors and forms of clouds,” Anderson says, adding that she has spent so much time painting since the couple returned from their trip, that Roy has posted a picture of her on the refrigerator so that he can remember what she looks like.

Creating Clouds on Paper

“My self-set goal has been to use the white of the paper to give me the brilliant gilded edges (of clouds) rather than incorporate white paint,” Joyce explains. “At times it’s been like trying to manipulate a real cloud into a shape I wanted.”

impending storm rain clouds sky joyce anderson watercolor painting

Impending Storm — rain clouds in the distance — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

Observing clouds, studying them, learning their names and attributes, wondering how their shapes will change, this is all part of capturing their essence on paper, creating a landscape into which the viewer enters and feels the very breeze on his or her face. After such an intense time of focus, Anderson says that she looks at weather, not to mention clouds, differently:

“I find myself easily distracted now when I see clouds . . . that’s not always good when I am driving.”

The Curious Artist

Doing any kind of art, Anderson feels, requires curiosity — the heart of the eternal student, even when one becomes a teacher. And as a teacher of watercolor for more than 36 years, Anderson has kept that eternal student vibrant and alive, imparting a love of the medium to adults through classes at Walla Walla Community College Continuing Education, Walla Walla Parks and Recreation, the Carnegie Art Center, Allied Arts of Tri-Cities, the Pendleton Center for the Arts, and more.

meadow pond storm sky rain clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Meadow Pond — sweeping clouds over a green landscape — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

She has also volunteered at local schools, working with elementary students to integrate art with curriculum requirements. One of the best benefits of teaching children is the same as that of teaching adults: seeing the light go on, the face animate, as the student watches the magic of color on paper, and realizes that combining one line at a time will create any manner of subject.

“None of us need to know it all in order to try something new.”

Anderson has shown her work in regional juried shows, garnering Best of Show at the Allied Arts Juried Show in Richland in 2007, with the added bonus of the painting being sold to a private collector in New York.  She also has work in the city hall of Sasayama, Japan, Walla Walla’s “sister city,” as well a Spokane City Hall. The majority of her collectors live in the Pacific Northwest.

Painting Clouds at ArtPort

Both Joyce and Roy share a studio at the Walla Walla airport region, housed in one of the former military complex buildings. Announcing itself as ArtPort, which most people driving by interpret as Airport, misspelled, the building is large enough to accommodate both artists, and separately and together, the couple puts in hours of painting time each day. It changes the way she sees things, Anderson says.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t observe a subject that could become a painting — the interplay of colors in clouds, the effect of light or lack of, or the patterns of nature.

“Painting allows me to appreciate the ‘eye candy’ around each of us.”

Clouds of Beauty, All Around

But it isn’t just eye candy, she reflects, because the images of nature are more than just pretty scenes, superficial color that sparks a momentary interest, and no more. The images of nature provoke a sense of wonder, of contemplation, of appreciation for the world in which we live and breathe. And that is what she wants to viewer to take away with them when they see her latest series on clouds.

“The message I would like to extend with this display is to take a moment to truly observe the clouds in the sky, colors, shapes, designs, and patterns repeated in everything we see.

“Stop to appreciate what is all  around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Anderson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Wednesday, July 18, 2018, through Saturday, August 25, 2018.  She will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze 53 home decor at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

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.

 

farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Bronze Home Decor — The Functional Artistry of Timber Bronze 53

farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Farm Pig, home decor bronze doorbell from Timber Bronze 53 of Wallowa, Oregon

The next time you open the kitchen flatware drawer, take a look at the drawer pull.

Is it shaped like a Morel mushroom? Or possibly a mule deer antler? Life doesn’t have to consist of round knobs and square pegs, and for Garrett and Beth Lowe, owners of Timber Bronze 53 in Wallowa, OR, it doesn’t.

morel mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull timberbronze wallowa oregon

Morel Mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR.

“We hand craft solid, cast-bronze hardware and decorative accessories for log, timber frame, and other rustic homes,” says Beth. “We’re presently developing a line of farmhouse and rustic chic decor for a growing market.”

Timber Bronze Home Decor

A fifth-generation Wallowa resident, Beth moved back to the area with Garrett five years ago, and the couple looked for a business they could develop and expand in addition to their day jobs at a commercial fueling business in Wallowa. When they discovered Timber Bronze 53, a then ten-year-old company catering to the fast-growing home decor industry, they knew they had found their niche: a blend of art, home design, intense craftsmanship, and potential for continuous advancement.

There was also a huge learning curve, because hand crafting items in bronze — from doorbells to drawer pulls, from custom drapery posts to hat hooks, is not for the dilettante. The couple inherited an inventory of more than 60 different doorbell and knocker styles, plus 80 styles of door and drawer accessories for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Quite fortunately, the original owner — who put the Lowes through an intense training period covering the processes he had developed over the years — was also extraordinarily organized:

“He included Excel spreadsheets that had everything from a customer’s birthday to how long it should take to put a screw in a hole,” Garrett says.

Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz

pine cone bronze home decor doorbell timberbronze

Pine cone bronze home decor doorbell, handcrafted by Timberbronze of Wallowa, OR

Within a short time of taking over the business, Beth and Garrett secured contracts from Wayfair, Houzz, and Amazon, the result of what Garrett calls a combination of chance and social media.

“Our oldest son was messing around with Twitter, I think — maybe Instagram — and somehow whatever he did caught the attention of one of the senior buyers at Wayfair. It wasn’t long after that that Houzz called, and not much longer after that I got a call from Amazon,” Garrett recalls.

“We’ve been quite fortunate.”

But fortune is only part of any human’s story, and Garrett and Beth, the latter who holds a degree in Kitchen and Bath Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, juggle everything from production to shipping, from marketing to artistic design. Originally housing their business in an old hardware store — “complete with bats, creaky sloping floors and LOTS of character” — the couple presently manufactures out of several former farm buildings, including an old milking barn that also used to house pigs.

antler bronze home decor drawer pull timber bronze

A side view of handcrafted bronze antler drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR

Creating Bronze Home Decor in an Old Dairy Barn

Oddly, it hosts the perfect temperature-controlled setting, Garrett explains, to create the lost wax castings that are the first part of a multi-step process requiring 5-6 weeks to complete. After creating the cast for a specified item, the couple takes the mold to Valley Bronze, a world-class bronze foundry 25 miles away in Joseph, OR. There begins an eight-step, three-week process to pour the design.

The couple then transports the newly bronzed units back to Wallowa, where they apply a decorative patina adding a deeper richness to the golden hue of the bronze. A protective coating ensures that the items successfully endure heavy or outdoor use.

In addition to selling through Wayfair, Amazon, and Houzz, the Lowes handle increasing orders for reproduction work — pulls for antique furniture — as well as custom design.

“We recently finished a job for a woman in the Midwest that included custom refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler, and dishwasher handles,” Garrett says. “That order also included 8-inch custom-made twig handles and about 100 pine cone knobs.”

Functional Artistry in Bronze Home Decor

So the drawer pull on your kitchen flatware drawer has the potential to not only be useful, but beautiful as well, a functional artistry that adds a unique touch to everyday life. For Garrett and Beth, providing such functional artistry is their unique, customized niche, and they fill it in a signature, distinctive manner.

“I think that just the fact that we strive to work off of solid business principles — not grow too fast, not spend money we don’t need to — things like that help set us apart,” Garrett says.

“We have products that fill a want, need or desire for the client, and we are continuing to branch out and step out somewhere into the unknown. We’re not afraid to tackle new things.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 16, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018.  The Lowes will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

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.