Exhausted pickup truck old abandone vehicle randy klassen watercolor

Old, Bold, and Beautiful — Pickup Trucks by Randy Klassen

hand doodle card markers artwork jennifer schock

Doodle Art — Hand-Crafted Cards by Jennifer Schock

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Hand-doodled, one of a kind note card by Dayton artist, Jennifer Schock

Doodle Art explores the world of design and creativity

Technology changes constantly, and its siren call of something new — NOW — beckons and attracts. But the most important elements of human existence and ingenuity remain constant through time: our hands, our minds, our hearts, and our ability to create with these, using the materials around us.

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Blue doodle art on a vertical note card, by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

Jennifer Schock understands this concept. The Dayton artist is hard to pin down to one medium, because she does everything from dance to sewing, from jewelry making to her latest endeavor, creating one of a kind, hand doodle cards with “plain old fine point black markers” and fine point Sharpies in their full array of colors. She launched on this project a year ago, as a means of keeping herself busy as she, her husband, and five dogs made the move from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest. Never one to sit on her hands, she found herself using them in the down times when there was nothing pressing to do.

“Doodling seemed the perfect occupation for these times,” Schock explains. She started with Valentine’s cards for family members, and then just kept going through the months and seasons, resulting in hundreds of one of a kind, totally hand-created cards. Later, as household items arrived in the moving vans and her vast supply of creative treasures arrived, she set up studio in a nook in a larger room, and embarked upon fashioning nostalgic collage cards as well.

“I have books, magazine, all sorts of things to peruse until one photo jumps out at me. Anything is game,” Schock says.

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Love Is in the Air, nostalgic collage card by Jennifer Schock

Doodle and Collage Cards

Because she never knows what she’ll make next — depending upon her mood Schock will doodle a card, sew a grocery bag from repurposed jeans, string beads, knot leather, or fashion wall art from old, scratched (“unplayable — promise!”) vinyl records — she collects all sorts of objects. These she stores in that small nook studio, which also houses one of the most important pieces of furniture in the house: her work table.

“It’s scratched and nicked. It was purchased by my parents when they married in 1945, and it’s the only dining table our family ever sat around. My small TV sits in a corner and is only on Channel 132, Turner Classic Movies, the only channel I really need!”

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Black and white doodle art card by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

It should not come as a surprise that Schock does not own a computer, nor desire to do so. And while she does not object to today’s technological wonders, she is concerned about how their overuse affects society, changing us in a way that is not necessarily positive. As a counteraction to digital overload, hand-crafted cards — both her doodled and collage creations  — add humanity back to the mix.

Adding Back Humanity

“We live in a text, email, social media world, our heads bent down seemingly unaware of surroundings,” Schock says.

“Maybe my cards will bring a moment of laughter, joy, gratitude, healing, tears, or reflection to the recipient.”

If she makes a statement with her art, she adds, this is it. She considers it “cool” that the people who purchase her cards make a statement of their own through the message they write within, and her art piece serves as a vehicle for love, sympathy, birthday, missing you — “plain old fashioned thoughts” from one human being to another.

“My mother was a wonderful note writer,” Schock says. “For this reason, my doodled and nostalgic cards carry her name: Winnie Cards.”

Incorporating Old with New

Humanity matters. And in every creative pursuit she, well, pursues, Schock seeks to connect what she makes or does with who people are. For years she performed and taught dance, eventually focusing on movement therapy, in which she worked with all age groups and backgrounds in a psychiatric facility. Later, she taught art to children in 4th through 8th grades. Whatever she does, wherever she is, her focus is on hands and heart, mind and human creativity.

These elements are timeless, transcending technology, trends, and technocracy. The old ways aren’t necessarily outdated, and the latest and greatest isn’t always the best. The simple note card, which seemed on its way to becoming obsolete in the light of its e-card competition, has a very real, very necessary place in the modern world.

“Isn’t it just so nice to receive something in the mail? And isn’t it even better to write a few words out and send it along?”

Yes, it is.

Wenaha GalleryJennifer Schock is the Featured Art Event from Monday, August 12, through Saturday, September 7 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.

 

 

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Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

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Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

Plein air painters get used to all sorts of weather. Because of the nature of their studio — outside, in the plain air — they operate without a roof over their heads. Unless, of course, they choose to bring one of their own.

“During the Paint du Nord Quick Draw competition in Duluth, MN, we painted in a huge rainstorm,” watercolor artist Jan Vogtman remembers. “The competition lasted two hours, exactly — they blow a horn to start and stop.”

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Bob’s Pond, plein air landscape painting by Jan Vogtman.

Told to paint what she saw, Vogtman took the challenge literally.

“My painting shows all the artists painting around me with colorful umbrellas.”

Another time, the Troy, ID, painter joined three plein air artist friends out in the wilderness, keeping watchful eye as a memorable storm took an hour to build up.

“When the wind and rain came, we huddled in the car, ate lunch, and had a few beers. But the storm had no intention of stopping anytime soon, so we gave it up and went home.”

Even Vogtman’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had its moments. While the weather was grand during the Andy Evansen watercolor workshop she took there with a friend, sunny skies disappeared on the way back.

“We got stranded in Seattle during the Big Blizzard and got home two days later than planned.”

Not Just the Weather

Weather inconsistencies, however, are so much a part of plein air painting that one comes to accept them as constants. So is the issue of travel. Because landscapes do not transport themselves to the artist’s studio, it’s up to the artist to transport herself. And for Vogtman, who lives on Moscow Mountain, four miles from the nearest city of Troy (population 600), getting together with plein air artist friends for an afternoon of painting often involves significant time in the car.

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Exhibit Bee, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“Because I live rural, my travel time is normally one hour each way.”

Vogtman discovered watercolor 24 years ago while working at the University of Idaho. Side by side with students barely out of high school, she took as many university level art classes as she could while maintaining a full work load. Plein air she discovered in 2009, and since then has competed in regional plein air competitions as well as the event in Duluth. She is a member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, the Idaho Watercolor Society headquartered in Boise, and the Northwest Watercolor Society in Seattle.

All A’s in Art, Not Math

And while art is something she was interested in from a very early age, it was not something she was able to focus on until she was an adult and had a “real career” in the business and academic worlds. That’s just the way things were when she was growing up, even though all her A’s in school were in art, and not math.

Vogtman recalls the time she entered a drawing competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Art Institute in her hometown.

“I was maybe around 12 years old — and when I saw this competition in the newspaper, I entered. I think the amount of the prize was $250, which had to be used for classes.

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Palouse Falls, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“My parents could not afford to send me then or at anytime for art education. I was told I could not collect the award.”

She went to school to become a secretary. In a career spanning 36 years, Vogtman worked up to Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Northern Europe for the Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, and later, upon moving to Idaho, served as the Coordinator of the Executive Speaker Series, reporting to the Dean of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. On retiring in 2000, she challenged herself to dive into the art world, returning to the passion of her childhood.

The Hobby That Became a Business

In addition to plein air, Vogtman paints in her studio, a daylight basement of her home where furry forest friends peek through the window and watch. Most recently, she has added teaching workshops to taking them herself, conducting an introductory course for 20 students at the Center for Arts and History in Lewiston, ID. She has had a studio at the Artisan Barn in Uniontown, WA; earned her merit membership with the Idaho Watercolor Society upon being juried into three annual shows; and served as treasurer of the Palouse Watercolor Socius.

What started out as a hobby has become a business. And what’s perfect about that is how the non-art experience blends and melds well with the brush work of paint.

It’s unexpected, and not something that could have been predicted when she exchanged an art scholarship for business school. Life, though, like weather for the plein air painter, is never static. The best stories — and often paintings — involve the stormy days.

Wenaha GalleryJan Vogtman is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 24 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.

 

 

 

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Ceramics Dynamics — The Pottery of Kassie Smith

Ceramics Artist Teaches with Passion

By the time she was 17, ceramics artist Kassie Smith was done — absolutely DONE — with school, and wanted nothing to do with college.

So, in one of life’s unique twists, the Moscow, ID, artist found herself completing eight years of higher education, resulting in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio Arts from the University of Idaho. She stayed on to work as a ceramics instructor. A short time later, she moved to Washington State University, where she joined the ceramics department there. When she isn’t at WSU, she’s the Dahmen Barn, an artisan instruction and studio co-op in Uniontown, where Smith both teaches and manages the pottery studio.

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Rocket-themed ceramic bowl, bottom view, by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID

“I realized there was nothing I could do with my life without a degree,” Smith explains, adding that since childhood, she has always wanted to work with clay and glass art. The turning point came when she met an artist at a Baltimore gallery who created an “alcohol reduction” process similar to Raku.

“He took time to explain the process and connect with me, a 17-year-old rebellious creative soul who wanted to completely abandon academia, on a very human level. His passion was evident. After that interaction, I gave up the quest for glass art and focused solely on ceramics.

“I have kept his passion and philosophy, seeking to use my work and research as a way to connect with people, and hopefully spark a similar passion in others.”

Functional — and Beyond Functional — Ceramics Art

One of Smith’s specializations is functional pottery: she creates custom ceramics ware for local restaurants. She also focuses on female empowerment — both as a female entrepreneur and artist serving as a role model for other women, as well as with the specific subject matter she chooses.

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Smiling Teeth Mugs by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID. The gold tooth in each features real gold.

“The content of my art often has imagery relating to the female body — either with objects that suggest a relationship or forms that allude.

“Most of my work is meant to be introspective, but recently I’ve been getting louder and more bold, getting closer to a ‘statement.'”

Although she has dug and processed her own clay — a process she calls both fun and incredibly labor and time intensive — Smith generally orders a pallet with 1,950 pounds of material. It’s cost effective. It also requires a lot of storage — in both its raw state and in the finished products.

“There’s never enough space,” Smith says, describing one of the many challenges of the ceramics lifestyle.

“Build shelves, fill shelves, need more shelves.”

The Benefit of Challenges

Finding enough space is just one challenge, or as Smith prefers to call it, life benefit. Another challenge/benefit is clay itself, because the material is a never-ending source of wonder. It adds a scientific element to the art that demands constant learning and experimentation.

“Clay is a fickle material, and all clays are different,” Smith says.  “Firing clay is an art form in itself.

“I am a super nerd for glaze chemistry. There is never enough time to run all the experiments I’d like. I could spend the rest of my life on glaze chemistry if I didn’t get tired of wearing a respirator.”

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Rocket-themed pottery mugs in red tones by Kassie Smith

Another challenge involves waiting, something every ceramics artisan spends more time doing than they’d like.

“Waiting for kilns to cool down is challenging. I want to see the things NOW!!!

“Patience . . . ”

Smith has shown her work at the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, as well as at the Moscow Farmer’s Market, every Saturday from May through October.

She shuttles her work in progress between three studio spaces. One is at WSU, one at her home in Moscow, and a third at the community pottery studio at the Dahmen Barn. Logistical planning for transporting ceramics is a nightmare, she admits.

“And I break things.

“But having three studios keeps me on my toes.”

Clear as Mud

Learning, teaching, researching, experimenting, creating, even the interminable waiting. It’s all part of being a ceramic artist, well worth all the extra schooling it took to get here. Whether in classroom or studio, Smith is where she wants to be, doing exactly what she wants to do.

“There are very few things I’d rather do than be elbows deep in the mud.”

Wenaha GalleryKassie Smith is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 15, through Saturday, August 10 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 horse equine animal westernmagical landscape oil painting adszynska

Magical Western Landscapes by Teresa Adaszynska

painted horse equine animal westernmagical landscape oil painting adszynska

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.

 

 

rainbow trout fish carved wooden sculpture art tom schirm

Fish Tales: Wooden Sculptures by Tom Schirm

When Tom Schirm tells a fish story, it’s not your usual Big One That Got Away tale.

Schirm, a habitat biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties, has spent 35 years of his professional career protecting fish and wildlife. For this reason, many of his fish stories have to do with poachers. Lately, however, an increasing number of his tales have to do with the more pleasant topic of woodcarving. Schirm uses his knowledge of fish, their habitat, and their unique markings, and turns this into sculpture.

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Golden Trout, wooden fish sculpture by Walla Walla artist Tom Schirm.

It all started in the mid-1990s when Schirm was working as a game warden in Wyoming.

Fishing for a Hobby

“A girlfriend asked if there was anything I would like to do as a hobby besides hunt and fish. Since I chased poachers, and dealt with hunting and fishing in my job all the time, she thought some other hobby might be good.”

So . . . Schirm decided to carve fish. He started with a book, bought by the girlfriend, by Bob Berry, considered the father of the fish carving art form.

“I played around with it for many years, but started to get serious about improving and carving more compositions in 2008,” the Dayton artist says.

Using both hand and power tools, Schirm works with exotic sounding woods like tupelo, jelutong, or basswood. Prized for their softness for carving, they are also prone to splintering. This adds to the challenge and beauty of the final work, Schirm says.

Scraps Schirm converts into rocks and other habitat components. The finished markings – a detail to which Schirm pays assiduous attention – he hand paints and airbrushes in acrylic paint.

Depending upon the sculpture size, each lifesize fish takes anywhere from 60 to 200 intense, careful, concentrated hours. Working primarily on commission, Schirm has sold works to collectors throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as Wyoming and Iowa.

Rescuing a Prized Catch

“I remember one buyer who came to me with a damaged taxidermy mount of a big Smallmouth Bass his father had caught many years before,” Schirm says.

“Most of the fins were broken or missing, and his father had thrown it away.

“He took it from the garbage and asked if I could replicate it in wood, and do a composition including the lure his father had caught it with.

“It was about a 7-pound Smallmouth Bass. I broke two saw blades and nearly burned up my band saw cutting such a thick fish shape out of the block of wood.

“However, it turned out well, and his father was surprised and happy.”

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White Sturgeon, wooden fish sculpture by Walla Walla artist Tom Schirm

Five years ago, Schirm tested the waters, so to speak, of woodcarving competitions, and the result has been one to please both fisherman and artist. At his very first competition, the Artistry in Wood Show in Kennewick, Schirm walked away with First Place in Class, Best of Division, and the People’s Choice Award.

Shortly thereafter he entered national shows. In 2017 at the World Fish Carving Championships, sponsored by the leading taxidermy journal, Breakthrough Magazine, he garnered first, second, and third place prizes. This spring at the same competition, Schirm’s Westslope Cutthroat Trout took the Open (Top Level) Decorative Lifesize, Third in the World Award.

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The Westslope Cutthroat Trout wooden fish sculpture, winner of multiple national awards, by Tom Schirm

“One Special Fish”

The prizes for the Westslope Cutthroat Trout are especially meaningful because of another fish story in Schirm’s repertoire. Created for a colleague, the sculpture was meant for the colleague’s wife who had always wanted such an artwork, but unexpectedly passed away before it could be completed. Schirm borrowed the piece back for the 2018 and 2019 competitions.

“That’s one special fish,” the sculpture’s owner says.

Over the years, Schirm has carved 103 fish, and he is nowhere near being done – neither with the carving nor the entering of competitions. His next major goal is to win Judge’s Choice and Best of Show at a future World Fish Carving Championship.

But his constant goal, with each and every composition, is to re-create a snapshot in time of the fish within its natural environment.

“I want to show the beauty of nature and the complexity of creation,” Schirm says.

“My goal is to create the finest examples of fish sculptures I can.

“I enjoy it when someone thinks a composition is a real fish, or when a customer smiles with happiness when they receive their fish sculpture.”

Those are fish stories well worth telling.

Wenaha GalleryTom Schirm is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 17, through Saturday, July 13 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.

 

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

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Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

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Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

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Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

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Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 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.

 

feathered seed jar pottery dennis zupan artist teacher

Teacher, Potter, Advocate — Dennis Zupan Uses His (Right) Brain

feathered seed jar pottery dennis zupan artist teacher

Feathered Seed Jar, Carbon Imprint by lifetime pottery teacher and artist, Dennis Zupan

Dennis Zupan was on the exam table for an endoscopy, when the doctor glanced at the chart.

“He was pulling on his gloves before my lights went out when I heard, ‘Ah . . . Mr. Zupan. I have been waiting for this.'”

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Abstract, pottery by lifetime artist and teacher Dennis Zupan

It wasn’t the first time that the retired teacher of pottery and jewelry ran into a former student. Another time Zupan was pulled over by security in the parking lot at the community college where he was teaching.

“With red lights flashing and a uniformed officer at my window, I heard, ‘Hi, Mr. Zupan. It’s me, Jonathan. I thought that was you. I just wanted to say hi.'”

Saying Hi to the Teacher

That’s what students wanted to do: just say hi and thank you to a man who not only taught them about an ancient and enduring art form, but who also believed that students have a right to learn in an environment best suited to their way of thinking. For Zupan, this comes down to right brain (creative) versus left brain (analytical) thinking. The latter, he feels, has overwhelmed the school system. It’s to the point that there is no refuge for those who are interested, and excel, in the arts.

“According to all the left-brained people in charge of our education needs, right brained thinking is wrong,” Zupan, who taught arts for 30 years Provo High school, says.

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Green Raku, Fired, by lifetime pottery teacher and artist Dennis Zupan

“All the process and results that make a right brained person function needed to be sanitized into a left-brain format so it could be understood and validated in their left-brain world.”

Instead of actually learning to draw or make a pot, Zupan continues, students are channeled into classes on art theory, history, appreciation, aesthetics, critique, and analysis — all elements that come naturally to a right-brained artist over time as they strive to perfect their art. The result, Zupan mourns, is that “the refuge class for right brained students is gone, replaced by another list of left-brain tasks.”

Right-brain Teacher

Promoting art is a lifestyle for Zupan, who now lives and creates both pottery and jewelry in Richland. While in Utah he taught art at community education classes in the evenings, during summer school, at workshops with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H. He conducted university and college classes. And he participated in some unique opportunities to work with ancient pottery techniques.

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Pit Fired Pot with Feathers by retired teacher and lifetime artist Dennis Zupan

One of these opportunities was through the Colorado Archeologist Group, National Geographic Magazine, and Mesa Verde National Park. They joined together to replicate Anasazi (Southwest Pueblo people) pottery making and kiln firing. Zupan was one of 20 potters asked to replicate pieces, with each step documented as if were being done 1300 years ago.

Another time he partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in creating a series of Bible-based films on the New Testament era.

“At that time in history, a potter’s work was essential and found in every aspect of everyday living,” Zupan says. “Cooking, serving, lamps, and storage containers all came from the potter’s shed.” With three other potters, Zupan created hundreds of pieces for the films.

A recipient of numerous state and national teaching awards, Zupan says he approached teaching art as an artist and not an educator.

Teaching Future Artists

“I was sharing art methods and marketing to potential future artists,” he explains.

Because, when it comes to art, it’s not the theory, it’s not the analysis, it’s not the endless talking about it that matters: it’s the finished work of art. And achieving a beautiful finished work of art takes the hands, the soul, and the skill of an artist.

“I enjoy the challenges of working with a piece of clay because there are no limits to the possibilities,” Zupan says. “I often push clay to its edge of failure.

“There is always an air of excitement opening a kiln — the patterns on the pottery are created in the kilns. Raku glazes always have a bit of chance happenings to them; the same is true in a pit fire.

“They cannot be totally controlled or replicated. They can be truly exhilarating.”

Exhilarating. That’s a worthwhile goal to aspire to, and it is one Zupan has spent his life teaching students to reach for, and to find.

Which is probably why they go out of their way — wherever they are — to say, “Mr. Zupan, hi. Do you remember me?”

Wenaha GalleryDennis Zupan is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 20 through Saturday, June 15 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.

 

polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Nostalgia Journals and Chic Jewelry — The Art of Dawn Moriarty

polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Jewelry and Nostalgia Journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

Yard sales are places to find unexpected treasures, but when I stopped at one last year I never knew the treasure I found would be a new artist for Wenaha Gallery. I mean, I was just looking for little boy baby clothes.

There weren’t any. But what there was were colorful, unique, and trendy necklaces and earrings — an entire tableful.

“Did someone make these?” I asked two women sitting in chairs nearby.

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A selection of necklaces and earrings by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

“She did,” one replied, nodding toward the other. “She creates all this amazing jewelry and didn’t know where to sell it. I said I’d put it in my yard sale.”

And so I discovered Dawn Moriarty, a geriatric nurse at Booker Rest Home in Dayton, WA, who prolifically fashions in her spare time not only chic jewelry, but nostalgia journals assembled from repurposed paper products. She works out of a “woman cave” studio in the basement of her home, and many years ago turned to both jewelry and paper crafts as a means of bringing a peaceful balance to her life.

Not wanting to fuss with a website or Etsy store, she stored her art in boxes. When one was full, she took it to work and sold to friends and coworkers.

“The positive feedback there would ‘fuel my fire’ and keep me inspired to create,” the Dayton artist says.

Selling Nostalgia Journals and Jewelry to Co-Workers

But at some point, there was more artwork than co-workers, and Moriarty looked around for other places to share her wares: hence, my fortuitous discovery at the yard sale. An added bonus were the nostalgia journals, a high-demand item that Moriarty brought into the gallery on a whim, unsure of how they would be received.

“She asked me, ‘Do you think anyone would be interested in these?'” gallery framer Savonnah Henderson recalls. “I said, YES! Do you think you can keep us supplied?”

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Vintage style nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty incorporate all forms of repurposed paper, textiles, and lace

Quite fortunately, Moriarty loves spending time in her woman cave, dividing time between the journals, jewelry, and yoga. When she isn’t in her domestic subterranean environment or working, she’s on the hunt, scouting out raw materials. This activity she describes as being as fun as creating the art.

“To find the material for my journals, I go to antique stores, junk shops, yard sales, estate sales, secondhand stores, library sales — anywhere I might find objects that I can re-purpose and reuse,” Moriarty explains.

“Once in an antique store in La Grande, OR, I found an 1889 original almanac, and in the spine was an old sewing implement, kind of flat, metal with engraving on it and some brown wool thread in the eye — it’s beautiful!

“I look for used paper products from tags, receipts, stationery, old sewing patterns, diaries, textbooks, ledgers, and so on. I also look for vintage textiles from fabrics to trims and lace.

field notebook nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Field notebook nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty feature soft, flexible covers

“I use rusty metal bits, broken watches, the list goes on and on, and it’s a never ending treasure hunt.”

Vintage Chic and Fashionable Nostalgia

That’s just for the journals. For the jewelry she routs out vintage glass and metal beads — she has a selection that were once on a beaded curtain in an old shop in Seattle. Gems and semi-precious stones she sources from Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA, where she makes a yearly trip to stock up. And the polymer clay beads she creates in her woman cave, a happy place of relaxation and inspiration.

“Working with polymer clay is a great stress reliever. There is a lot of squishing and squeezing going on.

“Then you take your lumps of conditioned clay and mix, twist, layer, and press to create something pretty.”

Each piece, whether jewelry or nostalgia journal, is a statement, Moriarty says, and the basis of that statement is the vintage status of the materials she uses. Not only does this ensure that each piece is one of a kind, never to be replicated anywhere, it also adds feeling, significance, and humanity.

“I love knowing that each piece has a history,” Moriarty says. “I wonder about the lives that it touched. There’s a connection to the sentimental value of each item, whether it’s jewelry or a journal.

“And with the journals, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that there are people out there writing down their thoughts and storing their memorabilia in books I created.”

Wenaha GalleryDawn Moriarty is the Featured Art Event from Monday, April 22 through Saturday, May 18 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.