Pamela Claflin loves to paint with friends, even though once she gets the brushes out, she stops talking to them.
Upon entering “the zone,” Claflin focuses on the task at hand and the scene in front of her, to the point that she — very very literally — notices nothing else.
“One time, while painting in the Ochocos, I set up my metal easel and tripod on a bed of rocks in the middle of the creek,” Claflin remembers. “I painted for a couple of hours, and when I showed up for lunch my friends asked me, ‘What did the three cowboys say to you when you were painting?’
“I said, ‘WHAT three cowboys?’
“They said, ‘The three fellas who waded out into the creek and stood a few feet behind you to watch you paint.’
“I was flabbergasted. I didn’t even know they were there.”
That’s being “in the zone,” and it’s also the principal reason why Claflin never goes painting by herself. Claflin, an oil painter of wildlife and the outdoors who incorporates plein air (outdoor painting), studio work, and reference photography, considers her weekly outdoor sessions with friends a form of ongoing schooling, added to a yearly weeklong workshop she takes from nationally known artists.
“I believe that to this day,” Claflin says, adding that, during the time she owned the Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, OR, from 1989 to 2007, she sought out other artists who ascribed to this maxim as well.
Now, the Kennewick artist — who sold the gallery for the sole reason of embarking upon full-time painting — enters her work in museum and gallery shows throughout the nation, one of the most recent being the American Impressionist Society Show in Kirkland, WA, where she received Second Place for the Members’ Outdoor Paint Event.
Known among her friends as the “wildlife spotter,” Claflin believes that maintaining an observant eye is the key to finding subject matter to paint, and while she may be oblivious to her surroundings when she’s in the zone, when she’s on a hike, seeking reference material for future paintings, she’s 100 percent attuned to her surroundings.
“Nature has its colors . . . wildlife has its colors. When I am out in nature and see a color that doesn’t blend, my head perks up and I look to see what it is.
“A stump that is too dark turns out to be a black bear drinking at a creek.
“A blonde ‘rock’ turns out to be a lone pronghorn.
“A dead tree branch turns out to be antlers of a very old elk who ends up eating the last apple in my backpack.”
Once, while traveling to Taos, NM, Claflin spotted a herd of wild horses, noticing a young stallion being pushed from the herd by an older stallion of the same color, which Claflin deduced to be the young one’s father. After being repeatedly driven away, the young horse stopped, squared up his body as if to take a deep breath, and stared at the herd.
“I photographed him at the moment and did a painting of him entitled, ‘One Long, Last Look at His Father’s Herd,'” Claflin says.
“I believe that if one is to paint life images of nature, one must spend time outside observing and painting.”
Because the outdoors is unpredictable, Claflin believes in being prepared as well, making sure that her car is within easy reach of the chosen painting site. That way, when marble-sized hail falls, or the wind incessantly blows down the easel and declares itself the winner, or yellow jackets take offense at a perceived intruder, it’s easy to pack up and move.
On studio days, it’s warm, dry, and insect-free.
Claflin’s work is in collections throughout the U.S., Canada, and England, and she herself maintains a collection of other artists’ work as well. One these pieces, her first sculpture purchase made in 1987, is by Klamath artist Jim Jackson, and is entitled “Seeking a Vision.” It is, she asserts, aptly named.
“It is a clay, robed figure with his head tilted towards the sky with his eyes, closed,” Claflin explains.
“I have kept that sculpture in my paint room ever since, and it constantly serves as an inspiration for me.”
Pamela Claflin is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, March 13, through Saturday, April 8. There is a special Art Show honoring Claflin Saturday, April 1, 2017, with the artist being on hand to meet and greet from 1 to 4 p.m. Also occurring at the same time is a Tribute Art Show of work by the late James Christensen.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.
Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!