Posts

cat leopart spotted wildlife drawing photorealistic aimee croteau

Colored Pencil Photorealism — Wildlife Drawings by Aimee Croteau

cat leopard colored pencil wildlife drawing photorealistic aimee croteau

Big cats are fascinating, but they don’t often let us get close enough to them for us to see the detail. Aimee Croteau’s photorealistic colored pencil drawings give us that closeup. Rarity, original colored pencil drawing by Aimee Croteau.

The last time you saw an Amur leopard on the street, did you stop to truly look, or did you keep walking?

Okay, so maybe an Amur leopard on the street isn’t a common sight. And if it were, we probably wouldn’t sidle close, stop and stare. But thanks to artists like Aimee Croteau, who creates photorealistic wildlife paintings in colored pencil and airbrush, we can take the time to look, to observe, to absorb the detail of a world we otherwise are unable to get close to.

“With my photorealistic animal drawing, I am above all else demanding that more respect be paid to non-human life,” the Post Falls, ID, artist says.

wolf wings fantasy wildlife colored pencil photorealism aimee croteau

Within the detail of photo realism, fantasy has its place. Reborn, original colored pencil and airbrush drawing by Aimee Croteau.

She works in colored pencil because the medium allows her to render her subject matter with extreme — it’s no exaggeration to say exquisite — detail and precision. The addition of an airbrush background softens the effect, highlighting the finer points of the animal’s form and visage.

Taking Time with Colored Pencil

“Taking the time and physical labor to capture each tiny detail in my subjects indicates the importance I place on them,” Croteau explains. This is also an invitation to the viewer as well. They can take all the time they need to absorb the impact of the image, without the disadvantage of the animal not staying around to be looked at.

“Animals are skittish and hide easily, making them difficult to see and connect with. Drawing them gives the viewer an opportunity to look at an animal they would otherwise not be able to see due to the animal’s elusive nature or their geographic location.

“By drawing animals in a photorealistic style, I imply that they demand more than just a quick glance.”

Nothing about the process is quick, she adds, and that’s intentional. From choosing the subject, to composing the image, to rendering it, Croteau’s artwork reflects a sense of respect that encourages the viewer to join her on the journey. Using photos that she has taken herself or accessed through appropriate licensing or royalty-free channels, Croteau looks for a reference that reflects some aspect of herself: a sense of stillness, an expression, or a specific emotion. She then seeks to capture that element in the drawing, while simultaneously preserving and celebrating the animal’s unique personality.

bird plumage feathers wildlife drawing aimee croteau

Every feather, every detail of plumage shines forth in Aimee Croteau’s airbrush and colored pencil drawing, Cynosure

“I encourage the viewer to more carefully consider the individuality and impact of the wildlife that I represent through my work.”

Details Matter

Attention to detail is a part of life to Croteau, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. Citing art as a lifelong passion, Croteau decided to be an artist in high school, and says,

“If I go too long without drawing, or painting, or simply making something, I legitimately get depressed. It’s like a piece of my soul is being neglected if I am not making art.” This is the fundamental reason she started doing art in the first place, she adds.

fox magic moment colored pencil photorealistic drawing aimee croteau

Caught in the moment — This Magic Moment, photorealistic colored pencil airbrush drawing by Aimee Croteau

Croteau has exhibited in various group shows in the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Cheney areas, and is most proud of her acceptance into the Terrain Show in Spokane.

“It was a juried show, and there were a little over 1,000 entries. They had to severely narrow that number down to fit inside the actual exhibition space, and the jury chose my work to be included in the show.” Nearly 10,000 people attended the one-night-only show.

The Challenge of Colored Pencils

Croteau’s medium of choice — colored pencils — has many advantages, and some challenges, she says. On the plus side, they are a dry medium, requiring little clean up, and they emit no harsh chemicals or odors. They’re portable, and are perfect for achieving the detail she demands. On the challenging side, they require numerous hours of focused concentration since she is covering a large, flat area using a fine point, with mistakes not easily fixed. And,

“It’s not a fun day when the pencil lead keeps breaking!”

Time, intensity, detail, concentration, patience, respect — all of these elements coalesce in each drawing. It’s worth every minute, every stroke of the pencil, every ounce of concentration.

Thanks to Croteau, we can see, really see that Amur leopard. With the advantage that it can’t see us.

Wenaha GalleryAmy Croteau is the featured Art Event artists from July 27 through August 23.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

From Geese to Covid-19 — Jordan Henderson Communicates in Oil

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

Communication takes many forms, some louder, some quieter than others. Gaggle of Geese by the Water Bucket, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“That speaks to me.”

Those four words are invaluable praise to a two-dimensional visual artist. To one who applies paint to a substrate, communication involves not just creating an image, but an image that asks a question, tells a story, invites the viewer to step in and listen. For fine art painter Jordan Henderson, painting creates conversation.

“I view painting as a means of communication,” the Dayton, WA, artist says.

“The painter projects their vision onto the canvas by physically applying pigment in such a way as to convey that vision, refines it as long as the painter wishes to, and then the audience can see what the painter envisioned by looking at the canvas.”

longhorn cow cattle livestock communicating painting country jordan henderson

The tilt of its head communicates a sense of inquisitiveness and curiosity. Longhorn Cow, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

But it’s not a quick process, he adds — neither the act of painting itself, nor interpretation on the part of the viewer. Appreciating a painting, similar to getting to know and genuinely communicate with another human being, takes time, intensity, and effort.

Communicating Takes Time and Intention

“I am going to draw from popular culture here to make a point. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books this very slow speaking character (Treebeard) says of his slow language (Old Entish), ‘It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.’

“Well, that statement is a good analogy for an important aspect of painting. Painting is a lovely language, but it takes a long time to say anything in it compared to other forms of communication.”

studio landscape country view trees hills rural jordan henderson art

The country landscape communicates its message of contemplation and peace. Studio View, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

When you look at a painting, Henderson continues, you are looking at subject matter through an artist’s eyes. It is for this reason that Henderson, who grew up on a farm and developed a keen appreciation for barnyard fowl, cattle, goats, and horses, so enjoys painting them. The animals are so ordinary to most people, he explains, that few take time to stop and appreciate their charm and beauty. Or, as Treebeard might expound,

“By painting say, geese, I first make the value judgment that they are worthy of taking a long time to say something about, and then I can communicate with the viewer, ‘Look at this bird’s attitude,’ or ‘Look at how the light falls on these feathers.'”

If successful, he won’t so much have breathed new life into the subject matter as have conveyed worthy elements that were there all along. The geese are worth painting, because they’re worth talking about.

Geese, and Covid-19

This conveyance, he adds, goes beyond the barnyard into the political paddock, where Henderson explores the repercussions and reverberations of  deeply controversial topics, most recently, Covid-19. It is a subject matter he began focusing upon in Spring 2020 and continues into the present.

“My allegorical Covid-19 paintings might seem like a 180-degree turn from painting geese, but actually it is rather similar: Orwellian doublespeak, contempt for the rights of individual human beings, and total nonsense put forth as unquestionable truth, have become so commonplace that people fail to see their brutal significance, just as easily as they overlook the beauty of a domestic animal.

aititlan guatemala market people shopping communicating colorful art jordan henderson

What better way to communicate than face to face, person to person, up close and personal, than in a colorful market setting? Aititlan Market, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“Painting is every bit as useful for shedding light on these things, communicating their existence, as it is for highlighting beauty.”

Henderson’s Covid-19 paintings have attracted the notice and attention of independent media, including GlobalResearch.ca, Off-Guardian.org, WinterOak.org.uk/, Nevermore.Media, MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca, and LockDownSceptics.org. These and others have published Henderson’s images online or in print. The description and story of the paintings have been translated into other news platforms in French, Spanish, German Chinese, and Slovenian. He has been interviewed and appeared on podcasts by John Manley of Much Ado about Corona and Richard Jacobs of FindingGeniusPodcast.com. A number of indie book authors have approached him about doing the cover art for their books.

Communicating around the Globe

Henderson has sold prints and originals of both barnyard and political paintings throughout the world. One buyer in the UK purchased the originals of White and Grey Geese, featuring, well, geese, and Safe and Sanitized, an allegorical Covid-19 image of handcuffed skeletal hands holding aloft a skull gagged with a medical face mask, to hang together in his home. He wrote Henderson that visitors expressed approbation of each.

And whether he’s painting gaggles of geese or skulls in masks, Henderson appreciates the marriage of high tech digital communication with the timeless tech of oil painting. Combined they communicate, literally, across the globe.

“Oil painting is old tech, but it is also high tech in the literal sense that it is a highly developed technology, with hundreds of years’ worth of trial and error, and contributions by artist and art suppliers.

“I want a medium that I can use to say exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. I can do that with oil paint. The medium doesn’t get in my way, and does basically whatever I want it to.”

Wenaha GalleryJordan Henderson is the featured Art Event artists from June 29 to July 26.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Take Me Home

Lighting, Drama, Color — The Watercolor Paintings of Cheryll Root

Winsome, furry, cute, waiting to be cuddled — Take Me Home, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root

The people we envy says a lot about ourselves. Obvious candidates are wealthy people, powerful people, incredibly good-looking people.

These three factors, however, aren’t what attract the attention of Cheryll Root, a watercolor artist from Troy, ID. The people she envies are . . .  zookeepers. Not because they’re rich, influential, or handsome, but because they work with exotic animals.

“I have a passion for painting animals — I LOVE them!” Root says. “If I lived near a zoo now, I’d love to volunteer there.

Olivia giraffe wild exotic animal cheryll root

Olivia, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root

“One of my favorite shows is ‘The Secret Life of the Zoo,’ where they take you behind the scenes with the zookeepers and the animals they care for.”

The animals don’t have to be exotic, incidentally. Furry, cute, winsome, noble, adventurous, cuddly will do; just not a snake, though. If there were a position, paid or unpaid, for a “puppy and kitten petter,” Root would gladly apply, but as it is, she finds satisfaction in painting animals, as well as landscapes, floral scenes, and still lifes ranging from tea cups to cowboy boots.

A Doodler from Childhood

An active member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, where she has served as secretary for numerous years, Root describes herself as a doodler from childhood, when she drew on all the margins of her mother’s piano music books. (Family legend reports that she also drew on white walls with crayon, but Root has no conscious memory of this.) She enjoys the painting challenge of keeping the whites white without using masking fluid. She also tackles the darkest of values, which have a tendency, in watercolor, to dry lighter than one thinks they will. Her goal is to create a work that stops the viewer, attracts their attention, and invites them to step closer and take a long, reflective look.

dayton depot train station cheryll root watercolor

Dayton Depot, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root of Troy, Idaho.

“I hope my artwork treats the eyes to color,” Root says. “I also like to paint work that has some mystery, or some whimsy, to it.”

Dramatic lighting, vibrant color, intriguing shadows — these elements call out to Root, and in taking reference photos for her paintings, she looks for this triad. While she does paint plein air, she prefers studio work, even if the space where she works is not what most artists would desire. But it works well for her.

“I use my office, and the space I work in is rather cramped. But I do have good lighting and a nice view out the window (we live in the country on Moscow Mountain on 50 acres).”

Small Space, Big Output

A still life of pottery, Arizona Pots, original oil painting by Cheryll Root.

When she and her husband first moved to the area from Seattle, Root envisioned using a shop located in a large outbuilding. It has a wonderful view, lots of space, and great lighting. But what it doesn’t have is running water or heat. And as a less than positive bonus to what it does have: there are mice. And while it’s true that mice are animals — furry, cute, winsome, and potentially cuddly, they’re not on Root’s list of studio companions.

“Being a city girl at heart for all those years, I took the comfort of the house, even with its lesser studio space.”

Because ultimately, what matters is what comes out of that studio space: the finished paintings. Root has shown her work at galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as at juried shows by the Idaho Watercolor Society and the Palouse Watercolor Show, the latter a five-state juried exhibition. In 2016, her painting “Pears” graced the cover of Good Fruit Grower Magazine, reaching subscribers in all 50 states and 50 countries. The space where she works may be small, but the work that she gets done there is big with potential.

“I am always looking to learn more, improve technique, and create work that elicits emotion from the viewer, as well as reflecting my passion for color, and the vibrant world in which we live.”

Wenaha GalleryCheryll Root is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 20 through December 14, 2020.

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 Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

always greener wild horse fence grazing bev doolittle art

Stay Wild — Always Greener by Bev Doolittle

always greener wild horse fence grazing bev doolittle art

Fences are made to be gone over, under, or around — that is, if we’re free. Always Greener, original stone lithograph — remarque, by Bev Doolittle

Whether it’s a mustang in the Southwest desert or a dray horse pulling a wagon, horses retain a sense of their wild side.

They may be circumscribed by fences, but that doesn’t keep them from jumping over, or even just nudging under to nibble grass. In their eyes, when they look at you, horses exhibit an intelligence and awareness that says,

“You may think you can tame me. Maybe you’ll put a harness on me. You’ll probably ride me. You can even say that you ‘own’ me. But the essence of who I am will always be wild and free.”

While taming animals is important to humans, because we need their strength, their abilities, or even just their companionship to add to our lives, it’s always wise to remember that the most domesticated animal retains an unexpected, wild side — a side that we cannot fully control, nor should we want to.

The issue becomes even more important when we consider the concept of taming humans — so that their strength, their abilities, their creativity, can be made available for the use of others. In some times, in some places, this becomes slavery, a disregard of dignity that reduces people to work animals. In more “enlightened” times, societies and corporations can use people without thought to their independence and freedom, their essential wild side that keeps them unique, individual, and precious. But humans are not, nor ever will be, just an employee, a taxpayer, a citizen, a unit of obedience, a social security number.

Fences? They’re Made to Be Climbed or Jumped Over

Always Greener, an original stone lithograph by Bev Doolittle, shows the innovation and determination that living creatures exhibit when they encounter obstacles. In this case, a horse reaches through the slats of a fence to access the grass — which is indeed greener — on the other side. For now, poking its head through is enough. Some day, when the green grass within reach is all nibbled and that left in the paddock trampled, the horse may decide to take a more radical, wild move and jump the fence altogether. It will never be fully tame, and in a way, would we really want it to be?

Stay Wild — You’re Not a Farm Animal

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Always Greener by Bev Doolittle. You may purchase the print online at this link. Always Greener is beautifully framed and ready to hang.

More works by Bev Doolittle are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

Evening Companions harmonious dogs sleeping john weiss

Stay Harmonious: Evening Companions by John Weiss

Evening Companions harmonious dogs sleeping john weiss

After a long day of being productive and busy, it’s comforting to be in company with those we love and trust. Evening Companions, fine art print by John Weiss.

People, and animals, who spend a lot of time together tend to achieve harmonious understanding in their relationship.

It’s not that they always agree. Indeed, if we all agreed, 100% of the time, on everything, that would be odd, not to say boring. It’s wise to be wary when we’re told that a particular view is one upon which everyone agrees. And anyone who doesn’t is dumb. Or subversive. Or dangerous. Or uneducated. Or just plain wrong.

This attitude of judgment is the total opposite of harmonious. It squelches intelligent dialogue and the ability to establish meaningful relationships.

Meaningful relationships, which are the best kind to have, require trust, respect, and the willingness to give and take as we share our thoughts and beliefs (which, remember, do not agree 100%) with one another. Such relationships take time, as well as maturity on the part of each member. They flourish in close and regular contact, with face to face communication being the best, and most private, way to interact. There’s a reason why loyalty runs in families.

Harmonious Together

The artwork, Evening Companions by John Weiss, shows two close companions at the end of the day — simply being comfortable with one another. They don’t look the same. They’re not the same color. One is larger than the other, but this does not mean that it dominates. It is highly likely that some time during the day, even multiple times, they will disagree, may even snap at one another. But the snapping cannot be too harsh or abrasive, because if it were, they would not be so close, so harmonious in their friendship.

When we take time to listen to one another respectfully, and then, if necessary, respectfully disagree, we make more friends than we do enemies.

Stay Harmonious with One Another

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Evening Companions by John Weiss. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by John Weiss are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

 

elk wildlife animal wilderness taylor fork crossing larry zabel

Stay Moving: Taylor Fork Crossing by Larry Zabel

elk wildlife moving animal wilderness taylor fork crossing larry zabel

Possessing neither phones nor computers, screens nor tablets, animals in the wild keep moving. Taylor Fork Crossing, fine art print by Larry Zabel

How much time do we spend each day sitting, and not moving?

Probably a lot more than we think. We live in a world of computers and TV screens, with jobs that require more sedentary “action” than physical. And after work, we glue ourselves to the news, or a “reality” show, or soap or sports or game show or movie or situation comedy or drama or whatever we find as we flip through the channels.

The problem doesn’t limit itself to a lack of physical moving. When we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, passively absorbing what we read and hear and what we’re told, our minds sit as well. Without concertedly taking time to physically move — to stretch and flex our muscles, to breathe deep as we exert ourselves — we get flabby. So also do we get flabby when we do not stretch and flex our minds, ask questions, research problems, look for answers, refuse to be passified and assuaged by neat, tidy explanations of how things are and how we must accept that they be.

Many animals in the wilderness spend their time moving. Alert to their surroundings, animals like the elk in Larry Zabel’s artwork, Taylor Fork Crossing, must be constantly aware of what is going on around them. Even in rest they remain watchful, because the world for them is filled with predators. These are not dumb creatures, but wary ones.

As humans, we have the added benefit to be able to reason, imagine, wonder, doubt, and pursue answers. What a gift!

Do we use it?

Stay Moving: Both Physically and Mentally

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Taylor Fork Crossing by Larry Zabel. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Larry Zabel are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

Wildlife Woman — The Artwork of Sandra Haynes

bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

Bear and the Bird, wildlife scratchboard art by Sandra Haynes of Heppner, OR

Wildlife Is a Way of Life for Sandra Haynes

The unusual nature of Sandra Haynes’ childhood is best evidenced by her baby blanket: a bobcat hide from an animal her mother found raiding the family hen house. As a little girl, Haynes’ first pets were domesticated, non-descented skunks (“They were pretty easy-going except in the winter when we left them to their semi-hibernation, undisturbed, as they were usually pretty cranky by then”) and a pet fox that she befriended by standing in a clearing, very still, and proffering biscuits.

By the age of four, she had learned to move slowly, talk softly, and keep her eye contact brief.

born wild horse foal animal sandra haynes duralar art

Born Wild, colored pencil on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

“I was raised in Molalla, a timber town on the west side or Oregon,” the wildlife artist says.

“Being around wild animals was just part of my life as Dad and some of his brothers — all woodsmen — spent a lot of time in the heavy timber teaching me everything about the life of its inhabitants.”

Her favorite uncle, a government trapper, frequently brought an unknown animal to Sandra, then about eight. He enjoyed quizzing  her on what it could be and how it would live:

“He would ask me to tell him about it based on its fur color pattern, where it lived in the forest based on its anatomy, what it ate after examining its teeth, jaws, and claws, whether it was nocturnal, and was it likely to live mostly alone or in a group or herd.”

Later, a mountain man friend taught her how to sneak up on herds of 350 cow/calf elk pairs while remaining in their plain sight. Haynes also learned how to climb the sides of a cliff to feed apples to wild Big Horn Sheep rams.

Hunting Wildlife with a Camera

foxy lady graphite duralar wildlife animal fox sandra haynes

Foxy Lady, graphite and pan pastel on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

Yes, it was an unusual childhood, and it’s not surprising that Sandra — who started drawing at the age of three — grew into a wildlife artist, capturing deer, elk, bears, cougar, moose and more in oil paint, pastel, graphite, watercolor, and scratchboard. Now residing in Heppner, OR, Haynes travels throughout the Pacific Northwest — especially its most remote spots — to photograph the animals she eventually turns into artwork.

“Hunting wild animals to photograph outside of animal parks is a difficult and far-from-guaranteed adventure, and is the reason why most artists who do their own photo reference gathering go to game parks or farms,” Haynes says, explaining that while she does visit animal parks, a photographer friend and she take the time now and then to go into the wild and do things the hard way. Accompanying them is Zora, Haynes’ Doberman bodyguard who more than once has kept her mistress from harm.

“One time my photographer friend and I were close to a herd of wild horses. We decided to walk to the other side of a pond when much to our surprise, the entire herd of about 12 horses decided to follow us.”

fire cat puma cougar wildlife animal sandra haynes scratchboard

Fire Cat, by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

When two especially aggressive stallions sidled too close, Haynes and her friend bent to pick up rocks to chuck when Zora streaked past them and scattered the herd in a rush.

“After that, she went back to her playing without a glance at me or them. She knew she had done her job and did not expect a praise-filled fuss. But that showed me she had what it takes to protect me in any circumstances.”

Jumping into Scratchboard

Haynes’ medium of choice is scratchboard, a technique she first encountered 16 years ago when an artist friend gave her a small board and told her to get something sharp and scratch out an image.

“That was the end of my training.”

She persevered, found she loved the fine, etched lines that brought out details, and went on to enter shows and win awards with her work. A short list of shows includes the Phippen Western Art Show in Prescott, AZ; the Western Heritage Art Show in Great Falls, MT; Montana Charlie Russell Days; the Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, WA; and the Western Art Show and Auction in Ellensburg, WA.

Haynes is a member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, and has published a series of scratchboard instructional books, as well as stories on her adventures as a wildlife artist.

In the Studio or Out in the Wild

It’s hard to tell where she is happiest — in the studio or out in the wild — but in both places she feels very much at home. The child who loved to draw, immersed in the world of wildlife and the woods, has grown into a mountain woman herself, one who shares, through her art and through her wisdom, the beauty of the world she knows.

“Art, to be good, only has to touch you in someway,” Haynes says. “Maybe it reminds you of someplace you have been or would like to be, or it makes you smile.

“For me, creating a piece that makes that connection is what it is all about.”

Wenaha GallerySandra Haynes is the Featured Art Event from Monday, September 23, through Saturday, October 19 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Autumn Art Show, also featuring bead weaver Alison Oman and Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson.

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.

Metal (and Horse) Lover: The Steel Sculpture of Anne Behlau

forkupine porcupine fork steel metal sculpture anne behlau art

Forkupine — a metal sculpture of a porcupine fashioned from forks. Steel metal sculpture by Anne Behlau of Milton-Freewater, OR

If you ever have a run-in with a porcupine, you’ll probably remember the experience. Anne Behlau certainly has.

“When I was a six-year-old child, a porcupine came into the tent I was sleeping in with my brother on a mountain pack trip,” the Milton-Freewater metal artist recalls.

“It ate the tops out of my cowboy boots.”

horse equine metal steel sculpture anne behlau art

Metal Horse, steel sculpture art by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau

Years later Behlau, who creates steel sculpture from found, repurposed, and recycled metal, fashioned a forkupine, a whimsical, 3-D statuette of a porcupine created from forks.

A Family History of Metal and Blacksmithing

A retired registered nurse, Behlau grew up on small farms, and has been involved with animals all her life. As a young adult she moved to Dayton and raised four children on a 100-acre farm on the North Touchet, and after the kids grew and flew, went back to school for her RN degree. After 27 years of working in the medical field, she retired and turned to the welder, torch, and blacksmith forge. She now also trolls through salvage yards, junk piles, yard sales, and farms looking for metal materials to transform into her art.

“My father was a blacksmith and farrier,” Behlau explains. “My brothers continued the tradition as well as my nephew.

“Since there was such a strong family tradition of blacksmithing, I was drawn to metal work utilizing welder, torch, and forge.”

There is a learning curve, she says. In the three years she has been honing her skills with her tools, she has encountered challenges along the way.

Red Hot Metal

“Working with red hot metal can be tricky and painful at times if you are not careful,” Behlau says. “The upside of working with metal is that, unlike with wood, if you cut it wrong or put it together wrong, it is very forgiving.

small scotty dog animal sculpture metal steeel anne behlau art

Small Scotty Dog, metal sculpture by Anne Behlau, artist from Milton-Freewater, OR

“It can be cut apart and rewelded until it looks how you want it. It just takes patience and persistence . . . which I have a lot of.”

Citing a love for all things cowboy, Behlau expresses enthusiasm for creating metal sculptures of horses, ranging from the whimsical to serious.

“I have a lifelong love for horses. I’ve competed in horse shows, trained horses, team roped, barrel raced, and ridden in endurance rides.”

While raising her children, she threw herself and them into 4-H and FFA. Nowadays, that love for horses comes out in the work of her hands.

metal rose steel sculpture art anne behlau

Yellow Rose, metal sculpture by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau.

Behlau does not limit herself to equine subjects, however. All farm and ranch animals, as well as porcupines, attract her interest, along with flowers, people, and graphic design shapes. Her two Scotty dog pets provide constant inspiration, and she has created a 30-pound Scotty sculpture using sections of heavy walled metal pipe, as well as a tiny Scotty, fashioned from a railroad spike. People who see both sculptures express surprise over what makes up the finished product.

Turning Metal Scraps into Art

From forks to garden tools, from scraps of farm machinery to old horseshoes, they all find themselves with new life in a new shape, after a little bit (or quite a lot, actually) of heat and inspiration. What Behlau ultimately creates depends upon the materials she has gathered, along with ideas she picks up from the Internet, personalized by her own spin.

Working out of an unattached shop/garage at her Milton-Freewater home, Behlau markets her work as Anvil Annie Metal Art. She has sold her pieces as a vendor at festivals, through her Facebook page, and at Hamley & Company Saddle and Western Store in Pendleton, OR. Learning as she goes with “a little instruction along the way,” she never quite knows what she will make next, but is certain that it will reflect her love for country and for country life: its people, its animals, its lifestyle.

“My art,” Behlau muses, “is inspired by things that are deep in my heart.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Behlau is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 25 through Saturday, April 20 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where she will be joined by Kennewick photographer John Clement and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

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.

 

two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

two kittens cats snuggling family pet simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

crab apple blossoms spring flowers simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

doe fawn wildlife animal spring simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

leafy bridge country rural forest woods simple living ellen heath watercolor

Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

cat family pet animal simple living ellen heath watercolor painting dixie

Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 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.

 

 

A Connoisseur of Trees and Wood — the Hand-Carved Sculpture of Jordan Henderson

Carved goat in cherry wood by Wenaha Gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Goat in Cherry Wood by Wenaha Artist Jordan Henderson.

Sustainability: it’s contemporary, fashionable, sensible, and beautiful, and for woodcarver Jordan Henderson of JDC Woodcarving, there is an art to doing it right.

“I source all of my wood locally,” the Dayton, WA artist explains, “People contact me regularly to let me know that a tree has blown down, and am I interested in the wood? Sometimes they drive up — in the night — and leave the wood by the studio. It’s an unusual, but pleasant, surprise in the morning, and most of the mystery is figuring out who brought the wood.

Carved wood sculpture portrait in cottonwood by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Portrait in Cottonwood, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“I have acquired some really unusual pieces for sculpture this way — my favorite is locust, but I’ve worked with lilac, cherry, walnut, oak, white pine. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of trees.”

From a block of wood, Jordan uses hand and power tools to tease out the animal, or the plant, or Viking warrior, that is hidden there, waiting for him to create it into existence. The son of Dayton painter Steve Henderson, Jordan learned to draw as a child, and he uses this skill extensively in making preliminary sketches for each piece.

“I study the subject from all sides and perspectives before actually starting to carve,” Henderson explains. “This allows me to make bold, clear shapes and cuts, which I believe are absolutely essential, because hesitant shapes and cuts in carving look terrible.

“Wood is a very unforgiving medium,” he continues. “If you make a serious mistake your carving is ruined. The time spent on preliminaries is well worth it if it means that you don’t have to  throw out a carving that is three-quarters done.”

That time spent on preliminaries shows: Henderson’s carvings are free flowing yet accurate in detail, occasionally whimsical yet respectful of their subject: the trees curve as if dancing,  the chicken exudes nobility somehow, the bust of an Arikira Indian — based on a photo by Edward Curtis — stares forward with dignity and pride. Each piece expresses the individuality of the subject.

Carved wood sculpture rockfish by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Rockfish, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

Because of the dust inherent to carving from wood, Henderson prefers to work outside, which is pleasant in the summer months, he observes. However, due to his seasonal day job — growing and marketing organic produce for his business, Deer Pond Gardens — Henderson spends the warmer months with a shovel in his hand, as opposed to a chisel. Quite fortunately, since he is a man who wears shorts in January, he has no problem working outside when the temperature is more . . . brisk, shall we say.

carved wooden sculpture the gardener by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

The Gardener, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“It’s still pleasant,” Henderson comments in his direct, yet soft spoken way. “And though in the summer — when it would be even more pleasant to be carving outside — I’m not able to devote as much time to it, I get many ideas for the winter.

“And in the winter, it’s very enjoyable, sitting by a woodstove, to do the preliminary sketches for sculptures by the fire. Or poring through seed catalogs. The two facets — gardening and carving — work well together.”

It’s back to that sustainability again — using wood that many people  would burn, to celebrate the world of wildlife, domestic animals, trees, fish, and — quite appropriately —  a gardener, leaning on a shovel.

“My goal is to create a clear and aesthetically pleasing rendition of the subject, with the aim to cause viewers to also see the beauty of these subjects,” Henderson says.

“The real benefit of wood is its inherent beauty: a woodcarving is not just a way of creating a form, it is also a way to show off the beauty of the wood it is carved from. That’s why it’s so important to have many different types of wood from which to choose, and thanks to the people who keep me in mind when they’re cutting wood, I’ve got that.”

Jordan Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 3 through July 26, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.