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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.

 

balsam root flowers watercolor sketch woods trees helen boland

Sketch, Draw, Paint, Create — The Art of Helen Boland

mountain palouse landscape view watercolor painting wilderness helen boland

Whether painting or sketching, Helen Boland connects with nature on both an artistic and scientific level. Palouse Farmland View, original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

Too many people, when stuck in a waiting room, spend the time head down, eyes glazed, fingers swiping as they scroll through their phone.

Not so Helen Boland. The Walla Walla, WA, artist carries sketch pad, pen, pencils, even brush and portable paints with her everywhere she goes. Everything she sees, every place she visits, provides an inspiration to capture, on paper, the world around her.

“Waiting in airports or for appointments are opportunities to sketch, capture characters and scenes, and practice technique,” Boland says.

wild garden sketch landscape mountains wilderness watercolor helen boland

Nature’s hand does the planting and cultivation at Wild Garden at the Top. Original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

“Sketching helps me focus and occupies me while waiting. There is no boredom or impatience. Sketching helps me to be present in the moment.”

This form of daily art practice, she adds, increases her awareness of color, light, and shadow, in addition to fluidity and attention to form. By the time she gets officially behind the easel — which may be at her studio/house, or in the forest as she paints plein air — she embarks upon a more detailed and concentrated form of artistic expression.

Sketching and Painting in Many Media

“I work in watercolor, ink, acrylics, pastel, and also collage,” Boland says.

“As a retired science teacher, homestead farmer, and lifelong naturalist, I focus on art that reflects my love of animals, nature, and landscape. I move between detail, realism, and impression.”

balsam root flowers watercolor sketch woods trees helen boland

Flowers attract the eye and attention of both the scientist and artist within. Balsam Root, original watercolor painting by Helen Boland.

Her habit of sketching and drawing and painting anytime, anywhere, stems from when she was “an often ill but oddly energetic child.

“My mother frequently handed me crayons, pencils and a pad to pacify me during wait time in doctors’ offices or during long visits with relatives when all that was spoken was Portuguese.”

She describes drawing as a permissible activity when she was hospitalized or ill with fever. When convalescing outside, she took note of minute details of light, shadow, and color. She even took advantage of fevers, which brought her view slightly out of focus and allowed her to observe the surrounding world as if it were a Monet painting.

“This is my foundation as an artist as well as a biologist,” Boland says, explaining that while science took the lead in her professional career, she often used art expression as a means of processing, understanding, and teaching scientific concepts. Now retired, she focuses on painting full time, in fulfillment of a promise she made to herself years ago while pursuing her professional teaching career, raising a family, and running a small homestead farm.

Focusing Strongly on Each Painting

“My paintings are like my offspring that I set free. I have a true experience with each one, and they all reflect a piece of me and a moment in my life.

ponderosa pine woods tree forest wilderness helen boland watercolor

The forest is a silent and peaceful place, one worth painting and sketching. Ponderosa Hillside by Helen Boland.

“When I paint a person or an animal, I speak to it, and in a way it speaks back. I develop a love and a relationship through the painting process.

“And then I let them go.”

Some of the places where Boland has let her paintings go to are collectors’ homes in Walla Walla and Eastern Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Canada, and a goat farm in New Jersey, among others. She has regularly participated in the Artwalla Art Squared event, as well as been a featured artist in the organization’s First Friday Pop Up. She has shown her work at art walks and events throughout the Walla Walla, Dayton, and Tri-Cities regions. And for the last year and a half, she has participated in Sunday Self Portrait, an international Facebook group in which people from all over the world post their portrait, created from their image in a mirror, on Sundays.

Sunday Portraits

“I have posted one every Sunday for the past year and a half. That’s a lot of pictures of me!

“I have learned so much about the lives, experience, and art techniques from all over the world. This helps me keep perspective.

“It also has improved my skill at drawing the face, the same captive face, week after week. They all don’t show an accurate physical likeness of me, but they all show some aspect of me. I can look at the portraits and assess how I am doing emotionally and perhaps spiritually.”

Originally from rural Massachusetts and Vermont, Boland focuses her latest paintings on landscapes from Columbia and Walla Walla counties, reflecting her residence in each: her town home (and studio) is in Walla Walla, and she owns forest management property near Dayton. She is happiest both in the studio and out in the woods, because wherever she is, she is somehow drawing, painting, or sketching.

“Getting out on the land creates opportunities to observe, photograph, and find inspiration for art,” she says.

“The biologist and the artist within are both satisfied with my time spent in nature, both in my garden in town and the forest land in the Blue Mountains.

“My art reflects my world view and my deep love of the natural world.

“It is a truth in a moment.”

Wenaha GalleryHelen Boland is the featured Art Event artists from June 1 to June 28.

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.

 

 

 

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

QR Code Art — Lorna Barth’s Paintings Tell a Story

deer yorick skull qr code watercolor lorna barth

Dayton watercolor painter Lorna Barth embedded the QR Code for the framed print, At Last, Deer Yorick, in the lower left-hand corner of the print. Viewers scanning the code with their phone or tablet access the story behind the artwork.

We’re all hearing a lot about QR codes these days.

For the uninitiated, QR codes are matrix barcodes that smart phone or tablet cameras “read” when we point and scan. The square blocks of contrasting dark and white shapes contain long strings of information data — such as an Internet link leading to a web page — and eliminate the need to accurately type in all the letters, numbers, and symbols of the actual link.

“QR codes have been used for decades,” says Dayton, WA, watercolor artist Lorna Barth, who has developed a unique way to integrate them into her paintings.

quilt show tent boldman house original watercolor lorna barth

After the Quilt Show, original watercolor painting by Lorna Barth. On her original watercolor paintings, Barth affixes the QR code to the painting’s video to the artwork’s back.

“These little codes have become instant transport for almost everything from your grocery receipt to the information on any product.

“But they are SO BORING!

“And they take you to BORING PLACES. Or to places that sell you things, or boring information that nobody ever wants to read.”

So one day, while she was painting, she had an epiphany:

“What if they went to Art? or Poetry? or Both? It would give people just a little minute or two of respite to look at art, listen to gentle music, and chill without a sales pitch or ‘Subscribe,’ or anything. Random phone art.”

Innovating with Old and New

And from that moment, her lifelong art journey took a new direction. She combined old with new: paper and watercolor paint — items that have existed unobtrusively for centuries and millennia — with contemporary tech. Now, in many of her works she incorporates a QR code. With original paintings, she places the QR code on the back. With prints, she integrates it onto the substrate and into the image. Other times, she paints it as a separate painting to accompany the artwork.

Where it leads varies as well, but the destination, Barth is happy to say, isn’t boring.

“For many of my works, I make YouTube videos of the painting being done, or lead into the work to give the viewer an extended view of this piece of art,” Barth explains.

“These are not instructional videos, but time with the artist and the artwork in the creation of it.”

bee zinnia qr code artwork blocks lorna barth

Sometimes, Barth paints the QR code as a separate painting of its own. It then accompanies the work it describes. This is the code for the Bee and Zinnia nested art blocks series.

The codes themselves, she says, are independent artwork of their own, leading to other worlds and stories.

“The QR codes that accompany my paintings attest to the originality and authenticity of my work.

“They are short performance videos to go along with and tell the story behind the art the viewer is engaging with visually. They add a new level of engagement to the experience.”

Enjoying Art at the Bus Stop

This means, she adds, that her paintings impact in a multitude of places, not just the wall where they are hanging. Digitally, viewers access her art on the bus, at soccer practice, in a waiting room, over lunch with friends.

rock mountain blues landscape watercolor painting lorna barth

Rock Mountain Blues, original watercolor painting by Dayton artist Lorna Barth.

“The technology as part of the art has taken the art and put it in the hands (quite literally) of multiple viewers at the same time.”

As with all technology, there are glitches. Barth recalls the time she painted in plein air, on a golf cart at the Touchet Valley Golf Course in Dayton. After finishing the painting on site, she discovered that her tablet video camera had mysteriously stopped right after she started, and the only digital record she had was of her getting the paper wet prior to the first brush stroke. Other times, though the camera is rolling, Barth gets so involved in the creation of the piece that she forgets she is being recorded.

“My memory will be full, and the painting will be completed without any documentation.”

But the glitches are part of the journey. Every technical hiccup is an opportunity to learn, adjust, and finesse. And the ultimate result is worth it, because the fusion with technology adds dimension to the artwork, thereby enhancing the experience of both artist and viewer.

Multi-media and Multi-layer

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of multimedia artwork is the ability to experience the art on many levels.

“Yes, they are paintings, but there was so much more that went along with the creation of them. There was the place, the method, the action of painting, music, and then the travel of the artwork to multiple venues.”

This blend of old and new — watercolor and QR codes leading to video — is the perfect combination, Barth says.

“It makes artistic expression take on multiple layers of experience and transportability that has never before been available until the digital age.”

Wenaha GalleryLorna Barth is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from May 4 through May 31, 2021.

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

 

 

Time to Paint, Timelessly — Impressionism by Lori Pittenger

flowers floral bush fruition season time pittenger impressionism painting landscape

Fruit, flowers, and paintings bloom at their right time. Fruition, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA

 

Do you remember when you last thoroughly, completely, and absolutely lost track of time?

When was it that you were so absorbed in the task at hand, so utterly involved in what you were doing, so deeply immersed in the moment, that you looked up and were surprised to find that hours flew by in what you thought were minutes?

flowers floral landscape lilace purple season time pittenger impressionism

Every Good and Perfect Gift, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

For Lori Pittenger, that would be . . . yesterday. Or even this afternoon. The Ellensburg, WA, painter is so untrammeled by time that when she sits at her easel, paintbrush or palette knife in hand, she enters a state of such intensity that she is physically tired, and yet energized, when she is done.

“I love pouring myself into something to express myself and ‘feel,’ always listening to music and painting for hours at a time,” Pittenger says. “I lose myself in it.”

Taking Time to See

Inspired by landscapes, by concentratedly looking and seeing the colors and light in nature, Pittenger works two to three days straight to take a painting from first brush stroke to last. The process of being present in the painting process, she explains, begins with the first few strokes of paint on the canvas.

“After I have loaded my palette, I take a deep breath and know that I am beginning a journey in which I will lose all sense of time and what is going on around me.

“I have committed in my mind to devote an uninterrupted time to focus on what I am creating, really seeing the scene evolving as if I am in the scene: mixing the paint, feeling the brush in my hand, the sound it makes as it strokes the canvas, even the smell of the paint.”

golden beets vegetables produce pittenger impressionism painting

Golden Beets, impressionism original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

The View Stays the Same, and Changes, with Time

She works in a spacious room in her family’s ranch house where large windows overlook the pastures of Kittitas Valley and its surrounding mountains. There is a sense of peace and well being, integrated with an inherent excitement derived from a view that stays the same, yet changes with weather and seasons. She looks up to look out. When she tires at the easel, she steps away from the painting and returns with fresh eyes. Throughout the process, she photographs the work in progress, especially as it nears completion.

“I view the photo, and it almost always every time reveals something that I hadn’t seen before.

“Sometimes it’s a little something to blend out or fix, but often it’s something surprising or magical that happened unintentionally — like a little glow glimmer or shape that makes me smile with wonder.

“Being fully present while painting opens not only my eyes, but also my mind, to really seeing.”

sunrise landscape water morning dawn time peaceful impressionsim pittenger

Lavish Sunrise, original oil painting landscape with water by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA.

When Pittenger isn’t intently reviewing her own work, she curates the paintings of others. An artist member of Fine Art America, the world’s largest online art marketplace, Pittenger manages the Impressionism group, which receives hundreds of submissions every week submitted by its more than 500 members. It is her job to winnow those numbers down while giving all members an opportunity to be featured, and arrange the varied artwork into a pleasing gallery wall for visitors and potential buyers to peruse. She also advises members on everything from how to crop images to watching out for copyright infringement. In her “spare” time, she hosts contests on the site.

A Time of Concentration

It makes for a long, concentrated day. But every hour of it, every minute, packs intensity and movement, as does the art that Pittenger creates.

“My paintings always have a deeper meaning that flows out as I am composing and painting,” she says.

“The title and thoughts about life that I get from each artwork fall into place as I finish each piece, and I love writing about them.”

Her day begins and ends with art, she observes. It makes for an excellent sunrise, and sunset.

“Art touches the soul, creates a mood and expresses often what words cannot.”

Wenaha GalleryLori Pittenger is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 3 through December 31, 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.

 

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Pastel Mystique — The Landscapes of Edna Bjorge

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Canyon Light II, original pastel painting by Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge

From Oil Paint Murals to Pastel Drawings

She was five. She loved to draw. Her father was an artist.

And there, in her parents’ bedroom next to her father’s palette of oil paints, was a gloriously blank wall.

aspenglow trees orange woods forest edna bjorge art

Aspenglow, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“I knew better than to paint on the portrait he had on an easel in the corner,” Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge remembers. But . . . there was that wall. What a canvas for small hands and big ideas!

“My mom was horrified, but my Dad went straight out and bought me some art supplies of my own.”

It was an unforgettable beginning to an art career, one that now focuses on pastel and watercolor, with paper as the substrate. As she did from childhood, Bjorge draws every day, working out of a custom-built shed tucked onto her country property. This studio, which she describes as “small but mighty,” also holds her framing supplies and letterpress, because in addition to drawing, she has owned and operated her business, Edna Bjorge Calligraphy, Design and Illustration, for more than 40 years.

Outside and Outdoors

Where she really likes to be, however, is outdoors, in the variety of landscapes of the central Washington region. There, she paints plein air pastel or watercolor — outside, using the natural and changing light of the day. This preference, also, stems from her childhood, when after World War II her mother ran a daycare from the family home while her father finished his college degree. At the “tender age of four,” Bjorge became mom’s helper, responsible for entertaining six younger charges by helping them with games, toys and amusements.

yakima canyon river pastel painting landscape bjorge art

Gold at River Bend, a view of the Yakima River Canyon in central Washington, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Needless to say, I cherished the time when I was outside by myself while everyone else was napping, and times in the evening when I could draw and paint without interruption.

“This probably explains my love of the outdoors, and of plein air painting.”

Bjorge finds the landscapes of Kittitas County multifariously diverse, replete with mountains and forests, from shrub steppe and desert to the lush banks of the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. She not only pastel paints these vistas but writes about them in a regular blog. One of her most passionate “messages,” both written and visual, concerns the fragility of natural landscapes.

Disappearing Landscapes

“I paint the landscape because we are losing it at an alarming rate, due to sprawl and overpopulation,” Bjorge says.

“Once land is ‘developed,’ it’s gone or changed forever.

Cooper ridge mountain lake landscape pastel painting Edna Bjorge art

Cooper Ridge, mountain and lake pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Many places where I used to roam free are no longer accessible. I have many paintings of places that are gone forever.

“The art is the only thing left to show they ever existed.”

Bjorge’s pastel and watercolor work has sold throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in Norway, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Over a long career of painting she has entered many shows and garnished a number of awards, her most recent being an invitational show at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima, where 20 artists created pieces based on the theme of Light.

“Our work hung in the theater’s gallery for a whole year, so was enjoyed by hundreds of patrons.”

Pastel: Sensuous and Immediate

She achieved mastery of pastels by trial and error, describing the medium as “sensuous, very responsive and immediate.” For her, it is the perfect way to capture light and shadows, subtle variations of color, distinct elements of detail incorporated with the bold shapes of mountains, rocks, and rivers. It brings the viewer, she feels, into places she wants them to deeply experience.

“More and more,” Bjorge says, “I find myself focusing on the landscape with a deep sense of urgency.

“I want to record not only the actuality of place, but the essence and spirit of the location as well.”

Wenaha GalleryEdna Bjorge is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 25 through September 18, 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 Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

moose wildlife animal western art james reid

Wildlife Wonder — The Western Art of James Reid

moose wildlife animal western art james reid

Moose in Early Morning Light, a wildlife moment original oil painting by James Reid.

When wildlife artist James Reid first picked up a brush, it wasn’t to paint an elk or moose. He painted a sign.

“My first year out of high school, I got a job at the PayLess Drug in Pasco (WA) painting signs. When I returned to Walla Walla that spring, I went to work for the PayLess Drug in downtown Walla Walla working in the camera department and painting signs. That was in the early 1960s.”

red fox wildlife resting sleeping james reid painter

This particular fox, Reid says, laid down to nap in Yellowstone Park, out in the open and around a crowd of people. Original oil painting by James Reid.

The Boise, ID, painter, who retired in 2007 after a 42-year career with PayLess in advertising and management, always wanted to be an artist. He started with pin striping cars in high school. Then he went into commercial layout and design. And then he jumped into fine art after taking the Famous Artists Course, which was created by 12 successful commercial artists in the 1948, including Norman Rockwell and Albert Dorne.

“By the time I finished, I was painting Western oil paintings,” Reid says.

Thousands of Wildlife References

He turned to full time painting upon retirement, and works out of a spare bedroom converted into his studio. Using thousands of his own reference photos, he has traveled to Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier Parks since 1988. He describes the process of getting the references just as satisfying as the painting of them.

That first year to Yellowstone, 1988, set a high bar for all the years to follow:

“It was the year of the Yellowstone fires,” Reid remembers.

“We got there the first day that they reopened the park, and there was wildlife everywhere! The fires had forced them down from the timber and into the open.

bull elk wildlife forest meadow james reid artist

Standing in the sunlight, a bull elk is wary of sound and predators. Cautious Look Back, original oil painting by James Reid.

“We enjoyed that trip so much that we have returned for a week in Yellowstone every year since. That’s 32 years (32 weeks) of studying and photographing wildlife in Yellowstone. We keep returning for the wildlife.

“Every year it’s different, and we never know what we’ll find.”

Used to People

According to Reid, the wildlife in Yellowstone is used to people and not as bothered by “a guy with a camera.” For other areas where the animals are shyer, he relies upon 300, 400, and 500mm lenses to keep his distance. At one time, when Reid used to hunt, he would take his camera with him in his backpack and take advantage of being in the hinterlands.

“My hunting buddies would sometimes make comments when they saw me with my camera out and not my gun. Oh well, I still have all those photos, even if you can’t eat them.”

indian summer horse teepee forest woods james reid artist

Two horses walk gently through the woods in Indian Summer, original oil painting by James Reid.

Reid, who took an art class at Walla Walla High School with David Manual when they were both students, credits the nationally known sculpture artist for encouraging him to foray into the Western Art world. Reid participates in the Out West Art Show and CM Russell Auction, both in Montana, every year, and has also done well at the Ellensburg National Western Art Show (he was chosen poster artist in 2015); the Spirit of the West Show in Cheyenne, WY; (awarded Best of Show); and Paint America Top 100 Show (juror’s award).

Back with the Gems

And lately, since retiring and going into full time wildlife artist mode, he has added another item to his list:

“I’ve taken up guitar again and reunited with the Gems, a popular rock group in Walla Walla in the 1960s.”

Life is full, and busy, and never, ever boring.

“I am forever learning and amazed at new things I learn, almost with each painting.

“I will always be learning and improving technique, design, and skills.”

Wenaha GalleryJames Reid is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 29 through July 24, 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 Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

alstroemeria flower petal flower mo devlin

Stay Inspired: Alstromeria on Petal Confetti by Mo Devlin

alstroemeria flower petal flower mo devlin inspired

Flowers are a constant source of inspiration and beauty — such creativity it took to make them! Alstromeria on Petal Confetti, art print by Mo Devlin

One of the most terrific things about human beings is that we’re creative.

Oh, and resilient. The two together make a fabulous combination.

Faced with challenges, setbacks, walls, blockages, and barriers, our initial reaction is to become angry and bitter, frustrated and exasperated. Some people stay there. Others descend into depression and despair.

And then there are those who assess the situation, look at their options, and explore them, inspired by the challenge. Regardless of what materials we are given, there is much that can be done with them, if only we put our minds — our fabulous creative, inspired minds — to work.

The artwork, Alstromeria on Petal Confetti by Mo Devlin, shows how much a creative, inspired hand can do with pink, white, a spot of red and purple. The creative hand in this artwork is twofold: there is the First Creative Hand who made the flower, and then there is the artist’s creative hand that captured it in its space of light and shadow, its delicacy of form, its soft breath of elegance. One could say that both creators did a lot with pink, white, a spot of red and purple.

But the most important thing they did with that creativity is that they made something good. Regardless of the materials at hand, they fashioned them into something beautiful, elegant, colorful and . . . good.

Stay Inspired to Create Goodness

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Alstromeria on Petal Confetti by Mo Devlin.  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 Mo Devlin are at this link.

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

Turning Point

Freedom Requires Thinking, and Art Inspires Thinking

indian indigenous native american turning point steve henderson painting

It is the early 20th century, and a Native American woman stops from her daily work and looks back. What does she see? Turning Point, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, exploring the concept of human dignity and freedom

Art takes us places.

I know, this sounds like one of those “branding” statements corporate marketing experts encourage small, independently owned businesses to come up with, as if it will magically make them as big as the big guys.

“Create a catchy slogan, an easy to remember statement that customers will associate with you. Brand yourself.”

sunset fire stephen lyman beach campfire humanity freedom

Humans love warmth and laughter; when we are together, a fire of friendship burns in our souls. Sunset Fire by Stephen Lyman.

Branding, to me, is what ranchers do to livestock. It sounds rather painful, actually.

But back to the statement, “Art takes us places.” I say this because I mean it.

Art — good art, well executed art, art with a sense of freedom created by an artist who has spent thousands of hours honing skills and is able to convey emotion through pigment on a two-dimensional surface like canvas — takes us places.

Freedom to Not Match the Rug

Now not all art fits this definition, an upsetting concept for some because for years we’ve been taught that just about anything is art, and anybody can do it. To say otherwise is to be offensive. That’s a topic for another essay. But logic tells us that art created primarily to coordinate with the rug on your floor, a concept long propounded by corporate media voices in the design industry, isn’t necessarily going to take you anyplace deeper than your rug.

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The simple things, the uncomplicated times together — these are the treasures of life. Pitchin for a Double Ringer by Dave Barnhouse

The art I am talking about, the art that takes you places, is representational art — art that shows a recognizable place or person, art that we can look at and say, “That’s a meadow,” or, “There’s a woman standing by the lake.” This art, because it represents a scene that our eyes and minds can readily grasp, has the power to take us to that place.

Again, for years, we’ve been told that this type of art is a lesser art, and art has “evolved” into something greater and more profound, the further away it is jerked from representationalism. True art, we’re told, is edgy, it “makes a statement,” it shocks and offends, or, if not that, it is so deep and esoteric that it takes great insight and intelligence to understand it. The people who say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what like,” are laughed at, scorned, derided.

Freedom: “I know what I like, and I like beauty”

But those people, the ones who know what they like, have a point. After all, it is their home in which the art will be placed, their eyes who will see it, their hearts who are touched by what they see. Perhaps it is a wilderness scene, deep in the mountains, and when they look at it they are transported, mentally, to a place of deep quiet and beauty.

Or maybe it is an image of a child in a garden, and when they step into the room and see it, they are taken back to their own childhood days. “Things were so simple and pure then,” they muse. “Innocence lost? I’d like to recapture it.”

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Artwork invites us into a world of goodness and honesty, and reminds us that such things do, indeed, exist. Lil Dipper by Thomas Sierak

For others, it’s a seascape. “I’d like to be there,” the viewer sighs. “The sea is so beautiful, timeless, majestic. There’s a sense of freedom. There’s no chatter, no push, no constant talking AT me.”

Art Talks to Us, Not AT Us

An artwork on the wall is quiet, waiting for us to be quiet as well. As we look at the image, allowing our eyes to gently rest upon its elements, our mind calms at the same time it opens up to our creativity, our ability to mediate, our need to question and analyze and wonder.

In other words, the artwork on the wall gives us time and scope and opportunity to think, and to think deeply. It holds a unique place in the world of thinking: good literature stimulates; honestly researched non-fiction informs; a well-acted play gives food for thought, but a painting, a picture — that, indeed, is worth a thousand words. And those words stem from our own mind, our own thinking, as opposed to the words of others.

In comparison to talk shows, “news” reports, political analysis, pop entertainment, social media — there is no comparison.

Art Takes Us Places Worth Being

Art takes us places because it takes our mind places, and when our mind goes places, when it is free to contemplate and question, to wonder and analyze, to ponder and deliberate and ruminate, then we, as a people, remain free. People who think deeply and often are not easily fooled.

Art takes us places.

Stay thinking. Stay free.

Wenaha GalleryAs of March 24, 2020, Wenaha Gallery is one of thousands of independently owned businesses deemed “non-essential” by the governor of the State of Washington. Our physical premises are mandated closed for an unknown period of time determined by the governor. Our Art Events, therefore, are suspended until we are given permission to reopen. We ask that you give your support to the small businesses with your encouragement and dollars. We are available online 24/7 at wenaha.com, and carry an extensive selection of original art, art prints, and gifts. Our gallery associates are available to take online orders, answer emails and phone messages, and communicate with you via phone, email, or social media.

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 during normal times 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.

 

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

Road of Life –The Acrylic Paintings of Mary Soper

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

An old road, that once used to be a new path, surrounds a country cabin. Cabin with a View, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

Life isn’t static. We may start out on one road, heading to a particular destination, and by the time we’ve lived for awhile — say, 90 years — discover that we have been to all sorts of unexpected places.

Such has been the journey for Mary Soper, who spent 23 years teaching art in the Prescott (WA) School District and Pioneer Middle School (then junior high) in Walla Walla, and finishing out as the head of the art department of Garrison Middle School (then also called junior high).

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The road leading to it is covered by wheat, but the memories remain. Barn in the Blues, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

But a bit prior to that, she competed in the Miss Washington Pageant, as Miss Grays Harbor, in 1949. That gave her scholarship money to attend the University of Washington where she enrolled as a drama major, quickly switching to business and interior design when she discovered that while the world of theater was beautiful, it was not her world. She subsequently worked as office manager of a furniture store, at a telephone company, as payroll clerk at a milling company, then accountant and secretary to the Walla Walla County Engineer.

A Change of Road Direction

After 11 years at the last job, she decided it was time for a change — a big change. She returned to school for her teaching certificate in art and history. This particular path twist brought fine art seriously into her life.

“I started painting a little while I was teaching,” Soper recalls. “The kids I worked with were so creative that it made me want to explore more.

“I read somewhere, ‘We begin to learn when we begin to teach,’ and this is so true, at least for me.”

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A trusty old pick-up rests in a field, possibly in an abandoned, overgrown road. Old Blue, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

She discovered acrylic painting, a medium she connected to immediately upon studying under a visiting professor from the University of New Mexico. Later, she traveled to the United Kingdom for a six-week study abroad program entitled, “Design Resources from London.” Returning with hundreds of reference slides, she embarked upon painting in earnest, never running out of ideas because, when she wasn’t working on a scene from London, she looked around the Pacific Northwest and found continuous inspiration.

“With the collection of photos I have, it is never difficult to decide what I want to paint. It is more difficult to determine which one I want to do next.

“When I start working on a painting, it will often suggest another one, so I guess you could say I work within a theme.”

On the Road to Creativity

Through the years, Soper exhibited her work extensively throughout the Walla Walla Valley, especially at the Carnegie Art Center when it was still extant as an exhibition venue. She has also shown at the Russell Creek Winery, Walla Walla Little Theater, Darrah’s Decorator Center,  Williams Team Homes Realtors, and the Walla Walla Country Club.

Working out of her studio in an insulated garage (“When my little heater can’t keep it warm enough, I put down a tarp in my den and that takes me through the cold weather”), Soper describes herself as both a realist and a perfectionist. She loves old buildings and landscapes, often trying to visualize the people who, in the past, inhabited the space, visited it, or wandered through.

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Stopped on the road in front of an old, abandoned stone building, a wagon invites the viewer to stop as well. 1812 Trading Post, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper

“When I saw an old blue pickup in the bushes beside the road, I started wondering, where has it been and what was it used for? Did children or pets ride in the bed of the truck?

“An old combine made me think of how hard it had to work in the sun. Why was it left where it was?”

Commissioned to Paint

Many of her paintings start as commissions for people who have seen her work. With these, the story of the person commissioning is as intriguing as the pieces they commission.

“My painting, Music in Park — a painting of the park bandstand — was purchased by a mother for her daughter in California. She bought it because her daughter swung on the low hanging branch of the Plane Tree when she was a child.”

Old Oasis Barn found a corporate purchaser at the former Frontier Savings & Loan. Harvest made its way to the Senior Center. The Old Wallula Shack was commissioned by a woman, originally from New Zealand, who wanted a color painting from an old black and white photo.

Continuing on the Journey’s Road

“I think viewers look at my work and it tells a story to them based on their experiences,” Soper says.

“I really enjoy creating something that the people who commission it love.”

For a while, Soper took a break from painting, but she is back at it, inspired ironically by an element associated with this article.

“When I started reading the articles Carolyn (Henderson) writes in the Marquee, I thought maybe I should start painting a little more, even though I am in advancing years.”

And so she continues on her journey . . .

Wenaha GalleryMary Soper is the featured  Art Event from January 13 through February 8 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. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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Wildlife & Western Living — Paintings by Jan Fontecchio

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

Wildlife Wonder

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

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

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Rancher, by western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio

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

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

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

Western Upbringing

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

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

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

A Fascination with Animals

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

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

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

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

From Floor, to Washing Machine, to Studio

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

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

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

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

From Cheese to Western and Wildlife

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

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

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

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

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

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