Posts

spring snow winter memories tulips flowers valerie stephenson photography

Memories of Life: Photography by Valerie Stephenson

harvest memories sunset wheat farmland valerie stepheson photography

Memories of summer transition into fall in Before the Harvest, a photographic capture of life by Valerie Stephenson

We live life day by day, as opposed to a year at a time. Because of this, we assume that the everyday things we did yesterday we’ll do today, and then tomorrow. We won’t forget.

But that’s not the way it is. A year later, two years later, ten, we’re no longer doing the everyday things that we thought would never end. Too often, the only remembrance we have of them is our memory.

Photographer Valerie Stephenson wants to provide something more tangible than memories. Driven by the idea of catching life in its moments, the Burbank artist, who lives just above Sacajawea State Park over the Snake River, works with individual clients to capture vignettes of their day, in effect creating a visual journal of a slice of their lives.

spring snow winter memories tulips flowers valerie stephenson photography

The last memories of winter dance across the tulips of spring in Spring Snow, photography by Valerie Stephenson.

“These types of photos are cherished many years down the road, especially the everyday memories,” Stephenson says. “Because these moments are so everyday, so expected, we don’t realize that we don’t have a photo of them — like reading a book with our child, or the decorations in grandma’s house, a childhood spot by the lake, or the neighbor lady we grew up next to and talked with.

“Often we don’t have those memories captured before the seasons permanently change. I aim to provide a customizable photography experience, one built around a person’s unique story and capturing memories that will be important many years down the road.

“And then when we see these photos, they bring an array of feelings — like thankfulness, joy, wonder — at being able to relive those moments.”

Moments and Memories to Hang Onto

As an example, she described a photo shoot she did with a nephew and his uncle on the family ranch. Before this session, there were no photos of the uncle doing what he had done his whole life on the ranch, and there were no photos of the nephew who spent his childhood summers there working with his uncle. Though she couldn’t go back to the nephew’s childhood, she could capture the essence, the moment, the memories of what the two did every day.

peacock feather green glowing bird valerie stephenson photography

The luminous glow of a peacock’s feather adds a sense of mystique to beauty in Feather Glow by Valerie Stephenson

“The photographs enable us to relive, rewrite, and preserve some of the things we hold dearest in life,” Stephenson says.

When she isn’t doing commissioned photo shoots of people’s lives and memories, Stephenson is outside with her camera, capturing Nature, and her day to day moments. An outdoor enthusiast, Stephenson is a lifelong forager of wild edibles and medicinals, as well as a participant in numerous sports — backpacking, canoeing, road biking, skiing, snowboarding. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation, she has a long and varied career of leading and teaching others in these areas.

“I have always found my peace outside, and I enjoy doing most things outdoors,” she says.

“I enjoy most things that go back to a simpler, hands on, more family oriented way of life. That is what I am aiming to capture in my photography — relationships, the emotion of the moment, the wrinkles, the honesty.”

Words to Accompany Photography

power sea memories splash surf rocks ocean valerie stephenson

The Power of the Sea lies not only in the majesty of the ocean, but in its tug upon the memories of those who once visited or lived there.

One of her dreams is to write devotionals that are enhanced with her photography. In them, she wants to include science along with scripture because God, she believes, is the author of both.

“I have been doing lay counseling since I was very young. It involves listening to others, being there as they go through what they’re going through, sharing what I have learned in life. The devotionals are a way of combining visuals with words to create a statement of hope and encouragement.”

Good, bad, funny, sad, light, dark, colorful, grayscale — life is all of these, Stephenson believes, and like a path in the forest, it unfolds before us as we walk, each day, on our journey. There’s so much to it that it’s hard to maintain perspective, keep it fresh in our mind before another experience, another place, another element comes to the forefront. Photography enables us to stop each moment and make a tangible, visible image we can hold onto, hang on our wall, reflect upon before we take the next step.

“Printed photos in my hands bring me back to the moment, the memories, and the feeling,” Stephenson says.

“That’s where I want my photos to take people — to a place they want to be.”

Wenaha GalleryValerie Stephenson is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 23 through September 19, 2022.

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.

 

 

bullfighter rodeo clown rowdy barry art

Hats off to Rodeo — Western Art by Rowdy Barry

bullfighter rodeo clown rowdy barry art

A professional bullfighter in cowboy hat makes what he does — which isn’t easy at all — look easy. Bullfighter and Bull, original pastel painting by Rowdy Barry

We like to say that someone who has a varied career doing many things wears many hats. It’s a nice visual metaphor, whether or not the person actually wears a hat.

For Rowdy Barry, it’s not just a metaphor. This Kennewick, WA, man wears many hats, the primary one being a cowboy hat, which he has worn for more than 30 years in his career as a bullfighter in professional rodeo. (For those who are not into rodeo, the U.S. bullfighter does not wave a red cape in front of the bull, a la matador; his job is to distract the bull from its rider, once the rider has been thrown.)

bull horns portrait cattle animal livestock rodeo rowdy barry

Barry incorporates the black space of the pastel paper into the artwork. Portrait of a Bull, print of original pastel painting by Rowdy Barry

With a career spanning such a broad length of time, Barry is one of the most recognized bullfighters in professional rodeo and has kept bull riders safe at some of the most prestigious rodeos in the U.S. and Canada, including the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, the Columbia River Circuit Finals, the Canadian Finals, the College National Finals, and the National High School Finals Rodeo.

Cowboy Hats and an Artist’s Beret

But 30 years is a long time, especially in a job that is highly dangerous and physically demanding, and Barry, while not giving up his cowboy hat as he transitions into bullfighting retirement, is adding an artist’s beret (figuratively this time) to his repertoire. Actually, he’s been wearing that one for awhile as well, and through the years his paintings of western and rodeo scenes have been featured on rodeo program covers and posters at a number of rodeos across the U.S. Much of the work he does is commissioned, such as posters for Wrangler jeans, used nationally for rodeo promotions. Another commission was for the Professional Bull Riders, involving the 20-year annual award for Trainer of the Year. He has also created artwork for more than a dozen wine labels.

rodeo cowboy hats horse rowdy barry

The Pendleton Roundup is one of many major rodeos for which Barry, with his many hats, creates posters.

“I’ve been doing art throughout most of my life,” Barry says. “I drew a lot as a young child who was snowbound during Wyoming winters. I was a daydreamer in school and used art as a vehicle outside of the classroom.

“For 35 years, my main career was as a professional rodeo bullfighter and motion picture stuntman. But since I was a teenager I’ve owned cows as well. In 1999, my wife and I bought a 7500-acre ranch on top of the Horse Heavens near Kennewick. Then a year ago I started working for an animal health company as the Pacific Northwest sales manager and Oregon and Washington retail rep.

“So I wear many hats every day.”

Pastels on Black Paper

For years Barry’s art studio was a 14′ x 20′ log cabin, 50 feet away from his main house, but he now works out of a shared office/studio space within a newly built house. His preferred medium is pastel on black paper he acquires from France.

“I really like the control I have with pastels,” Barry explains. “I like the detail I can achieve with this medium. Some of the best compliments I receive are when people ask, ‘Is that a photo?’ or, ‘How did you get a photo to look like that?'”

light shadow hats horse blanket rodeo cowboy rowdy barry

Barry works with the blackness of the paper to incorporate elements of shadow, playing against light, in his artwork. Light and Shadow, pastel painting by Rowdy Barry.

The black paper, which is lightly sanded, is perfect for taking on multiple layers of pastels. It also works well in incorporating blank space within the image, nudging the viewer to use his or her imagination to fill in the dark areas.

“For instance, the viewer may not realize that there is a leg not showing, but their mind fills in the blanks. I like to incorporate this element in my works.”

Sharing the West and Western Life

Commissioned work is demanding, Barry says, because the artist creates within tight parameters of what the client wants; often, there is little freedom for the artist to draw, paint, or sculpt whatever he has in his head. For this reason, Barry is selective about which commissions he chooses, and if he doesn’t like the subject or doesn’t feel he can do justice to what the client wants, he doesn’t do it. And when he’s not doing a commission, and instead painting whatever he wants, it’s something to do with the west, usually cattle, horses, or rodeo.

“I like to share my view of the west and western life.”

Because that cowboy hat — he’s got a lot of them.

Wenaha GalleryRowdy Barry is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 16 through September 12, 2022.

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.

 

 

green copper unique earrings robin kahn

Unique and Individual — Metal Jewelry by Robin Kahn

green copper unique earrings robin kahn

Texture, color, and form all coordinate into a one-of-a-kind, unique jewelry creation by Robin Kahn.

Nowadays, we are forgetting something extremely important, and thereby experiencing more problems than we need to. This is what we are forgetting:

Every single human being is unique. Though we share attributes, we do not march in mental lockstep. Every human has different experiences, thoughts, dreams, ideas, opinions. If we accept this truth and — through civilized interaction — learn from one another, we grow, both individually and as a society. If we insist, however, that 100 out of 100 people think and act the same, we relinquish creativity and life.

Jewelry designer Robin Kahn learned this lesson over 27 years of teaching special education in Florida and Washington. Now retired, she applies it to both her day-to-day living and her art.

“My students, each one special, were ages 5-10 with a wide range of developmental challenges both academically and behaviorally,” the Spokane artist says. “What I learned from these children is that each of us is unique. As I got to know each child, I could then divine and fashion an individual approach to help that child grow and learn.

blue metal earrings beads robin kahn

Blue metal earrings with beads by Robin Kahn, one of a kind and unique.

“I am now creating jewelry full time. I believe my creative process for designing jewelry is inspired by my students, each one different and unique. My jewelry is designed with no two pieces identical. Each has its own shine.”

Each has its own shine.

Hunting at the Hardware Store

Specializing in copper and silversmithing earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, Kahn is constantly focused on refining her skills as a metalsmith. Her first foray into jewelry making was years ago, a class on beading that, unexpectedly, unlocked the hidden artist within and a passion to get to know her. Since then, she has never stopped taking classes, from beading to coppersmithing, from yard art welding to ceramics. Each learning experience adds to her repertoire of creativity and ideas.

copper metal stamped bracelet beads robin kahn

Copper pendant necklace with stamped design and beads, by Robin Kahn.

“To say I work with a range of materials is an understatement,” Kahn says. “I love nothing better than hunting at hardware stores, garage sales, and auctions, foraging to find unusual materials that can be used in a unique and different way than was originally intended.

“Buttons, drawer pulls, coins, pottery, beads, car parts, keys, bullet casings, rocks, recycled copper — this is Nirvana for someone who likes to discover and give new life to the unusual!”

Not surprisingly, it requires a fair amount of space to not only store all the materials Kahn uses to create her craft, but to transform those raw materials into completed, wearable art.

Filling the Workshop with Unique Items

Initially, her studio space was a six-foot folding table set within the well equipped workshop of her husband, Marv, a retired math teacher who “can fix and fabricate most anything.”

Over time, she added kilns, a soldering station, a jeweler’s bench, storage for the many beads that she adores and accumulates, cabinets for gems, multiple tables for assembling completed pieces, display racks for shows, storage for specialized tools, and space for enameling, metal fabricating, and forming. If you’re wondering how this impacted Marv, well,

“Marv’s shop has migrated into a new space in our backyard.”

round copper earrings unique textured embellishment robin kahn

Round copper earrings with textured embellishments by Robin Kahn

It works. And they’ve each found their happy space.

Kahn’s latest focus involves enhancing individual pieces with texture, design, and patina. Using bits of lace, fibers from a lime bag, cactus or leaf skeletons, hammers and metal stamps, Kahn incorporates unconventional elements onto the metal surfaces of her jewelry pieces. Ideas ebb and flow during this process, she explains — often what she thought was going to emerge evolves into something very different.

“Being open to this evolving process is why I love sitting down to make jewelry.”

Traveling to Shows

Every year, Kahn takes part in the Little Spokane Artists Studio Tour at the end of September, and this year will also be at the Sun City Oro Valley, AZ, November Art Fair. She also attends the Tucson Gem and Mineral show which, with more than 4,000 vendors, is the largest, oldest, and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.

It’s been many years since that first jewelry class that started this journey, but for Kahn, every time she sits down to create a jewelry art piece, it’s a new, and unique experience.

“The process of fabricating a new piece starts out with a vision of color, texture and shape that inevitably evolves. Each piece finds its own direction, until ultimately, the final design is revealed.”

And the important thing about that final design is that it is unique, original, and one of a kind.

Just like each of us.

Wenaha GalleryRobin Kahn is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 17 through August 15, 2022.

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.

 

 

 

beginnings flowers impressionist romantic karen powers

Flowers, Birds, and Beauty — The Photography of Karen Powers

beginnings flowers impressionist romantic karen powers

Beginnings, by Powers, flowers photography, represents God making a way through the darkness and helping her find her way to the light and having hope again.

Parents make a huge impact on their children’s lives. That’s one of those things we say and deep-down believe. But there are those days — we’ve all had them —  when we think, “I’m talking to the air here. I don’t think what I say or do is making any appreciable difference.”

If you’re having one of those days, think about Karen Powers, a nature photographer from Richland, WA. She is walking proof that mom’s words matter:

“When I was younger, my mom gave me an Instamatic camera as a gift,” Powers remembers.

“At summer camp I took a picture of a waterfall. Later, after the film was developed, there was a similar photo in our local newspaper.

“I still remember my mom saying that my picture was a lot better than this one in the newspaper. Well, I don’t know if she was biased or not. But I believed what she said, and that gave me confidence.”

burgundy hollyhock flowers photography romantic karen powers

Hand rendered brush strokes applied to original photograph add a sense of impressionism and romance. Burgundy Hollyhock, photography by Karen Powers.

Powers went through high school with that Instamatic. Years later, she “wore out” her first digital (dslr) camera, a gift from her husband. She launched a business doing senior portraits, wedding photography, and images for stock photography before concentrating her energy on fine art photography, with an emphasis on flowers and birds. Unsatisfied with the camera alone, she began experimenting with “developing” her images into artistic representations by incorporating digital enhancement using graphic and illustrative software.

Endless Possibilities

“By using brushes and editing techniques in the software, I fell in love with the process and endless possibilities,” Powers says.

“There is a huge learning curve, but the possibilities are absolutely limitless. After processing, each piece is a truly and completely unique piece of art.”

Powers’ studio is both outside and inside, and it all starts outside, either in her garden, where she is constantly growing new varieties of flowers to photograph, or in the mountains, through which she bikes to find wildflowers, or public and private gardens in the region. In the winter and early spring, she photographs birds. A bird feeding station outside her kitchen window attracts smaller birds, while river walks open up the world of waterfowl and birds of prey.

dram queen purple pansy abstract colorful photography karen powers

Deep purple pansy blended with rich colorful tones creates a painterly effect. Drama Queen, photography by Karen Powers.

“I’m frequently thinking about how light is falling, and what a good composition would be for a certain plant.

“Typically, I look out the window, see what’s blooming, grab my camera, and go. I follow the bloom schedule of the flowers around my garden. Iris, tulips and rhododendrons in early spring; roses, calendula, daisies, dahlia, and on and on in the summer.

“I think it’s safe to say that if it’s blooming, I would love to capture it.”

Flowers in the Studio, Too

And then it’s time to move to her indoor studio, a large room in her home with two floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on an atrium filled with flowerpots and plants. An oak corner desk houses computer and digital tablet. Another desk is space for matting prints, practicing calligraphy, and dabbling with watercolors, her latest foray for enhancing photos. Her artwork covers the walls. A bookshelf groans with volume after volume on flowers, flower arranging, wildflowers, flower identification, gardening, birds, art history, and photography.

gladiolas garden flowers romantic colorful karen powers photography

Joyous and colorful, garden gladiolas are a Voice of Gladness, photography by Karen Powers.

“Finally, there are comfortable chairs that provide a space to just sit and ponder.”

An emerging element to Powers’ work is reprography, the process of reproducing, reprinting, or copying graphic material by mechanical, photographic, or electronic means. Working part time as the reprographics specialist at a local church, Powers has access to five separate copier machines, a Riso (mimeograph printer) machine, and an Epson large format printer.

“This has been a tremendous opportunity to apply my knowledge of digital art and to learn the geeky side and the technicalities related to the printing side of creating artwork.”

Honoring the Creator

All the observation, learning curves, research, floral and bird identification, and, ultimately, the capture of images on film and subsequent enhancement, have a central goal: that of creating a work that honors the work of the original Creator. Powers believes that God has created much beauty for us to behold as a reflection of who He is, and as an artist, she celebrates that beauty.

“He is so gracious and loving that He gives us beautiful sunsets, majestic mountains, and the most intricate, delicate flowers to top it all off.

“I try to capture some small bit of that stunning beauty to bring honor to God, the original creator.

“My desire is to share the beauty I see all around as well as a sense of peacefulness.

“I want to show viewers a place where they can step out of the traffic and rest.”

Wenaha GalleryKaren Powers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from February 15 through March 14, 2022.

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.

 

paintings pottery journal calendar candles gifts

January Blues: Chase Them away with Art

paintings pottery journal calendar candles gifts

Two- and three-dimensional art inspires us to slow down, contemplate, and think — and January is the perfect time to focus on such an activity.

For many, January is not an easy month.

Type “January Blues” in an Internet search engine and you’ll get digital pages on the subject. According to the experts at the top of the algorithm, January Blues is anything from a “dip in positivity” to a critical health issue that requires the expertise of more experts to manage (since overcoming or solving problems, in the world of experts, is rarely an option).

art paintings wall january display

Few of us have home walls filled with this much art. What we do have, however, is worth taking time to stop and view, ponder, and contemplate. January is a great month for doing this.

Commonsense, however, and when we choose to use it, tells us that January will be rough because it comes on the heels of the holidays. In a normal world, we’ve just experienced weeks of bright lights, good cheer, and families and friends getting together to eat, play games, exchange gifts, and generally experience joy and acceptance in one another’s presence.

Often during the holidays, we set aside various issues and challenges for the future – January – and when January comes, well, those various issues and challenges are waiting for us. Oh, joy.

All Problems Have Solutions

Okay, so that’s the problem, but all problems have solutions. The first step to achieving any solution is serious thought, and for opportunity to think and reflect, January positively glows.

candles beeswax glow flame colorful calming

Candles add a glow of light and warmth to our environs that inspire a sense of thought and contemplation.

There is time, quiet, and solitude. In the northern climes, weather is generally hostile to active gardening or sun bathing, so we’re inside. And if we eschew the TV, phone, or screen of any sort (if you want to make a New Year’s resolution, this is a good one), we take advantage of that time, quiet, and solitude to think, contemplate, meditate, plan, innovate, and even create.

And here’s where art comes in. If you’ve got a work of art on your wall, January invites you to brew a cup of something hot, snuggle up in a chair, behold the artwork, and ponder. We had a client once who wrote us about a painting she bought:

“I hung the artwork in my bedroom. In the morning, I bring my coffee there and contemplate the piece while I sip. Throughout the day, I stop what I’m doing, sit on the bed, and look at the scene. In the evening, before I go retire, I look again, and think. This has brought me great peace.”

Art Promotes Pondering

Aside from being the client from paradise, this intelligent thinker has discovered that two-dimensional visual art, unlike TV sitcoms, talk talk “news” analysis, “reality” fare, and made-for-the-moment dramas, allows the mind time to ponder, uninterrupted by commercials, proselytizing, and propaganda.

January entertainment jigsaw puzzles pottery candles

It’s the perfect entertainment for January evenings — putting together a jigsaw puzzle while sipping tea. A candle in the background provides a sense of calm.

Art inspires thinking. Thinking is a crucial element to freedom. And freedom is a worthwhile pursuit every month of the year. Why not start with January?

And while we’re at it, let’s go back to that coffee cup. Three-dimensional functional art – as in pottery, for example – is also a means to contemplation and thought. There is pleasure in holding something that human hands have crafted, stimulation to the mind through touch. Brewing hot fare and pouring it into a beautiful mug is a self-directed, mini-ritual that slows us down, and slowing down is the first step to thinking. You can’t think deeply when you’re multi-tasking.

And don’t stop with the cup. Another artisan means of slowing down is the humble candle – timeless technology perfect for January’s early dark days. You don’t have to get into a lotus position and chant om to reap benefits from the candle’s light. Just bask in its glow.

As we think more, as we ponder and contemplate, we begin to find that we want to express what is going on in our heads. Communication, after all, is not the exclusive province of those who can afford to buy the airwaves and the publishing companies. Expression of thought is necessary for individual and societal health.

It Feels Right to Write

note cards greeting art nostalgia journals write

Whether you write personal notes in a journal or a letter to a friend in a greeting card, writing is an excellent way to share the things we’ve been thinking about.

Some people blog. Others keep diaries. Still others – rare gems indeed – write notes and cards. As with the pottery mug, art cards and hand-crafted journals are tactilely pleasurable to use, adding to the experience.

And before I leave this essay, let me put in a word for jigsaw puzzles. If you want to break the worry, angst, anxiety, frenzy, and fear that will gladly be our Normal if we let them, spend an hour each evening putting little pieces of random-cut cardboard together. The act of concentrating on something that ISN’T chronically agitating is calming. Calm is good.

Art is good. All these elements – paintings, prints, pottery, candles, cards, journals, jigsaws – we have at the gallery, and we invite you to take one of these January days to step into a warm, bright place and just look at the array of beauty that individual humans create.

Creativity is an essential element to be human. And we create because, first, we think. Take advantage of January, and allow yourself time and place and scope and freedom to think.

Wenaha GalleryArt Brings Joy to January is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from January 4, 2022 through January 31.

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.

 

 

 

hiking mountains landscape forest woods pastel kingman

Determined and Persistent: Pastels by Marlene Kingman

hiking mountains landscape forest woods pastel kingman

Camping and hiking provide excellent opportunities for pastel artist Marlene Kingman to capture the landscape on paper. Hiking Trip, original pastel painting by Marlene Kingman.

You wouldn’t think it would be necessary to say this, but it is:

Not everyone likes doing the same things.

And if you don’t — when you don’t — fit into the paradigm that society or its establishments determines as the norm, you either have to be very determined (“difficult,” some people say) or go in a direction you don’t like. Artist Marlene Kingman opted to do the former.

“As early as elementary school, I realized that art and creativity were my preferred classes,” the Richland, WA, pastel and oil painter says.

“I tolerated math and science, but what I really focused on were the classes in art and music.”

coast bog marsh evening landscape forest kingman pastel

It’s a quiet moment, of of stillness and calm in Marlene Kingman’s original pastel painting, Coastal Bog Evening.

In a world where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) stand on pedestals, Kingman’s statement verges on blasphemous, but throughout her life, she has remained committed to the world of art. It started with those elementary and later high school classes, when, along the way, an exceptional art teacher allowed her access to the studio while other children were at recess. Later, she studied Fine Art in college, but life being what it is, changed her major to Commercial Design and then Architecture, resulting in a career that was “totally contrary to artwork,” as she describes it. It took an extra dose of determination to keep her skills in art not just alive, but thriving.

Determined to Create Art

“Throughout my architectural career, I continued to work in pastels and photography to maintain a creative venue,” she explains. During that time as well, she met other artists who encouraged her through teaching and example. One of those was Ruth Stromswold, an area painter who taught art following the Renaissance method.

pears fruit still life pastel painting kingman

Light and shadows interplay over and around a trio of pears in Marlene Kingman’s original pastel painting, Unwrapped.

“This process starts with studying value, composition, rhythm, unity, balance, and harmony necessary for a painting to capture and hold a viewer’s attention.

“For over four years, I attended regularly scheduled classes learning both oil and pastel painting.”

She also attended and continues to attend workshops, both in plein air and studio settings, under Jim Lamb, Leslie Cain, Paul Murray, Wally Mann, and Richard McKinley.

“I recognize that masters of any profession achieve their talent through continued education.”

Fully Immersed in the Moment

Mount Rainier wilderness landscape forest pastel kingman

Mt Rainier is a place one wants to immerse oneself in, as Marlene Kingman does in her pastel painting, Mt. Rainier.

Now retired, Kingman is finally able to immerse herself in her artwork, and divides her time between painting, volunteering at the Gallery at the Park in Richland, camping, hiking, and traveling to the various galleries where her art is shown. Although she enjoys working in both the studio and out on the field, there is a persistent tug about plein air painting that prompts her to shut the door to her studio and head out into the wild, paints and pastels in hand.

“My most enjoyable moments as an artist are when I do plein air painting.

“There is nothing that equates to doing a sketch or painting while being totally immersed in the surrounding environment.

“I find plein air painting the most challenging but rewarding experience of capturing the essence of the environment into your work.”

Reaping the Benefits of Being Determined

Kingman is a member of numerous art societies, including Plein Air of Washington, the Northwest Pastel Society, Arizona Pastel Society, and the Pastel Society of the West Coast. She has participated in juried shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, and for the last 12 years has been a part of the Kennewick, WA, First Thursday Art Walk Tour at You and I Gallery.

She could have given up at the beginning; lots of people do. But Kingman, like many artists, refused to let the creative element in her bow to the pressures, and paradigms, of societal “norms.” And so throughout her life, she has made a place for art in her life, and now, in this sweet time of retirement that really isn’t retirement because she’s incredibly busy pursuing her second career, she reaps the benefit of determination and persistence.

“All forms of art are challenging,” Kingman observes. “As best described by Edgar Degas, ‘Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.’

“Art is where my heart and soul find the greatest satisfaction.”

Wenaha GalleryMarlene Kingman is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 14, 2021 through January 17, 2022.

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.

 

 

chocolate labrador dog ringneck ducks wildlife painting catherine temple

Conventional Advice Is for the Birds — Wildlife Art by Catherine Temple

chocolate labrador dog ringneck ducks wildlife painting catherine temple

As an entry to the Washington State duck stamp contest, Chocolate Lab and Ring-necked Ducks was the 2019/20 winner. Original acrylic painting by Catherine Temple. It pays to ignore conventional advice.

When you follow conventional advice, you generally get conventional results.

Some people are fine with this, but others . . . aren’t. They have a dream, a desire, a goal that impels them through each day, and regardless of how many people tell them what they want is impossible, even silly, they keep striving.

“From early on, I knew that I wanted to be an artist and that animals and birds of all kinds would be my subject matter, but it took a good number of years for my dream to become a reality,” says Catherine Temple, an acrylic painter from Clarkston, WA, who focuses on wildlife artwork and pet portraits.

“While many people thought I had a lot of talent, they weren’t very encouraging of my dream to be a wildlife artist. It could be a nice hobby, I was told, but it wouldn’t earn me a living.

“For years, I tried to go the conventional route with things, but it never worked out well.”

bird wildlife green catherine temple art

Green is the backdrop for a contemplative bird in Catherine Temple’s original acrylic painting, Sunlight and Shadows

It didn’t work out well because Temple refused to give up. She kept painting, focusing on what she loved, what she knew. And what Temple — who grew up on a farm with a father who had a passion for exotic animals — loved was the outdoors, wildlife, animals of all kinds.

A Flamingo among the Chickens

“Our backyard was full of a diverse array of birds and beasts. Flamingos lived near cows and chickens. Small Sika deer lived near exotic pheasants and ducks. There was plenty to inspire me.”

When the farmyard wasn’t enough, Temple wandered off to the wetlands and pastures near her home and built a makeshift blind. There, she sat and observed nature in quiet study. For hours at a time she lost herself watching frogs and dragonflies, birds and snakes.

“It didn’t really matter what creature it was, it eventually made it onto the pages of my sketchbook.” She knew, just knew, that she needed to be an artist.

But, as conventional advice warns, you can’t make a living as an artist. At least that’s what “they” say. Fortunately for Temple, other voices were stronger.

“The animals and birds and wild places continued to call strongly to me, and I would find myself frustrated and unhappy with trying to be something I wasn’t.

“I almost gave up on the dream, but then God opened a door for me.”

ducks waterfowl birds wildlife catherine temple

It takes patience and a soft step to capture wildlife in its home, and Catherine Temple has both. Wetland Jewels, original acrylic painting.

She had painted a portrait of her beloved dog, Jake. People seeing it asked if she were able to paint their pets as well. Soon, she was taking commissions and handling a growing client list. At the same time, she kept painting wildlife, because she simply wouldn’t, couldn’t give up. And in 2016, God opened another door through the duck stamp competition. (As an aside, federal and state duck stamps are not postage stamps, but permits for waterfowl hunters. They additionally offer an opportunity for artists to showcase their work, collectors to enjoy it, and the environment to benefit with sale proceeds dedicated to acquiring and protecting wetland habitat.)

From Pet Portraits to Duck Stamps

“I heard about a duck stamp contest for the state of Delaware. The stamp was to feature a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with Canvasback ducks. I had already been painting many hunting dogs with birds in my pet portrait business, so this seemed a good fit for me. Also, the featured dog was the exact breed I owned, giving me more incentive to give this contest a try.”

marsh wren bird wildlife wetlands painting Catherine Temple

Marsh Wren, original acrylic painting by Catherine Temple

Knowing that duck stamp contests drew some of the best wildlife artists in the country, Temple hoped, at worst, that she wouldn’t embarrass herself, and at best, she would win. She didn’t do the first, but she did do the second.

“When I got the call that I was the winner, I could scarcely breathe. That win changed a lot for me.

“Suddenly, I went from fighting for my dream all those years to stepping into the realm of a recognized wildlife artist!”

Two years later she won her second duck stamp contest for the state of Washington and took second for the Michigan Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Print. She began receiving invitations for solo shows and more contests. Presently, several of her pieces are being considered for the Ducks Unlimited National Art Package.

Unconventional, and Blessed

“I feel I have been particularly blessed and privileged to live in an area where I have access to so much of God’s magnificent creation,” Temple says, adding that almost every wildlife painting she creates comes from a personal experience with that bird or animal.

“It is because of these blessings that I feel compelled to create paintings that showcase God’s handiwork.

“Through my art I hope to bring the wild things to those who may not have the opportunity to experience it for themselves.”

And it all started because she refused to be conventional.

Wenaha GalleryCatherine Temple is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 16 through December 13, 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.

 

 

 

 

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Pottery Mom — Functional Clay by Merrilyn Reeves

huckleberry pottery ceramic bowl merrilyn reeves

The leaves and fruit of the Northwest’s wild blueberry are a signature embellishment on Merrilyn Reeve’s Huckleberry Bowl.

Not many women in modern USA boldly call raising a family a career, but potter Merrilyn Reeves isn’t afraid to do so. Years before she embarked upon a second career that is now 33-years in progress and counting, she raised four children on 17 acres in a remote area of rural Idaho. Their nearest neighbors were six miles away. The radio worked in the car, not the house. The deer that interacted with the family’s laying hens, goats, and cattle had to contend with a “rifle packing momma who had to feed her kiddos.”

The last thing on her mind, at that time, was throwing pots.

“Keeping dirty things clean (faces, bottoms, clothes, floors, dishes), food on the table, and clothes on little bodies occupied most of my time and energy,” the Plummer, ID, artist says. It wasn’t until she was on a vacation with her still-young family to Yellowstone and chanced to observe a professional potter plying his craft, that pottery first entered into her heart and hopes.

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Through the years, Merrilyn Reeves has developed her own special formulas for the glazes she used on her pottery. Blue Rice Bowls with Chopsticks.

“I was mesmerized as I watched him skillfully turn that lump of clay into a recognizable vessel. He was amazing and I was very taken with the process and result.”

She Gave the Pottery Wheel a Whirl

A few years later, she took a class where she sat down at the wheel for the first time, and, literally, gave it a whirl.

“I wore a suit — a poor choice for a pottery class! Prior to that day, the thought that I might be an artist had never entered my mind. I could not imagine doing anything passable with a paint brush.”

Since that memorable day in 1988, Reeves has created hundreds of pots using a wheel very similar to the one on which she threw her first pot. She also experiments with hand building and alternate throwing forms, using porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware clays in a variety of applications. The learning curve, like the wheel itself, is constantly turning, and each project is an opportunity to learn more about the medium: Moisture content in clay varies widely, and if it’s too firm or too soft, it won’t throw right. Glazes, too, are finicky, and must “fit” the particular clay, with both expanding at about the same rate to result in a good, durable glaze without major defects.

oval grass ceramic pottery platter bowl merrilyn reeves

Grass, leaves, and flowers are a favorite embellishment of Merrilyn Reeves to either paint onto the pottery or incorporate via organic materials. Oval Grass Bowl by Merrilyn Reeves.

And despite what Reeves thought, she did learn to use a paintbrush, frequently embellishing pieces with images of leaves and flowers.

God’s Creation Provides the Finishing Touches

“God’s creation provides much inspiration for my pots, particularly in the finishing touches,” Reeves says. “When I need an idea, I am apt to take a walk and see what is growing in the area. The grasses and weeds I collect just may end up on the next generation of my pots. Many items from nature are fun to play with, whether leaves, whole plants, stones or sea shells.

“I have to say that bugs don’t make the grade, and have never ended upon on a pot. Yet.”

Reeves specializes in functional ware, defining each piece as possessing a purpose, which, in part, is determined by the person who “adopts” it.

pottery mugs ceramic merrilyn reeves

Images of wheat embellish a series of pottery mugs by Merrilyn Reeves.

“My goal is to enrich the lives of others with my pots,” she explains. “I give my best to each pot, hoping that it will encourage and brighten someone’s day and life.”

Be Fair and Do What’s Right

This way of approaching pottery, she adds, is an extension of her world view, which is that God created the earth, and He has a plan for each person in it.

“For me His plan included pottery, and He gave me the skill and aptitude for it.

“I guess this is not a popular stance these days, but it should always be in style to do what is right. We should do the best job when making items for others to ‘adopt,’ charging a fair price, and dealing honestly with others. I hope that shows in my work.”

Reeves works from a free-standing studio, separate from the home she shares with her husband Waverley and their two black labs, Rosie and Sasha. The four children resulted in 14 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. The initial pottery class resulted in a business, Wildwood Pottery, where Reeves hand-crafts each piece from start to finish, including the all-important smoothing of the foot so that the finished pot will be kind to any furniture surface it rests upon. It’s these little things, Reeves believes, that aren’t so little after all — whether they are children being raised by a career mom or whether they are one of her signature huckleberry bowls.

“I give careful attention to each step of the process,” Reeves says.

“A person purchasing one of my pots reaps the investment of many hours of my time and care.”

Wenaha GalleryMerrilyn Reeves is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 5 through November 1, 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.

 

Imaginative Journey — Pastel Art by Shar Schenk

curiosity drawing pastel shar schenk

Imaginative creativity is the hallmark of the artist. Curiosity, original pastel painting by Sharley Schenk

Creative, imaginative people do not limit themselves.

They are constantly trying out new things, perfecting existing skills, looking forward and ahead to the next project, the next idea, the next step, all while intensely focusing on what they are presently doing. Because of this dynamic, energetic attitude, creative, imaginative people tend to be active as opposed to passive. They do things.

red fox profile scratch board art sharley schenk

It’s a thoughtful moment in the world of the red fox. Red Fox Profile, original scratch board painting by Sharley Schenk.

This is the paradigm around which Sharley Schenk has built her art adventure. While the Clarkston, WA, painter is presently focused on pastels, she does not limit herself, and never has.

“I am not bound by any one medium,” Schenk says. “Each medium has a character that tends to make me want to play with multiple mediums.”

Imaginative Play with Scissors and Magazines

It’s appropriate that she uses the word, “play,” because that’s how the whole journey started, years ago when she was five years old.

“My mother gave me the blunt scissors made for children and an old magazine to cut pictures out of. From there, I branched out into making doll clothes for paper dolls I cut out of magazines and the newspaper. My next adventure was drawing Donald duck, Pluto, and other Disney characters from the Sunday paper.”

Some years later, she attended Cass Tech High School, in Detroit, MI, which specialized in furthering students’ interest in special, and imaginative, subjects like art.

wings crane heron bird shar schenk imaginative

Graceful in flight and landing. Wings, original pastel painting by Shar Schenk.

“You had to take a test to get into it: I qualified and was accepted. It was like a college in that you majored in specific fields.

“I chose costume design and commercial art. If I had gone on to college in Michigan, I would have entered as a junior — Cass Tech had that good of a reputation.”

Taking a Break, but Still Creating

Like many women in the immediate post-World-War-II era, Schenk took a break to raise a family, so she wasn’t able to spend as much time with art as she would have liked. That didn’t mean, however,  that she wasn’t creating with whatever time she found. Through the years, Schenk has explored pottery, photography, bronze sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, knitting, card making, quilting and photography, this latter including developing her own black and white prints.

red rose flower pastel drawing shar schenk

Emerging from the depths of green, a blossoming rose invokes sensations in both heart and imagination. Red Rose, original pastel painting by Shar Schenk.

But it wasn’t until 1992, when she retired from the Idaho Transportation Department where she worked as a draftsperson, that she got back into painting and the imaginative vistas it opened up.

“I heard about a class of scratch board that Judy Fairley was going to give, so I signed up. I have been taking Judy’s classes in scratch board and pastel ever since, as well as workshops put on at the Valley Art Center, spring and fall. There are also challenging options with acrylics on YouTube with the new acrylic pour experiments. It’s amazing what you can do with a balloon or a piece of plastic.”

Small Studio, Many Projects

Schenk’s studio consists of a space on her kitchen table in her apartment. Materials and supplies she stores in the walk-in closet, another closet in the spare bedroom, and a dresser behind the door in her closet. Despite the limited space, she creates on a daily basis, allowing the subject matter to determine the medium. If she is drawing animals, she’ll choose scratch board or pastel. Landscapes encompass pastel, watercolor, or acrylics. And her recent foray into painting rocks involved a radically different substrate than canvas or panel.

A member of the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, Schenk shows her work in both the Center’s front and back galleries. She also participates regularly in three shows a year there: Art for the Heart, the February Valentine Show; Open Artist Show in June; and the Miniature Show in November.

The journey of adventure, one that started a long time ago, began with an imaginative mother who wasn’t afraid to give her child a pair of blunt edged scissors. The child took it from there, and hasn’t stopped since.

Wenaha GallerySharley Schenk is the featured Art Event artists from August 24 through September 20.

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.

 

 

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.