bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

Wildlife Woman — The Artwork of Sandra Haynes

bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

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

Wildlife Is a Way of Life for Sandra Haynes

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

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

born wild horse foal animal sandra haynes duralar art

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunting Wildlife with a Camera

foxy lady graphite duralar wildlife animal fox sandra haynes

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

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

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

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

fire cat puma cougar wildlife animal sandra haynes scratchboard

Fire Cat, by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

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

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

Jumping into Scratchboard

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

“That was the end of my training.”

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

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

In the Studio or Out in the Wild

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

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

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

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

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

Get Me to School EARLY — The Breaking-the-Rules Art of Brenda Trapani

Faithful Friends original watercolor India ink and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani

Faithful Friends, original watercolor, India ink and colored pencil painting by BrendaTrapani

Getting to school extra, extra early isn’t top priority with many children, but when Walla Walla painter Brenda Trapani was a girl, she made the proverbial early bird look like a sluggard.

“When I was little, we didn’t have money for art paper, markers, or any sort of drawing or painting materials,” Trapani explains. “When I went to school in the first grade, I found that if I came in early, my very creative teacher would let us draw on paper that was piled high, and use big ink markers that were in a shoe box.

Garden Pillars, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

Garden Pillars, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“I didn’t have any of those at home, but I had time, and I couldn’t get to school early enough.”

Paper, pens, markers, pencils, brushes — throughout a childhood that Trapani describes as “shy and introverted” — the artist employed her creativity not only through drawing and painting, but in finding the material to do so, and no scrap of paper — especially the highly prized backs of used envelopes — escaped her.

“It has taken over 40 years for me to throw away an envelope or paper with a blank side, without habitually pausing and thinking about the doodling and scribbling it could hold,” Trapani says, adding that those childhood scraps of paper were direct answers to prayer, although she did not realize it at the time.

“I often didn’t think that God was even listening or helping,” Trapani remembers. “I was desperate. I didn’t pray for paper; I prayed for help.

Long Walks, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

Long Walks, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“I prayed for things to get better in my life and home.

“God did not force His will by preventing people’s bad choices, but He gave me a way to escape — a way to cope — a way for things to be better for me.”

In fourth grade, Trapani’s interest in art solidified into a long-term, lifetime passion as she found herself in the classroom of teacher Anne Bullock, who created pottery and paintings founded in the skills of ancient, indigenous people. To a young girl, Bullock’s encouragement was life changing:

“Not only did she read  to us wonderful, insightful, imaginative and compellingly deep stories, she encouraged us to do the same.

Quiet Dwellings Peaceful Livings, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

Quiet Dwellings Peaceful Livings, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“Write! Read! Draw! Speak! Express yourself! Share! Make a big deal out of simple things! Tell your story!”

Telling that story is something Trapani has been doing ever since, both through her artwork — which encompasses watercolor, India ink, colored pencils, and oil pastels — as well as through her “day job” as a massage therapist, a skill she has practiced for the last 27 years.

“Like art, massage is a quiet, sacred type of work,” Trapani says.  “People often hold their stories, memories, traumas, and joys inside. Massage can help get the bad effects of pain and trauma out.

“Art can do this as well.”

The Memories of This Lifetime, original watercolor, India ink, and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani

The Memories of This Lifetime, original watercolor, India ink, and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani

Because of her own challenging past, and the influence that adults like Bullock had upon her, Trapani donates her time and talent to the lives of others, and has taught art to children and teens in public and private settings, including the “Action Zone” drop-in care at the YMCA. She marvels at the impact that doing art has upon children, especially those she describes as being “sweet, but troubled.”

“I am reminded that art is a gift from God. It may not seem like an answer to a hurting child’s prayer, but since the family often isn’t well, and God does not force his will on people, God still hears the cries of the children.

“Even if they do not see it then, like myself, hopefully (they) will see God sent them powerful teachers, kind grandparents, at least one dependable parent, a cool college kid to look up to.”

If there is any statement that Trapani makes in her art, it is this — that God is real, and that He hears the cries of those who hurt. Another statement she makes is that there is no inflexibly right or wrong way to do things — people frequently comment that she uses paint, ink, and pens “incorrectly” — and it’s no use letting the perceived or potential criticisms of others get in one’s way.

As she tells the young people she teaches, if they have a dinner plate to put blobs of paint on, some wads of paper towel for a brush, and some scraps of paper — even the backs of envelopes — they can create art as unique as they are themselves.

“I feel sad when people say, ‘I wish I was artistic!’  or, ‘I don’t have any talent!’ That’s nonsense!”

And that’s commonsense encouragement from someone who knows how to draw — quite literally —  the most out of the back of a used envelope.

Wenaha GalleryBrenda Trapani is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Tuesday, September 22 through Saturday, October 17. Many of the works in Trapani’s Event were created using watercolor paints, India inks, and paper given to her by David Bullock, after the death of his wife, Anne Bullock, in 2014. “She was, and still is, in the lives of many of her former students,” Trapani says.

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.