Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

Andalucia europe travel city buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

bicycle flowers buildings fence europe acrylic painting summer barcenas

Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

downtown europe travel buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 at Wenaha Gallery.

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.


One, Two, Three Artists Are a Charm — Caprice Scott (Ceramics), Joyce Wilkens (Author) and Wanda Thompson (Graphite)

porcelain art by caprice scott

Porcelain art by Caprice Scott.

Good things come in threes. Consider this: how many important decisions are made with the simple game, Rock, Paper, Scissors?

There were three wise men, three Bronte sisters, and three muskateers; there are three essential ingredients in the bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich, no recipe necessary.

And for three weeks in June, three Pacific Northwest artists in three completely different mediums, will collaborate on an Art Event at the Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA.

Two are from College Place; all three have studied at, or graduated from Walla Walla University. And all three are fervent about what they do: Caprice Scott from College Place creates functional and decorative porcelain; Joyce Wilkens of Spokane is the author of coffee table books; and Wanda Thompson of College Place captures nature’s quiet places in graphite.

Caprice Scott

“God created me to create, and I feel a spiritual connection with Him when I’m working on pottery or sculpture,” says the maker of three-dimensional ware that spans the gamut from vases to lidded boxes, from ceramic fruit to purses in porcelain.

“In creating something I feel is of beauty, I have a tiny idea of who God is and the joy He takes in His creations.”

Scott’s hand-built pottery incorporates images from the natural world , and inspiration derives as well from her three years of living in Europe and traveling the globe to 11 countries. Throughout the seasons, Scott takes regular drives to the Blue and Wallowa Mountains, in search of greenery to press into clay.

teacup art book by joyce wilkens

Teacup Art . . . and Reflections by Joyce Wilkens

“In the Wallowa Lake area, there is a small grove of Aspen trees where I clip some leaves,” Scott explains. “I also look for pine cones. Although I’ve used a lot of things for clay impressions, my go-to and first choice is always something from nature.”

Language, as well, is a driving force in Scott’s art, and she finds various way to incorporate the written word into her work.

“It is beauty in itself, whether in a book, a love letter, or scrawled by a child with a piece of chalk on the sidewalk.”

Joyce Wilkens

While watercolor, oil, wood, and fabric are all mediums in which Wilkens works, books are a focus of her time these days, and her two recently published works are Teacup Art . . . and Reflections and Walking Sticks — Wanderings and Wonderings. The unusual subject matter appeals to a broad audience, and copies of her books reside in the libraries of Conrad Anker, the renowned mountain climber of Everest and K2; Tom Till, one of the nation’s top photographers; artist Guy Buffett; and former President George Bush.

The books, it seems, are as well traveled as their author.

“We spent three months working in Africa in 1985, ” Wilkens says. “That’s when I started up photography.”

That’s also when she and her husband, Keith, started their walking stick collection, which has grown, along with Joyce’s passion for hiking, nature, the beauty of wood, and the stories behind what is made from that wood, all of which fuel Wilkens’ inspiration for her books.

graphite art by wanda thompson

Langs De Stuwepad Dichbij Vilsteren by Wanda Thompson

“On a mission service trip in 1998, I traveled to a very primitive area of southern Madasgascar,” Wilkens remembers.”I took with me a watercolor painting I had done of lemurs in trees. I found a small craft store and asked if someone there could carve me a walking stick with a lemur on it, in exchange for the watercolor painting.”

The deal was struck, a one-of-a-kind walking stick found its way to Wilkens’ home and into her book, and “Madagascar not only has a piece of my art, but also a part of my heart.”

Wanda Thompson

Finding inspiration in nature and the quiet places of Europe, Thompson focuses on peacefulness, and often, on trees.

“I love trees!” Thompson says. “In our home, we have eight tall-to-the-ceiling Ficus trees plus two other large ones.

“But my favorite theme is bare trees because I love the shapes of the bare branches.”

While Thompson’s primary focus is on graphite and watercolor drawing, lately she finds that her camera is becoming a close friend, because she is always keeping her eyes open for unique trees and unusual landscapes to interpret in her studio.

From the highlands and islands of Scotland, to the Dolomites in Italy and Lapland in Finland and Norway, Thompson absorbs nature through hiking and hillwalking, “away from the rush and noise of the world.”

They are three different artists, working in three completely different formats, who all share an appreciation of nature, peacefulness, serenity and form. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good working definition of art.

Wenaha Gallery’s Triple Play Art Event, featuring Caprice Scott, Joyce Wilkens, and Wanda Thompson, begins May 27 and runs through June 14 at the downtown Dayton, WA gallery, 219 East Main Street. A reception for the artists is scheduled Sunday, June 1 from 1-4 p.m., with all three artists in attendance and refreshments served. Wenaha Gallery

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.