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mushroom pickers women polymer clay imagination nancy gresham character dolls

Imagination Play — Artwork by Nancy Gresham

mushroom pickers women polymer clay imagination nancy gresham character dolls

Two friends picking mushrooms invoke a smile from the viewer. Character dolls require a keen eye, skillful hand, and a dose of imagination. Mushroom Pickers, polymer clay sculpture by Nancy Gresham

In the art world, what you paint on is called the substrate. Many times, this is canvas or panel, although parents of toddlers know that walls are also options. The major limitation, really, is that paint adhere to the surface, so one’s imagination is free to go wild.

And that’s what artist Nancy Gresham let her imagination do — go wild. While the White Bird, ID, painter uses traditional canvas, panel, or paper when she works in acrylics, watercolor, and colored pencils, she also accesses more untraditional fare: river rocks.

“I love painting on smooth river rocks,” Gresham says. “For some unknown reason, I actually prefer painting on rocks to canvas.”

heart hummingbird painted rock nancy gresham

With a dose of imagination and skill with the paintbrush, Nancy Gresham transforms a rock into a painted masterpiece. Heart Hummingbird rock painting by Nancy Gresham.

Now when Gresham says she paints on rocks, she means it: she creates intricate and detailed images of flowers, birds, butterflies, undersea gardens, and even commissioned pet portraits on rocks of all sizes, from those you can hold in your hand to her largest so far, a 50-pound rock with three dogs, surrounded by Asian lilies. Some rock art works are freestanding, others lie flat, and still others Gresham trims around the edges to make them stand upright. Finding them is the first step, then scrubbing them clean, letting them dry, and priming them before getting out the indoor/outdoor patio paint. A non-yellowing protective varnish is the final touch.

Using up Her “Stash”

“I started painting on rocks 10 years ago when a client made a special request. I found it addictive and so easy to take on trips for evening projects.”

Gresham, who readily admits that she is “an art supply hoarder,” is always looking for new and unique ways to use her stash, and that’s where that go-wild imagination comes in handy. About the same time she discovered rocks as substrates, she stumbled upon a block of polymer clay in her studio. It had been there a long time, and she decided she either needed to use it up or give it away.

pelican bird swimming rock painting nancy gresham

A pelican swims through its circular rock substrate space in Nancy Gresham’s rock painting.

“At the time, the Salmon River Art Guild, to which I belong, was getting ready for its Fall Regional Show, and we were considering removing the sculpture category due to a lack of sculptures. I brought up playing with clay to one of my art friends, and we decided to give it a try.”

Trying Something New

Though her first creation was “one of those masterpieces that live forever in the closet,” subsequent online research introduced Gresham to the concept of character dolls, creations in clay that reside within a certain environment or  setting that creates a story. Not only did Gresham use up the polymer clay in her stash, she now had reason to buy more:

fisherman polymer clay imagination sculpture nancy gresham

Using accessories that she creates from clay and other materials, Gresham creates an imagination story around each of her polymer character dolls. Catch of the Day, by Nancy Gresham.

“My character dolls are primarily created from imagination,” Gresham says. “I love them to be whimsical but somewhat believable.

“I love unique features and expression, everyday people such as the ’roundtable’ coffee drinkers who meet at the cafe and solve the problems of the world.”

Gresham incorporates her character dolls into specific sets revolving around a theme, such as the coffee drinkers, or people waiting at a bus station, a fisherman reeling in a big one, or two women searching for mushrooms. To this end, she also creates the necessary accessories, whether from polymer clay or carefully chosen, organic items, to complete the visual vignette.

“I build the story as I am creating the dolls,” Gresham explains.

Variety Inspires

One day, Gresham will focus on creating character dolls; on another, she paints rocks; on still another, she paints elephants on a Masonite board: “I bounce back and forth depending upon my mood and the commissions I receive.”

It’s all inspired by using up that “stash,” whether Gresham is painting on rocks, barn boards, saw blades, canvas, or anything else she can get her hands on.

“I’ve been fascinated with creating ‘stuff’ since the beginning of mud pies,” Gresham says.

“My creations begin with an object that strikes my fancy, and it grows from there. It may be a piece of driftwood, or an odd shaped rock.

“But once I get started, it just develops as I go.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Gresham is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 21 through July 18, 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.

 

 

 

peaches colored pencil watercolor fruit art cheryl bush

Painting Beauty — The Artwork of Cheryl Bush

peaches colored pencil watercolor fruit art cheryl bush

A blend of media, Peaches features colored pencil and watercolor. Original mixed media painting by Cheryl Bush.

There aren’t a lot of people who have talked to someone who has met Charlie Chaplin, but Cheryl Ann Bush is one of those people.

The Yakima, WA, artist, who creates artwork in colored pencil, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and pen and ink, remembers the time she met her great-grandfather Herman Steuernagel at a family reunion.

“I was in grade school,” she says. “My great-grandfather was a well-known artist in Germany before retiring to New York in 1910. When he was in Germany, he had done background sets for the theater, and when he relocated to New York, he did background sets for the silent movies. During that time, he met Charlie Chaplin.”

Apples fruit red delicious colored pencil painting cheryl bush

Bush enjoys the incredible detail that working in colored pencil brings. Apples — Nature’s Beauties, original painting by Cheryl Bush.

As the art director of the Pathe Film Company from 1909 to 1917, Steuernagel sold his theater sets worldwide, but what excited the young Cheryl most was that he was a painter.

“It was so special to be able to meet and share my love of art with him,” she says.

Paintings on the Walls

Growing up in a house with lots of art on the walls (Bush’s great aunt, Alice Leo Oldright, was also an artist, a landscape and still life painter who lived in Walla Walla from 1900 to 1921 and later moved to Utah) Bush developed an appreciation for representational art, and regardless of the medium she chooses, she focuses on the essence of her subject matter. It does not matter whether she is painting a landscape in acrylic or a cluster of apples in colored pencil. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages, and she immerses herself in the uniqueness of each.

“I enjoy the precise detail that can be obtained with colored pencil. It can be tedious and time consuming, but the results are well worth the effort.

“Combining watercolor with colored pen, I believe, gives award winning results, which they literally did with Still Life in Red, White, Blue. That included red petunias from our garden. It received Third for watercolor at the Western Washington State Fair.

blue poppy flower petals oil pastel cheryl bush

The glow of light dances around the petals in Cheryl Bush’s oil pastel painting, Blue Poppy.

“Vine Ripened and Peaches featured colored pencil along with watercolor which gave the results I was looking for.”

Every Painting Has a Story

Not only the medium used, nor subject matter, enhance the story of each artwork, Bush adds. During the process of creating the artwork, life happens, and those moments of life incorporate themselves, visually or metaphysically, into the finished piece.  Bush recalls the time she was working on Hailey’s Dahlia, an oil pastel she focused on one summer.

haileys dahlia flower oil pastel painting cheryl bush

Named for Bush’s granddaughter, Hailey’s Dahlia celebrates the joy of life.

“At the time, my daughter was expecting her first child, and she was two weeks late. I joked that she was waiting for grandma to finish her piece.

“The day after I finished the artwork Hailey was born, so I named the piece for her.”

As an added bonus, the painting was accepted into the South Sound Four League Art Exhibit in Tacoma, where it won the Tacoma Mayor’s award.

Another piece, a charcoal of Mount Rushmore, was accepted into the Puyallup State Fair, a fact about which Bush was happy because it was the first show in which she publicly exhibited her work. She was even happier, however, when the drawing sold.

“I was so surprised I borrowed a Polaroid camera to take a picture of it on the gallery wall so I could have it for a portfolio.”

A Light Happy Space for Painting

Retired from a career in education, Bush is grateful that she is no longer restricted to vacation breaks for working on her art.  For years she set up her studio in a corner of the family room, but since moving to Yakima from Pierce County in 2014, she has worked out of a designated studio room in her house. Ledges on the wall hold finished paintings, and storage cabinets keep in one place all the accoutrements for artistic creativity. It is a light, happy space, and she spends many hours there. That happiness finds its way into her art.

“I believe that God has given us this beautiful world to enjoy, and I love to create works of art that reflect the beauty of His creation,” Bush says.

“It is rewarding when I can bring joy and a smile by bringing happy memories to mind with my work.”

Wenaha GalleryCheryl Bush is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from May 10 through June 6, 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.

 

 

sunflowers platter pottery judie beck

Beckoning Sunflowers — Pottery by Judie Beck

sunflowers platter pottery judie beck

An array of sunflowers adorns a pottery platter with handles by Judie Beck.

Oftentimes, parents groan when their child comes home from school with a “project.” We know, although some teachers apparently don’t, that there will be hours of parent-time required to help, and the very prospect is daunting.

But for Judie Beck, her son’s school project, years ago, made a major change in her life.

“His class was studying American Indians, specifically the Cherokee,” the Richland, WA, pottery artist remembers.

“He wanted to make a traditional house, in which the Cherokee used saplings that they wove together, plastered with mud and roofed with bark.

“We lived in Tennessee at the time and our soil was red clay. So we dug up clay, found some nice bendable twigs that he used as the saplings, and I helped him construct the house.

“Now I don’t garden because I hate getting dirt under my fingernails, but I thoroughly enjoyed helping him manipulate the clay.”

sunflowers mug pottery judie beck yellow happy

Mugs and bowls are among Judie Beck’s favorite pottery items to make. Sunflowers mug by Judie Beck.

So pleased was Beck by the experience that she mentioned it to a friend, who replied that she (the friend) had always wanted to take a class in pottery making from a local artist at the Oak Ridge Art Center in town. Two days later, after Beck had signed herself and friend up for the class, the friend’s response was,

“Oh my gosh! I was thinking I’d do it after the kids were grown!”

Functional Pottery with Sunflowers Design

Why wait? was Beck’s opinion, and she hasn’t stopped getting clay all over her hands ever since. (As an aside, her friend is now an instructor at the center, teaching pottery.)

Working out of a studio built into a section of her garage, Beck creates functional pottery from serving trays to lidded butter crocks, “just what I like, basically,” she explains.

“I’m always making mugs. And bowls — I love making bowls. Everyone needs bowls. Bowls hold just about anything.”

sunflowers spoons pottery serving judie beck

A series of small pottery spoons, with the sunflowers motif, by Judie Beck.

Beck’s main challenge doesn’t come so much from working with the clay — which potters know can be “fussy” during the kiln firing, when pieces can explode under the high heat — but rather, from the designs she incorporates onto the finished work. Describing herself as a person who couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler, Beck credits her friend, Irina, with the latest design of a sunflower.

“Her initial reply was, ‘Just draw one; it’s easy,’ at which I laughed. So she drew one for me to use. She’s a fabulous artist and it probably took her less than five minutes to draw the original sunflower that I am now using on my work. I call it Irina’s Sunflower.”

Patience and Persistence

Transferring the image onto each piece is time intensive, Beck says. After finalizing the design, she effectively creates a transferable decal by tracing the image onto newsprint paper, then applying multiple layers and colors of underglazing, each of which needs to fully dry before the next application.

french lidded pottery butter crock judie beck

A French lidded butter crock with sunny yellow design by Judie Beck

When the transfers are finished she then makes the pottery pieces onto which the designs are to be applied, for example, the mugs. She throws multiple mugs, lets them dry to the proper stiffness (leather hard), makes the handles, trims the mugs, and then applies the transfers. It all takes patience, precision, and persistence.

Beck has sold her work throughout the country, including Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, and of course, Washington. Her work has been juried into the Allied Arts Gallery at the Park in Richland, where she sells through the gift shop. She also participates in festivals and fairs, focusing on three events per year: an April and October bazaar in Patterson, WA, and a November event at the Calvary Chapel in Kennewick, the Make a Difference Bazaar. Throughout the year she brainstorms on what people will buy for spring, fall, and Christmas, with some of her regular customers offering suggestions on what they want her to make.

Happy Pottery and Sunflowers

Beck also teaches classes, one on one, in her studio. Between the teaching, the three yearly events, and, of course, the actual making of pottery, she keeps plenty busy. It is a busy-ness that is satisfying, and crowning that satisfaction is knowing that the people who buy her work have an opportunity to enjoy it every day. That’s her goal: making people’s day better through pottery.

“I want my work to make people smile,” Beck says. “I want it to make them happy, every time they use it.”

That’s a good goal. And it all started with one of those school projects . . .

Wenaha GalleryJudie Beck is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 1 through March 28, 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.

 

Opuntia Fruit colorful Southwest watercolor Lisa Hill

Maverick Thinker and Doer — Watercolors by Lisa Hill

morning glory floral flower maverick watercolor painting lisa hill

It takes a maverick to paint what she wants, how she wants to, without listening to voices seeking to control her thoughts and actions. Morning Glories, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

Movies, ads, pop music– they theoretically encourage people to be mavericks, to do things their way. As My Way, the song popularized by Frank Sinatra, croons,

“What is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.”

But in real life — not the make-believe one of movies, ads, pop music — doing it your way isn’t cool or easy, and those who persist fight against a relentless wave of mass media impelled social conformity that seeks to keep them down, submissive, obedient, boring.

“Do it our way,” is the message. “And call it your way.”

rocks colorful maverick watercolor painting texture lisa hill

Rocks aren’t just gray. But it takes a wise, creative, maverick eye to see this. Rock Solid, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

Watercolor painter Lisa Hill isn’t interested in this message. As a representational painter of flowers and foliage, she is fully aware of the industrial and urban art world’s decree that representational work is passe, demoded, archaic. What she hears from the “modern” art movement — which, ironically, began in the late 19th century — is that “true artists” focus on abstract.

She dissents.

Representational and Realistic

“I have always been attracted to realistic representational art,” the Richland, WA, artist says.

“While I respect and can appreciate the skill and knowledge involved in creating purely abstract or vaguely realistic art, it does not move me.

“And I take exception to negative attitudes and comments about the realistic style I love. It is often described with discouraging and depressing adjectives: belabored, overworked, too technical, muddy, fussy, tight, tedious, photographic, controlled, imitative, copied, conservative, unimaginative, stifled, calculated, rigid, stiff, not ‘fresh.'” Why not words like meticulous, detail-minded, skillful, precise, accurate, competent, imaginative, energizing, dexterous, proficient, adept, observant, and beautiful?

Several years ago, she adds, she found this statement by French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919):

“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.”

Delicate flower floral garden watercolor painting Lisa Hill

Renoir is right: what could possibly be wrong with painting beautiful things? Delicate, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill of Richland, WA.

This way of looking at things, she feels, is a timeless one — neither contemporary nor nostalgic, trendy nor outmoded — an attitude that allows freedom of expression for artists to use their creativity in conjunction with their skills and interests, not to mention their maverick personalities.

“I have a lot of plant knowledge and thoroughly enjoy gardening,” Hill says, explaining that, before she turned to art, she spent years working in ornamental horticulture and landscape design.

“It’s natural for me that the subject I most love to paint are flowers and foliage. I don’t think that I am making a statement by painting these things — I just love them.”

Science & Art: A Maverick Combo

Another thing she loves — really, really loves — is the watercolor technique. It is a blend of maverick magic and science, skill with the willingness to play with chance. The medium requires the artist to observe, question, experiment, analyze, examine, speculate, study — in short, do everything you would expect both a scientist and an artist to do.

Opuntia Fruit colorful Southwest watercolor Lisa Hill

Definitely not ordinary but unusual — which is pretty much the definition of maverick. Opuntia Fruit, original watercolor painting by Lisa Hill.

“Understanding how water behaves puts the artist in charge (mostly) of what happens to the paint on the paper.

“Why do backruns develop? How do I get the paint to spread out and dissipate? Why does this passage look streaked and blotchy when I wanted a smooth wash?

“The answers are almost always related to the water: how much is on the brush, the paper, and in the puddle of paint.”

Getting those answers, and thereby achieving success with watercolor techniques, requires a high level of scientific knowledge of the behavior of water.

Sing It, Frank; Paint It, Lisa

If she sounds like a teacher, that’s because she is. Ten years ago, Hill and her husband tore the roof off their garage and built a second-level, spacious studio complete with bathroom, kitchenette, storage, windows, and enough room for four students. She holds regular classes for beginning, intermediate, and advanced (“I very specifically do NOT mix beginners with experienced painters if I can help it”) — once a week per class, three hours at a time, over four weeks. Many students return, progressing from beginner to experienced, and this keeps her on her toes.

“I have to come up with new, interesting, challenging projects all the time.”

Not that she’s complaining, because, you see, painting itself is new, interesting, and challenging. In the world of representational art, there is no limit to the creativity, exploration, inspiration, and driving force to learn and see and capture light and color, emotion and movement.

It takes a maverick to understand and do this.

Or, back to Frank and his crooning,

“I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.”

Or better yet, in Hill’s own words,

“I paint what I want when I’m ready.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Hill is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from April 6 through May 3, 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.

 

mother child gardening teaching family mike capser art print

Stay Teaching: Learning to Grow by Michael Capser

mother child gardening teaching family mike capser art print

Teachable moments are rarely planned. They happen as we spend time together. Learning to Grow, art print by Michael Capser.

While teaching is a profession, and a noble one,  it is not limited to a job.

Those of us who are fortunate remember a beloved math teacher who showed us the fool-proof way to figure out percentages; the English instructor who solved that whole “me and him” or “he and I” dilemma. But some of our finest and best teachers, and our first ones, are members of our family: our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents. These are the people who have the strongest, most lasting and vested interest in the child.

Teaching is something that happens day by day, moment by moment, as adults interact with children, or even other adults.  We teach by example, by word, by listening, by caring. Some of the things we teach are concrete: how to plant a flower, how to knead dough and recognize when to stop, how to drive a car (every parent’s favorite). Other things we teach are social or ethical: saying please and thank you, recognizing how our tone affects our words, doing chores with the intent of doing them right.

And a more abstract teaching involves character: dignity, respect, honesty, compassion, kindness, understanding, goodness. These are not something we pick up from reading a book and answering a series of questions afterwards. These are elements we absorb as we live around people who are absorbing them themselves.

Quiet, Yet Dynamic, Teaching

Learning to Grow, Michael Capser’s artwork celebrating innocence and warmth, shows dynamic teaching in action. Side by side, mother and child transplant flowers. The woman leans easily into the task, the child squats down in the way young children so effortlessly do and “helps.” Part of the teaching is recognizing, which wise adults do, that little ones have little hands, short attention spans, and enormous quantities of imagination. The task itself is less important than the time together.

This type of teaching does not require an academic degree. But it most definitely requires a degree of caring.

Stay Teaching — You Have Much to Give

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Learning to Grow by Michael Capser. 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 Michael Capser are available online at this link.

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

 

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Fractal Fascination — Photographic Art by Debbie Lind

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Butterfly Blooms, Debbie Lind’s first, and prize winning, foray into photographic fractals art.

You don’t have to like broccoli to admire it.

Seriously.

Broccoli and its close friend, cauliflower, consist of the same small shape multiplied into a larger one, a phenomenon both scientists and artists call fractal or algorithmic art. The term, coined in the 1960s by Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, describes using mathematical formulas to create digital artwork from the same repeating shape.

love layers red heart flower fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa

Love in Layers, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

“Fractals are a repeated shape that I didn’t give much thought to until I discovered them when reading a book about shapes to kindergartners visiting our public library where I’m the library director,” says photographer Debbie Lind of Wallowa, OR.

“I read to them about shapes like circles, triangles, squares and all the basic shapes we know, but when I read to them about fractals, a light went off and I thought right then, ‘How can I use fractal art in my photography?'”

Fractal Tulip Turns into Butterfly

Lind’s first experiment with fractal art involved her photographic image of a red tulip with rain drops on it. She began playing about with the shape, intending to create a conch-like snail shell from the repeating tulip blossoms, but “it wasn’t meant to be.

“What I created instead was a butterfly wing. From that I created a butterfly I named ‘Butterfly Blooms.’ I entered it in my first professional art show and won a blue ribbon.” (As an added bonus, a monetary prize accompanied the ribbon, a fact Lind says came as a complete, but welcome, surprise.)

Money or not, from that point on, Lind was hooked on fractal art, experimenting with more flowers and butterflies, then moving on to other shapes and subjects, such as a bright orange Koi fish, repeated smaller and smaller, in a series of bubbles. She prints her images on canvas and paper, as well as large format art cards that she sells in galleries, gift shops, and local businesses.

dragonfly delight purple insect fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Dragonfly Delight, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR artist Debbie Lind

Describing herself as a photo artisan, Lind has been playing with imagery, cameras, and technology since she was 15, when she received a 110 pocket camera as a gift. From there she moved onto an Olympus OM-1 35 mm, and once she entered the digital age, she found that the time spent behind the computer screen playing with an image was as fascinating as time behind the camera lens.

Fractal Art and Emotive Photography

“My goal is to create photography — fractal or not — that moves me first: it can be a child, flowers, landscapes, or a person leaning up against a truck,” Lind explains.

“My other goal is if my art can give someone a good feeling — to enhance their good day and help them on their bad day — then this is what I hope my art can do for them, even if it’s just one person.”

koi joy orange fish fracta art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Koi Joy, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

Since that first memorable and financially satisfying professional art show, Lind has entered many others, as well as published her work in calendars, telephone books, brochures, and flyers. Wherever she goes she has an eye out for the next intriguing shot, and while she describes herself as not a photojournalist, she seeks to create images that spark conversation, imbue emotion, and catch the viewer’s eye and soul.

“If I’m in the right place at the right time, I’ll be taking photos of it.”

Living in a rural area provides plenty of subject matter, but the downside is that if the printer runs out of ink, only two sheets of photo paper remain in the packet, or none of the frames in her studio are the right size, she can’t pop down to the local office or art store to replenish supplies. For this reason, she has commandeered the largest bedroom in the house for her studio, occasionally spilling into the guest bedroom with supplies and inventory.

Letting the Creative Process Lead

Prominent on the studio wall is a quote she found in a magazine, which she says encapsulates how she approaches her photographic and fractal art:

“Let go of needing to know what you will create before you have begun. Instead, allow the creative process to be one of self-discovery, moment-to-moment revelation, and pure freedom.”

Every day is a new opportunity to learn more about art, photography, the digital world, fractal creativity, running a business, and life in general, and while trying new things has its unnerving side, it results in great satisfaction as well. Lind reminds herself of this as she experiments with new ways of marketing her photography, the latest involving selling fine art cards at local farmers’ markets where, incidentally, one finds broccoli, and cauliflower.

“As I get older, I feel a little braver in putting myself ‘out there.’ I’ve been telling myself, if not now, when?” Lind muses.

“I’m almost, or already, considered a senior citizen: I already get discounts at restaurants.

“So what’s next for me? I’m taking chances.”

Wenaha Gallery

Debbie Lind is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 22 through Saturday, November 17.

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.

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Flowers — Bold, Bright Beautiful Watercolors by Maja Shaw

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Bold, bright yellow sunflowers against a blue background in Maja Shaw’s watercolor, Sunflowers II

People who are not early risers get tired of this catching the worm thing, which, frankly, is literally for the birds. As watercolor painter Maja Shaw knows, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and still get the perfect photo reference for her next painting.

shasta daisy flowers colorful impressionist watercolor painting Maja Shaw

Shasta Daisies, a close-up view of bold, impressionist watercolor flowers set against an abstract background, by Maja Shaw

“Conventional wisdom says photographs are better made in early morning, or late  evening,” the Richland, WA, artist says. “But I’m not a morning person, so my reference photos are made in the middle of the day, which is bad for people  shots, but great for flowers.”

Shaw, whose first name is pronounced Maya, as in the ancient Central American people, focuses on florals with bold, sculptural shapes and exuberant color. Inspired by a childhood spent with art-collector parents, Shaw explores ways of rendering images using negative space, as opposed to intricate detail, to define a form. The resultant paintings blend the best of both worlds: representational and abstract.

Flowers, Landscapes, and Brushwork

“Highlights and contrast are characteristic of many of my paintings,” Shaw says. “Two of my favorite painters are Andrew Wyeth and John Singer Sargent.

“If you look at their paintings, especially watercolors, their subjects are defined as much by what is not painted, as what is. I take some of my inspiration from them by trying to define forms with a few strokes which convey enough visual clues so that the viewer’s eye can fill in the rest.”

Palouse Harvest watercolor impressionist abstract painting Maja Shaw

Palouse Harvest II, an impressionist landscape painting in watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Shaw, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, credits one of her art professors with providing a working definition of the category in which her artwork fits — organizational, as opposed to decorative or expressive.

“It’s a style that is concerned with shape, color, and composition and is not so concerned with making a philosophical statement, or, as my professor said, ‘What is the state of man in the world,'” Shaw explains.

People React to Color

“I don’t make social commentary with my art, and I’m not trying to make the viewer figure out any obscure meaning.

“I find people react emotionally to color and to subject matter: if my paintings are  appealing to a viewer in either of these, then that is fine with me.”

lily family flower watercolor impressionist painting Maja Shaw

Lily Family, white flowers against a deep blue background, impressionist watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw

In the spirit of being inspired by the masters, both old and new, Shaw also experiments with collage, in which she takes watercolor paintings with which she is not 100 percent satisfied, cuts them into shapes, and “repurposes” them into a new art form.

“I have taken inspiration for these from Henri Matisse and Eric Carle,” Shaw says, explaining that when 20th century French artist Matisse could no longer paint because of failing eyesight, he cut out shapes and had assistants paste them on large pieces of paper at his direction.

“They were mostly semi-abstract shapes, many with lots of white space around them, although many were reminiscent of plant shapes or body shapes.”

Regional and National Shows

One of Shaw’s early cut paper piece won third place in the Waterworks Art Center Show in Miles City, MT, for an exhibit with a paper theme.

Golden River southeast washington landscape watercolor maja shaw

Golden River, an impressionist interpretation of the Southeast Washington landscape, by watercolor painter Maja Shaw

“Mine are different from most collage work because I put them together to actually form a recognizable subject, rather than the mishmash of most collage artists.”

Over the last several years, Shaw has juried into major regional and national shows, and recently garnered First Place at the 311 Gallery Flowers and Garden Show in Raleigh, NC, where she won Honorable Mention last year. She has collected First, Second, and Third Place winnings at shows in Michigan, Colorado, Montana, and Washington, and has been the featured artist at the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR and the Cheryl Sallee Gallery in Auburn, WA.

Showcasing Eastern Washington

A member of CyberArt509, an artist’s cooperative encompassing artists in the 509 phone area code, and the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, Shaw shows her work throughout the Tri-Cities. In addition to painting flowers, which she describes as being good subjects because they don’t move around, except in the wind, and are as close as her backyard, Shaw also creates landscapes in the same spontaneous, colorful style.

“I strive to create recognizable images without being photographic,” Shaw says.

“While some compositions lend themselves to metaphors, mostly I want the viewer to enjoy the beauty of color and shapes based on the world around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Maja Shaw is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 25 through Saturday, October 21, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts.

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.

 

 

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Escaping the Office Cubicle — The Paintings of David Schatz

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Out of the office cubicle with Pink Roses, Oil on Panel by Portland artist David Schatz, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Office cubicles are not known for being spacious, liberating, beautiful places.

Grey, carpeted, windowless, and with walls too low for privacy, the ubiquitous modern “office” is a venue that artist David Schatz left far behind on weekends and holidays, when he explored landscapes, floral gardens, and wildlife refuges in search of meaningful images to paint.

morning waldo lake original painting david schatz out of the office cubicle

Definitely outside of the office cubicle, Morning on Waldo Lake, original oil on canvas by David Schatz

“I try to capture the beauty of what I see outside and bring it inside,” the Portland, OR, artist explains.

“I have no agenda except for trying to find and express the beauty in this world.”

Schatz, who has been drawing and painting since high school when an aunt gave him a set of oil pastels, was told during university studies that he should find something else to do as he would never become a painter. In a characteristic combination of practicality with stubbornness, Schatz turned to circuit board design for the electronics industry as his day job, and pursued painting when he was, literally, free.

Fine Art & The Day Job

Ironically, the day job — which appears to have nothing to do with the finer nuances of fine art — benefited from Schatz’s artistic bent, requiring the sense of spatial relationship demanded by drawing and painting.

“My painting skills helped me to visualize how a circuit board would have to be arranged to fit the space available,” Schatz says.

“I got my first job in electronics because I could draw.”

One of the most challenging aspects of Schatz’s dual sets of skills — aside from the cubicle — had to do with Schatz’s coworkers because, outside of concerns to do with the job, there was nothing to talk about:

patience green plant with leaves david schatz acrylic painting

Patience, original acrylic by David Schatz, capturing the world outside of the office cubicle

“I was surrounded by engineering geeks who had no idea of why anyone would want to paint when he could be playing computer games,” Schatz recalls.

“For my part, I had no idea why anyone would want to play computer games when he could paint.”

Schatz speaks of this situation in the past, having “escaped the cube,” as he puts it, through retirement, and is presently pursuing the full time career in art that he was earlier assured he could not have. Carrying a camera with him everywhere (“So does everyone,” he notes wryly, “with their cell phones”), Schatz captures reference photos nearby — taking advantage of Portland’s many public gardens to find floral images — as well as across the country in Florida, where he haunts wildlife refuges.

Easygoing Birds

“The birds in the refuges know that they are safe, and ignore the photographers,” Schatz says. “The camera that I use has a wonderful zoom lens, and the birds do seem to be posing for us.

“There are often 5-10 photographers lined up shooting the same bird.”

stalker crane bird acrylic painting david schatz

The Stalker, original acrylic painting by David Schatz

But a reference photo is just that — a photo — until the artist shapes and forms it into a painting, incorporating light, shadow, atmospheric perspective, color, and that elusive sense of feeling and emotion resulting only after much careful attention from the artist’s hand and soul. The highly realistic nature of Schatz’s work commands that he work closely on a small area at a time, addressing with his brush a petal or rock until it’s precisely the way he wants it to be.

It is because of his method that Schatz prefers working with reference photos over painting in plein air.

“My passion is for nature and I will paint anything that I can photograph,” he says.

“But I am a slow painter, and anything that I choose to paint will be long gone before I get started painting!”

Schatz has sold his work throughout the Pacific Northwest, and his art has been spotlighted at watercolor society exhibits in both Texas and Louisiana. One of his works was featured on the front cover of the British edition of Best of Flower Painting, and his floral images have been published by Wild Wings, a licensing agency specializing in wildlife, Americana, and nostalgia images.

It’s all part of focusing on the natural world — flora and fauna — and bringing it, as Schatz determines, into the inside where it can be seen, appreciated, longed for, and loved. Fine art belongs everywhere including — and maybe especially — the office cubicle.

Wenaha Gallery

David Schatz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 8 through Saturday, June 3, 2017. Schatz will be at the gallery Saturday, May 27 for a special two-person art show with Kennewick artist LuAnn Ostergaard, and both artists will be on hand to meet and greet visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free refreshments are provided.

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.