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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.

 

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing

Flying to New Heights — The Aerial Photography of David Wyatt

Infinite Palouse, aerial photograph by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, David Wyatt.

Infinite Palouse, aerial photograph by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, David Wyatt.

“You need more elective credits.”

While few university students rejoice when told that they require additional classes, it takes a measure of adventure with practicality to come up with the solution that David Wyatt did. It was 30 years ago, and he was transferring to Oklahoma State University for his engineering degree.

Fingers of the Jolly Green Giant, aerial photography by David Wyatt

Fingers of the Jolly Green Giant, aerial photography by David Wyatt

“OSU offered Private Pilot Ground School, which I enjoyed so immensely, that I spent the next summer working three jobs in Alaska to earn money to do the flight training,” the Kennewick artist remembers. “But it wasn’t until I bought a small airplane in 2005 and started carrying a camera that I discovered my eye and passion for artistic aerial photography.”

That’s right: he flies and takes photos at the same time. And yes, it’s challenging.

“Combine photography with flying an airplane, and the challenges increase exponentially!” Wyatt says. “Weather, of course, can aid or hinder the drama of the aerial photo. And then there’s equipment cleanliness and maintenance — both the photography gear and the aircraft. Regulations, air traffic control, licensing, terrain!

“If it gets too complicated, I hire a pilot to handle the flying so I can focus on the photography.”

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing

David Wyatt, simultaneously flying and photographing; photo credit Brian Powers

Focusing on photography has taken Wyatt to new heights, literally, and his views of Eastern Washington’s landscape from above are resonant of textured paintings, almost abstract in their lines and form, but recognizable as fields, rivers, hills, and plains. He has garnered awards locally and nationally, this year being named the 2016 EPSON Aerial Photographer of the Year by the international Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association.

A number of Wyatt’s works, including Canyon Gold — an overhead view of the Palouse River Canyon at Lion’s Ferry State Park — have received awards at PAPA’s annual competitions, and in May he received People’s Choice at Tri-Art for Giving’s regional and community show, for an aerial view of humpback whales in Hawaii. People are drawn, Wyatt says, to the different view of things.

Canyon Gold, aerial photography by Kennewick artist David Wyatt

Canyon Gold, aerial photography by Kennewick artist David Wyatt

“A couple from Boston walked into a local winery and saw my award-winning Canyon Gold. Realizing that just one day before they had been kayaking on the stretch of river featured in the photograph, they bought the piece.”

A licensed professional engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Wyatt flies and shoots as schedule and weather permit, and participates in a number of local activities each year, including Art in the Park in Richland, winery events, open studio tours, soirees, and holiday festivals. In addition to fine art prints of his work, he has created stone tile coasters, and this year began printing on, appropriately, metal aircraft aluminum.

Clients and customers live as far away as Spain, France, Australia, the Ukraine, Uganda, and Honduras. Wyatt mentally gathers ideas for future subject matter based on a location, season, or event, constantly thinking ahead about a particular place in the sky from which to photograph for a uniquely different perspective. Viewing things from above, he muses, brings one’s thoughts to a higher plain.

“It doesn’t jump out at you when you see my aerial artistic images, but if you get to know me and listen to the stories of how I ‘got the shot,’ there is a core belief — that is, that God is the Creator,” Wyatt says. “I give Him the honor and glory for allowing me to be at a point in the sky where I can capture in a photograph the amazing moment and grandeur of the earth He made.”

Ancient Flood Rhythmites, aerial photography by David Wyatt.

Ancient Flood Rhythmites, aerial photography by David Wyatt.

One morning, he continues, he awoke while it was still dark and drove to the airport, where he performed the preflight inspection of the aircraft while sunrise’s first light appeared on the horizon.

“Before I started the engine to take flight, I prayed, ‘Lord, I have no idea where you are taking me this morning. I ask that you lead me to something beautiful and amazing.'”

Strong winds carried him east, where he spent three hours over the Snake River and the Palouse taking photos of a spectacular landscape.

“It was an answer to my prayer.”

So, perhaps, was OSU’s demand for more elective credits — what initially seems vexatious turned into a boon.

Or as contemporary Turkish playwrite Mehmet Murat Ildan puts it,

“Flying is not only the art of the birds, but it is also the art of the artists.”

Wenaha GalleryDavid Wyatt is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, October 24 through Saturday, November 19.

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.

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 the gallery today!

Remuda, The

Life on the Farm with a Paintbrush — The Watercolor Art of Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

She is an artist, living on a farm.

“Farm” brings to mind livestock and machinery, hard work, early mornings, and late nights.

“Artist” describes the person who sees beauty and interprets it onto canvas or paper, one who walks around a clump of flowers growing on the path and returns later in the day, when the chores are done, to capture that fragile innocence.

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

For watercolorist Jill Ingram, who grew up on a farm and married a farmer, art is as much of her life as wheat and pigs, and she first recognized that she had a creative gift in third grade, when she was part of a team of three assigned to create a bulletin board scene depicting the change of seasons.

“There was a feeling of apprehension facing that huge white blank wall,” Ingram remembers.

“I have no memory of what we did, but the reaction of my fellow students gave me such joy, as they looked into a crystal ball and said, ‘You are an artist!’

“And they spoke a new faith into my heart.”

The daughter of Dayton artist Iola Bramhall, Ingram dabbled with painting and drawing throughout her childhood, but things became more serious — both life and art — following a horse accident, when Ingram turned to art as part of the healing process.

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

“My belief in a loving God gave me the faith that this event would bring good into my life,” Ingram says. “He said art would be a catharsis for me.”

It was, guiding her into a world of color, hue, light, form, and movement, resulting in works that are resplendent in emotion, many zeroing in on the petal of a flower or an insulated growth of trees, rich with a hidden light.

“I believe in a personal God who created me to see beauty in the commonplace,” Ingram says.

“His hand is on my life, and He takes the hardest things, transforming the experience into some kind of beauty. He made me in His image, and so I think my creative imagination is an expression of Him, however blurry I may see and understand.”

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Ingram landed on her medium of choice, watercolor, for a prosaic reason: because it isn’t as messy as oil or pastel, but just because it’s easier to clean up doesn’t mean that it’s easier to do. Working through paper choices and pigment temperaments, Ingram addressed subject matter ranging from botanical to figurative, building a portfolio of work with a fluid, open style that, she says, matches her personality.

Along the way, she studied under renowned artists like Del Gish, Arne Westerman, and Nita Engle, and soon found her own name becoming known: she has won first place at the Colorado Watercolor Society (for her painting, “Jewel”) as well as at the Northwest Watercolor Society’s Juried Exhibition in Seattle, in which “Ruby Slippers” took the prize. For several years, Ingram operated a gallery in downtown Dayton, Jill Ingram Watercolors, and sold her work, nationally and internationally, through galleries in Seattle and Spokane as well.

For all that, she remains, at heart, an artist who lives on a farm, and the day’s painting schedule revolves around a household of people who all depend upon one another to get the many things that need to be done, done:

“Painting in my home means that I am more available to my family,” Ingram says.

“Some days might start with painting, then shift into helping the farm boys move combines, and end with Mom planning meals . . .  unless I’m on a roll, and I paint all day long until they yell at me to come and eat!”

And even then, she may stay in the studio, grabbing a few precious minutes for a well-placed brushstroke here, a subtle drizzle of color there. Art speaks — to her, and through her. Or, as Ingram likes to say,

“English is my second language.”

Wenaha GalleryJill Ingram is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, March 14 through Saturday, April 9. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, March 19, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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.

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.

The Master Potter’s Student — Caprice Scott and Her Ceramic Art

Wildflowers platters by Caprice Scott

There’s no fixing an exploded piece of pottery.

This is not, however, sufficient reason for the average person to give wide berth to ceramic bowls, cups, saucers, and platters. It’s not on the shelf that a piece of pottery rends itself asunder but rather, in the kiln with a temperature ranging from 1112 degrees Farenheit to 2300-plus.

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

“We’re not talking about just hot enough to burn dinner in the oven here,” College Place potter Caprice Scott, who specializes in hand-built and sculpted ceramic-ware, says.

“Working with clay is a tricky business,” she adds. “I don’t think people realize how fickle and capricious clay and glazes can be.” If the environmental humidity is low, the clay dries too fast and cracks before it even makes it to the kiln; if it’s winter in the Pacific Northwest and the humidity is high, it can take forever for the clay to dry — frequently when the potter is working on a commissioned order with a timeline. Glazes add complications to the creation process.

And that eruption issue?

“If there happens to be an air bubble somewhere in the clay, you might find your piece has exploded in the bisque kiln.”

With all the things that can go wrong, it’s astonishing that anything survives, but that it does — as well as thrive in beauty, functionality, and form — is testament to the skill of the potter. Scott, whose experience in the art arena ranges from teaching in private and charter schools to painting murals in million-dollar Colorado spec homes, turned her central focus to pottery upon her family’s moving to the Pacific Northwest six years ago.

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Scott’s drive to learn and experiment, in conjunction with an attention to detail, impel her to create unusual pieces and collections — such as the sugar/creamer set shaped like European village houses which garnered an award at an art exhibition, or the commissioned clay box fashioned into a Dr. Who fez hat, tassel and all.

“I take delight in coming up with something no one else has done before and probably won’t ever do again,” Scott explains.

“I usually work within a theme or do a bunch of one thing for a little while. I find something new and get really passionate about it and I make as many pieces as I can for a few months, and then I move on to something new.”

One aspect that is consistent in all of Scott’s pieces is the signature at the bottom: her last name, and then the biblical verse, Isaiah 64:8, which, when one looks it up, says,

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Scott stumbled upon the verse in a period of frustration, when everything that could go wrong with creating pottery (including explosions), did, and she decided to dedicate each piece to Him, as a work of His hands as well as hers.

“So when the pieces were blowing up or coming out of the kiln cracked, I was like, ‘God, Your pottery is breaking. And it’s Yours, so I guess it’s okay. If You’re okay with it, then I am, too.”

Completing a part of Scott’s journey, the verse confirmed that her work gave meaning to others as well as to herself, and she felt as if God were saying, “You, Caprice, can call me ‘My Father, the Potter.’

“I really feel this verse sums up all that I am and all that my pottery represents. Without the Master Potter, I and my work wouldn’t be.”

Scott’s work is unique, skillful, eclectic, passionate, and illuminated by imagery that celebrates the outdoor world: flowers, leaves, Native American art, and wildlife, reflecting an appreciation for nature that Scott acquired through living in Colorado, and reaffirms in the Pacific Northwest.

“I need to be surrounded by beauty. If I can’t be out in nature, I try to bring beauty inside.”

Beauty ignites.

Wenaha GalleryScott’s work is on display at Wenaha Gallery. During the Christmas season, Scott is holding a Christmas Ornament Workshop at the gallery, gently leading students (who don’t have to have any experience in pottery, because Scott does) into making a customized pottery ornament for their tree. The two-part workshop takes place Sunday, November 15 and Sunday, December 6. Cost is $55 for both workshops, with all supplies, and firing of the ornaments, included. Read more about the workshop at our article, Christmas Ornament Workshop.

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.

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.

Exploring the Pacific Northwest — All of It — with the Photography of John Clement

the pacific northwest sunset photograph by John Clement

The Pacific Northwest is landscape in motion, and John Clement’s painterly treatment captures the moment photographically. December Twilight Columbia River by John Clement.

Those of us who live on the east side of the Washington State Cascade Mountains know that there is more to the Pacific Northwest than the city of Seattle.

“Oh, it rains all the time over there,” outsiders comment. “And people throw fish at you in the waterfront marketplace.”

Thanks to master photographer John Clement of Kennewick, WA, the rest of the region is exposed — no pun intended — to those unfamiliar with one of the most uniquely beautiful areas of the world, the rest of the Pacific Northwest. It is as varied as it is vast, embodied by its mighty mountains — Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood — meadows, fields, rural roads, waterways, and drylands.

And Clement captures it all.

“My studio is the Eastern Washington landscape and its weather, which I have been photographing since 1970,” Clement says.

morning glory rattlesnake mountain photograph by wenaha gallery artist John Clement

The most dramatic color imbues the early morning, or late evening, sky. Morning Glow Rattlesnake Mountain, photography by John Clement.

It’s odd how the smallest decisions can make the biggest impact. During Clement’s senior year at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, where he double majored in geology and cultural geography, John needed an elective class to round out his schedule, and chose photography. Borrowing cameras from two friends, Clement shot local scenes including barns in the Kittitas Valley, and was encouraged by one of his instructors who saw potential in John’s artistic eye.

After graduation, a job opportunity was offered in photography, doing pictorial church directories in the eastern part of the U.S. Because many of the churches he visited — in a territory that reached from Texas to New York — were located in rural areas, John spent his spare time capturing the landscapes and their people.

“One of the frequent comments I hear about my images is that they remind the viewer of a place or past experience they had when they were younger,” Clement says. “They start their conversation with, ‘this reminds me of . . .’ and then share their story of why this image is meaningful to them.”

Returning to the Pacific Northwest in 1974, John worked for Battelle Northwest Laboratories as lead photographer, documenting research and production at the company’s 17 scientific departments. In 1980, he decided to devote his skills full time to landscape photography, and since then, “The Lord has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams,” Clement says.

Vineyard grape harvest photo by wenaha gallery artist John Clement

For the eye that knows where to look, color and form are everywhere. Heart of the Harvest, photography by John Clement.

“I believe that God has given everyone a gift, and that he wants us to use our gifts for the benefit of those around us.

“My gift is the art of seeing his creation in a way that will inspire people to recognize who he is and want to know more.”

Clement, who holds a Master of Photography degree from the Professional Photographers of America, has won more than 65 regional, national, and international awards for his work, and one of his images, “Red Dawn,” hangs in the International Hall of Fame of Photography. Four of his prints were accepted into the Washington State University Museum of Art, and 17 murals of his Eastern Washington landscapes are installed in the Seattle Seahawk Stadium. How apt.

Corporate purchasers of John’s work include Swedish Hospital, Battelle Research and Development, Dade Moeller & Associations, Westinghouse, McGregor Company, and Lamb Weston. Clement and writer Richard Scheurman have published six books featuring Clement’s photography.

“I enjoy the landscape because of its diversity, its everchanging colors, light, and the quiet peace it brings to me when I’m out capturing God’s creation.”

Because of that light — which is most striking in the early morning or around evening’s gloam — capturing the right image involves getting up very very early, or staying out rather late. In viewing Clement’s work, one is conscious that the geology degree didn’t go to waste, at all, because John’s eye is open to the color, textures, lines, form, and patterns of the world around him.

“When you look at the images, don’t just glance,” Clement says. “Look.

“Absorb the colors, lines, textures and subject, then ask yourself, ‘What am I really seeing — a moment in time never to be repeated . . .

“Hopefully, your emotions are stirred, and the images warm your soul.”

Clement’s panoramic photographs are featured at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event, with his show running from Wenaha GalleryMay 12 through May 31, 2014  at the downtown historic gallery, 219 East Main, Dayton, WA. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled for Saturday, May 24 from 10:30 to 1:30 at the gallery. Refreshments will be served.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 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.

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 art@wenaha.com.  Gallery Website: www.wenaha.com

Read more about Art Event, our celebration of Pacific Northwest Artists,  here.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.