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jigsaw puzzle pieces leisure fun

Jigsaw Puzzles and Life — Putting Together the Pieces

jigsaw puzzle pieces leisure fun

Somehow, all the disparate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit together to create a whole image — kind of like life.

How you approach putting together a jigsaw puzzle says a lot about you.

Of course, how we approach any project says a lot about us, but for now, we’re talking about dumping a box of disparate pieces onto the table, organizing them into some semblance of order, and reassembling them so that they look like the picture on the box.

jigsaw puzzles animals landscapes quilts

Animals, places, quilts and faces. The image of jigsaw puzzle we choose to put together depends upon our likes and preferences.

Some people, when it comes to the “organizing them into some semblance of order” part, get very precise. They seek out the edge pieces, hone in on the corners, and create piles of the rest according to color and form. Others dive right in and match piece with piece. If shapes are still stuck together from the manufacturing process, some people insist that they be separated and mixed back into the box. It’s only fair, they reason.

Others say, “If we’ve got 1000 pieces to put together, why not take advantage of any advantage we’ve got?”

No Rules

I know one man who, when he assembles a puzzle, refuses to look at the box, other than a first glance to see what the eventual goal is. His girlfriend prefers to refer to the image. Neither approach is “right” or “wrong,” just different, a celebration of individuality that encourages us to

  1. Be polite about other people’s way of doing things,
  2. Remain open to trying things a different way,
  3. Recognize that there is more than one way to achieve a goal, and
  4. Accept that rules are not unalterably sacrosanct.

Imagine that — life lessons from a jigsaw puzzle.

But there’s more — one of the most intriguing things I’ve found about jigsaw puzzles is that, though they seem to be nothing more than a jumbled series of random shapes that have little to do with one another, those pieces all fit together, eventually, to make that picture on the box. When we start, it’s easy to despair that we will ever finish, especially when the image has little contrast or distinctive shapes and colors. (There’s another preference: some people gravitate toward homogeneous images, like a pile of Snickerdoodle cookies or a night sky. Others recoil from such visual uniformity.)

Lessons of Life from a Jigsaw Puzzle

300 piece jigsaw puzzles simple art

Only 300 pieces? Don’t underestimate the complexity of a puzzle with fewer pieces. The dog puzzle on the right is delightfully challenging.

But we start, and the more we work on the puzzle, the more familiar we become with the parts. Eventually, something clicks in our brain, saying, “That vibrant blue — it’s connected with that odd vase in the corner somehow.”

And oh, what a feeling of satisfaction when the pieces neatly slide together! In the bigger sphere of life, this happens when a seemingly random fact fits into other information we hold, with a resulting Aha moment: “THAT’S what the writer meant!” But we generally don’t experience this unless we’re reading and re-reading, analyzing and questioning, playing with the facts and the pieces.

childrens jigsaw puzzles big pieces

Little children can be surprisingly good at putting together puzzles, even if — maybe especially when — they don’t follow the rules we adults feel compelled to impose.

Another intriguing element: jigsaw puzzles are companionable projects, providing we remember Points 1-4 above. It’s remarkably comforting to know that, while we’re putting together the trio of horses in the bottom right, another person is tackling the cloudy sky above. We realize, if only for this pleasurable moment, that it’s not all up to us, with nothing getting done unless we’re doing it. While we’re washing the dishes, someone else is sweeping the floor. It is a form of teamwork that is natural and normal, resulting in a finished project about which we feel good.

Quiet Concentration

Not to be discounted is the element of concentration jigsaw puzzles demand of our minds. Unlike watching TV, putting together a puzzle is not a passive endeavor, requiring nothing more than staring at a screen. Each piece has its place, and it won’t find it without a human hand putting it there. And while it may seem trivial to focus so much attention on interlocking all the red and white pieces into a panoply of roses, there’s nothing trivial about letting our minds ruminate in a gentle, quiet, and peaceful state.

The moment comes for the last piece. And then . . . what? Do we immediately dismantle the project and tumble it back in the box? Do we take a picture of it and send it to friends? Or how about carefully transporting it downtown to get it framed, an unusual piece of art in which we have had some part to play? Again, it depends upon the individual, and the circumstances.

That’s the beauty of jigsaw puzzles. In order to fully enjoy them, you really can’t confine them to a box. They’re like people that way.

Wenaha GalleryThe Art of Jigsaw Puzzles is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from January 12 through February 9, 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.

 

Sentinel gap camera photo landscape eastern-washington columbia river john clement

Camera Magic — The Photography of John Clement

Sentinel gap camera photo landscape eastern-washington columbia river john clement

Sentinel Gap, capturing the Eastern Washington landscape on camera by John Clement, Kennewick photographer

Everyone has a camera these days.

Whether it’s at an office party or the family Thanksgiving dinner, many people have been buttonholed by an enthusiastic traveler’s  sharing a (seemingly endless) collection of photos. It doesn’t take long to realize that enthusiasm does not always equate with expertise, and while anyone can press a button, far fewer people know how to capture a moment, a memory, and an emotion.

“The challenge of being a photographer is capturing the images that I have created in my mind’s eye — capturing an emotion that connects someone with that image and draws them into it,” says Kennewick photographer John Clement, who has had a camera in his hand for more than 49 years now and counting.

paris france eiffel tower camera photo art john clement travel city

The Eiffel Tower, by John Clement, photographer and camera artist from Kennewick, WA

“Finding those type of images takes lots of planning, prayer, and knowing your landscape locations. It’s understanding how and when the weather, the light, and the subject all work together for that moment in time, never to be repeated. There is so much to this side of the story . . . ”

He Borrowed His First Camera

Clement’s story started in 1970 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where he double majored in geology and geography. Needing an elective class to fill a gap in his schedule, he chose photography — although to get through the class he had to borrow a camera because he didn’t own one.

“But I was hooked,” he said. He spent five years with a church pictorial directory company in St Louis, and another five with Battelle in Tri-Cities doing lab and photography assignments. On the side, he shot landscapes and marketed his work, and in 1980, left Battelle to venture out on his own.

“I’ve been really blessed in this business by faithful clients and opportunities to try new ventures in photography,” Clement explains. “I’ve been involved in book publishing, calendars, multimedia production, and scouting movie locations for clients in California.

“I have clients all around the world, and have prints in more than 80 countries.”

morning landscape eastern washington tree photo john clement

Morning, capturing on camera that moment in the morning, by photographer John Clement of Kennewick, WA

Clement’s photos have garnered more than 65 regional, national, and international awards, including first place at the National Park Service’s National Natural Landmark Photo Competition. He has been published in Country Music and Northwest Travel Magazines, and one of his prints hangs in the permanent collection of the International Hall of Fame of Photography in Missouri. He installed 17 of his works as murals at the Century Link Field in Seattle, home of the Seahawks and the Sounders, and an additional 17 as 4×8 glass panels at the recently remodeled Pasco Airport. Last year he completed a major project at the Othello Medical Clinic where nearly 200 images — ranging in size from 24 inches to 35 feet — decorate the facilities.

Traveling with Family and Camera

For 20 years, Clement operated a gallery at the Columbia Center Mall in Kennewick, but closed it in 2005 so that he could devote more time to traveling with his wife, Sharon, and capturing landscapes on camera from different locations. The past several years, he has traveled regularly to the Midwest with his daughter, Colleen, for storm chasing. (“My interest is in the big skies and the landscape.”) Other travels have taken him to Russia, China, continental Europe and the British Isles, “with more to come, Lord willing.”

vineyards grapes country fields eastern washington camera photo john clement

Vineyards, by camera and photography artist John Clement of Kennewick, WA

“I have thousands of stories — some funny, some serious, and some scary,” Clement says. “When you do what I do, you can get into some interesting situations, places, and crazy scary weather.” One major memory is the time he lugged his 42 pounds of camera equipment onto a four-foot wide, mid-range ledge at Palouse Falls. Without warning, a baseball-sized rock hurtled from above, barely missing him.

“Quit throwing rocks! There are people below you!” Clement shouted to the voices overhead. The next voice he heard was that of an upset mother yelling, “I told you not to throw rocks, didn’t I?” There was a slap, a wail, and then silence. But at least there were no more rocks. Clement stayed on the ledge, unmolested from above, for four hours, waiting until the light and the sky were just the way he wanted.

Camera and the Artist’s Eye

“This world is a wonderful place of color, textures, lines, and patterns,” Clement says. “When some or all of these elements come together in the right light, they can stir the emotions to stop and think.”

It’s his job, he says, to capture that moment on camera, and translate it visually into an image that speaks to the heart as well as the eye.

“I believe God has given each one of us a gift to share with others,” Clement says.

“My gift is seeing his wonderful creation in a unique way that communicates His love for all of us — through what He has created for us to see.”

Wenaha GalleryJohn Clement is the Featured Art Event from Monday, April 8through Saturday, May 4at Wenaha Gallery. He will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where he will be joined by Milton-Freewater steel sculptor Anne Behlau and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

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.