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pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Pastel Mystique — The Landscapes of Edna Bjorge

pastel landscape canyon mountains edna bjorge art

Canyon Light II, original pastel painting by Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge

From Oil Paint Murals to Pastel Drawings

She was five. She loved to draw. Her father was an artist.

And there, in her parents’ bedroom next to her father’s palette of oil paints, was a gloriously blank wall.

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Aspenglow, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“I knew better than to paint on the portrait he had on an easel in the corner,” Ellensburg, WA, artist Edna Bjorge remembers. But . . . there was that wall. What a canvas for small hands and big ideas!

“My mom was horrified, but my Dad went straight out and bought me some art supplies of my own.”

It was an unforgettable beginning to an art career, one that now focuses on pastel and watercolor, with paper as the substrate. As she did from childhood, Bjorge draws every day, working out of a custom-built shed tucked onto her country property. This studio, which she describes as “small but mighty,” also holds her framing supplies and letterpress, because in addition to drawing, she has owned and operated her business, Edna Bjorge Calligraphy, Design and Illustration, for more than 40 years.

Outside and Outdoors

Where she really likes to be, however, is outdoors, in the variety of landscapes of the central Washington region. There, she paints plein air pastel or watercolor — outside, using the natural and changing light of the day. This preference, also, stems from her childhood, when after World War II her mother ran a daycare from the family home while her father finished his college degree. At the “tender age of four,” Bjorge became mom’s helper, responsible for entertaining six younger charges by helping them with games, toys and amusements.

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Gold at River Bend, a view of the Yakima River Canyon in central Washington, original pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Needless to say, I cherished the time when I was outside by myself while everyone else was napping, and times in the evening when I could draw and paint without interruption.

“This probably explains my love of the outdoors, and of plein air painting.”

Bjorge finds the landscapes of Kittitas County multifariously diverse, replete with mountains and forests, from shrub steppe and desert to the lush banks of the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. She not only pastel paints these vistas but writes about them in a regular blog. One of her most passionate “messages,” both written and visual, concerns the fragility of natural landscapes.

Disappearing Landscapes

“I paint the landscape because we are losing it at an alarming rate, due to sprawl and overpopulation,” Bjorge says.

“Once land is ‘developed,’ it’s gone or changed forever.

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Cooper Ridge, mountain and lake pastel painting by Edna Bjorge.

“Many places where I used to roam free are no longer accessible. I have many paintings of places that are gone forever.

“The art is the only thing left to show they ever existed.”

Bjorge’s pastel and watercolor work has sold throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in Norway, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Over a long career of painting she has entered many shows and garnished a number of awards, her most recent being an invitational show at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima, where 20 artists created pieces based on the theme of Light.

“Our work hung in the theater’s gallery for a whole year, so was enjoyed by hundreds of patrons.”

Pastel: Sensuous and Immediate

She achieved mastery of pastels by trial and error, describing the medium as “sensuous, very responsive and immediate.” For her, it is the perfect way to capture light and shadows, subtle variations of color, distinct elements of detail incorporated with the bold shapes of mountains, rocks, and rivers. It brings the viewer, she feels, into places she wants them to deeply experience.

“More and more,” Bjorge says, “I find myself focusing on the landscape with a deep sense of urgency.

“I want to record not only the actuality of place, but the essence and spirit of the location as well.”

Wenaha GalleryEdna Bjorge is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 25 through September 18, 2020.

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.

 

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

Landscape Magic — the Photography of Bill Rodgers

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

For Bill Rodgers, photography is all about capturing the mood, the moment, the emotion of the landscape. Moccasin Lake Eve, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Because we are all incredibly unique human beings, we gravitate toward interests that fit our distinctive abilities. It is for this reason that not everyone is a mathematician, or a writer, or a mechanic.

And it is the reason that Bill Rodgers, of Waitsburg, is a photographer as opposed to a painter.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always loved landscapes,” Rodgers says.

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On a cloudy day, the transition of winter into spring adds an element of delightful drama to the landscape. Snow Drifts, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

“I originally wanted to be a landscape painter until I realized that I would probably starve for a very long time.

“My eyes and hands have never communicated well, and after a few college painting classes I realized that I was not going to be able to paint the kind of landscape I wanted to paint.”

But Rodgers is an imaginative, creative man, and he was not satisfied with not being able to do what he set his mind upon doing. When, 51 years ago, he received his first “real” camera, a 35mm Mamiya DTL 1000, Rodgers began a lifetime journey of fulfilling his goal with landscapes.

Being in, Moving through, the Landscape

“I like being in landscapes, moving through them, looking at them,” he says. His images, he adds, are a playground for the eyes and mind of the viewer.

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An old grain elevator stands sentinel in a timeless rural landscape. Old Grain Elevator, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Many of his fine art photography pieces focus on the landscapes within a 30-mile radius of his Waitsburg studio, a region he has dubbed “The Wallouse,” to distinguish it from the rolling hills of the nearby Palouse. And while he loves the Palouse (he grew up in Spokane), he finds the landscapes of the Wallouse to be subtly distinctive. Traveling along remote, gravel roads, he teases out emotional impact through the composition of his images, instead of heavily relying upon subject matter.

His goal as an artist, he says, is to take beautiful photographs. This differs from just taking pictures of things, or worse, depending upon familiar landmarks to carry the day.

“I know the ‘great places to photograph,’ and religiously avoid them because they have been photographed to death.”

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Just the right amount of mist creates the perfect feeling. Stonecipher Trees, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Rodgers’ photos reside in the homes of collectors throughout the country, and a number have been used in brochures and periodicals published by the Blue Mountain Land Trust, a conservation group that focuses on the scenic, natural, and working lands of 11 Washington and Oregon counties. The Trust’s coffee table books of the Blue Mountain region include many of Rodgers’ works. He is presently compiling and editing Volume 5, which will feature landscapes in the Trust’s eight-county John Day service area.

The Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography

A retired geologist, Rodgers turned to full-time photography in 2012. Part of this second career includes teaching at his Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography, where he leads regular workshops.

“The focus of the WSLP workshops is not technical. It is more about learning to find beauty in the mundane. I also teach my students to look for compositions — not things — to photograph. For me, it is the composition that makes a strong image — not the subject.”

He is always looking for what he calls a Magnificent Image. Rodgers defines this as a two-dimensional image in which all the elements of composition and content work perfectly to create a sublime whole that compels the eye to return and linger again and again. If he makes any statement with his art, this is it:

“My statement is, ‘Isn’t this a just a gorgeous landscape? I was privileged to be there at that time.’

“Enjoy.”

 

Wenaha GalleryBill Rodgers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 28 through August 21, 2020.

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.

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Country Landscapes — Peaceful, Serene, & Timeless

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Quiet Country, mixed media by LuAnn Ostergaard

Country living.

It’s the subject of numerous songs, books, home improvement shows, stories, jokes, and even Facebook groups.

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Red Vineyard near the River II, original oil country landscape by Walla Walla artist Todd Telander

Whether it’s better to live in the country or the city is a debate that’s been going on at least since the sixth century B.C., when the former slave and storyteller Aesop related the tale of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. His conclusion? It’s better to live with little (in the country) and be content, than live with much (in the city) and exist in fear.

A couple millennia later, 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde quipped, “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there,” reflecting the age-old argument that life in the country is boring, and there is nothing to do but milk cows and chew on pieces of straw.

Really, there doesn’t have to be contention. As 20th century author Louise Dickinson Rich, known for her fiction and non-fiction works on New England, put it,

“I think, probably, whether you’re better off in the country or in the city depends, in the final analysis, on where you’d rather be. You’re best off where you’re the happiest.”

Country Is Their Happy Place

For many of the regional artists at Wenaha Gallery, their happy place is the country, and they find themselves painting or photographing it in all its seasons and moods.

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Storm Maiden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, capturing the wilderness country landscape of the Southwest

Walla Walla painter Todd Telander, who loves the open space, agriculture, and mountains of the region, finds an astounding amount of visual interest in the country landscape. He focuses on this through his representational paintings, which are strongly imbued with impressionism.

“If my art makes a statement, it is up to the viewer to decide,” Telander says. “But for me I promote peace, contemplation, beauty, and solidity, and I suppose I like to share my vision of these things with others.”

Peace, contemplation, and beauty are also major factors in the art created by Steve Henderson, the Dayton painter who often incorporates people, especially women, in remote, wild landscapes and coastal scenes.

“I grew up in the country, and live now in the country, and it is part of who I am,” Henderson says. “It is my goal with every painting to create a place that the viewer will want to step into, a place of beauty and goodness where there is quiet and space. We need this quiet and space in order to deeply think.”

Out in the Open Country

Jim McNamara, a Walla Walla artist who prefers to paint en plein aire, or out in the open, agrees.

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The Blues, country wilderness landscape, original oil painting by Jim McNamara

“I believe the natural world deserves being looked at intensely and wordlessly,” he says. Some of McNamara’s favorite painting experiences involve donning a backpack, hiking to remote wilderness areas, and setting up his easel for an afternoon of concentrated, but pleasurable, work.

In this penchant for truly being outdoors — literally out in the country — he is joined by pastel and oil painter Bonnie Griffith, a former Walla Wallan who has relocated near Boise, ID. Griffith loves to paint outside in the natural light of the outdoors, and, like Henderson, seeks to create a place where viewers will want to stop, and stay, and be.

“My goal is to create paintings that draw the viewer into the painting, to experience the time of day, the temperature, the sound, the smells.”

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Living on the Land, original country landscape painting by Bonnie Griffith

Another Wenaha artist, LuAnn Ostergaard of Kennewick, finds and interprets her landscapes in an unusual, but highly effective way. Ostergaard haunts scrapyards, where she photographs the rust and patina of old cars and broken down appliances. She uses these images as the backdrop for landscapes which she then digitally creates with photo editing software.

“I feel a bit of an alchemist as I transform an image of scrapyard castoffs to a thing of beauty that resonates with harmony and balance.”

Unique Styles Capturing a Unique Place

The style of each of the artists is different, ranging from abstract to impressionist to representational; their mediums span from charcoal to oil, from acrylic to digital, but their love for their subject matter harmonizes in a manner best expressed by another artist who also extolled the country, Claude Monet:

“I’m enjoying the most perfect tranquility, free from all worries, and in consequence would like to stay this way forever, in a peaceful corner of the countryside like this.”

Or, as 18th century poet William Cowper so succinctly observed,

“God made the country, and man made the town.”

Wenaha GalleryCountry Landscapes, featuring the work of multiple Wenaha Gallery artists, is the Art Event from Monday, December 16 through Saturday, January 11. Featured artists are Nancy Richter, Steve Henderson, Jordan Henderson, Bonnie Griffith, LuAnn Ostergaard, Jim McNamara, Todd Telander and Gordy Edberg.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Clouds Fascinate — The Photography of Nancy Richter

bateman island fall autumn columbia river richter

Bateman Island Fall, a photographic landscape of water, trees and sky by Nancy Richter of Kennewick

Clouds fascinate her

She is a grandmother now. But Nancy Richter has never lost a child’s fascination for a sky full of clouds.

As a kid, she did what lots of kids — even in today’s techno-world of substitutionary reality — still do: she lay in the grass and watched the world above.

“I grew up in Montana — Big Sky Country,” the Kennewick photographer says.

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Fog and mist are simply clouds that decide to come a little closer to earth . . . Foggy Drive, photograph by Nancy Richter

“I never tired of the surprising shapes and colors of clouds. Their randomness, unpredictability, and beauty are fascinating to me.”

It is no wonder then that from the time Richter received her first camera — a Brownie Instamatic for Christmas when she was ten — she has focused on capturing the form, the mystique, the emotion, and the feeling of clouds. As technology advanced and Richter exchanged her Brownie for a Minolta SLR, then a digital camera, she kept chasing the timeless yet ever-changing vista of clouds. And though she photographs much more than the sky overhead — landscape, macro, flowers, rusty abstract surfaces, portraits, events — she retains a lifetime goal of finding the perfect combination of landscape and clouds.

Moody, Brooding Clouds

In 2011, she met photographer John Clement, of whom she had been a fan for years. The two arranged a photography day trip to the Blue Mountains in Southeast Washington. And from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m. they went to one wonderful spot after another.

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In Nailed It, a country landscape and brooding, moody clouds form one of Nancy Richter’s favorite photographic combinations.

After this most amazing day, one Richter affectionately dubs “John Clement Day,” she discovered that she had taken yet another step on her photographic journey.

“I find my own way to the loveliness that’s out there, following dusty farm roads, stopping along the banks of lakes and rivers, and making my way up to the top of hills covered with wildflowers,” Richter says.

She likes her photos to be unconventional, a bit off balanced and moody, she adds. Art is best, she considers, when its subject or material is unexpected, inviting the viewer to stop beyond a first glance, teasing him or her to discover new elements and depth.

“That’s what I want to convey: something a bit off the beaten path, something that holds the observer’s interest.”

Clouds Combined with Landscapes

Within a short radius of her Kennewick studio, unusual and intriguing landscapes abound. Less than 15 minutes from her home are spots in the Horse Heaven Hills that open out into vistas of Rattlesnake Mountain and other significant ridges of the Tri-Cities area.  There’s the Palouse (“That place is divine. Nowhere exactly like it on earth”). And there are the Blue Mountains, a combination of bare grass hills with forest in the ravines, farmland interwoven between.

The roads to these places can be a little dicey, though, but than again, that adds to the adventure of it all.

“One time I got stuck in the mud up to half my tire,” Richter remembers.

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A flower peeks from its foliage in Pink, photography by Nancy Richter of Kennewick

“A man and his 5-year-old daughter just happened to be out in the middle of nowhere with a jeep and pulled me out with a strap.

“When I first told them of my dilemma, the daughter’s comment was, ‘My dad can do anything!'”

Such is the mindset of a child, a mindset that Richter maintains with that persistent, lifelong, deep-rooted fascination with clouds. And to this day, in the process of looking up, she often finds that the ground beneath her feet is steadier, firmer, more secure.

“Sometimes when I am dealing with unpleasant emotion, the sky provides pleasant distraction,” Richter muses.

“It gets me outside and moving and enjoying. It helps ground me.

“Funny, that the sky would help me touch the earth.”

Clouds, Light, Quality, and Emotion

Richter shows and sells her work throughout the Tri-Cities area, and participates in the Thursday Art Walk in Kennewick. She has exhibited at the Richland library, You and I Framing in Kennewick, the Crossroads and Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR, and the Larson Gallery in Yakima. At the latter, she received the Women in Photography Award, as a well as a Purchase Award.

Richter doesn’t remember whatever happened to her old Brownie — she could have sold it at a yard sale; it may be in one of those memorabilia boxes we all cart around. But what it started will never be lost, as she discovers, and captures, a world of possibility, imagination, and enchantment. These elements transcend time and technology.

“When I take photos I feel an attraction to the scene. I’m feeling excited or having fun or am just delighted with the amazing light in that moment.

“I want people to enjoy what they see, to feel pleasure in the colors, to experience the light and the quality.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Richter is the Featured Art Event from Monday, November 18, through Saturday, December 14 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery for the Christmas Kickoff Art Show Friday, November 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. Richter will be joined by Colfax rope basket creator Nancy Waldron and jewelry artist Andrea Lyman.

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.

 

 

painted horse equine animal westernmagical landscape oil painting adszynska

Magical Western Landscapes by Teresa Adaszynska

painted horse equine animal westernmagical landscape oil painting adszynska

It’s a magical moment in the desert. Painted Horse, original oil painting by Teresa Adaszynska of Spokane, WA

Teresa Adaszynska paints the magical moments

One moment, the landscape is grey and flat, almost forgettable.

But then, something very strange and yet very ordinary happens: the sun breaks through, and everything changes. This is precisely the place, the moment, and the emotion that artist Teresa Adaszynska looks for and paints.

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Blue Algae Creek, a magical moment in the country, original oil painting by Polish-born oil painter Teresa Adasznyska

“My eyes are always searching for an enchanted moment in nature,” the Spokane artist explains.

“Sometimes, a particular place I may have visited numerous times before may appear magical on the next visit due to extraordinary light and shadows.”

Born and raised in Poland, Adaszynska began her art career with contemporary abstract work. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1982, Adaszynska started hiking the western states in which she lived — California, Colorado, Washington — until a serious illness interrupted both painting and hiking. Upon recovery when she picked both up again, she found she wanted to paint differently than she had before.

The Magical Western Landscape

“The beauty of the western landscape inspires me, especially the light. It can transform even ordinary places into something magical and extraordinary.”

Recognizing that she needed different skills for representational painting, Adaszynska began a self-directed study program incorporating mentorships, workshops, and painting with fellow artists. For three years, she took formal classes in studio and plein air painting at the Art Students League of Denver, studying under Doug Dawson, Molly Davis, Joe Kronenberg, Terry Lee, and others.

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Encounter on the Trail, original oil painting by Spokane artist Teresa Adaszynska.

Adaszynska paints with a combination of plein air — setting up her easel and working outdoors — and studio techniques. She often begins a work by sketching directly onto the canvas, after she has mentally determined the composition by looking at large abstract shapes, light direction, and values. One of her most memorable plein air moments took place near Kenosha Pass, CO, on a day so magical that she knew she had to paint.

A Not So Magical Storm

“I was more than halfway through with my painting when the notorious Colorado mountain thunderclouds started to build,” Adaszynska remembers. “I do not like being outdoors where there are thunderstorms, so I started to quickly finish and pack up.

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Crossing Water. Any moment in which we see a moose in the wilderness is a magical moment. Original oil painting by Teresa Adszynska.

“The storm was coming very quickly with very dark menacing clouds, lighting and rain. I was very anxious to leave.”

While packing her car, Adasyzynska set the painting on top of her vehicle, and in the commotion of the moment, forgot it was there and drove off. It was only when she arrived at a place of shelter that she realized the painting was gone.

“After the storm was past, I went back to find it.

“I did find my painting, but of course it was completely destroyed.”

Although that was most definitely NOT a magical moment,

“I can laugh about it now.”

Describing her hiking excursions as “too numerous to count,” Adaszynska has taken reference photos of, and painted, the Colorado Rockies, Hollywood Hills in California, Yellowstone National Park, Sequoia National Park, Eastern Washington and Oregon, as well as New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, her native Poland, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. The animals she paints are those she sees on her hikes, although the time she encountered a mama bear with two cubs in the Flatirons near Boulder, CO, she was more interested in extricating herself from the situation than taking a family portrait.

“It was extremely frightening, but I cautiously moved forward out of their area as they just observed me.”

Western Art Collectors

A member of the Oil Painters of America, Adaszynska shows her work throughout the Western U.S. She participates regularly in the Western Art Association National Show and Auction (Ellensburg, WA), Heart of the West and Western Masters (Bozeman, MT and Coeur d’Alene, ID), and the Annual Spokane Valley Arts Council Art Showcase and Auction (Spokane Valley, WA). Collectors of her work reside throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Poland.

Light, camera, painting easel, and action: they join together to create vibrant color and magical mood. It is a mood, Adaszynska hopes, that reflects the beauty of the landscape around her, a landscape she never tires of being in. And while she is happy wherever she is painting, she likes it best when she is doing so outdoors.

“I have a separate studio space in my home,” Adaszynska says. “But I consider the majestic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest as my personal favorite studio.”

Wenaha GalleryTeresa Adaszynska is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 1, through Saturday, July 27 at Wenaha Gallery.

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.

 

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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“They” Speak, But She Ignores Them — Becky Melcher Paints Acrylics

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On the Fence, acrylic painting by Becky Melcher. She doesn’t worry about what “they” say when she chooses a subject to paint

In the back of our minds, “they” always speak.

Who “they” are is a mystery, but their voice — if we let it — dictates what we do, how we do it, and who we do it with. Call it peer pressure, societal norms, tradition, or propaganda from the advertising industry, all people feel it in some format or another, and how we deal with “them” impacts how we live our lives.

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Too Calm to Sail, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She paints what she wants and not what They dictate

“According to the rules, you are always supposed to have a plan, but my plan is constantly changing,” says Yakima fine art painter Becky Melcher, who has spent most of her life not listening to the voices of convention. During the 1970s, to pay for college in Los Angeles, Melcher got her pilot license and ferried airplanes between the Santa Monica and Van Nuys airports, but while she loved flying, she wasn’t so excited about where all her money was going.

“They” Say College; She Says, No

“College seemed to promise nothing, so I eventually quit and went to work for a law firm summarizing depositions. Back in the day there weren’t very many college paralegal programs, so this was learned on the job. I was self sufficient and independent!

“But as satisfying as that time was, I was fed up with Los Angeles. So I visited my aunt in Yakima, was spellbound by what I saw and never returned to California.”

She married, had triplets six months into her pregnancy, and eventually arranged to work from home, summarizing depositions for a local law firm. And when she could, she painted: representational landscapes during a time when abstract was the art world’s favorite child. After 40 years of being in the legal field — ranging from working for a government contractor making parts for nuclear submarines to administrating the business office of a private law firm — Melcher retired and threw herself full time into what she never had time enough for before.

“I have poured myself into learning and experimenting: the computer age and the Internet have afforded me great instruction on techniques, color, values, composition and the like.”

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Summer at the Farm. Yakima acrylic painter Becky Melcher creates landscapes from photo references as well as images from her mind

Finding that watercolor “doesn’t allow for change of mind,” and oils require more patience than she has, Melcher focused on acrylic paintings, with her favorite subject matter being landscapes.

Landscapes: They Draw You In

“They draw you into a story that the artist is telling — You can live in landscape paintings!

“They exude the life experience and the extraordinary world around us.”

Working out of what she describes as “a tiny office in my home — more tiny art studio than office,” Melcher has created a body of work welcomed in various area restaurants, wineries, and businesses, from which she makes brisk sales. Buyers have mentioned that they like the feeling and emotion of her works.

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Well Traveled Path, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She listens to her heart and mind before she pays attention to what “they” say.

“Most of my landscapes are out of my imagination,” Melcher explains. “I take a lot of photos. Not necessarily of scenes I want to paint but of skies or lighting that I especially like and want to incorporate into a painting.”

One of the next items on Melcher’s learning list is exploring the world of abstract, with the idea of incorporating it into representationalism. She aims to bring out the best of each.

“They” Don’t Define Art

“Abstract art is not what people think: I believe it is painting the essence of a subject, incorporating color and texture, but I don’t believe a red stripe on a white canvas or a black dot on a blue canvas is truly abstract art.”

“They” may disagree, but then again, Melcher isn’t concerned with them. Each artist, Melcher believes, is a unique individual, and must be free to paint in accordance with their heart, soul, skills, vision, and being. There is no room for an imperious, monolithic voice imposing its views upon the world, dictating what is, and isn’t art.

“I love reading what other artists have to say about their vision, journey, and focus of artistic endeavor,” Melcher says.

“I will always be an artist in training, because there is so much more to learn and try.”

Wenaha GalleryBecky Melcher is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 11 through Saturday, April 6 at Wenaha Gallery.

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.

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Physician and Artist — The Pastel Paintings of Kirk Campaña

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Japanese Garden, original pastel painting by physician artist Kirk Campaña of Eagle, ID

Although the terms “medical school” and “spare time” generally have nothing to do with one another, Kirk Campaña never let this get in the way.

Presently an urgent care physician in Eagle, ID, Campaña is also an artist. Recalling those grueling, grinding med school days, Campaña says that, despite the heavy workload, he recognized he was unhappy if not making art, so he somehow always found the time.

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Twisted Spring Moment, original pastel landscape painting by physician and artist Kirk Campaña of Eagle, ID

“No matter where my personal life, education, training, or professional career took me, I have found that I need to make art,” Campaña says. “While studying biophysics at UC Berkeley or studying medicine at UCLA, I found time to take art classes or make art on my own.”

An Artist before Becoming a Physician

From a child, Campaña has always liked to paint, draw, and build things, and as an adult his artistic portfolio includes pastel, oil, and watercolor painting, as well as steel sculpture.

“I think art is a universal tool that humans practice in order to process and understand one’s world and self,” Campaña observes. “Although all of us explore this in childhood, most individuals have given up this practice as adults.

“I never did.”

As a physician, Campaña draws upon his knowledge of human anatomy for his figurative painting and sculpture. As a family man involved in his daughters’ livestock 4-H projects — the family is raising its second steer, third generation of St. Croix sheep, and a dozen laying hens —  he expresses the beauty and complexity of the world through his landscape art. Nature in all her forms inspires him to spend time creating in his studios — a bonus room above the garage for painting and a shop attached to the house for sculpture.

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Butterfly, original pastel painting close-up of nature’s life by physician artist Kirk Campaña of Eagle, ID

“I have always found the form and function of the human body fascinating.

“I also find nature and the natural world beautiful, complex, and full of patterns and rhythms — similar to the human body.”

The Inspired Physician

Campaña is presently focusing upon pastels, a medium he describes as forgiving of mistakes and welcoming to experimentation. He enjoys the medium’s encouragement to tactile involvement, describing the joy of smudging and smearing pigment about with his finger and whole hand.

“I like being able to draw, smear, scuff, drag, and erase with graceful strokes or urgent percussion and repetition.”

The land around which he lives provides endless inspiration, and Campaña, never one to be still, discovers secluded copses and remote, quiet streams when he hikes or bikes through the region. Closer in, a series of landscaped gardens he has designed on his property find themselves highlighted in paintings. Sometimes he sketches or paints watercolor plein air, but mostly he prefers creating in his studio, based upon notes, reference photos, and the plein air sketches.

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Paintbrush Canyon, capturing the wild landscape of Idaho by physician artist Kirk Campaña

Through the years, Campaña has participated in various group shows and been accepted into juried exhibitions, and the most memorable took place the final year of medical school. Upon the urging of a surgical pathologist who taught at UCLA and was also an artist, Campaña entered his work in the Los Angeles Physician Artist Society annual art show and took Best of Show. Describing himself as “quite amazed and flattered,” Campaña marvels that the judge was a Los Angeles artist, not a physician.

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2012, Campaña has juried into the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts in Joseph, OR, where he has won awards for pastel and sculpture.

The Artistic Physician

With a “really basic goal” of conveying what seems interesting or meaningful visually, Campaña seeks to express, through his art, how he responds to his world.

“Beauty, complexity, rhythm, mystery, and surprise all make me feel alive and end up in my art (hopefully!).”

Keeping busy — whether it’s at the clinic, in the studio, with the family, or on the property fixing the fences that always need fixing — is its own form of inspiration, and Campaña never finds himself short of ideas for the next artistic project. What he’s always looking to find, as he did in medical school, is a little more time. But then again, he’s well practiced at finding the time he needs to do his art.

“As I spend more time on art, I discover more about myself, who I am meant to be and what I want to express as an artist.”

To purchase Campana’s work online, click here.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Kirk Campaña is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 4, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 30, 2018.  

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.

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Plein Air Magic — The Oil Paintings of Laura Gable

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Teanaway River, original plein air oil painting with a magical air, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

It’s easy to forget that, when we put something in the back seat of the car, it doesn’t go away.  Artist Laura Gable, however, never forgot what she set in the back seat, and when the time came to retrieve it, she readily and happily did so.

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Furrowed Fields plein air landscape oil painting, with a sense of magic, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“In college, I loved all my art classes,” the Kennewick oil painter says, “but they started to take a back seat when my family advised I follow more practical pursuits rather than art (which ‘didn’t make any money’).” So she switched her double major from Art and Accounting to Accounting and Data Processing, and entered a career as an accountant and auditor.

“The funny thing about it,” Gable adds, “is that when these business roles needed anything artistic done (posters, invitations), they came to me and I’d create them by hand.”

So, even though art was sort of in the back seat, it functioned in the capacity of back seat driver, ensuring that Gable always heard — and heeded — its voice. When a job layoff prompted Gable to retrain as a graphic designer, the art in the back seat settled into the passenger seat, and not many years later, took over the driver’s position as Gable turned to painting full time.

Plein Air Painting out of the Studio: It’s Magic, and Magical

Gable now works out of a studio in historic downtown Kennewick, maintaining hours “by appointment” because, on any given day, she is more likely in the field somewhere, painting en plein air, a French term which describes painting outside, as opposed to in the studio.

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Lone Pine plein air landscape oil painting, featuring a prominent tree and a magical atmosphere, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“I started doing it before all the Plein Air conventions and hub-bub started, and before everyone was doing it and it became the new buzzword, the new ‘golf,'” Gable says. “I thought I knew how to paint until I went outside, and it was like I had to start all over again.

“Painting outside is a constant learning experience, and nature is a consummate teacher.”

There is the weather — which isn’t always, and frequently isn’t — balmy; there are insects and crawling things and larger creatures and other living and unpredictable elements of nature; and there’s the light, which doesn’t stay conveniently in one place for hours on end. Plein air painting, Gable explains, requires that the artist stop and truly see, processing the colors before her eyes, and letting the brush speak with a few expressive strokes as opposed to many smaller, painstakingly detailed ones.

Expressive and Impressionistic, Magical Plein Air

“I want the work to be expressive and thus impressionistic without defining every blade of grass or every ripple. The eye does a remarkable job of filling in what I leave out if I just give the viewer enough information — in fact, I find it more intriguing when an artist leaves out details and can define something with a few strokes of the brush.

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Tranquil Waters, original plein air oil painting with a magical feeling by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

“It’s magic!”

As a longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Gable is intimately acquainted with unmagical grey winter days, which she finds aren’t as difficult to handle when she gets outside to paint. Once there, her increasingly trained eye sees beyond the grey to the subtle colors that are everywhere: lavenders within the clouds; bronzes and golds tucked among the sage of desert grasses; teals and aquas hanging around the steely blues of river water.

Also quite colorful is Gable’s painting clothing, most notably a parka she found on the clearance rack that, with every winter season, increasingly shows the colors of her craft.

Painting Nationally

A member of several prestigious, national artist organizations — including the Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, and Outdoor Painters Society — Gable shows and sells her work nationwide. Her awards roster includes Gold, Second, Director’s, Merit, Memorial, and Honorable Mentions, and her most recent accolade was garnered at a month-long plein air show at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale.

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Meadows and Cottonwoods plein air landscape, magical painting of trees in the field, by Kennewick artist Laura Gable

Her honorable-mention winning piece, Forest Whispers, was painted near Cascade Locks in the midst of smoke drifting down from the British Columbia fires, blanketing the atmosphere with haze. Coupled with the intense heat of a 100-plus summer day, it made for challenging, but ethereal, conditions as constantly shifting light revealed subtle nuances of alluring, dappled patterns.

“It was another magical moment spent painting,” Gable recalls.

Magical Beauty

That’s what painting is, Gable believes — both magic and magical — dependent upon the skill and soul of the artist to create work that is beautiful and has truth in it. She strives for a delicate balance of technical proficiency with informal spontaneity, the resulting work aiming to draw an emotional response from the viewer.

“I don’t have a political platform — I just want to represent the beauty that surrounds us.

“God is the ultimate creator: I show my impression of what has already been created.”

Wenaha Gallery

Laura Gable is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, November 20 through Saturday, December 16, 2017.   Gable will be at the gallery in person Saturday, November 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for a special show also featuring The Talented Trio, a family of artists from Kennewick.

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.

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Eclectic and Diverse — The Paintings of Todd Telander

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Russell Creek Fields, original oil painting by Todd Telander, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Flexible. Adaptable. Supple.

While these sound like requirements for a CrossFit athlete, they aptly describe the attitude of an artist, specifically, Todd Telander of Walla Walla.

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Red Vineyard by the River by Todd Telander

The painter and illustrator — who specializes in everything from commercial illustration to teaching art students from 10 to 80 years old — toggles back and forth between tasks with irrepressible fluidity, one moment brushing  oil-painted cows onto a loose, almost abstract background, the next finessing exquisite detail on a falcon for a birder’s field guide.

Telander, who completed a graduate-level program in scientific illustration at the University of California in Santa Cruz, has been combining two seemingly disparate disciplines — science and art — for the last 25 years. Working as a freelance artist on a national and international level, Telander has undertaken commissioned works for Greenpeace, the Maui Ocean Center of Hawaii, the Denver Zoo in Colorado, the University of Chicago Press, and the Golden Gate National Parks Association in California, among many, many others.

Travel research for commissions has taken Telander as far as New Zealand to study a Northern Gannet colony, as well as closer to home: the Puget Sound Islands to study Herring Gulls; the Rocky Mountains for elk; the Platte River of Nebraska for Sandhill Cranes. A longtime birder, Telander found that the research needed to accurately render images to the exacting standards of commercial clients translated well to other subject matter, and part of completing a commission may include fashioning 3-D clay sculptures of the subject to see how light will fall on an object from different angles.

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Pinot Gris by Todd Telander

It requires precision, attention to detail, and a scientific mind.

But other times, as Telander approaches his fine artwork of representational yet impressionistic landscapes, malleability and elasticity elbow their way to the forefront, resulting in paintings that are spacious, airy, soft, and textural, with sweeping brushstrokes and an eye for light, movement, and emotion.

“If my art makes a statement, it is up to the viewer to decide,” Telander says. “But for me I promote peace, contemplation, beauty, and solidity, and I suppose I like to share my vision of these things with others.”

Telander finds inspiration from the natural world, and since moving to the valley 13 years ago with his wife, Kirsten, Telander has explored an area that he says felt immediately like home, because it reminded him of his hometown of Chico in Northern California: he loves the open space, the agriculture, nearby mountains, and college town atmosphere.

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Behind the Tree by Todd Telander

“There is an astounding amount of visual interest here,” he says.

Locally, Telander has worked with various wineries in creating labels for their runs, and images of his paintings grace bottles from Goose Ridge, Woodward Canyon, Figgins, Dowsett Family, and Seven Hills. He has also, through commercial commissions as well as the unavoidable interaction with them in a rural setting, developed a fondness for cows. An especially arresting piece is Cows in the Snow, featuring a lone figure separated off from the herd, staring boldly into the face of the viewer.

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Cows in the Snow by Todd Telander, original painting, sold

A typical day may find Telander out in, literally, the field, sketchbook in hand, then back to the home studio — “A wonderful space with skylights, a cement floor, an antique curved-glass bookcase, and French doors leading out to our garden” — where he guides that session’s 6 or 7 students through the intricacies of classical, representational painting of still life, landscape, and portraiture. Then it’s off to Colville Street in Walla Walla for some time at the Telander Gallery, which he and Kirsten opened in 2013.

Telander licenses his work through McGaw Graphics of New York, and his original work resides across the continent.

“I appreciate each and every collector,” he says. “One of my more meaningful sales was a painting of Sandhill Cranes to Estelle Leopold, the daughter of the famed writer and conservationist Aldo Leopold,” considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology, and instrumental in the founding of the U.S. wilderness system.

Awards for Telander include first place and Best of Show at the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts (Joseph, OR); and the Pendleton Center for the Arts; as well as a an Artist in Residency at Rocky Mountain National Park and a scholarship to study under master painter Ray Vinella at the Taos Institute of Arts.

But while awards and acclaims are gratifying, Telander muses, they are in the end only temporary.

It is the work that matters: inspiration, light, atmospheric effect, the reaction of viewers and clients. These have staying power.

“I work to continue providing provocative, inspiring work at every step.”

Wenaha Gallery

Todd Telander is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 10 through Saturday, May 6, 2017.

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.