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Life Is Made for Living — Cat Paintings by Steph Bucci

cat life romance love kiss hug feline steph bucci art watercolor

Life is about relationships with one another. Cat Kisses, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Some people say life begins after high school. Others insist it really begins after retirement. But life, which goes on whether we choose to jump into it with joy or not, progresses forward when we move, learn, breathe, experience, get out, experiment, turn off the TV, take chances and just plain, well, live. When we wait, and wait, and wait, we don’t get to the things that we really want to do.

And that’s a waste of human creativity.

Artist Steph Bucci discovered this years ago when she found herself repeating the same sentence to her husband, Bud:

“When we retire . . . I want to learn watercolor.

cat dance life joy balance watercolor steph Bucci

Life is a dance that teaches us to balance. Cat Dance, original watercolor painting by West Richland, WA, artist Steph Bucci.

“I don’t know why I relegated the idea to a retirement pastime, or what kept me from pursuing it earlier.”

Why Wait? And Wait, and Wait?

But life, which was moving forward, invited her to join on the journey. With retirement far off in the horizon, she found herself with a home decor project to complete now.

“We felt some existing artwork no longer worked as well in its space.

“When costs for a replacement piece seemed high, Bud — always my great encourager and steady ally — said, ‘I think you can do it!'”

She did some research, bought paint, experimented on 4×6 practice canvases. She made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and kept at it. Little realizing how different working on mini-canvases is from the 42 x 60 piece she was aiming to create, she refused to give up. Eventually, she finished the project, successfully.

“The painting still hangs in the living room, and my long-term desire to try watercolor was launched.”

A self-motivated student who learns best by reading and imitating, Bucci has worked in watercolor, batik watercolor, mixed media, colored pencils, markers, and acrylics. Describing herself as a minimalist, the West Richland, WA, artist paints out of a studio consisting of a small desk in her guest room, a couple shelves in the closet, and a petite, highly portable pochade box she made from two wooden cigar boxes, which hold her limited paint palette of eight colors, plus a tube of white gouache.

Small Space, Big Living

In this small space she works on big things, including illustrations for two children’s books about a rescued Golden Retriever named Gus. The first book in the series won three awards, including the Royal Dragonfly and Moonbeam, recognizing exemplary work in both editorial content and illustration.

Pinks cat mouse flowers friends feline watercolor art steph bucci

In many of her cat paintings, Steph Bucci incorporates a small mouse with and around the cat. Pinks, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Bucci approaches each project, each new technique, with an energy that carries her through, up, and over the learning curve. For a year, she focused on stylized cat paintings, experimenting with subject matter and composition, and incorporating, in many of the images, a small mouse.

“My dad’s pet nickname for me as a child (I’m petite) was ‘Mouse,’ or ‘Miss Mouse.” Early on in my painting experience I decided to include a mouse in my cat images as a pointer to that dear memory.

“The Mouse doesn’t make an appearance in 100% of the paintings, and her shape and style vary, but she’s getting more consistent. She embeds a touch of ‘Father’s Love’ in my images in a way I experienced it as a child.”

cat mouse life abstract friends together collage steph bucci watercolor feline art

Cat and mouse in the game of life — Cat Mouse Abstract, original watercolor painting by Steph Bucci.

Indeed, in all her work, the image of a Father’s love is always in the background. It is what inspires her to create, with everything she creates, beautiful things that are to be used and enjoyed.

A Father’s Love, and Creativity

“I believe appreciation of beauty and creativity is placed in all human beings by our Creator . . . and that it pleases Him when we use the abilities He’s given to express His creation in a meaningful way.

“I also think it pleases Him, as it does me, when I try to develop skills of expression. He enjoys my practice and my outcomes, and He’s really the source of all the creativity and skill.”

And no doubt He is also pleased that Bucci has chosen to live her life, as opposed to just waiting things out, as she discovers more about the world she lives in when she continues to explore it.

“Painting has brought me into contact with a wonderful new world of friends, people who have enriched my life, amazed me with their giftings, and encouraged me to branch out,” she reflects.

“I am so glad my husband encouraged me to take the plunge into the art world.”

Wenaha GallerySteph Bucci is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 9 through April 5, 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.

 

 

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.

 

lavender light sun flowers heidi presse art

Stay in the Light: Lavender by Heidi Presse

lavender light sun flowers heidi presse art

It is a clear, sunny day outside, and the flowers reach up toward the light. Lavender, limited edition print by Heidi Presse.

In a dark place, where shadows reign, it is hard to see. Cockroaches and rats delight in such an environment, and those who don’t want to share their home with these pests do their best to bring light and air and space into confined, closed places.

Light, especially sunlight, is a golden treasure that no money can buy. And without light — especially sunlight — no money has worth. Light has a value that is priceless.

The artwork, Lavender by Heidi Presse, invites the viewer into a place of beauty and light, aromatic with the scent of blooming, purple flowers. The air is fresh. A mother and child, perhaps an older sister and younger one, stroll through the hedge rows, gathering blossoms in their baskets. There is a feeling of goodness, of rightness, of calm and peace, as the two women walk under the sun and feel the breeze on their faces.

There are no cockroaches and rats here, because this is not where they thrive. Under the light, which exposes all to its scrutiny, people are free to live and laugh, converse and sing, communicate and be together, enjoy the goodness and beauty that life — under light — offers.

Stay in the Light Where You Can See

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Lavender by Heidi Presse. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Heidi Presse are available at this link.

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

 

 

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

Community Giving — All Year Round

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

What is a community, really, but a family of human beings who share their resources? The Harvesters, by Steve Henderson

Life happens.

And while there are other, more expressive ways of voicing this observation — some singularly  inappropriate for the family newspaper — the intimation is the same: people lose their jobs, get sick, or have an accident, resulting in life not going on the way it did before.

art of peel chef painting ken auster

Food is a celebration, a necessity, and a gift. Art of a Peel by Ken Auster

When we learn of another’s pain, our common response as decent human beings is to feel a sense of sympathy, sometimes going beyond this to see what we can tangibly do to help our fellow humans in their distress. After all, we realize, the unexpected blows of life can hit any of us, at any time.

But sometimes, in our effort to keep our own world secure and safe (because who wants to feel that we can be hit, randomly, by a meteorite?) we probe and parse the issue:

“I bet he was texting too much at work. Maybe a little alcohol problem there, too, eh?”

“I heard she smoked a lot when she was younger. It was lung cancer, wasn’t it?”

“All those kids in the car making noise — it’s a clear case of distraction and not paying attention. Distracted driving is against the law in this state.”

We Are a Community of Family, and Families

And then, once we imagine a possible cause unlikely to mirror any in our own experience, we’re off the hook when it comes to feeling compassion, because, really, the person sort of deserved what they got. It’s tempting to assign a mental number to the tragedy — with 1 accorded very little sympathy because the person acted foolishly and really should have foreseen the consequences and 10 scoring high because this tragedy was in no way the person’s fault.

candleman winter fantasy snow james christensen

Things seem bleaker, and colder, in the winter, especially after the holidays. Candleman by James Christensen

But there are problems with this natural tendency to sort through our world and makes sense of it by classification, notably,

  1. We are not gods, and never, ever know the full situation, and
  2. Because we are not gods, we chronically, consistently, and masterfully make very human mistakes, many of which frequently do not — fortunately for us — result in our getting the desserts we “deserve.” But sometimes . . . they do.

A wise person once said that the criteria we use to judge others will turn around and be used thusly on us ourselves, and if this is so, it is sensible to approach the misfortunes of others with compassion, understanding, thoughtfulness, and empathy — reactions we ourselves embrace with relief when undergoing our own trials.

Supporting Our Community

It is with this awareness that Pat and Ed Harri, the owners of Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, started an annual canned food drive at the gallery, with everything collected during the month of January dedicated to the Community Food Bank in Dayton.

“We purposely chose January, because during the Christmas season, there is so much focus on gift-giving and celebration that once you are over the seasonal holidays, people are almost burnt out,” Pat explains.

Canned food community drive wenaha gallery

It’s a sculpture of canned food, representing the bounty given by community members to the Dayton Food Bank

“But when it comes to helping people, this is a need that exists all year. And January can be a very cold, bleak month.”

Entering somewhere around its tenth year (Pat isn’t sure), the Annual Canned Food Drive regularly brings in some 500 pounds of food, spanning everything from tuna fish and diced tomatoes to artisan chocolate bars and organic sugar. The gallery collects it through the month and creates an artistic display, one that changes as new items are dropped off.

Having Fun Giving Back

“We’ve had several  people through the years who really get into the spirit of the giving,” Pat says. “They go shopping especially for our canned food event, and ask themselves — ‘What would I buy to put in my own cupboard?’ and that’s what they bring.” Others burrow through their pantries and gather largesse. All leave off their wares with a sense of satisfaction and joy.

It’s fun — and humbling — to see what arrives each day, Pat adds, and by the end of the month, what starts out as a trickle winds up as a flood. Before food bank volunteers arrive to cart the food away, the gallery staff enjoys setting up the totality and taking a photo, adding with it their own warm wishes to fellow community members who are going through a tough time.

“The cans of food that people bring in are gifts — gifts to people in our community who are having a hard time and need encouragement from others,” Pat says. “I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of the people in this area.”

Wenaha Gallery

The Annual Canned Food Drive is the featured Art Event  at Wenaha Gallery from Thursday, December 28 through Wednesday, January 31, 2018.  During this time, for every can or non-perishable item of food brought into the gallery, the giver will receive $2 off their next framing order, up to a total of 20% off. Additional cans brought in after the 20% maximum will apply toward a subsequent framing order.

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.

 

lael loyd savonnah henderson custom framers wenaha gallery

Update: Hello, Good-bye, Hello — Exciting Life Changes

update lael loyd savonnah henderson custom framers wenaha gallery

Framers Lael Loyd and Savonnah Henderson work together on a custom framing package

Life is never static.

At Wenaha Gallery, we are privileged to have, on our gallery staff, a professional team of associates who know art, and who love working with clients to bring that art into their homes. One of these associates is Lael Loyd, who has been with us for 12 years out of the 24 years that Wenaha has been in business.

update on lael loyd custom framer wenaha gallery

Custom framer Lael Loyd has graced, and blessed, Wenaha Gallery and its clientele for more than 12 years

We are excited to announce that Lael is entering a new phase of her life, moving to Port Angeles with her husband, Richard, where they are both expecting their first baby in the fall.

We are also happy to announce that Savonnah Henderson, daughter of gallery artist Steve Henderson, is stepping into Lael’s position as framer. Savonnah, who has grown up around art, artwork, and framing, has been apprenticing under Lael, who passes on her knowledge base, commitment to quality, and standards of excellence.

Lael, Savonnah, and Wenaha Gallery all move forward on life’s journey, with each day bringing promised of creativity and joy. We invite you to move forward with us!

We also would like to share with you a personal message from Lael:

Update: A Note from Lael Loyd

“As I write this, my heart overflows with joy and thankfulness. It is past time to give you an update on new adventures for myself and Wenaha Gallery.

update bold innocence girl at beach coast ocean steve henderson art painting

Life and adventure are big things. Lael Loyd heads to the coast to begin a new adventure in her life journey. Bold Innocence, by Steve Henderson

To begin, my husband and I will welcome our first child on October 19 or thereabouts. Baby boy was planned for and is eagerly anticipated and so loved. He moves and grows and has already brought us such joy. As our family grew, my husband took a closer look at his long hours and shift work, bouncing back and forth between night and day shift every 6 weeks, his on call times and supervisor responsibilities as well as the ever important pay and insurance financials.

“He knew he wanted to be a hands-on dad and provide well and found an incredible job with the Department of Natural Resources as a police officer, continuing his 11 1/2 year career in law enforcement. The closest opportunity was in Port Angeles so, we are making a move to the western Washington peninsula by the end of this month.

“Because neither of us are open to a 7 hour commute one way, August 19 will wrap up my 12 1/2 year journey here at the gallery as I begin a lifetime adventure as a full time, stay at home mom. What a privilege! My contact information will be available through the gallery and I’d love to stay in touch via email or text, especially if you would like to see photos of our lil man, once he makes his appearance.

Blessed by Your Friendship

Update Savonnah Henderson professional framer wenaha gallery

Savonnah Henderson takes over as framer at Wenaha Gallery, bringing insight from a lifetime exposure to the fine art world

“As I have talked to many of you these past weeks, I am reminded how incredibly blessed I am to know you and work with you and develop friendships over the years. My time at the gallery has been rich and full and my heart overflows with thankfulness for the opportunity to learn so much in an incredible place and town. I am excited to pass the torch to another who is finding such excitement in her work.

“Savonnah Henderson, daughter of the gallery’s own Steve Henderson, is taking over as custom framer and full time associate. In the time I’ve worked with and trained her, I am fully confident in her abilities and passion for learning. It has helped me to smoothly make this transition, knowing that she is capable, loves to learn, and is excited to be part of the Wenaha team and get to know you better.

“Thank you for your trust in me, your friendship, and the great times. I’ll take our conversations and laughter with me (along with several email addresses and phone numbers) so we can stay in touch. I don’t do goodbyes so I will say, ‘See you next time,’ and look forward to introducing you to the newest addition to our family. Thank you for your support and love. I couldn’t be happier to expand our family, see my guy so content and loving his work, and know that the gallery will continue on with the same incredible values and commitment to excellence since we opened, almost 24 years ago.

update savonnah henderson lael loyd framers at wenaha gallery

The art of life is art itself. Framers Savonnah Henderson and Lael Loyd work together on a project

See you later, my friends. If you ever find yourself near Port Angeles, I’d love to get together and take a walk along the pier.
— Lael Loyd

Say “See ya later to Lael,” and “Hello” to Savonnah

Lael’s last day at the gallery is Saturday, August 19, so please drop in to wish her the best, as well as meet and get to know Savonnah!