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Time to Paint, Timelessly — Impressionism by Lori Pittenger

flowers floral bush fruition season time pittenger impressionism painting landscape

Fruit, flowers, and paintings bloom at their right time. Fruition, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA

 

Do you remember when you last thoroughly, completely, and absolutely lost track of time?

When was it that you were so absorbed in the task at hand, so utterly involved in what you were doing, so deeply immersed in the moment, that you looked up and were surprised to find that hours flew by in what you thought were minutes?

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Every Good and Perfect Gift, original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

For Lori Pittenger, that would be . . . yesterday. Or even this afternoon. The Ellensburg, WA, painter is so untrammeled by time that when she sits at her easel, paintbrush or palette knife in hand, she enters a state of such intensity that she is physically tired, and yet energized, when she is done.

“I love pouring myself into something to express myself and ‘feel,’ always listening to music and painting for hours at a time,” Pittenger says. “I lose myself in it.”

Taking Time to See

Inspired by landscapes, by concentratedly looking and seeing the colors and light in nature, Pittenger works two to three days straight to take a painting from first brush stroke to last. The process of being present in the painting process, she explains, begins with the first few strokes of paint on the canvas.

“After I have loaded my palette, I take a deep breath and know that I am beginning a journey in which I will lose all sense of time and what is going on around me.

“I have committed in my mind to devote an uninterrupted time to focus on what I am creating, really seeing the scene evolving as if I am in the scene: mixing the paint, feeling the brush in my hand, the sound it makes as it strokes the canvas, even the smell of the paint.”

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Golden Beets, impressionism original oil painting by Lori Pittenger

The View Stays the Same, and Changes, with Time

She works in a spacious room in her family’s ranch house where large windows overlook the pastures of Kittitas Valley and its surrounding mountains. There is a sense of peace and well being, integrated with an inherent excitement derived from a view that stays the same, yet changes with weather and seasons. She looks up to look out. When she tires at the easel, she steps away from the painting and returns with fresh eyes. Throughout the process, she photographs the work in progress, especially as it nears completion.

“I view the photo, and it almost always every time reveals something that I hadn’t seen before.

“Sometimes it’s a little something to blend out or fix, but often it’s something surprising or magical that happened unintentionally — like a little glow glimmer or shape that makes me smile with wonder.

“Being fully present while painting opens not only my eyes, but also my mind, to really seeing.”

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Lavish Sunrise, original oil painting landscape with water by Lori Pittenger of Ellensburg, WA.

When Pittenger isn’t intently reviewing her own work, she curates the paintings of others. An artist member of Fine Art America, the world’s largest online art marketplace, Pittenger manages the Impressionism group, which receives hundreds of submissions every week submitted by its more than 500 members. It is her job to winnow those numbers down while giving all members an opportunity to be featured, and arrange the varied artwork into a pleasing gallery wall for visitors and potential buyers to peruse. She also advises members on everything from how to crop images to watching out for copyright infringement. In her “spare” time, she hosts contests on the site.

A Time of Concentration

It makes for a long, concentrated day. But every hour of it, every minute, packs intensity and movement, as does the art that Pittenger creates.

“My paintings always have a deeper meaning that flows out as I am composing and painting,” she says.

“The title and thoughts about life that I get from each artwork fall into place as I finish each piece, and I love writing about them.”

Her day begins and ends with art, she observes. It makes for an excellent sunrise, and sunset.

“Art touches the soul, creates a mood and expresses often what words cannot.”

Wenaha GalleryLori Pittenger is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from November 3 through December 31, 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 Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

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Horse and Cattle — The Oil Paintings of Tanna Scott

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Rodeo Bull, original Western Art oil painting by Kennewick painter, Tanna Scott

More than once, when artist Tanna Scott has shown her horse and cow paintings at an art festival or show, someone begins to cry.

The first time this happened, the Kennewick Western Artist was befuddled and perplexed. But she’s gotten used to it, and nowadays, when a viewer stands in front of one of her works and weeps, she knows why.

“I paint with lots of emotion,” Scott explains. “I care about each painting.

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You can almost see the dust fly as two horses rear up in Tanna Scott’s original oil painting Two Horses.

“Usually, the painting has a story or the buyer comes to me with a story. Some stories are very emotional: the buyer associates the painting with a loved animal.”

A Horse That Was a Friend

One time, an impassioned viewer approached a horse painting and began to tear up. Scott walked over to talk to her, and together the two looked at the horse. The woman then told Scott about a most beloved horse that had just passed away. It looked exactly like Scott’s painting.

Another time, a man gravitated toward a painting of a roan horse. He told Scott that the horse in the painting was his dad’s horse.

“I replied the painting must look like his dad’s horse,” Scott says.  “He said, ‘That horse IS my dad’s horse!’

“He told me that he had to purchase that painting for his dad, who was very sick with cancer. His horse stands on the top of a hill each morning and looks down on the ranch.

“By that time, we were all in tears. I was so happy he was able to take the painting home to his dad.

“That painting has a home.”

While no one wants to provoke someone to cry or be sad, Scott recognizes the power of animals in people’s lives. Raised as an only child on ranches in Texas and California, Scott bonded early to horse and cattle. As a young child, she sat on the fence and drew what she saw. Later, when her dad took her to rodeos, she fell in love with the dirt and action, the grit and courage of the rodeo world, and continued to draw and paint. Every artwork, somehow, incorporates and integrates the world of the Cowboy:

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Stately and majestic, a longhorn cow stands bold and proud. Longhorn, original oil painting by Tanna Scott.

“With my oil paintings, I support the Cowboy way of life — Past, Present, and Future.”

Teaching Art

For 25 years, Scott worked as a librarian and teacher at Eastgate Elementary in Kennewick, where she integrated art into her social studies curriculum. On the side, she taught art to students after school. Since retirement in 2017, Scott has added adult teaching to her schedule through the Kennewick Community Education program.

Scott has shown her work in various venues throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Western Art Association show (Ellensburg, WA); the Bonanza Art Antiques and Gourmet Expo (Pendleton, OR); and the Pendleton Cattle Barons Celebration Weekend.

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Purple Horse, original oil painting by Tanna Scott

She is a member of Cyber Art 509, a cooperative of artists from the 509 area code who exhibit their work in businesses throughout the area.

Describing her home as her studio, Scott paints on a table in her kitchen, and fills the walls with works that are drying. Sometimes, she runs out of wall space and leans a work on a chair, but that shouldn’t stop people from visiting.

“Just move the painting out of the chair and sit down.”

Emotion Connects the Viewer with the Horse or Cattle

It’s all part of life: animals, action, relationships, memories, and like life, there are happy moments and sad moments. But what matters, Scott believes, is emotion: it is the glue that connects the viewer with the artwork.

“When a buyer identifies with a painting — when it resembles their animal or reminds them of a wonderful memory of an animal — it means so much more to them. And to me.

“I paint with feeling and want the animals to have character.”

Wenaha GalleryTanna Scott is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 22 through October 19, 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 Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

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Paint-by-Number Treasure — Stored in a Box and Now Framed

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This Paint-by-Number kit started out in a dime store. It spent years in a box. Now it hangs in a special place on the wall of the granddaughter of the woman who painted it.

Life is fragile. None of us knows how long we will be on the earth. And, when the time comes to leave, we frequently leave behind unfinished projects.

Kindergarten teacher Kelley Hubbard has a literal visual of this concept — a partially completed paint-by-number landscape worked upon by her biological grandmother, Betty Nelsen, in the 1950s.

“My Grandma Betty passed away from the effects of nephritis in February 1957, leaving behind two little girls, a husband, and many loved ones,” the Walla Walla, WA, Berney School teacher says. “A couple years later, my Grandpa remarried — this is the woman my cousins and I know as Grandma (Shirley) Nelsen.”

Recently, when Hubbard’s Grandma Shirley was downsizing, she went through the many boxes of stuff people tend to accumulate through the years.

Found in a Box

“Thanks to cell phones, the texts and images came at a steady pace for a couple of weeks as they asked if anyone would like things that Grandma Shirley was ready to let go of,” Hubbard remembers.

“In the process of sorting and packing all of her belongings, an image of this incomplete paint-by-number picture by Grandma Betty came through the text thread. My Mom and Aunt suspect this was a project their mom was working on while ailing from kidney disease.

“Grandpa likely thought this was a project she could work on despite having low energy.”

Hubbard jumped onto the painting as one she wanted in her own home. A creative herself, Hubbard — who sews, crafts, and knits — maintains a collection of artwork and creations made by the various members of her family.  These include woodworking, ceramics, needlework, paintings, stained glass, quilts, and garments.

“While I know that this paint-by-number is very likely an item purchased at a dime store, I can’t help but think of my grandma as she was painting it, knowing that she was so unwell and that her time with her family was limited.

“Her health and endurance, I imagine, is what left it incomplete.”

A Memento of Past and Present

Wanting to preserve a treasured memento of her past and present, Hubbard brought the artwork to Wenaha Gallery in Dayton. There, she spent a pleasurable time choosing mat colors to match, enhance, and draw out the colors of the painting. Framer Savonnah Henderson then assembled the mat choices and frame into a completed custom framing package. Interestingly, Hubbard feels, the paint-by-number’s very incompleteness adds to its totality and meaning.

“This will hang as a centerpiece on my fireplace mantle, flanked by a set of ink drawings from Grandma Betty’s father, Thorvald Heden,” she says.

“An unfinished dime store purchase has become something quite special to me some 63 years later.”

Wenaha GalleryIn addition to showing and selling fine art — originals and prints — Wenaha Gallery custom frames using conservation quality and acid-free materials. We design both in-house, at the gallery, and online via email and phone.

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.

moose wildlife animal western art james reid

Wildlife Wonder — The Western Art of James Reid

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Moose in Early Morning Light, a wildlife moment original oil painting by James Reid.

When wildlife artist James Reid first picked up a brush, it wasn’t to paint an elk or moose. He painted a sign.

“My first year out of high school, I got a job at the PayLess Drug in Pasco (WA) painting signs. When I returned to Walla Walla that spring, I went to work for the PayLess Drug in downtown Walla Walla working in the camera department and painting signs. That was in the early 1960s.”

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This particular fox, Reid says, laid down to nap in Yellowstone Park, out in the open and around a crowd of people. Original oil painting by James Reid.

The Boise, ID, painter, who retired in 2007 after a 42-year career with PayLess in advertising and management, always wanted to be an artist. He started with pin striping cars in high school. Then he went into commercial layout and design. And then he jumped into fine art after taking the Famous Artists Course, which was created by 12 successful commercial artists in the 1948, including Norman Rockwell and Albert Dorne.

“By the time I finished, I was painting Western oil paintings,” Reid says.

Thousands of Wildlife References

He turned to full time painting upon retirement, and works out of a spare bedroom converted into his studio. Using thousands of his own reference photos, he has traveled to Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier Parks since 1988. He describes the process of getting the references just as satisfying as the painting of them.

That first year to Yellowstone, 1988, set a high bar for all the years to follow:

“It was the year of the Yellowstone fires,” Reid remembers.

“We got there the first day that they reopened the park, and there was wildlife everywhere! The fires had forced them down from the timber and into the open.

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Standing in the sunlight, a bull elk is wary of sound and predators. Cautious Look Back, original oil painting by James Reid.

“We enjoyed that trip so much that we have returned for a week in Yellowstone every year since. That’s 32 years (32 weeks) of studying and photographing wildlife in Yellowstone. We keep returning for the wildlife.

“Every year it’s different, and we never know what we’ll find.”

Used to People

According to Reid, the wildlife in Yellowstone is used to people and not as bothered by “a guy with a camera.” For other areas where the animals are shyer, he relies upon 300, 400, and 500mm lenses to keep his distance. At one time, when Reid used to hunt, he would take his camera with him in his backpack and take advantage of being in the hinterlands.

“My hunting buddies would sometimes make comments when they saw me with my camera out and not my gun. Oh well, I still have all those photos, even if you can’t eat them.”

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Two horses walk gently through the woods in Indian Summer, original oil painting by James Reid.

Reid, who took an art class at Walla Walla High School with David Manual when they were both students, credits the nationally known sculpture artist for encouraging him to foray into the Western Art world. Reid participates in the Out West Art Show and CM Russell Auction, both in Montana, every year, and has also done well at the Ellensburg National Western Art Show (he was chosen poster artist in 2015); the Spirit of the West Show in Cheyenne, WY; (awarded Best of Show); and Paint America Top 100 Show (juror’s award).

Back with the Gems

And lately, since retiring and going into full time wildlife artist mode, he has added another item to his list:

“I’ve taken up guitar again and reunited with the Gems, a popular rock group in Walla Walla in the 1960s.”

Life is full, and busy, and never, ever boring.

“I am forever learning and amazed at new things I learn, almost with each painting.

“I will always be learning and improving technique, design, and skills.”

Wenaha GalleryJames Reid is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 29 through July 24, 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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Acrylic Pour Magic — Brother & Sister Create

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Colors shift and change with the light in Kristen Hanafin’s acrylic pour jewelry.

As anyone with a sibling knows, brothers and sisters agree on some things, and don’t on others. That’s the magic of family.

For acrylic pour painters Kristen Hanafin and Matt Harri, they work separately — she in her College Place studio and he in his Walla Walla one — but are constantly sharing ideas back and forth. The media itself is fascinating, employing a wide variety of techniques that invites experimentation.

“A major benefit of pours which also relates to its challenges is the versatility,” Hanafin says. “It is really only limited by your imagination.”

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Colors ebb and flow with fluidity and grace in Matt Harri’s abstract acrylic pours, such as Blue Yellow Green.

Hanafin had been interested in acrylic pour for years. It wasn’t until her brother mentioned that he was doing it, however, that she jumped into it herself.

“I invited myself over for a lesson and was instantly hooked!”

She got into making jewelry shortly after, as a means of expanding the variety of ways pour painting can be expressed.

“The jewelry making is extra special because I recycle the leftover paint from canvas pours, so there is less waste, which is something I always try to be conscious of.”

No End to Creativity

What to make is almost as unlimited as how to make it. Hanafin creates earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in acrylic pour, along with key chains, hair pins, book marks, note cards, and notebooks. Meanwhile, her brother plays with sparkle and shine in his acrylic pour paintings, some of which use white space as part of the design, while others completely cover with paint. There is a sense of fluidity and movement, a burst of color that ebbs and flows through the substrate.

And though the images are abstract, the human imagination is quick to do what it does best: imagine. One image looks like a planet in outer space, another like waves on the seashore. In still another, there is a sense of clouds in the sky.

In addition to sharing an interest in the same artistic medium, the siblings also share another important element: they are nephew and niece to Ed Harri, the late co-owner of Wenaha Gallery, and Pat, his wife and current owner.

“Ed loved color and creativity,” Pat says. “He found acrylic pour to be a unique and unusual expression of both. He would have been pleased to see Matt and Kristen’s work at the gallery, and I am pleased for him — and them.”

Wenaha GalleryKristen Hanafin and Matt Harri are the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 8 through June 27, 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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Road of Life –The Acrylic Paintings of Mary Soper

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An old road, that once used to be a new path, surrounds a country cabin. Cabin with a View, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

Life isn’t static. We may start out on one road, heading to a particular destination, and by the time we’ve lived for awhile — say, 90 years — discover that we have been to all sorts of unexpected places.

Such has been the journey for Mary Soper, who spent 23 years teaching art in the Prescott (WA) School District and Pioneer Middle School (then junior high) in Walla Walla, and finishing out as the head of the art department of Garrison Middle School (then also called junior high).

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The road leading to it is covered by wheat, but the memories remain. Barn in the Blues, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

But a bit prior to that, she competed in the Miss Washington Pageant, as Miss Grays Harbor, in 1949. That gave her scholarship money to attend the University of Washington where she enrolled as a drama major, quickly switching to business and interior design when she discovered that while the world of theater was beautiful, it was not her world. She subsequently worked as office manager of a furniture store, at a telephone company, as payroll clerk at a milling company, then accountant and secretary to the Walla Walla County Engineer.

A Change of Road Direction

After 11 years at the last job, she decided it was time for a change — a big change. She returned to school for her teaching certificate in art and history. This particular path twist brought fine art seriously into her life.

“I started painting a little while I was teaching,” Soper recalls. “The kids I worked with were so creative that it made me want to explore more.

“I read somewhere, ‘We begin to learn when we begin to teach,’ and this is so true, at least for me.”

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A trusty old pick-up rests in a field, possibly in an abandoned, overgrown road. Old Blue, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper.

She discovered acrylic painting, a medium she connected to immediately upon studying under a visiting professor from the University of New Mexico. Later, she traveled to the United Kingdom for a six-week study abroad program entitled, “Design Resources from London.” Returning with hundreds of reference slides, she embarked upon painting in earnest, never running out of ideas because, when she wasn’t working on a scene from London, she looked around the Pacific Northwest and found continuous inspiration.

“With the collection of photos I have, it is never difficult to decide what I want to paint. It is more difficult to determine which one I want to do next.

“When I start working on a painting, it will often suggest another one, so I guess you could say I work within a theme.”

On the Road to Creativity

Through the years, Soper exhibited her work extensively throughout the Walla Walla Valley, especially at the Carnegie Art Center when it was still extant as an exhibition venue. She has also shown at the Russell Creek Winery, Walla Walla Little Theater, Darrah’s Decorator Center,  Williams Team Homes Realtors, and the Walla Walla Country Club.

Working out of her studio in an insulated garage (“When my little heater can’t keep it warm enough, I put down a tarp in my den and that takes me through the cold weather”), Soper describes herself as both a realist and a perfectionist. She loves old buildings and landscapes, often trying to visualize the people who, in the past, inhabited the space, visited it, or wandered through.

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Stopped on the road in front of an old, abandoned stone building, a wagon invites the viewer to stop as well. 1812 Trading Post, original acrylic painting by Mary Soper

“When I saw an old blue pickup in the bushes beside the road, I started wondering, where has it been and what was it used for? Did children or pets ride in the bed of the truck?

“An old combine made me think of how hard it had to work in the sun. Why was it left where it was?”

Commissioned to Paint

Many of her paintings start as commissions for people who have seen her work. With these, the story of the person commissioning is as intriguing as the pieces they commission.

“My painting, Music in Park — a painting of the park bandstand — was purchased by a mother for her daughter in California. She bought it because her daughter swung on the low hanging branch of the Plane Tree when she was a child.”

Old Oasis Barn found a corporate purchaser at the former Frontier Savings & Loan. Harvest made its way to the Senior Center. The Old Wallula Shack was commissioned by a woman, originally from New Zealand, who wanted a color painting from an old black and white photo.

Continuing on the Journey’s Road

“I think viewers look at my work and it tells a story to them based on their experiences,” Soper says.

“I really enjoy creating something that the people who commission it love.”

For a while, Soper took a break from painting, but she is back at it, inspired ironically by an element associated with this article.

“When I started reading the articles Carolyn (Henderson) writes in the Marquee, I thought maybe I should start painting a little more, even though I am in advancing years.”

And so she continues on her journey . . .

Wenaha GalleryMary Soper is the featured  Art Event from January 13 through February 8 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. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

quiet country photography landscape barn luann ostergaard

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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Old, Bold, and Beautiful — Pickup Trucks by Randy Klassen

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Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

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Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

Plein air painters get used to all sorts of weather. Because of the nature of their studio — outside, in the plain air — they operate without a roof over their heads. Unless, of course, they choose to bring one of their own.

“During the Paint du Nord Quick Draw competition in Duluth, MN, we painted in a huge rainstorm,” watercolor artist Jan Vogtman remembers. “The competition lasted two hours, exactly — they blow a horn to start and stop.”

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Bob’s Pond, plein air landscape painting by Jan Vogtman.

Told to paint what she saw, Vogtman took the challenge literally.

“My painting shows all the artists painting around me with colorful umbrellas.”

Another time, the Troy, ID, painter joined three plein air artist friends out in the wilderness, keeping watchful eye as a memorable storm took an hour to build up.

“When the wind and rain came, we huddled in the car, ate lunch, and had a few beers. But the storm had no intention of stopping anytime soon, so we gave it up and went home.”

Even Vogtman’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had its moments. While the weather was grand during the Andy Evansen watercolor workshop she took there with a friend, sunny skies disappeared on the way back.

“We got stranded in Seattle during the Big Blizzard and got home two days later than planned.”

Not Just the Weather

Weather inconsistencies, however, are so much a part of plein air painting that one comes to accept them as constants. So is the issue of travel. Because landscapes do not transport themselves to the artist’s studio, it’s up to the artist to transport herself. And for Vogtman, who lives on Moscow Mountain, four miles from the nearest city of Troy (population 600), getting together with plein air artist friends for an afternoon of painting often involves significant time in the car.

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Exhibit Bee, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“Because I live rural, my travel time is normally one hour each way.”

Vogtman discovered watercolor 24 years ago while working at the University of Idaho. Side by side with students barely out of high school, she took as many university level art classes as she could while maintaining a full work load. Plein air she discovered in 2009, and since then has competed in regional plein air competitions as well as the event in Duluth. She is a member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, the Idaho Watercolor Society headquartered in Boise, and the Northwest Watercolor Society in Seattle.

All A’s in Art, Not Math

And while art is something she was interested in from a very early age, it was not something she was able to focus on until she was an adult and had a “real career” in the business and academic worlds. That’s just the way things were when she was growing up, even though all her A’s in school were in art, and not math.

Vogtman recalls the time she entered a drawing competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Art Institute in her hometown.

“I was maybe around 12 years old — and when I saw this competition in the newspaper, I entered. I think the amount of the prize was $250, which had to be used for classes.

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Palouse Falls, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“My parents could not afford to send me then or at anytime for art education. I was told I could not collect the award.”

She went to school to become a secretary. In a career spanning 36 years, Vogtman worked up to Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Northern Europe for the Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, and later, upon moving to Idaho, served as the Coordinator of the Executive Speaker Series, reporting to the Dean of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. On retiring in 2000, she challenged herself to dive into the art world, returning to the passion of her childhood.

The Hobby That Became a Business

In addition to plein air, Vogtman paints in her studio, a daylight basement of her home where furry forest friends peek through the window and watch. Most recently, she has added teaching workshops to taking them herself, conducting an introductory course for 20 students at the Center for Arts and History in Lewiston, ID. She has had a studio at the Artisan Barn in Uniontown, WA; earned her merit membership with the Idaho Watercolor Society upon being juried into three annual shows; and served as treasurer of the Palouse Watercolor Socius.

What started out as a hobby has become a business. And what’s perfect about that is how the non-art experience blends and melds well with the brush work of paint.

It’s unexpected, and not something that could have been predicted when she exchanged an art scholarship for business school. Life, though, like weather for the plein air painter, is never static. The best stories — and often paintings — involve the stormy days.

Wenaha GalleryJan Vogtman is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 24 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.

 

 

 

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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