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happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Murano Glass — The Lampwork Jewelry of Venita Simpson

happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Happy Place, lampwork Murano lampwork glass beaded necklace and earrings by Richland jewelry artist, Venita Simpson

It started out as a palette full of wood and screws and instructions, delivered from Costco. By the time Venita Simpson had finished with it, however, the 80-square foot storage shed had turned into a fairy tale cottage, its inside painted cheery yellow, the path leading up to it bedecked with flowers, windows and glass door inviting in light and view.

desert sand necklace earrings jewelry murano lampwork glass beads venita simpson

Desert Sand, necklace and earrings set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring handcrafted lampwork beads from Murano glass.

“It’s a sanctuary to leave the world behind and become the artist I dreamed of being for a long time,” the Richland jewelry artist says of her DIY studio. A computer programmer for more than 30 years, Simpson turned to glass jewelry making in 2006 as a mental antidote to the rigidity required by high tech. Now retired from programing, Simpson spends uncounted hours in her studio sanctuary, fashioning her own one of a kind beads using Murano glass from Italy and a flame torch.

Lampwork Murano Glass Beads

Employing a technique called lampwork, Simpson melts the glass at temperatures reaching 1200 degrees. She then forms the molten glass into shapes by using tools and hand movements. The beads are then placed in a kiln to anneal, or gradually cool.

“Working with molten glass requires a steady hand, attention to detail, and a healthy respect for a 1200 degree torch,” Simpson says. “Mixing colors and chemistry of glass results in wonderful reactions in the glass.”

You only burn yourself once, she adds.

sandstone turquoise desert earrings necklace jewelry lampwork murano glass bead jewelry Venita Simpson

Sandstone Turquoise Desert, necklace and earring set by jewelry artist Venita Simpson of Richland, WA, featuring handcrafted, lampwork Murano glass beads

After creating a series of beads using lampwork from the Murano glass, Simpson assembles the finished pieces, generally consisting of necklace and matching earrings, in a spare room in her home. Seasonal colors drive her design and color choices, and she showcases the finished work at Girls Night Out parties in her own home of that of others.

Murano Beads at Girls Night Out

“I’ve sold my work at craft fairs, but I really enjoy explaining my process in a more casual setting,” Simpson says. “I love bringing people into my studio so they can see first hand how the glass is melted. Girls Night Out is a way to bring women together in my home, to enjoy each other’s company, network, and have a great glass of wine.”

The glass that forms the basis for Simpson’s unique accessories is made only in Murano, Italy, a Venetian island that has specialized in the process for centuries. The beads adorn not only the necks and ears of  varied clients — “I like to travel and have been known to sell my jewelry right off my neck to a flight attendant or two!” — but also those of children battling a serious illness, through a program called Beads of Courage at the Children’s Hospital in Orange County, CA.

dreamy blues necklace earrings murano lampwork glass beads jewelry venita simpson

Dreamy Blues, necklace and earring jewelry set by Richland artist Venita Simpson, featuring her handcrafted lampwork, Murano glass beads

“Each time the child goes in to receive a shot, an appointment, surgery, x-rays etc., they are able to choose a bead and add to their necklaces to show how each milestone gave them hope,” Simpson explains. “Some of these treatments were painful episodes, but each bead told a story of the brave children and their courageous achievement.”

Since moving from California to the Tri-Cities, Simpson has also donated her Murano lampwork glass beads to Beads Behind Bars at the Benton Franklin Juvenile Detention Center, which, in coordination with Allied Arts of Richland, provides incarcerated juveniles a creative outlet in learning to make jewelry.

murano glass lampwork bead jewelry necklace earrings Venita Simpson

Natural Wonder, necklace and earring set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring lampwork Murano glass beads

Right Brain Left Brain

In between her career in computer programming and retirement, Simpson took time off to earn her certificate in commercial and residential interior design, and for several years freelanced and did side jobs in a field that used what she calls the right side of her brain. But finances called her back to full-time programming, and her left brain demanded total attention. With retirement, her full brain joins with hands and heart as she enjoys the slower pace of the Pacific Northwest, four definite seasons, and freedom from corporate life.

“Programming makes you very rigid in that you have to test for every scenario, test for every system hiccup, and document each step,” Simpson says of her former life. “I was process oriented, following strict specifications to complete tasks, so it’s been challenging to come out of the box sometimes.

“But since retirement, I’m making great progress with my imaginative side of my brain. Using both sides of my brain has become an asset, firing up both burners, so to speak.”

It’s a jewel of an opportunity.

Wenaha Gallery

Venita Simpson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 13, 2018, through Saturday, September 8, 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.

 

dragonfly insect watercolor bright color painting suzi vitulli richland

Bright Color and Happy Dreams — Watercolors by Suzi Vitulli

dragonfly insect watercolor bright color painting suzi vitulli richland

Dragonfly, original watercolor painting by Suzi Vitulli of Richland, WA, celebrating bright colors and happy images.

Artists are their own worst critics.

Intense, determined, passionate, sometimes frustrated but obstinately tenacious, professional artists know full well what they are doing — most of the time.

“One of the favorite awards I ever received is the WSU Chancellor award for a painting that I threw in the garbage,” says watercolor painter and private art teacher Suzi Vitulli of Richland.

dewdrop morning abstract expressionist watercolor painting suzi vitulli

Dewdrop Morning, original expressionistic watercolor, celebrating bright colors and shapes, by Richland painter Suzi Vitulli

“My husband pulled it out and said he liked the painting. So I tried to see what he saw in the painting, and it spoke to me in a way that allowed me to add a few tweaks to complete it in a way that I felt improved it. I then submitted it to the Chancellor exhibit and won.”

From Blank Paper to Bright Color

It was an amazing experience, she adds. And a humbling one. For that matter, the very act of starting with a blank piece of paper and palette full of paint, and winding up with a finished, successful image, is a continuously amazing, humbling experience.

“People say that watercolor is the most challenging medium to learn and master, and maybe that’s why I like it,” Vitulli — who doesn’t remember when she first decided to be an artist because she can’t recall not wanting to be one — adds.

“It’s like a puzzle — you get to put together something colorful and create new sections of it, until this fabulous piece of artwork forms right before your eyes. At least, hopefully that’s what happens: sometimes a big muddy mess is formed, and that’s okay too, because I always learn from each experience when I paint.”

Layers of Color

Due to its transparent nature, watercolor does not take kindly to mistakes, Vitulli explains, because once an area is painted, it’s challenging to lift out the color, especially transforming a darker color into a lighter one. Because the viewer can see through the layers, it is difficult, if not impossible, to cover up errors. But that’s if the artist persists in calling them errors.

Fingers God country forest landscape suzi vitulli watercolor

Fingers of God, capturing sunlight and color in the forest, watercolor painting by Richland artist Suzi Vitulli

“So you ask yourself, ‘How can I incorporate this into my painting?’ and it becomes even more of an opportunity to be creative in the process.

“We call these, ‘flopportunities.'”

For Vitulli, flopportunities and opportunities abound, in both her own work and in teaching her skills to others, and the act of painting requires the entire brain, mind, and soul of the artist. To teach, which she does in regional workshops as well as at Richland Parks and Recreation and Kennewick Community Education, she depends upon analytical thinking, math, timing, and planning, while in the studio, alone behind the easel, she dampens relentless logic so that the creative side has its say. Maintaining balance is crucial.

nature abstract lichen watercolor painting suzi vitulli richland

Nature’s Abstracts, focusing on color and shape of the natural world, original watercolor by Richland artist Suzi Vitullli

“Finding inspiration is the most difficult part,” Vitulli adds. “Sometimes I feel like the paper is staring at me, waiting for me to do something, my mind feeling as blank as the paper.

“But then other times I have so many ideas I feel like I might explode, and I clamor to get them noted somewhere so I don’t forget them.”

64 Colors and More

Vitulli is an unabashed fan of color, describing how she entered heaven itself when, as a child, she received the iconic 64-pack of Crayola crayons. Initially in her adult art career, she created handcrafted jewelry, her designs selling at Nordstrom’s and other boutiques throughout five western states. Later, her designs were published in the Hot off the Press book, Fast and Friendly Plastic by Susan Alexandra.

After her kids were in school and she went to work as a secretary (“Not very artsy, I know, but there was a regular paycheck”), Vitulli dabbled in watercolor and quickly discovered that she had found her niche. Weaving between impressionism and expressionism, Vitulli explores texture along with strong color, with the ultimate intent of creating something beautiful and inviting, enticing the viewer to step in and take a closer  look.

Serene pond enhanced lilies water painting suzi vitulli

Serene Pond Enhanced, an abstract impressionist look at lilies and color on the water, by Richland painter Suzi Vitulli

She has sold her work throughout the U.S. and across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, and her accolades include creating posters for regional art, music, and wildlife festivals as well as a number of wins from the Eastern Washington Watercolor Society. An especial honor was a painting featured in the Splash Watercolor Series books, a juried display of work selected from entries by thousands of artists.

Living the Dream — In Full Color

With a personal motto of, “I’m in my ‘right’ mind and living my dream!” Vitulli’s goal with her art is not to make a political statement, but a rather more meaningful one:

“My art is about another very important issue — happy people and a happy society.

“My goal is to create beautiful, colorful, interesting and sometimes funny pieces of art, giving people a place to find a few moments to relax into the right side of our brains for awhile.

“It’s a mini getaway, so to speak, to give us balance in this crazy busy left-brained world we live in.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Suzi Vitulli is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 12, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 7, 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.

 

Ceramic leaf dishes by Jane Holly Estrada

Falling Leaves and Radiochemistry — The Ceramic Art of Jane Holly Estrada

Ceramic leaf dishes by Jane Holly Estrada leaves

A series of ceramic leaf dishes by Jane Holly Estrada sits atop a granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

In her day job, Jane Holly Estrada is a radiochemist, dealing with a concept — radiation — that many people rightly or wrongly associate with loooooooooong periods of time.

But when the white lab jacket is hung up at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the day, Estrada focuses strongly on the ephemeral, the temporal —  fleeting moments of transitory time in which she captures a moment in nature and transforms it into a state of permanence.

Gold bordered blue ceramic leaf (leaves) dish by Jane Holly Estrada

Gold highlights and a dotted border on an individual leaf dish by Jane Holly Estrada

Working in the field of ceramics, the Richland, WA, artist creates jewelry and shaped dishes inspired by the leaves of trees, but not just any leaves. Estrada’s window of time is a short one in autumn, after the leaves have fallen off the tree naturally but while they are still crisp enough to leave a literal impression upon clay.

“Each dish I make is created by pressing a real leaf into the clay and shaping it into a unique small dish, which is then painted with watercolor style underglazes,” Estrada explains.

“The dish is then glazed all over, fired, and painted with real gold and white gold accents.

“The final product is a mirror image of the now long-gone leaf, but embellished with swirls of color, texture, and metallic gilding.”

Set in a few clear sentences, the process seems straightforward and direct, but as with any area dealing with chemical and physical alteration — whether the matter has to do with art, science or a fusion of the two — things just aren’t that simple. Stuff happens.

ceramic and gold bead necklaces in blue and green by Jane Holly Estrada

Ceramic and gold bead necklaces in rich variants of blue and green, by Jane Holly Estrada

The biggest challenge of working with clay, Estrada says, is that no matter how careful the artist is during the process, there’s always a chance for the unexpected to occur. Work can crack if it dries too quickly, or even if it is gently bumped at the wrong time.

“Each trip through the kiln is a chance for cracking, warping, and even exploding,” Estrada adds. “Glazes can run, crawl, craze and drip — all things that can either ruin your work or make it amazing.

“Most of my pieces go through the kiln three to four times, each time a gamble.”

The upshot of it all is that even the most scientific of approaches can’t guarantee the outcome, but like life itself, that’s part of the challenge.

“The benefit is that if your work survives its creation process, it becomes a durable and lasting piece of art in a way that a more ephemeral piece of paper or canvas cannot compare,” Estrada observes.

A collection of painted rocks and mandala stones by jane holly estrada

A collection of painted rocks and Mandala Stones by Jane Holly Estrada

“Clay allows the artist to create a functional object that is equally an object of beauty.”

Estrada’s leaf-based clay dishes and jewelry imbue familiar colors of  forest, sky, and water– azure, turquoise, teal, beryl, emerald, verdigris, moss, jade — with gold and silver sparkle, resulting in an alchemy of Mother Nature with human skill and ingenuity. The finished pieces are delicate yet strong, possessing a tactility that encourages viewers to pick up, touch, hold, turn, brush, and feel.

Because each piece is fashioned from one single, unique leaf, Estrada’s artworks are literally one of a kind at the same time that they work well together as a set or a collection — in the same manner that leaves gather while retaining their individual attributes, as well as that of their creator.

“I am not a production potter, and I (like most artists) am not  looking to compete with the factories and big box stores,” Estrada says.

“My goal is to create small pieces of beautiful art that people can have in their daily lives. My jewelry is meant to be worn and the dishes to be used.”

Close up detail of glaze and gold luster of a ceramic leaf (leaves) dish by Jane Holly Estrada

Close up detail of glaze and gold luster of a ceramic leaf dish by Jane Holly Estrada

In addition to her ceramic leaf works, Estrada also paints mandala stones — smooth surfaced rocks embellished by a series of dots and color in a circular pattern. Estrada teaches the technique at Confluent, a non-profit organization in Richland that provides space and resources for community members to explore art, technology, and culture through community-based workshops and classes. She also participates in the center’s various art shows, and in the recent “Dreamers” exhibition won Best Overall piece in a public vote for her wood-substrate painting executed in the spirit of vintage post cards.

Incorporating art and science, temporal aspects and immutable, nature and fabrication, Estrada’s works are inspired by her love of water with its shifting shape, color, and ability to reflect light. And while she does not aim to make a statement, she believes that the final product is the statement itself, standing out for the time and detail that go into it.

“I’ve always loved science and trying to understand how the natural world works,” Estrada says.

“I believe that this shows through in my art.”

Wenaha GalleryJane Holly Estrada is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 30, through Saturday, February 25.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Public and Private Art — The Metal Sculpture of Joseph Rastovich

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Falling metal, flying shrapnel, punishing heat, blinding light, loud noises — it doesn’t sound like an artist’s studio, but then again, the making of Joseph Rastovich’s art doesn’t fit into a small space. The Kennewick artist, whose primary medium is fabricated sculpture in steel, designs wall art, furniture, and lamps, in addition to significantly sized public art pieces.

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

He started working with metal when he was 14 years old, after inheriting classic cars from both sides of his family.

“I had to learn metal work to fix these cars, and that quickly transformed into my art career,” Rastovich says. “I had a job as a dishwasher at a jazz and wine club during that time and spent my paychecks solely on metal working tools.”

Ten years later, Rastovich’s studio, which is primarily outside his home (“luckily all my neighbors like me and accommodate my unusual profession”), boasts a plethora of the specialty tools necessary for metalwork: welders, plasma cutters, air compressors, grinders, sheet metal roller, clamps, gantry cranes, vises, sandblasters, an oxyacetylene kit, and forklift among others. These are just the tools. Finding the supplies with which to create is another matter.

“Unlike most artists, when I go to an art supply store, there effectively is nothing I can use,” Rastovich says. “Instead, I source my materials and supplies from industrial stores such as steel yards, welding supply stores, and industrial paint stores.”

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

The son of two artists — LuAnn Ostergaard, whose box mounted art prints are sold to private and corporate collections nationwide, and Michael Rastovich, an artist of multiple mediums whose resume includes creating a float for the Portland Rose Parade — Rastovich was “unschooled” for much of his educational career, an experience that allowed him to pursue creative endeavors with full focus.

“Curiosity and awe is the foundation of which intelligence is built,” Rastovich says.

“I was free to study philosophy, learn quantum mechanics, create music, look at great art, witness the running of a business, build things, and commune with nature.” The result, for him, is a 21st century Renaissance Man who not only has a passion about everything, but is extremely fit.

“It is a very physical profession,” he explains, one of the reasons he calls himself a metal wrangler, complete with signature cowboy hat, that is, when the situation doesn’t require a hard one.

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

“Everything is heavy. Before I bought my forklift, half my time was spent just moving steel plate with pry bars, rollers, and blocking.” And while the forklift has made certain aspects of his job easier, it still isn’t . . . easy. Because the work takes place primarily outside, Rastovich finds himself in all types of weather, ranging from 120 degrees to 0 degrees, from full, blazing sun to pouring rain and falling snow.

Rastovich sells his smaller work through galleries as well as furniture, gift, and jewelry stores throughout the Pacific Northwest. His larger, public works are installed in parks, schools, business districts and hospitals in the Tri-Cities, Spokane, and Tualatin, OR. He also attends select art festivals, including the Sausalito Art Festival in California and the Bellevue Art Festival, both prestigiously difficult to get into.

“At art festivals, I often admire jewelers because their entire inventory fits in a suitcase,” he observes wryly. “I have had shows where I needed to bring a forklift. But alas! I enjoy the scale and gravity of my work.”

Visual art, he believes, is like a static form of music, and like music, has the ability to bring forth powerful emotions in the viewer, from tears to joy, from quiet contemplation to the impulse to dance. It is his goal that his own art, large pieces or small, bring on a sense of awe and inspiration.

“I create art to provide relief from normalcy.

“What was a bare wall of insignificance becomes a reason to stop and slow down.

“What was empty space becomes a place for inspiration.

“What was a normal average day can be transformed into a power memory, when one encounters art.”

Wenaha GalleryJoseph Rastovich is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, October 10 through Saturday, November 5.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

Timeless Fashion: The Functional Pottery of Rose Quirk

A curved, hand-built pottery platter by Rose Quirk, Wenaha Gallery guest artist from Richland, WA

A curved, hand-built pottery platter by Rose Quirk, Wenaha Gallery guest artist from Richland, WA

Human beings are not machines.

Sounds sort of obvious, doesn’t it? While the statement would make a fine social media meme — short, punchy, rhyming, and good for a share or two and 7.5 seconds of fractured reflection — it makes a point well  worth comprehending:

Human beings are not machines.

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

And when those human beings are artists, creating items with their very human, very skilled hands, the resulting craftsmanship is not designed to be found, shrink-wrapped, in a child’s meal.

“Each piece I create is unique, handmade, and even pieces that are part of a set can be different,” says Rose Quirk, a ceramic artist from Richland who specializes in functional wheel-thrown and hand built pottery.

“Mugs are slightly different sizes; the glaze on each piece is unique and has its own personality. This is both wonderful, and challenging.”

Consider, for example, a stack of dinner dishes, she adds. They must, and do, stack evenly, but part of their singular, unparalleled charm is that they do not look like precisely the same piece, eight times over. Before approaching the wheel, Quirk meticulously weighs out the clay, apportioning an equal amount for each item. One after another a plate is shaped on the wheel, guided by steady hands that, after more than 20 years, know what “feels” right. A ruler measures and confirms the final step. The resulting dinnerware, while close in size and shape, is far from being a clone.

Fractured Fish ceramic wall art by Rose Quirk

Fractured Fish ceramic wall art by Rose Quirk

“Because each piece is hand-formed, there’s not going to be that exactness that you get in commercial pottery,” Quirk explains. “There are ways to control it without using a mold, but you can’t control it exactly,” nor should this be the driving focus.

“You can go to Walmart and buy a mug for a dollar, but when you spend $25 or $30 on a hand-thrown mug, you appreciate the aspect of its being hand-thrown.”

Such attention to detail, in conjunction with an understanding that nothing is 100 percent predictable, reflect the duality of Quirk’s professional background: a biochemist who has worked for medical and pharmaceutical firms throughout the nation, Quirk concurrently pursued her interest in pottery. Upon moving to Washington State with her husband (“I think we’re here permanently, now”), Quirk focused her attention on the art side of things.

Interior and exterior views of large pottery serving bowls by Rose Quirk

Interior and exterior views of large pottery serving bowls by Rose Quirk

“Science and art have frequently gone hand in hand for me,” Quirk says. “There is a strong correlation between the visualization skills needed to see and understand chemical elements and molecules and the art of creating a three-dimensional piece of pottery.”

Precision, experimentation, observation, research, creativity — a host of elements come to play as Quirk works in her 500-square foot home studio, where half the room is devoted to throwing and firing clay (“This can be quite messy . . . “) and the other half is devoted to finishing, including the addition of embellishments such as collage and fiber.

With an eye on food an entertainment trends, Quirk combs through Pinterest for ideas, which she then transforms into signature, trendy pieces of timeless appeal: a delicately curved, hand-formed platter to hold hors d’oeuvres and finger foods; a shallow dish for creamy Brie cheese; a gently sloping, texturized serving bowl that looks as good everyday on the coffee table as it does in the middle of a holiday gathering. The glazes are rich, warm, earth-toned, and perpetually in vogue.

Celestial Dream ceramic wall art by Richland, WA artist Rose Quirk

Celestial Dream ceramic wall art by Richland, WA artist Rose Quirk

“My art is in kitchens all across the Mid-Columbia,” Quirk says. “It is to be handled, used and enjoyed every day.”

A member of the Allied Arts Association in Richland, Quirk is a longtime board member who serves as the Featured Artist Chairperson, responsible for setting up and managing the exhibits that rotate through the facility’s 1800 square feet of gallery space. In 2015, she was honored by receiving the coveted Szulinski Award, recognizing artists who have distinguished themselves by their excellence of craftsmanship in a three-dimensional medium.

Such recognition is always positive, but for Quirk, an even greater joy is the creation of her work,  melding science with art, and finding that harmonious balance of individuality with congruity. An achievement like this, she notes, is lasting success.

“It has always been my goal to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind, functional pieces.”

Wenaha GalleryRose Quirk is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, June 20 through Saturday, July 16.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery

Sharing the Studio with Dogs — The Watercolor Art of Jan Taylor

The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery

The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery

While initially, it may seem that there is little in common between four Dachshunds, the canals of Venice, and the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, it all makes sense to watercolor artist Jan Taylor.

White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Taylor, who has traveled on every continent, paints what she sees, and while she is devoted to one artistic medium, she allows herself the freedom to paint any subject, from safari animals to florals, from antique still life to portraits of Dachshunds which Taylor, by close association, knows are rarely still — or quiet.

“We own three and a half Dachshunds,” Taylor says, her own voice expressing wonderment at the quantity. “One of them is a cross — he doesn’t care, and he thinks he’s quite superior to the girls.”

The “girls” are Lucy, Debbie, and Scarlotte; the mutt is Oliver Twist because he was a foundling, and all four have been featured in paintings by Taylor. Lucy was painted on a cloud with a glittering necklace adorning her neck (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”); the entire menagerie found itself in “The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux,” a whimsical nod to primitive cave art that caught the eye of a collector in Coeur d’Alene.

Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Apparently, Taylor is not alone in her attraction to small, self-confident, yappy (her own observation) animals, as every painting she has created of Dachshunds has found a happy owner.

“I’ve never had more than one dog before,” Taylor muses. “It’s out of hand now. But my husband is a willing perpetrator of it because you couldn’t do it otherwise. Who else would put up with this?”

TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Acknowledging a love for whimsy, Taylor incorporates a sense of fun and quirkiness in many of her works, but true to her style of not limiting herself to a style, she explores worlds and vistas that reflect life around her, wherever she happens to be that day: her floral works are bold and audacious; her view of Venice channels the viewer between buildings converging into one’s space; three tepees in a meadow acknowledge the artist’s ability to create stories from their surroundings.

“I believe that artistic expression is the fun part of life,” Taylor says. “When I like a work I’ve created, it’s a joy to me, and I hope to others as well.”

Taylor comes to the art studio from what many would consider the completely opposite world of business and computers, having taught 30 years in community colleges primarily in Spokane. Upon retirement, she took up drawing and painting, just . . . because.

Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

“I can’t talk about some interior drive where I had to express myself — I just started painting for fun.”

She educated herself through college classes and private workshops, benefiting from Spokane’s ability to attract top teachers.

“There are nationally known people who travel through, who have television shows and things like that. One of my favorite workshop teachers was Lian Zhen, an international watercolor artist from China.”

Since moving to Richland two years ago, Taylor has thrown herself into the local art scene, meeting regularly with fellow artists from the online cooperative, Cyber Art 509 (cyberart509.com) started by Tri-Cities artists Patrick and Patricia Fleming as a means of connecting creative people in the 509 area code region.

“I have a lot of fun with these people, and we get together a couple times each month. I get to see their work, and that’s inspiring.

“About 20 of us get together and paint and critique and have demos.”

With 30 years of teaching behind her, and extensive exposure to art classes and workshops, does she lead some of these demos?

“Oh no,” she demurs. “I do not feel that I have an art education.”

The niceties of distinctions aside. Taylor is a student who continuously teaches herself, and she treasures the hours she spends in her 500-square-foot home studio, replete with all the counters and storage an artist could want, as well as a grand, east-facing window which bathes the room with light.

Oh, and there are the doggie beds, because that is where Lucy, Debbie, Scarlotte, and Oliver love to be.

“If I’m in the studio, they’re in there too.”

Wenaha GalleryJan Taylor is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 11 through Saturday, February 6.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

The Science of Art — Watercolor Paintings by Lisa Hill

Tangerine and Cream, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

Tangerine and Cream, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

When it comes to art, there is a tremendous amount of science involved.

For those who don’t believe, watercolorist Lisa Hill of Richland poses a question:

Colors of Autumn, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

Colors of Autumn, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

Why, when one mixes three primary colors in particular proportion — Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Rose, and Hansa Yellow (even the names sound like something from a laboratory) —  is the resulting color black?

“This is a lesson on how pigments absorb or reflect certain color wavelengths of light,” Hill, who teaches watercolor as well as creates it, explains.

“Between the three paints, all the light is absorbed, almost none is reflected back to the eye, and we perceive it as black.”

And not only black can be actualized from these three colors, Hill adds, pointing out that thousands of hues result from two or three of these ideal primaries, which closely match the CMY (cyan, magenta, and yellow) of printing inks.

Hill herself creates boldly vivid, richly chromatic artwork with a limited palette of roughly five colors (none of which are white or black), but, not wanting to make things too challenging for her students, she allots them a magnanimous seven paints to manage and master.

Ripple Ellipse, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

Ripple Ellipse, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

“I teach my beginning students to make color mixing charts with these seven paints and show them how valuable the charts are as a planning tool for a painting. The color mixing possibilities are endless.”

If Hill sounds thoughtful, methodical, and organized (she adds the word, “meticulous” to the list), she comes to it from a background in dirt — planting soil, specifically — and her success in capturing flora and fauna two dimensionally is related to her first career in ornamental horticulture and landscape design.

Lost Edges, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

Lost Edges, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

After moving to the Tri-Cities from Spokane, Hill was ready for a change of pace and occupation, a watercolor class with Kennewick artist Laura Gable sparking an interest that later turned into a vocation. With the same sense of inquiry that she used in horticulture, Hill focused on being a student of art, first; then an artist; and finally, a private teacher of art based out of her dream home studio, a 700-square foot apartment Hill and her husband teased out of a second floor bedroom, with an enviable view of the Yakima River.

Student, Artist, Teacher — Hill wears all three caps seamlessly, her fervor toward her chosen medium strongly evident in her research, experimentation, zeal, and knowledge.

“I’m going out on a limb here since I haven’t painted with oils or acrylics,” Hill muses, “but I think success with watercolor techniques requires a higher level of scientific knowledge of behavior of water and light, and the mechanics of vision, specifically color and value perception.”

Blue Skies, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

Blue Skies, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

What causes the “transparency” of watercolor?

Is it possible to layer a lighter color successfully over a darker one?

How does one keep the “wet” look once a painting dries?

“Understanding how water behaves puts the artist in charge (mostly) of what happens to the paint on the paper,” Hill says. “The answers are almost always related to the water — how much is on the brush, the paper, and in the puddle of paint.”

Quiet and soft spoken, Hill nonetheless speaks with confidence, and one person who noticed was Robin Berry, a nationally known author and porcelain and watercolor artist who put Hill in touch with Quarto Publishing of London. The happy result included a series of published step-by-step demos of Hill’s work, as well as images of her paintings, in three Quarto art books.

Cereus, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill

Cereus, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill

Hill, who regularly participates in Richland’s Allied Arts’ “Art in the Park” and the Custer Arts and Crafts Shows in Pasco, Spokane, and Wenatchee, garnered Director’s Choice at the 2014 Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, with the winning painting, Lost Edges, featured prominently in the event’s 2015 promotional materials. She sells her original work, as well as prints and note cards, to collectors throughout the Northwest.

An unapologetic proponent of representationalism, Hill admires the skill and knowledge necessary to create abstract or vaguely realistic art, but gravitates toward realism, an area she finds uniquely suited to capture the subject matter she finds most intriguing.

“I have a lot of plant knowledge and thoroughly enjoy gardening, so it is natural that the subjects I most  love to paint are flowers and foliage.

“I don’t think I am making a statement by painting these things — I just love them.

“Maybe that IS the statement.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Hill is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Saturday, September 19 through Saturday, October 17. She will be in the gallery Saturday, October 3,  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to give live watercolor demonstrations during Dayton’s Art Walk.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.