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colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Colombia Churches and Cows — The Charcoal Drawings of Jordan Henderson

colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Church Near the Hills, charcoal drawing of Colombia by Jordan Henderson

 

The best time to hear of your adult children’s adventures — the really exciting ones that make good stories — is after they are home and —  your parent’s heart says — safe. When my son Jordan Henderson announced to his dad, Steve, and me that he wanted to visit Colombia, where we had bicycled through 30 years before, we tried to be laudably cool, calm, and chill.

Colombia cows walking country road charcoal drawing

Cows in the llanos of Colombia are fascinating drawing fodder, artist Jordan Henderson says

After all, when we put our own parents through this, there were no cell phones or social media, so any worries they had weren’t allayed for weeks. Steve and I experienced relief — or anxiety, depending upon the story — instantly.

“Learning a second language and traveling abroad is something I always wanted to do,” Jordan says, mirroring our own reasons for traveling. That’s great, we nodded. Immersion is the best method. For Jordan, whose Spanish at that time would generously be called embryonic, this meant flying to Medellín, a city of 2.4 million that in our younger days was known as the drug cartel capital of the world.

“It’s improved,” he reassured us beforehand. At least he would be staying with our friends of 30 years before, Héli and Ana, who Facebook messaged us on Jordan’s arrival, “We opened the door, and thought we were seeing Steve.”

Learning Language and Doing Art in Colombia

On the month-long trip to Colombia in 2015 and a second, three-month journey in 2016-17, Jordan immersed himself in both the Spanish language and the culture. An artist like his father, he set up his easel in public parks (when he was in cities) and along pathways (in the country), attracting genial attention from passersby who felt free to comment upon his art and growing language skills.

Iguana charcoal drawing colombia medellin city park

The Iguana in the city park, artfully posing for Jordan Henderson during his trip to Colombia

“In Pamplona, a town of 60,000 with beautiful churches and cathedrals throughout, people seemed genuinely pleased to see that I admired and was drawing the church that they themselves attended,” Jordan says.

“One time, a nun in full, traditional habit came running down the steps from the church I was drawing to see what I was doing — she had a very energetic personality. I simply did not expect someone in such a somber dress to come running across the street like that. The next day, when I returned to finish the drawing, she brought a group of other nuns. They liked my rendition of their church.”

Traveling by Bus through Colombia

For a month, Jordan spent three hours a day intensely studying Spanish with Juan Carlos, who 30 years ago was a slender young man just out of high school, and now, mysteriously like Steve and me, was in his 50s. One on one teaching from Juan Carlos’s universal language institute catapulted Jordan’s Spanish to new competency, and we didn’t worry (as much) when he announced plans to travel by bus through the country, staying with new friends along the way.

Colombia lowland grassland llanos charcoal drawing

A view of the llanos, or lowland grasslands, of Colombia. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“I visited Tauramena, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Yopal, Riohacha, Barranquilla, and Cartagena,” Jordan says, listing out cities and towns of Colombia that range from metropolitan centers to small hamlets in the llanos, flat grasslands that are the equivalent of America’s Wild West.

“The people I stayed with are what made this such a fantastic trip — they generously showed me around the towns where they lived, and I ate meals with my hosts, allowing me a lot of conversation with some great people.”

Loving the Lowing of Colombia Cows

In the llanos, Jordan encountered distinctive cattle of Colombia that are a mixture of European and Indian breeds. He was enthralled, snapping reference photos and doing plein air studies in the field.

“Cows are a fantastic drawing subject,” he enthuses. “Sometimes they regard you with great suspicion; other times they barely manage to give you an uninterested gaze before they return to their grazing, as if you are the most boring thing in the world.

colombia church humilladero pamplona colombia charcoal drawing

Humilladero Church in Pamplona, Colombia, one of the principal architectural designs of the city. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“Once I had a cow walk alongside me as far as her fence allowed, all the while looking straight at me as if I were a very curious sight.”

In the botanical gardens of Medellín, he met a different sort of animal, an iguana.

“It was sitting in the middle of the path and politely posed for me while I took some photos, before deciding it had had enough, when it calmly walked away.”

Attracting Attention

As in Pamplona while drawing churches, Jordan attracted attention wherever he went, the lanky, long-haired foreigner who looked like he could be Dutch or American, and always carried a sketchbook. Visiting a village school near Cúcuta, on the border of Venezuela and Colombia, Jordan found himself invited by his host’s father to a small radio station, where he was interviewed as “the visiting foreigner.” In Medellín, he was “the jogging foreigner,” and regulars at the city parks, some of whom a mother would classify as less than savory, assessed his accent and affably corrected grammar.

“I am drawn by the opportunity to be completely surrounded by another language, culture, and way of thinking that is different from what I am used to,” Jordan says, explaining that future plans include further travel, as well as concerted drawing, painting, and artistic pursuits.

“I am fortunate to have a highly skilled, talented artist as my father, and I will make the most of the opportunity to learn from him.

“Ultimately, my long-range goal is to work as a full-time artist so that I can dedicate the lion’s share of my time to something of such great interest to me.”

He’s his father’s son all right.

Wenaha Gallery

Jordan Henderson is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 3 through Saturday, July 29, 2017. There will be a special Art Show Saturday, July 15, over Alumni Weekend. Meet and greet Jordan, see his art, and ask about his adventures from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery. Free refreshments provided.

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.

 

The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

The Art of Appreciating Art

The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

Regional artists of the Pacific Northwest capture the area in which they live. The Land of Chief Joseph by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson.

Most of us understand and empathize with our fellow humans who are afraid of mice, spiders, snakes, small spaces or vampire movies starring Christopher Lee. We all have our fears and foibles, and they vary depending upon the person.

Many people, however, are frightened — in a different way — of something that is designed to bring joy and dimension to their lives: fine art, as in paintings and sculpture, jewelry and prints, woodwork and photography. Whether it is years of the discipline being overrun and overruled by the extreme abstract movement, resulting in viewers being condescendingly ushered from the room when they asked, “Why is this piece worth $25,000? It really looks like something an eight-year-old could do,” or not, too many individuals are missing out on an element of life that should be part of all our lives.

Kokopeli Dancer birdhouse by Papa Jon's Fly Inns of Wenaha Gallery

Sculpture comes in all shapes and forms, and Papa Jon’s Fly Inns creates birdhouses that are functional and decorative. Kokopeli Dancer, by Wenaha artists Jon and Marilu Bryan of Wenaha Gallery.

So, let’s change this, and aggressively make art  part of our lives.

Appreciating fine art, like most skills, is easy yet difficult, but it doesn’t start at all until we begin. While it sounds simplistic, initiating the process involves nothing more than looking at art — in books, online, or in person — and doing just that: looking at it. The more we expose ourselves to different styles, different media, different subject matter, the more experience we gain in art, and of art, and soon find ourselves developing a sense of confidence in our judgment.

“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” is a common phrase of the common man, and like most such phrases, it imbues a factor of commonsense as well. Art, which is both subjective and objective, appeals to different people for different reasons, and in the same way that some people love goat cheese and others don’t, or some people prefer a red Malbec over a white Pinot Grigio, or a black Nilgiri tea over a South African honeybush tisane, some viewers gravitate toward bold brushstrokes and vibrant color, while others prefer subdued colors and a smooth, blended surface.

Great Blue Heron Wildlife painting by Hiroko Cannon of Wenaha Gallery

Original watercolors and prints are available by wildlife and Wenaha artist Hiroko Cannon. Shown is Great Blue Heron.

Most fortunate of all are those whose experience is so wide and diverse that they see merits in various styles — they like herbal infusions as well as white tea, bitter dark chocolate and the sweeter milk kind, representational art and abstract.  And, because they’ve looked at a lot of art, and asked questions about what they’ve seen, and pondered the various answers they were given, they are free as well to say, “This is good, and this is not,” because art — while it is very, very subjective — possesses objective elements as well, although, within certain areas of the art world, this is a well kept secret.

Because art, in various forms, is literally everywhere, the ability to see it, and learn from it, is open to anyone with access to books, images on a computer, or — and this very much an option for people in Southeast Washington — brick and mortar galleries that house and showcase art. Known for being an art community, Walla Walla — and the area around it — is fortunate to possess private and community establishments that show art, sell art, and encourage people to visit and physically view art.

Pierced wood bowl by wenaha gallelry artists pat and peggy bookey

Pat and Peggy Bookey of Alaska join forces to create hand pierced wooden vessels that are both functional and decorative.

Any fears that aspiring aficionados have about walking into a gallery and feeling like an idiot should be immediately put to rest, because anyplace that prompts a reaction of insecurity in its patrons is not a place where they will learn about art. And it’s not a place that viewers will find in this area, which enjoys a number of ways to view original art.

In Walla Walla, WA, Kingfisher Gallery and Custom Framing at 11 South Spokane Street features original art from Walla Walla based artists including Carol Cole, Bob Baker, Ed Stone and Mark VanDonge, and new works are added on a changing basis through the year.

Darrah’s Framing and Decorator (39 East Main) focuses on artists of the Walla Walla Valley, spotlighting the work of one artist for special two-month-long shows.

Todd Telander Gallery at 34 South Colville features landscapes, still life, and wildlife work of the artist.

A  short drive away, Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main) in Dayton showcases Pacific Northwest artists in its Art Events, every two weeks bringing in the two-  or  three-dimensional work of regional painters and sculptors. The gallery also houses the original work of some 30 artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

On the John Day inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Judy Robertus

Dayton artist Judy Robertus paints the Pacific Northwest in which she lives, and which she loves. On the John Day by Wenaha Gallery artist Judy Robertus.

Dayton artists with studios include Monica Stobie (610 North Touchet Road)  and Steve Henderson (by appointment: 509.382.9775); and the Delaney building, next to the public library (111 South Third Street) hosts a monthly rotating display of artwork by the Blue Mountain Artists Guild.

Further afield, but still within an afternoon’s drive, are the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, WA (842 6th Street); the Pendleton Center for the Arts (214 North Main Street,  Pendleton, OR); and the Allied Arts Gallery (89 Lee Boulevard, Richland, WA). All three of these community art organizations operate a rotating monthly calendar of juried competitions, regional exhibitions, and individual and group artist shows. A short hop from Clarkston (16 miles northeast in Uniontown, WA), the Dahmen Barn carries the work of 120 artists, some of whom maintain studios in the building and are more than happy to talk with visitors.

This is, indeed, an area rich in the visual arts, and the opportunity to make art a part of our daily lives — viewing it, appreciating it, and owning it — is big and bold and beautiful. Let’s make 2015 the year to embrace art.

Websites:

Todd Telander — http://www.toddtelander.com/

Kingfisher Galleries and Custom Framing — Kingfisher Walla Walla (Facebook)

Darrah’s Framing and Decorating — http://www.darrahsdecorating.com/

Wenaha Gallery — https://wenaha.com/

Monica Stobie — http://www.monicastobie.com/

Jill Ingram — http://www.jillingram.com/

Steve Henderson — http://stevehendersonfineart.com/

Allied Arts Gallery — http://www.alliedartsrichland.org/

Pendleton Center for the Arts — http://www.pendletonarts.org/

The Dahmen Barn — http://www.artisanbarn.org/

Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional 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; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com; website https://wenaha.com/ 

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

 

The Artist’s Life, and Wife — A Different Perspective on Fine Art Painter Steve Henderson

The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist Steve Henderson

The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist, fine art painter Steve Henderson.

“It must be fascinating, being married to an artist!”

This is one of those less than profound comments one encounters in social situations in which the speaker is really looking for someone else to talk to, but you’re the only one next to a free chair.

Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Steve Henderson.

Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, fine art painter Steve Henderson.

But yes, since you asked, it is fascinating being married to an artist, and my particular artist, painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, WA, is a man I haven’t completely figured out in 32 years of being together. (Of course, he’s still puzzled about me, and this is a good thing.)

The other day, we were sitting in the river — not just dabbling our feet, but immersing the bottom part of the canvas chairs and everything that was resting upon them, chatting. Steve had spent the afternoon in his renovated barn studio, working on an oil painting teaching DVD, and the river is our air conditioning.

Midway through an observation on the genius of Nikola Tesla and the lack of any serious follow up on his many and varied discoveries in electricity, the man stops.

Most of the time, this means that he has heard or seen an animal — a deer, a dog, a snake, this latter not a comforting thought since these reptiles manage to swim — but  this time it was the river itself.

The Musing Artist

“That light, reflecting on the water,” he mused.”And the canopy of vegetation. I wonder if I can get  my camera out here without slipping on the rocks?

“Ah, but we were talking about Tesla . . . ”

Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson

Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist and oil painter Steve Henderson

(He did manage to get the photo, and he didn’t slip on the rocks. He has the balance of a mountain goat, the hearing of a deer, and the eye of an eagle which occasionally requires reading glasses.)

In movies and books, artists are unbalanced, eccentric creatures, and the only reason in a murder mystery that they are not the perpetrator is that they are so scatty in their random, disparate thoughts. It’s a wonder that they manage to hold a paintbrush, much less wield it, but given the artwork that they purportedly create on screen, perhaps this isn’t such a surprise after all.

Artists Are Real, Ordinary but Extraordinary People

But in the real world, at least in the world I inhabit with Steve Henderson, the artist is an organized, well read, soft spoken, articulate, intelligent man who at any given moment is either digging up potatoes in the garden, taking photos of a model in Dayton’s Boldman house for a future series of 1940s period paintings, mending  a goat fence, dressing up as Santa Claus for one of his holiday works, or reading George Orwell’s 1984.

In the Workshop, original Santa oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson.

In the Workshop, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist and oil painter Steve Henderson.

He hikes to and through the landscapes he paints. He does not mind rain or inclement weather. He eats anything, with gratitude, and he treats every person as if they were equal to one another. His artwork is a fusion blend of representational attention to detail with impressionistic brushwork, and he loves rich color, complex light, and intricate shadow.

What he creates on canvas is the result of years — years — of time behind the easel, experimenting, learning, trying, retrying, and absorbing himself in beauty.

His philosophy of art — and  of  life — is that the world is a rough, cruel place, and it doesn’t need yet another painting about darkness, despair, gloom, hopelessness, discouragement, and muddy, mangled, greyed out colors.

“Hope, peace, joy, goodness — those are part of reality, too,” he says. “And they certainly look better on the living room wall.”

Creating Fine Art for Real People to Enjoy

As an ordinary man, one who spent many years in the cubicle business world of commercial illustration, he is committed to getting art in the hands of real, regular people, and to this end he keeps the prices of his original works reasonable, and partners  with his agents to get his works licensed and available at online and retail establishments.

“Art is a necessary component to a well-rounded life,” he says. “Everyone should have an opportunity to own, and enjoy it.”

By choosing to focus on goodness, one is not denying the existence of evil,  he adds. Rather, one is not allowing evil to triumph over good by feeding it, extolling it, concentrating upon it.

“Artists interpret the times,” he says. “And in every historical time you will find children, family, people who love one another, picnicking, reading, walking, daydreaming. You will find trees, mountains, rivers, clouds, deserts, meadows, beaches, and sunsets — and all of these aspects of nature are filled with color and complexity.

“That’s what I paint.”

Steve Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 13 through August 9, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

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,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional 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; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.