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cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

Road of Life –The Acrylic Paintings of Mary Soper

cabin country landscape view road mary soper acrylic art

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).

country barn wheat field landscape mary soper acrylic painting

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.”

old blue truck abandoned road field mary soper acrylic art

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.

wagon country road pioneer vintage vehicle mary soper acrylic painting

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.

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

Andalucia europe travel city buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

bicycle flowers buildings fence europe acrylic painting summer barcenas

Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

downtown europe travel buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 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.

 

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Partridge and Soap — Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Art

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Cow, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge. In addition to painting, Partridge also creates metal sculpture, woodcarving, and tooled leatherwork.

David Partridge’s 60 years (and counting) as an artist started with a fourth grade art assignment and a bar of soap. Or rather, the lack of a bar of soap.

“We were told to carve a buffalo out of soap, but my family did not have the money for a bar of Ivory Soap,” the Walla Walla oil painter recalls of his childhood in rural Idaho.

“The teacher, Mrs. Hill, wanted to know what I was going to do for a grade. I told her I was going to do a painting of a buffalo.”

hooked fish spotted trout david partridge oil painting art

Hooked Fish, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist, David Partridge.

“Amazed” upon seeing the completed watercolor, Mrs. Hill framed and hung the work in the school trophy case for a year. Partridge, encouraged and emboldened by the experience, began incorporating art studies and artwork in all his grade school and high school classes. As an adult in the early 1960s, he took advantage of two six-month tours for the Navy in Naples, Italy, to learn oil painting techniques from local artists.

Millwright Partridge

And then later, during a 33-year career as a journeyman millwright with Boise Cascade, he honed his art skills, both two- and three-dimensional, at every opportunity.

“The meaning of the word ‘millwright‘ comes from making the mill right, so my job was to keep Boise Cascade running properly and to fix anything that was broken,” Partridge explains. The welding skills he developed to both fix broken things and create new ones — such as catwalks and handrails — now translate into metal art sculptures, many of which incorporate horseshoes in their design.

Colleagues and management at the mill, when they noticed Partridge’s ability to draw, increasingly approached him with art-based projects and jobs.

colorful bear animal wildlife david partridge oil painting artist

Colorful Bear, original oil painting by David Partridge of Walla Walla.

“Boise Cascade commissioned me to do as many paintings as I could do in thirty days for the new human resource building,” Partridge remembers. They also commissioned him to paint a mural depicting how paper is made, create coloring books for children on safety issues at the mill, and develop the image for Gus the Goose, the mascot for the Wallula Paper Mill. Engineers at the plant asked him to make drawings of projects so they would have an idea of what the job would look like when it was done.

Painting Partridge

Outside the mill, Partridge painted western landscape and wildlife scenes, which he showed and sold throughout the Northwest. In the 1990s, he joined a group of artists who worked with the late Idaho artist Robert Thomas to paint the murals on Main Street in Dayton. Upon retirement from Boise Cascade, Partridge plunged full time into art, varying what he does with the seasons: in the winter, he paints, carves wood, and tools leather; in the warm months he welds, sculpts, and builds covered wagons reflecting the 19th century. His latest summer project is a doctor’s buggy fashioned from white oak. The wheels, made out of hickory, took two years to complete.

barn country farm ranch rural david partridge oil painting art

Barn, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge.

“I like to change what I do so I don’t get tired of the same medium,” Partridge says.

Hundreds of Paintings

Over the years, Partridge estimates, he has done hundreds of paintings, including a large image of an elk that hung for years at the former Walla Walla Elks Lodge on Rose Street. Locally, he has shown at various Walla Walla businesses and The Little Theatre, and served as a coordinator for a Fort Walla Walla western art show. His most memorable award to date is the Grumbacher Award for best use of color, which he received at a Milton-Freewater art competition.

But what is most satisfying, Partridge says, is challenging himself to do new things and create artwork that others enjoy.

“To brighten just one person’s day with a form of art — that is why I paint. I love having the opportunity to take a small portion of what surrounds us every day and put it on canvas for people to enjoy.”

And to think that it all started, really, because of an inability to buy a bar of soap, and Mrs. Hill’s insistence that the problem, somehow, be solved.

Whatever happened, by the way, to that very first painting that launched it all?

“I gave it to Mrs. Hill.”

Wenaha GalleryDavid Partridge is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 6 through Saturday, June 1 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.

 

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour — The Happy Abstract Art of Joyce Klassen

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour 9, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

We’ve all heard of peculiar artists and capricious ones, edgy sculptors and angry painters, those who love to offend and shock, unsettle or antagonize. They are the stuff of movie fantasia and social media hype.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 5, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

But in the real world, populated by real people,  there is another kind of artist: a happy person, loving what they do, creating with the idea of making others happy as well. Fitting into this paradigm is Joyce Klassen, a Walla Walla artist who has worked in everything from watercolor realism to her present abstract acrylic pours. She uses words like “fun,” “rewarding,” and “beautiful” when she talks about her art, as well as life itself.

“I’ve been interested in art since I was in preschool when I cut up my mother’s Simplicity patterns to make my own paper dolls and dress them in pieces of fabric — I only did that ONCE!” Klassen remembers.

This is a person who launches into the room with a smile, who experiments with new techniques and recognizes that failure is as much a part of success as, well, success is. It’s an attitude worth honing when it comes to the challenge of acrylic pour, a process that involves layering multiple colors of paint in a cup and cascading it onto the canvas:

Fun, Caution, Wisdom

The FUN comes from quickly flipping the cup upside down.

The CAUTION demands that the artist upright the cup quickly, then tilt the canvas back and forth so the colors run from top to bottom and side to side.

The wisdom of EXPERIENCE shouts “Stop!” when the pattern looks just right.

“Knowing when to stop is the secret to a successful acrylic pour,” Klassen explains. “Once you have learned to do this — EXPERIMENT and come up with your own unique method.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 6, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

“When you find something that really works for you, keep it a secret! You want this to be your creation.”

Acrylic Pour Discovery

Klassen discovered acrylic pour literally by accident when she spilled mixed paint on a surface. Fascinated by the resulting texture, color formation and shape, she researched the technique, spending “hours and hours” learning from YouTube.

“I’ve done many forms of art, but I think I love this one the very best because I get so excited as I watch the colors evolve and mix — it often gives me terrific surprises.

“If the surprise happens to not be a good one, I simply wash it down the drain (followed by a healthy dose of drain cleaner) and start over. It’s a ‘Can’t Lose’ process.”

Acrylic Pour: Breaking and Following Rules

As Klassen is discovering, acrylic pour painting involves breaking the rules at the same time one adheres strictly to them, celebrating spontaneity in perfect proportion to meticulous thought. In some ways, this mirrors the yin-yang relationship she enjoys with her husband Randy, also an artist, but in a polar opposite sort of way:

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 1, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

She does abstract; he paints realism.

She’s messy; he’s neat.

She takes up three quarters of their shared studio; he carved out a small space against the window, just enough for his easel and palette.

“When I work on encaustic, he leaves when I light the blow torch.

“When I work on acrylic pour, he covers his work and leaves to avoid the mess.

“He has to find a lot of errands to run .  .  . ”

Oddly, for a person who describes her creative process as messy, Klassen spends a lot of time cleaning their house, because both she and Randy sell from the studio within their home.

“We never know when someone might ‘drop in’ to view the art. We love to share a glass of our local wine as we go from room to room looking at art.

“I’m often told that a viewer is amazed that I work in such a messy art form while still being such an intense ‘neatnik.'”

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 8, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

Helping the Homeless

When she isn’t creating in the studio — something that can happen anytime of the day or even at 2 a.m. if she finds she can’t sleep — Klassen works with the homeless through the Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless, coordinating the weekly shower project held Mondays at the Pioneer United Methodist Church.

She and her crew of 10 volunteers serve the needs of 10 to 17 people who would otherwise have nowhere else to shower, providing basic toiletry needs along with clean socks, underwear, and other clothing.

It’s all part of a happy artist’s life — giving, experimenting, dreaming, doing, making a mess and cleaning it up. With so much creativity and beauty, there is no place for angst, anger, shock, or awful.

“I love to watch ideas and colors evolve.

“And I love it when someone looks at an acrylic pour that I’ve done and sees something totally different than what I do — it’s almost like playing the game of ‘find Waldo.’

“Art should be rewarding, and especially, fun!”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Klassen is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 24, 2018, through Saturday, October 20, 2018.  She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of Wenaha Gallery’s Autumn Art Show, which also features jewelry artist Venita Simpson, a tribute to the late astronaut/artist Alan Bean, and a talk and visit by retired astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.

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.

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Brilliant Clouds — The Watercolor Paintings of Joyce Anderson

glenns ferry cliffs storm clouds sky joyce anderson watercolor art

Glenns Ferry Cliffs — storm clouds in the sky, original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Anderson

It is fortunate for Joyce Anderson that her latest series of paintings did not involve monsoons or hurricanes.

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Ashton, Idaho Silhouettes — dramatic clouds sweeping over the landscape, original watercolor painting by Joyce Anderson of Walla Walla

Because the watercolor artist tends to get really involved with her subject matter, it was wet enough focusing on clouds, many of which were heavy with rain and portending inclement weather.

“Holy cow! We were in our tent trailer during many a torrential, drumbeat, wind-shaking, storm,” the Walla Walla painter says of a recent trip she took to Idaho and Wyoming with husband and fellow artist, Roy.  Other times they were outside, clad in waterproof ponchos as Anderson studied the sky, took notes, and captured reference material in preparation for a series of paintings based upon “spectacular skyscapes.”

“The series incorporates a cornucopia of colors and forms of clouds,” Anderson says, adding that she has spent so much time painting since the couple returned from their trip, that Roy has posted a picture of her on the refrigerator so that he can remember what she looks like.

Creating Clouds on Paper

“My self-set goal has been to use the white of the paper to give me the brilliant gilded edges (of clouds) rather than incorporate white paint,” Joyce explains. “At times it’s been like trying to manipulate a real cloud into a shape I wanted.”

impending storm rain clouds sky joyce anderson watercolor painting

Impending Storm — rain clouds in the distance — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

Observing clouds, studying them, learning their names and attributes, wondering how their shapes will change, this is all part of capturing their essence on paper, creating a landscape into which the viewer enters and feels the very breeze on his or her face. After such an intense time of focus, Anderson says that she looks at weather, not to mention clouds, differently:

“I find myself easily distracted now when I see clouds . . . that’s not always good when I am driving.”

The Curious Artist

Doing any kind of art, Anderson feels, requires curiosity — the heart of the eternal student, even when one becomes a teacher. And as a teacher of watercolor for more than 36 years, Anderson has kept that eternal student vibrant and alive, imparting a love of the medium to adults through classes at Walla Walla Community College Continuing Education, Walla Walla Parks and Recreation, the Carnegie Art Center, Allied Arts of Tri-Cities, the Pendleton Center for the Arts, and more.

meadow pond storm sky rain clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Meadow Pond — sweeping clouds over a green landscape — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

She has also volunteered at local schools, working with elementary students to integrate art with curriculum requirements. One of the best benefits of teaching children is the same as that of teaching adults: seeing the light go on, the face animate, as the student watches the magic of color on paper, and realizes that combining one line at a time will create any manner of subject.

“None of us need to know it all in order to try something new.”

Anderson has shown her work in regional juried shows, garnering Best of Show at the Allied Arts Juried Show in Richland in 2007, with the added bonus of the painting being sold to a private collector in New York.  She also has work in the city hall of Sasayama, Japan, Walla Walla’s “sister city,” as well a Spokane City Hall. The majority of her collectors live in the Pacific Northwest.

Painting Clouds at ArtPort

Both Joyce and Roy share a studio at the Walla Walla airport region, housed in one of the former military complex buildings. Announcing itself as ArtPort, which most people driving by interpret as Airport, misspelled, the building is large enough to accommodate both artists, and separately and together, the couple puts in hours of painting time each day. It changes the way she sees things, Anderson says.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t observe a subject that could become a painting — the interplay of colors in clouds, the effect of light or lack of, or the patterns of nature.

“Painting allows me to appreciate the ‘eye candy’ around each of us.”

Clouds of Beauty, All Around

But it isn’t just eye candy, she reflects, because the images of nature are more than just pretty scenes, superficial color that sparks a momentary interest, and no more. The images of nature provoke a sense of wonder, of contemplation, of appreciation for the world in which we live and breathe. And that is what she wants to viewer to take away with them when they see her latest series on clouds.

“The message I would like to extend with this display is to take a moment to truly observe the clouds in the sky, colors, shapes, designs, and patterns repeated in everything we see.

“Stop to appreciate what is all  around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Anderson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Wednesday, July 18, 2018, through Saturday, August 25, 2018.  She will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze 53 home decor at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

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.

 

Florist and Painter — Watercolor Art by Deborah Bruce

still life watercolor floral flowers deborah bruce retired florist

Joy in a Bowl, floral and flower still life watercolor painting by Deborah Bruce, Walla Walla artist and 30-year career florist.

The major rule about crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope — assuming that there is a list of rules somewhere — is that you don’t stop in the middle. Not an option.

forest reflections country landscape deborah bruce retired florist

Forest Reflections, watercolor country landscape by Walla Walla painter, and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

And while creating a watercolor painting is not fraught with as many perils, the same requisites apply: you don’t stop in the middle, throw up your hands in consternation, and give up, whether the painting is going stunningly well, or teetering on the edge of collapse.

“My biggest challenge when I’m working on a piece is when I am about halfway through it,” says Deborah Bruce, a Walla Walla painter and retired florist who has focused on watercolor for the last 20 years.

“If I have gotten to where I really like it, I become terrified that I am going to do something to ruin it.

“If I am not liking it, I struggle to keep going.

“I have one rule when I paint, and that is to finish regardless of how I feel about it in the middle. At times I am successful, and sometimes not, but I have found that what I think is a real mess can actually be fine if I just finish and don’t give up in the middle.”

The Florist Philosopher

Wise words, ones that get you over the scary part and to the other side. The medium of watercolor, Bruce explains, is neither forgiving nor easy, but its very difficulties are what make it fun to work with and wonderful to experience. Without the option of painting over mistakes, watercolor artists must plan out carefully where they want to start and end.

Gus Wonder Dog Terrier Pet portrait Deborah Bruce florist

Gus the Wonder Dog, watercolor portrait by Walla Walla painter and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

“It’s more about letting the light come through, knowing what to leave, and allowing the transparency and light and dark values to bring out drama and color,” she adds.

Retired from a career as professional florist for more than 30 years, Bruce is especially drawn to painting flowers, citing their variety, color, shape, and form. And while she loves the bright colors of many blooms, Bruce is intrigued by white flowers, which, when they’re painted, frequently involve no white paint at all. They’re really filled with subtle, but definite, color.

The Florist Painter

Bruce began painting seriously in high school, encouraged by a teacher who saw potential, but like many artists, set the pursuit aside as family and career demanded her limited time. When her sons entered high school she decided to take a watercolor class at Walla Walla Community College, taught by longtime teacher and painter Joyce Anderson, and from that point never looked back.

“I felt like a very important part of me came alive again in that first class.”

downtown walla walla deborah bruce watercolor painter florist

Downtown Walla Walla by watercolor painter and 30-year florist Deborah Bruce

Since then, Bruce has taken several more classes with Anderson, as well as attended workshops by Eric Wiegardt, Birgit O’Conner, Lian Quan Zhen, Tom Lynch, and Soon Warren. Bruce actively participates in Walla Walla Art Walk and the annual Art Squared event, and has shown her art locally at Saviah Cellars, Blue Mountain Cider Company, Plumb Cellars, and a number of area restaurants. She created a wine label for Tricycle Cellars Viognier, and most recently is focusing on commissioned dog portraits.

“I am a dog lover myself and find their faces intriguing. They are all so different and so delightful.”

Gimignano watercolor flower floral landscape arch deborah bruce florist watercolor painter

Gimignano, a cascading floral array and archway by Walla Walla watercolor painter and former florist, Deborah Bruce

The Realist Florist

Working out of a studio fashioned from a spare bedroom in her home, Bruce is highly aware of the season of the year, explaining that she can’t create a snow scene in the middle of summer. Detail minded, she stops short of putting in every point and line, allowing the viewer’s imagination to play. She has never forgotten a conversation in her youth she had with an art instructor, in which Bruce expressed her amazement at the realism of a particular painting:

When Bruce observed that the image looked like a photograph, the instructor replied that it was much better than a photograph, because it was created through a human heart.

“I hope in my paintings the viewer will see a piece of my heart,” Bruce says.

“I hope I can take the viewer someplace they want to be — I love it when a painting brings a smile, and it is my ultimate win when a commissioned piece or a painting I have done for someone brings tears of joy.”

That’s definitely a good end goal to pursue, and an excellent reason for not stopping in the middle.

Wenaha Gallery

Deborah Bruce is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 7, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 2, 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.

 

dove guitar pal obsession roy anderson watercolor painter musician

Beautiful Obsession: Watercolors and Music by Roy Anderson

travel guitar roy anderson music art watercolor obsession

Travel Guitar, one of several musical instruments loved, and obsessed, by watercolor painter Roy Anderson of Walla Walla, WA

There’s something to be said about being obsessed. The strong focus and concentration required to acquire and finesse a skill demand time, practice, thought, and . . . obsession.

For Walla Walla watercolor artist Roy Anderson, obsession is part of the road to expertise — and because his interests are varied and diverse, he has a variety of things to obsess about.

dove guitar roy anderson walla walla artist watercolor painter musician

Walla Walla artist and musician Roy Anderson is obsessed by both music and art, and shares both in performances and shows throughout the region

“I am a guitar-playing, fly-fishing, watercolor artist who likes to do still life, portrait, wildlife, and landscape paintings,” Anderson explains. Married to Joyce, a colleague watercolorist who teaches regular painting workshops at Walla Walla Parks and Recreation, Anderson collaborates with his wife to provide exhibitions of art for galleries, restaurants, wineries, and art centers throughout the region.

Art Is His Obsession

A full time painter, Anderson launched his second career in 1995, the day he retired from civil engineering, or as he puts it,

“I am retired. Art is my obsession. Art is my day job.”

Training himself through an extensive array of workshops, Anderson began publicly exhibiting four years later  and has shown his work at the Bonneville Power and Army Corps of Engineers, WSU Tri-Cities, Port of Walla Walla, Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College, and area furniture stores, restaurants, private businesses and professional offices.

For the last 20 years, Roy and Joyce have shared a studio at the Walla Walla Airport in one of the former military complex buildings: “Artport Gallery” announces the sign to the right of the door, upon which Roy has painted an image of the airport control tower standing behind the studio.

“It’s a great getaway,” Roy says of their work space, pointing out that it has light and heat. That it has no water or bathroom is no big deal considering that the windows face north with an open view of the tower and flightline, the studio is spacious, there is no telephone, and it’s an easy two-mile bike ride from the couple’s house.

Obsessed by Subject Matter

In this retreat of artistry, Anderson delves into and completely explores a particular subject matter, painting it from one perspective and another until he feels it is time to move on.

dove guitar pal obsession roy anderson watercolor painter musician

My Pal Dove, a watercolor portrait of a much beloved obsession, Roy Anderson’s guitar Dove, which has been part of his life for 60 years

“I work within a theme,” Anderson explains. “I determine the theme based upon future exhibition or current obsessions.

“When I coached soccer, I painted portraits of every player.

“When I started teaching ukulele, I painted portraits of every student.

“When I caught a fish, I painted its portrait one inch bigger and brighter than it was.”

Anderson’s most recent obsession, and the theme of his month-long Art Event and upcoming special show at Wenaha Gallery, revolves around musical instruments, specifically those in his personal collection that he has used in his frequent, free, and public performances, which include providing regular music at the Walla Walla Senior Center.

Obsessed by Music and Musical Instruments

“I wanted to eulogize my personal collection of instruments,” Anderson says. “The ‘Dove’ guitar has been with me 60 years. I am committed to the guitar as much as I am to painting — my music composes my art, and the two are one in this exhibition.”

Anderson will perform musically during a special show at Wenaha Gallery Saturday, March 3, from 1 to 4 p.m., in between two historical lectures to be given by artist and writer Nona Hengen of Spangle. The music adds dimension to the art he is exhibiting, Anderson says, and he will be playing on the very instruments that he so carefully painted.

ukulele lady musical instrument roy anderson obsessed watercolor artist

Ukulele Lady, set against an abstract background of striped fabric, by Walla Walla watercolor painter Roy Anderson, who gladly admits his obsession to both painting and music

“Adding sound is very important to viewing each painting — just as it was in producing it.”.

In describing the style of his painting, Anderson says, “Think of stained glass on white paper,” as glazes of transparent watercolors are layered, one over another, on watercolor paper substrate.

“The technical aspect is the most challenging — how to mix and apply the pigment onto watercolor paper. With proper training, watercolor painting is easy.

“The final product is more brilliant than any other painting medium.”

Watercolor: The Perfect Medium

It is, he feels, the perfect medium, and considering that he has created a LOT of paintings in this medium — from fish to ukuleles, from animals to people, from mountains and meadows to a series of domestic rabbits — he is in a place to state his position with conviction and assurance. Maybe even a little . . . positive, confident, enthusiastic obsession.

“Every piece of art is a statement. The subject is always larger and brighter than reality.

“I want the viewer to see and feel. When a painting brings forth a memory or an emotion, it is a success.”

Wenaha Gallery

Roy Anderson is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, February 12, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, March 10, 2018.  He will be at the the gallery Saturday, March 3, showing his work and playing live music from 1 to 4 p.m.  Joining him that day will be artist, writer, and historian Nona Hengen of Spangle, WA, and glass artist Gregory Jones of Pasco.

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.

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

The Dentist Artist — Sculpture by Shelia Coe

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

Sculpted woman with fabric skirt by former dentist, now artist, Shelia Coe

Childhood Christmas gifts create lasting memories. Often, they even shape our future. And so it was for ceramic artist Shelia Coe . . . sort of. It just took a little longer than her mother, whose biggest desire was that her daughter grow up to be an artist, envisioned.

“My mother was a frustrated artist,” Coe remembers. “With six children, she didn’t have much time to pursue art, but she tried to channel me into becoming an artist. To that end, she bought me art supplies for every holiday, and dragged me along on her trips to paint barns and still lifes.”

cow sculpture by dentist artist shelia coe walla walla

Cow sculpture by dentist artist Shelia Coe of Walla Walla

Like so many things we plan for and try to direct, however, the future turned out differently, and instead of using her hands to wield a paintbrush or palette knife, Coe picked up the tools of dentistry, practicing the profession for more than 34 years.

“My mother was disappointed when I was accepted into dental school,” Coe says. “She said something like, ‘If you have to do something in the health field, couldn’t you at least be a medical illustrator?’

“I’ve gotta laugh at how it’s all turned out, and if she’s looking down, she’s probably happy to be getting her wish for me.”

Looking for a Creative Outlet

The latter part of those 34 years in dentistry, Coe spent in Walla Walla at a private practice, finishing out the final six of her career at Yellowhawk Clinic in Pendleton for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. Upon retirement, she found her hands and mind seeking a creative outlet, and when the women in her spinning class at the YMCA suggested taking a sculpture class by Walla Walla artist Penny Michel, Coe decided to give it a try.

fish sculpture shelia coe dentist artist walla walla

Fish sculpture by Shelia Coe of Walla Walla. Coe worked as a dentist for 34 years before turning fulltime to art

“After the first class, I was hooked.

“For a week I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the things I wanted to try to make.”

Fortunately, her sleep patterns have returned to normal, with the added bonus of Coe continuing to explore a variety of subject matter, from people to animals to design work. The possibilities are endless, because Nature herself never runs out of providing ideas.

“I love nature, and as a child was always drawing horses and animals of all kinds along with plants — for awhile I wanted to be a botanist.

“So all kinds of things in nature inspire me, and oftentimes it can be a drawing or a photo, or the animal itself.

“I have made llamas, deer, horses, cows, fish, and sheep on a hill. I recently finished a horse that is 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide — the largest piece I have ever made.”

An Unusual Studio

Coe’s studio is split between Michel’s studio for classes and firing, and Coe’s home utility room and kitchen. And while the kitchen and laundry rooms are not generally associated with the wild, exuberant, abounding world of nature, they are good places to capture it. Kitchen implements, basic tools, and simple elements of nature — like pine cones, for texturizing — create mesmerizing effects when wielded in the right hands, and what hands are more accustomed to fine, precision work than that of a dentist?

horse sculpture shelia coe wenaha gallery

Horse sculpture by Shelia Coe, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“Sculpture, like dentistry, demands the use of the hands — but with loads more creative freedom (of course),” Coe observes.

Creative freedom or not, clay has its own rules, and part of learning to work with it is respecting its properties, taking the scientific approach to art, so to speak. Observation, theorization, deduction, experimentation, and the willingness to learn from failure all come into play, and Coe willingly gives time to each.

“My favorite part of creating sculpture is figuring out the structural and engineering aspect of each piece,” Coe explains. “It is not always easy to get the clay to do what you want it to.

“Glazing is also a challenge because they never look the same once they are fired. In fact, even the same glaze will look different depending upon its thickness and its position in the kiln. Glazes are very finicky.”

World Traveler

A member of ArtWalla, Coe takes advantage of classes, both in the area and out, to finesse and further her skills. An avid traveler, she also maintains a collection of her own, picking up pieces by local artists from areas such as Palau, Yap, Tibet and Tunisia as well as more mainstream destinations.

In the end, everything works together when it comes to art, life, and dreams. It may have taken awhile to get to the art part, but all the time Coe spent as a dentist shaped her hands to a fine and acute sensitivity, and sensibility.

Her mother would be pleased.

Wenaha Gallery

Shelia Coe is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 19 through Saturday, July 15, 2017. 

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

 

 

Tunisian inspired necklaces by Pamela Good Walla Walla

Exotic Tunisia & Walla Walla Wine Country — The Jewelry of Pamela Good

Tunisian inspired necklaces by Pamela Good Walla Walla

A touch of Tunisia: necklaces by Pamela Good, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.

They’re called souks — marketplaces or commercial quarters in Western Asia or North Africa, and most of us know what they “feel” like by imagining ourselves in the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The sights, sounds, smells, colors, people (even without the evil, black-robed swordsman confronting Indie), are all very exotic, alluringly unfamiliar in a fascinatingly romantic sort of way.

Tunisia inspired jewelry by Pamela Good Walla Walla

Tunisia-inspired jewelry by Pamela Good of Walla Walla

But for Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good, who was born in Tunisia and has lived there, off and on, throughout her life, souks remind her of urban ethnic flea markets in the U.S. and Mexico.

“What makes the Tunisian Medinas so different are the narrow alleyways and switchbacks, the intense sounds of people talking a variety of languages, carts moving products, copper and brass hammerings and vendors calling to get your attention as you walk by,” Good says.

During a prolonged residence in North Africa during the 1970s and 80s, Good regularly walked the jewelry souks of Tunis, Sfax, and Djerba, seeking vintage beads, ancient findings, and precious and semi-precious stones to incorporate in her earrings and necklaces. One of her favorite merchants with which to work was Monsieur Ahmed, who through the years became a friend as well, tucking aside special finds for Good’s review.

Cork earrings walla walla wine country pamela good

Cork earrings, celebrating Walla Walla Wine Country, by Pamela Good.

“The first time I met him, he invited me for tea, and sitting inside his shop I shared what I was  looking for and how I was interested in designing jewelry integrating my Tunisian culture,” Good remembers. Afternoons with Monsieur Ahmed involved “sweet tea with almonds floating on top in a gold rimmed glass, and a tray of beads, stones, and/or vintage silver pieces.”

Some of these treasures Good still possesses, incorporating them in special designs that she creates as part of her jewelry business, which she focuses on outside her day job as program manager at AVID, an educational organization preparing students for success in high school, college, and career.

Necklaces earrings tunisia touch walla walla jewelry artist pamela good

Necklaces and earrings, with a touch of Tunisia, by Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good

“The arts should be woven into everything we do with kids,” Good says concerning both her job and her art. “I have always believed that everyone can be an artist — you can draw, paint, make jewelry, learn to ride a bike.”

In addition to knowing how to do all of these things, Good possesses a few skills out of the American norm, one of which is speaking Arabic. This she acquired through concerted study; interacting with Tunisian family, friends, and co-workers; and co-owning Auberge de la Falaise, a Brasserie French restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Dressing appropriately for the culture by wearing a head scarf and keeping her arms and legs covered, Good avoided, during her market forays, being mistaken for a tourist, and her happiest souk day occurred when one of the vendors asked if she was Algerian.

“I laughed and thanked him and told him that I was American.

“He could not believe that I was speaking to him in Arabic, and called over people to tell them, ‘This American girl speaks Arabic!’

“They were happy and I was delighted!”

Earrings touch of tunisia walla walla jewelry artist pamela good

Earrings with a touch of Tunisia by Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good

A member of the Walla Walla Art Club and Art Walla, Good enjoys the challenge of making jewelry from found objects, and while there are no souks in the Pacific Northwest, Good haunts vintage and antique stores. She also finds creative use for items immediately — although not obviously — at hand.

“Recently, I was inspired by an artist from Santa Fe who was using cork and Native American seed beads to create earrings,” Good says. “I thought of all the cork we use and then throw away after opening our wine bottles in the Walla Walla Valley, and decided to create a series of wine cork earrings — each are unique, most with sterling posts and semi-precious gems. Others include metals, wire wrap, pearls, crystals, and glass.”

They all look exotic, testament to a lifetime spent learning, traveling, and experimenting. With two or three themes going on at a time, Good finds her jewelry collections changing, evolving with her, her environment, and what she finds — here, or a quarter of the way across the planet.

“The last time I visited Tunisia was in 2012, two years after the Arab Spring,” Good says.

“The Medina and jewelry souks are exactly like they were when I had lived there from 1977-1984.

“There are a lot more imitations; prices have risen, and many old pieces are now seen as antiques, but I would return in a heartbeat!

“I love the chase of vintage pieces and am always excited to incorporate them in my work.”

Wenaha Gallery

Pamela Good is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 24 through Saturday, May 20, 2017.

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

Eclectic and Diverse — The Paintings of Todd Telander

russel creek fields walla walla oil painting todd telander

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

Flexible. Adaptable. Supple.

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

red vineyard river landscape todd telander walla walla

Red Vineyard by the River by Todd Telander

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

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

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

Pinot Gris winery vineyard landscape oil painting todd telander walla walla

Pinot Gris by Todd Telander

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

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

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

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

Behind Tree landscape oil painting todd telander walla walla

Behind the Tree by Todd Telander

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

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

Cows in the Snow Todd Telander oil painting walla walla landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery

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

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

 

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