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Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Bible Promises and Song Birds — Watercolor by Shawna Wright

Isaiah never forgotten bird bible promises shawna wright

Never Forgotten, inspirational watercolor painting featuring Bible promises from Isaiah 49:15, by Shawna Wright

The Comfort of Bible Promises

When someone we know is hurt and needing, we so often want to help, but just as often do not know how. What gesture can we make, what action can we take, to bring comfort?

Morning joy bird bible promises Psalms Shawna Wright

Joy Comes in the Morning, inspirational watercolor painting by Milton-Freewater, OR, artist Shawna Wright

The answer that watercolor painter Shawna Wright found for this question not only made a difference for the person she was trying to help, but launched her on an unexpected life journey. After earnest prayers to God that He would show her a ministry, something to do for Him, she found herself creating paintings of birds incorporating hand-written promises from the Bible.

And those paintings are resonating with people.

But first, let’s go back to the beginning:

It Started with Stick Men

“In January 2015, my father was in excruciating pain from a severe injury,” the Milton-Freewater, OR, artist remembers.

“Dad was over 2,500 miles away, and my heart ached, wanting to help him. I was inspired to make him a journal of Bible promises and hymns. It wasn’t beautiful — in fact, it was rather rough as my art ability at that time stopped at stick men — but it was from my heart.”

Every morning for two years Wright emailed her father a scanned copy from her journal. Every day, the pages became more detailed and colorful as, bit by bit, Wright began experimenting with her images. On her father’s birthday, inspired by the desire to do something distinctive, she created her first bird painting.

Possible with God bird watercolor Luke Shawna Wright

It’s Possible with God, original inspirational watercolor painting by Shawna Wright

“Both Dad and I knew that something special had happened,” Wright says.

Within two months, she was sharing her work on Facebook, had launched a website, and published her first set of inspirational calendars.

Birds and Bible Promises

Crediting God for her artistic advancements (“Little did I know that He had enrolled me in His own art class”), Wright has published her sixth yearly calendar, as well as numerous prints, cards, and recently, two prayer journals for mothers featuring 100 of her works. She writes a weekly blog of short stories and thoughts on the topic of Bible promises, pairing each article with one of her paintings. She has created numerous commissioned paintings for people who want a customized work in memory of a loved one. And she finds herself invited to share her story at local events, on podcasts, and in televised interviews.

“Bible promises have been a key part of my life, one that has given me comfort, hope, and happiness.

“My goal is to encourage the discouraged, bring hope to the helpless, and comfort to the grieving.”

A Memorable Commission

One of her most memorable commissions involved a woman who sewed blankets for children who have cancer. The client wanted Wright to design a tag to accompany the blankets.

strong courageous joshua bible promises bird hand shawna wright

Be Strong and Courageous, art tags commissioned for pediatric brain cancer awareness by Shawna Wright

“I felt a tender spot in my heart for the families of these children, and agreed to do it free of charge,” Wright says.

“Not long before I took on this project, an eight-year-old girl, Julianna Sayler from Walla Walla, lost her fight with brain cancer. Julianna’s favorite Bible verse had been Joshua 1:9.” (Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.)

Wright drew a golden bird and hand, symbolizing both pediatric cancer awareness and the concept of Jesus holding people in the palm of his hand.

“It is titled, ‘Jesus has me,’ quoting Julianna’s words right until the end.”

Wright gave the original painting to Julianna’s parents. All proceeds from the hundreds of mini-cards, tags and prints that have been sold of this image are donated to the Julianna Sayler Foundation, which helps families of children with cancer.

Each Calendar Has a Feeling of Its Own

With the exception of some commissions, all of Wright’s work features birds with Bible promises. Designed around a theme — courage, faithfulness, assurance, etc. — the calendars are the driver of each year’s art. One year the images were rustic and country, another focused on bold colors and bright flowers.

“I like to mix it up so that each calendar has a feel of its own.

“A theme and harmony is important to me; it’s the glue that holds what I do together.”

She’s come a long way from stick men and scanned journal pages. And she knows, as with any journey, there are many paths ahead, many twists and bends and switchbacks. But she takes seriously the Bible promises she incorporates into her artwork, and she knows that her Art Teacher is serious about working with her.

“I have never taken classes, watched YouTube, or read books. I’ve kept my story true — ‘God Taught.’ It’s what gives my work a unique style.”

Wenaha GalleryShawna Wright is the featured  Art Event from Monday, March 9 through Saturday, April 4 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.

 

Exhausted pickup truck old abandone vehicle randy klassen watercolor

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

sundance plein air landscape country watercolor vogtman

Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

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Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Just the Weather

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

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

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

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

All A’s in Art, Not Math

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hobby That Became a Business

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Brilliant Clouds — The Watercolor Paintings of Joyce Anderson

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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.”

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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.

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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.

 

open meadow bird flying batik watercolor painting denise elizabeth stone

Batik Beauty — The Watercolor Paintings of Denise Elizabeth Stone

open meadow bird flying batik watercolor painting denise elizabeth stone

Open Meadow, original batik watercolor of bird in flight, by Wenaha Gallery artist Denise Elizabeth Stone.

An artist’s creativity is not limited to what they do, but also where and how they do it. And while a separate, spacious studio is ideal, it is not always reality.

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Birds in the Tall Grass, batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone

“I’ve worked at kitchen tables, office desks, and on the back porch at various times, with all the accompanying frustrations of clearing and  moving around for other activities, such as dinner,” says Denise Elizabeth Stone, a painter whose preferred medium, batik watercolor, demands substantial space and time.

“Batik watercolor is a long process, involving many steps and materials,” the LaGrande, OR, artist continues.

“Painting is done on Asian papers, then it is waxed with beeswax or paraffin, crumpled, inked, and the wax is ironed out. The paper is absorbent, so it is challenging to paint on, rather like painting on tissue paper.

“For many paintings, there may be multiple waxing and painting stages, so it requires much thought and planning to map out the process each time.”

It’s no understatement to say that she doesn’t want to put away the latest project with every meal. Fortunately for Stone, the house in which she now lives includes a 20 x 20 foot room that housed the original owner’s basement art supply shop:

“When I first walked into the space it was as though I heard my art future calling to me!”

The Clarion Call of Batik Watercolor

Actually, Stone’s art future has been calling to her for a long time, beginning in her childhood, when she drew, doodled, colored and, upon entering her “tiny” high school, signed up for the first art class it ever offered. The daughter of a photographer, Stone relied upon the camera as her creative outlet for years, at the same time exploring collage, ceramics, pastel, and traditional watercolor through classes, working with art partners, and self instruction. She found her niche more than 10 years ago when she discovered batik watercolor, partnering with three professional artists with whom she painted twice a month, as well as joined in group shows under the name of the Batik Convergence.

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Crow, original batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone of LaGrande, OR.

“Lucky me! I had three teacher-mentors who encouraged, critiqued, and prodded me to develop not only artistic skills, but also my own artistic voice.”

Stone’s artistic voice sings heavily of nature, the environment, Earth, and landscapes, subject matter she finds compelling because it touches the lives of everyone who walks, and breathes, and lives on the planet. Initially focusing on what she calls the Divine Feminine (“This was during my Goddess period”), Stone seeks to convey a feeling of reverence — not religious, but sacred —  encouraging a sense of respect for life and the landscape.

For her Art Event at Wenaha Gallery through July 28, Stone is focusing on birds, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the International Migratory Bird Treaty, one of the earliest efforts to protect birds.

The Long Road to Full-Time Artist

Stone describes herself as taking a long time on the road to full-time artist, a scenic journey winding through the fields of science, spirituality, and psychology. A retired psychotherapist, Stone is fascinated by the language of metaphor, symbol, and archetype,

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Swimming, original batik watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Denise Elizabeth Stone.

and incorporates a universal symbology — which speaks to the intuitive, as opposed to conscious level — in her work.

“Each painting tells a story, perhaps my story or yours, or maybe a story of human experience.

“Sometimes I begin with the story in mind, but more often the story emerges as part of the creation process.”

Stone has exhibited her work at solo and group shows throughout Central and Eastern Oregon. At one of the first shows she entered, Art at the Crossroads in Baker City, she not only garnered People’s Choice, but sold the painting that same night. Despite an appreciable list of awards and honors since then, that memory remains one of her fondest.

The Unpredictability of Batik Painting and Life

Because of the nature of batik painting, nothing about the process is predictable, but for Stone, the unexpected  is part of the journey. You do your best, turn mistakes into opportunities, and accept that not everything is under your control.

“Potential perils hide in each step, so success or failure is not apparent until the final stage.

“The end product, when everything comes together and the batik goddess smiles, is unusual and compelling, with its crackly-textured surface and intense, saturated colors.”

That does, indeed, sound a lot like life.

Wenaha Gallery

Denise Elizabeth Stone is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 2, 2018, through Saturday, July 28, 2018.  Stone will join two other artists, Garrett Lowe of Timberbronze home decor and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 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. Stone is donating ten percent of her sales from her Art Event and show to bird and habitat preservation organizations.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

 

two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

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Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

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Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

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A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

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Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

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Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 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.

 

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.

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Flowers — Bold, Bright Beautiful Watercolors by Maja Shaw

Sunflowers impressionist abstract bold colorful watercolor maja shaw

Bold, bright yellow sunflowers against a blue background in Maja Shaw’s watercolor, Sunflowers II

People who are not early risers get tired of this catching the worm thing, which, frankly, is literally for the birds. As watercolor painter Maja Shaw knows, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and still get the perfect photo reference for her next painting.

shasta daisy flowers colorful impressionist watercolor painting Maja Shaw

Shasta Daisies, a close-up view of bold, impressionist watercolor flowers set against an abstract background, by Maja Shaw

“Conventional wisdom says photographs are better made in early morning, or late  evening,” the Richland, WA, artist says. “But I’m not a morning person, so my reference photos are made in the middle of the day, which is bad for people  shots, but great for flowers.”

Shaw, whose first name is pronounced Maya, as in the ancient Central American people, focuses on florals with bold, sculptural shapes and exuberant color. Inspired by a childhood spent with art-collector parents, Shaw explores ways of rendering images using negative space, as opposed to intricate detail, to define a form. The resultant paintings blend the best of both worlds: representational and abstract.

Flowers, Landscapes, and Brushwork

“Highlights and contrast are characteristic of many of my paintings,” Shaw says. “Two of my favorite painters are Andrew Wyeth and John Singer Sargent.

“If you look at their paintings, especially watercolors, their subjects are defined as much by what is not painted, as what is. I take some of my inspiration from them by trying to define forms with a few strokes which convey enough visual clues so that the viewer’s eye can fill in the rest.”

Palouse Harvest watercolor impressionist abstract painting Maja Shaw

Palouse Harvest II, an impressionist landscape painting in watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Shaw, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, credits one of her art professors with providing a working definition of the category in which her artwork fits — organizational, as opposed to decorative or expressive.

“It’s a style that is concerned with shape, color, and composition and is not so concerned with making a philosophical statement, or, as my professor said, ‘What is the state of man in the world,'” Shaw explains.

People React to Color

“I don’t make social commentary with my art, and I’m not trying to make the viewer figure out any obscure meaning.

“I find people react emotionally to color and to subject matter: if my paintings are  appealing to a viewer in either of these, then that is fine with me.”

lily family flower watercolor impressionist painting Maja Shaw

Lily Family, white flowers against a deep blue background, impressionist watercolor by Richland artist Maja Shaw

In the spirit of being inspired by the masters, both old and new, Shaw also experiments with collage, in which she takes watercolor paintings with which she is not 100 percent satisfied, cuts them into shapes, and “repurposes” them into a new art form.

“I have taken inspiration for these from Henri Matisse and Eric Carle,” Shaw says, explaining that when 20th century French artist Matisse could no longer paint because of failing eyesight, he cut out shapes and had assistants paste them on large pieces of paper at his direction.

“They were mostly semi-abstract shapes, many with lots of white space around them, although many were reminiscent of plant shapes or body shapes.”

Regional and National Shows

One of Shaw’s early cut paper piece won third place in the Waterworks Art Center Show in Miles City, MT, for an exhibit with a paper theme.

Golden River southeast washington landscape watercolor maja shaw

Golden River, an impressionist interpretation of the Southeast Washington landscape, by watercolor painter Maja Shaw

“Mine are different from most collage work because I put them together to actually form a recognizable subject, rather than the mishmash of most collage artists.”

Over the last several years, Shaw has juried into major regional and national shows, and recently garnered First Place at the 311 Gallery Flowers and Garden Show in Raleigh, NC, where she won Honorable Mention last year. She has collected First, Second, and Third Place winnings at shows in Michigan, Colorado, Montana, and Washington, and has been the featured artist at the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, OR and the Cheryl Sallee Gallery in Auburn, WA.

Showcasing Eastern Washington

A member of CyberArt509, an artist’s cooperative encompassing artists in the 509 phone area code, and the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, Shaw shows her work throughout the Tri-Cities. In addition to painting flowers, which she describes as being good subjects because they don’t move around, except in the wind, and are as close as her backyard, Shaw also creates landscapes in the same spontaneous, colorful style.

“I strive to create recognizable images without being photographic,” Shaw says.

“While some compositions lend themselves to metaphors, mostly I want the viewer to enjoy the beauty of color and shapes based on the world around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Maja Shaw is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 25 through Saturday, October 21, 2017.  She will be at the gallery in person Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Wenaha Gallery’s Art Walk, part of the Dayton on Tour and Fall Festival Celebration. She will be joined by Dayton watercolor artist Jill Ingram; Walla Walla musician Roy Anderson; Winthrop basket weaver and singer Lauralee Northcott; and Walla Walla felt artist Linnea Keatts.

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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