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weather improvising plein air climate joan eckman

Improvising and Adapting — the Paintings of Joan Eckman

weather improvising plein air climate joan eckman

As any plein air painter knows, sudden changes in weather are an improvising factor that keep us from being static. Weather Moving In, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

You’re taking a journey. You’ve packed your bags, and in short time, get to your destination. And then you discover that you forgot your toothbrush.

While it’s not a disaster, it is an inconvenience, and how far you are from a -Mart store determines how creative you get about improvising.

For Joan Eckman, an acrylic painter from Yakima, the destination was out in the boonies. And the brush, quite unfortunately, wasn’t just a toothbrush. But Eckman wasn’t about to let a major inconvenience become an overwhelming obstacle:

“I was on a plein air painting outing, and I had forgotten my brushes.

“So I wrapped a piece of paper towel around a pencil and painted with that along with a twig to make scratches and some detail lines. It turned out very loose and impressionistic.

Sun river naches woods forest joan eckman

It’s a quiet moment in the wilderness, far from the noise of the city. Sun on the Little Naches, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

“And though it was nothing to brag about, I kept it as a reminder of what can be done, and because I actually like the spontaneity of it.”

Adapting to Change

Improvising, adapting, being willing to change are characteristic of Eckman. An avid enthusiast of the outdoors, Eckman found herself forced into temporary inactivity after a skydiving accident when she was 22 left her partially paralyzed. Rather than rail against fate, she turned fervently to art, focusing on detailed pencil renderings and watercolor paintings. This latter medium was easy for her to take on what she calls her meanderings, which she accomplishes with the aid of crutches and braces.

“I keep a backpack of art supplies for plein air outings,” Eckman explains. “Everything in it is small and lightweight, keeping the pack under 20 pounds for mobility.”

canyon morning improvising wilderness brushes joan eckman

Eckman was far away from a store when she found she had forgotten her brushes on a plein air outing. Improvising was the only solution. Canyon Morning, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

Eckman, who uses a spare bedroom as her studio, has now moved on to acrylics, which she turned to when she became frustrated with not getting the detail and texture that she wanted with watercolor.

“However, there were many attributes that I loved about watercolor, so I chose acrylics as a medium that I could utilize in both those applications. I can get transparent glazes and texture. I’m still learning, and what a fun process it is.”

Right Brain, Left Brain Improvising

Like many artists, Eckman had to put full-time painting on hold while she and her husband raised their family and she pursued her career as the city clerk-treasurer of Connell, WA. Upon her retirement after 25 years with the town of Connell, Eckman and her husband resettled in the Yakima Valley, when she pulled art out of the backseat of the car and plunked it firmly in the front behind the steering wheel.

“My work as a city clerk/treasurer required such high left brain usage! It’s nice to pursue right brain activities to balance things out.

“I enjoyed my job, and now I have opportunity to pursue my art. Life is good.”

pond calm lilies mallards ducks joan eckman

Calmness and stillness reign in a peaceful moment on the pond. Mallards and Lilies, original acrylic painting by Joan Eckman.

Eckman regularly presents her work at various shows in the area, including the Larson Gallery Guild Members Show, the Annual Central Washington Artists Exhibit juried show, and the Oak Hollow Gallery Holiday Show, all in Yakima. She has also exhibited at Gallery One (Ellensburg); the BOXX Gallery (Tieton); and the Plein Air Washington Artists online show. Her sold work resides in the homes of collectors in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Canada, and Washington, D.C.

Prose, Poetry, and Art

An integral part of Eckman’s creative process involves the use of prose and poetry to help her visualize what she is trying to say with any one artwork.

“My inspiration may come from a song, or even just a word. It may be a beautiful scene outside or a combination of all. Sometimes the picture idea comes first, and sometimes the picture idea develops around some words in my head, which then becomes part of the whole.” She places the prose and poetry journal entries on a note that she attaches to the back of the artwork, and also adds the information to the image description on its website page.

It all integrates, it all matters, and each brush stroke — whether it’s from a sable brush in the studio or improvising a pencil wrapped with a paper towel — is one step further on the artist’s, and viewer’s, journey. Nature is a great teacher, Eckman believes, and there are many life lessons to learn if we take time to ponder and observe the world around us.

“Our world is beautifully created, and we should be diligent caretakers of that.

“Each moment is not its own, not a means within itself, or of itself. It’s a culmination of events leading up to and beyond that moment — as is life.

“There is so much beauty around us and life lessons to be learned.

“Hang on to the beauty.”

Wenaha GalleryJoan Eckman is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 7 through July 4, 2022.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

country landscape acrylic painting becky melcher

“They” Speak, But She Ignores Them — Becky Melcher Paints Acrylics

country landscape acrylic painting becky melcher

On the Fence, acrylic painting by Becky Melcher. She doesn’t worry about what “they” say when she chooses a subject to paint

In the back of our minds, “they” always speak.

Who “they” are is a mystery, but their voice — if we let it — dictates what we do, how we do it, and who we do it with. Call it peer pressure, societal norms, tradition, or propaganda from the advertising industry, all people feel it in some format or another, and how we deal with “them” impacts how we live our lives.

sailboat sailing water lake acrylic painting becky melcher

Too Calm to Sail, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She paints what she wants and not what They dictate

“According to the rules, you are always supposed to have a plan, but my plan is constantly changing,” says Yakima fine art painter Becky Melcher, who has spent most of her life not listening to the voices of convention. During the 1970s, to pay for college in Los Angeles, Melcher got her pilot license and ferried airplanes between the Santa Monica and Van Nuys airports, but while she loved flying, she wasn’t so excited about where all her money was going.

“They” Say College; She Says, No

“College seemed to promise nothing, so I eventually quit and went to work for a law firm summarizing depositions. Back in the day there weren’t very many college paralegal programs, so this was learned on the job. I was self sufficient and independent!

“But as satisfying as that time was, I was fed up with Los Angeles. So I visited my aunt in Yakima, was spellbound by what I saw and never returned to California.”

She married, had triplets six months into her pregnancy, and eventually arranged to work from home, summarizing depositions for a local law firm. And when she could, she painted: representational landscapes during a time when abstract was the art world’s favorite child. After 40 years of being in the legal field — ranging from working for a government contractor making parts for nuclear submarines to administrating the business office of a private law firm — Melcher retired and threw herself full time into what she never had time enough for before.

“I have poured myself into learning and experimenting: the computer age and the Internet have afforded me great instruction on techniques, color, values, composition and the like.”

summer farm home house landscape country becky melcher acrylic

Summer at the Farm. Yakima acrylic painter Becky Melcher creates landscapes from photo references as well as images from her mind

Finding that watercolor “doesn’t allow for change of mind,” and oils require more patience than she has, Melcher focused on acrylic paintings, with her favorite subject matter being landscapes.

Landscapes: They Draw You In

“They draw you into a story that the artist is telling — You can live in landscape paintings!

“They exude the life experience and the extraordinary world around us.”

Working out of what she describes as “a tiny office in my home — more tiny art studio than office,” Melcher has created a body of work welcomed in various area restaurants, wineries, and businesses, from which she makes brisk sales. Buyers have mentioned that they like the feeling and emotion of her works.

well traveled path country rural landscape becky melcher acrylic painting

Well Traveled Path, acrylic painting by Yakima artist Becky Melcher. She listens to her heart and mind before she pays attention to what “they” say.

“Most of my landscapes are out of my imagination,” Melcher explains. “I take a lot of photos. Not necessarily of scenes I want to paint but of skies or lighting that I especially like and want to incorporate into a painting.”

One of the next items on Melcher’s learning list is exploring the world of abstract, with the idea of incorporating it into representationalism. She aims to bring out the best of each.

“They” Don’t Define Art

“Abstract art is not what people think: I believe it is painting the essence of a subject, incorporating color and texture, but I don’t believe a red stripe on a white canvas or a black dot on a blue canvas is truly abstract art.”

“They” may disagree, but then again, Melcher isn’t concerned with them. Each artist, Melcher believes, is a unique individual, and must be free to paint in accordance with their heart, soul, skills, vision, and being. There is no room for an imperious, monolithic voice imposing its views upon the world, dictating what is, and isn’t art.

“I love reading what other artists have to say about their vision, journey, and focus of artistic endeavor,” Melcher says.

“I will always be an artist in training, because there is so much more to learn and try.”

Wenaha GalleryBecky Melcher is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 11 through Saturday, April 6 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.

Paul Henderson - Acrylic

Paul Henderson – Acrylic Paintings

Not only is Paul Henderson exceptionally gifted in the art of painting with acrylic, but he is also known as the original coffee painter. Ranging anywhere from abstract acrylic on canvas to exceptionally detailed wildlife paintings; Paul has made quite a name for himself.
Paul Henderson’s acrylic paintings will be featured at Wenaha Gallery starting on October 7 and extending through November 2, 2019. Make sure to drop on by to see his wondrous display, and also drop by Saturday, October 5, 2019 to meet Paul in person and discuss all things art.

Becky Melcher

Becky Melcher – Acrylic

Becky Melcher will have her acrylic paintings on display at Wenaha Gallery from March 11, 2019 through April 6, 2019. Her paintings are the perfect touch for your home! Make sure to stop by!

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Life Is a Journey — The Primitive Rock Art Paintings and Sculpture of Monica Stobie

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Some humans live for many many decades, while others measure their lifespan in moments. But all humans, whether or not they ever physically walk on the earth, leave a footprint. It is part of their journey.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

For fine artist Monica Stobie, the concept of a journey is simultaneously highly personal and sweepingly universal, embodying the distinctive experience of the individual in concomitance with the lives, stories, and existence of people throughout history. Stobie, whose subject matter — and passion — is rock art, creates pastel, oil, mixed media, collage, and sculpture that draw inspiration from the petroglyphs (pictures carved into rock or stone) and petrographs (pictures drawn or painted on a rock surface) of ancient people. Raised on an apple ranch in the Yakima Valley, Stobie was attracted from a young age to the symbolism and animal imagery of Native American culture, and when, years later, she stumbled upon rock art at a site near the Snake River, she was, as she phrases is, “hooked.”

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

“I have traveled extensively, exploring rock art sites, which has given me an unlimited source of inspiration,” Stobie says. “I worked for several weeks one summer documenting rock art sites on private land. Having a Navajo guide provided a unique perspective on these ancient sites. “Hiking through harsh desert conditions gave me an understanding of a much more difficult time of survival for ancient peoples.”

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Stobie translates this understanding, empathy, and fascination into two- and three-dimensional format, and over a professional art career spanning 30 years, she has evolved her technique and style through exploration of various mediums. “Originally, I worked with paper collage — kind of a paper marquetry –fitting different pieces of paper into a design, much like a puzzle.”

Constant experimentation with papers led to her discovery of Mexican bark cloth, a heavily textured paper made from indigenous tree bark that holds layers of rich pastel colors and texture. The next step was sculpture, in response to requests by various galleries carrying her work, and the most recent path is that of oil and mixed media. Throughout all the variance and experimentation, the research and exploration, however, the crux of the matter, which forms the basis of her pilgrimage through both life and art, remains constant:

“When I look at the journey, the prevailing theme of textures, primitive imagery, and animals are prominent,” Stobie observes. She loves the mystery of it all. Life is, after all, a mystery to and for all of us, with none of us knowing where the next step will lead.

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

In Stobie’s case, art has been a part of her life since early childhood, when she learned under the aegis of her grandmother, a watercolorist.  Early school experiences reinforced a fledgling artistry, when a second-grade teacher praised Stobie’s interpretation of a bird as a sign of outstanding creativity. Adulthood found her graduating from Eastern Washington University with a degree in Art Education, which she put to use for 15 years teaching junior and senior high art in Walla Walla, WA, and Milton-Freewater, OR. Moving to Dayton, WA, coincided with the decision to turn her steps to a new path, one that plumbed the adventures of independent, full time, professional fine art.

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

“Working in a converted bedroom turned into a studio, I began my trek to carve a place in the art world,” Stobie says.

Given her chosen subject matter, it is ironically appropriate that Stobie chooses the word “carve.” The impact she has made extends far from her Dayton venue, as she shows and sells her work to a diverse and widespread clientele.

“During the span of my career I have shown in galleries, mostly throughout the Northwest but also Wyoming, Colorado, and California. In recent years, fellow artist Jill Ingram and I managed our own gallery in Dayton.”

And now, it’s a new adventure, a new direction on the path as Stobie and her husband prepare to move to the Southwest, using this new home as a base from which to travel.

As with all of life’s experiences, some things change, while others stay the same: in a new home, a new venue, a new adventure, the studio, for now, will start out in the familiar fashion of a converted bedroom. But it’s all part of the adventure. “And so,” Stobie proclaims, “a new journey begins.” Wenaha Gallery

Monica Stobie is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Saturday, August 22 through Saturday, September 19. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled Saturday, August 22, from 1 – 5 p.m. at the gallery, during which time Stobie will be present to meet viewers and talk about her art. Free refreshments are provided.

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

Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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