Water, Water Everywhere — Just Not in the Studio — the Pastel and Watercolor Paintings of Judy Robertus

coastal meadow original pastel by wenaha gallery artist Judy Robertus
Coastal Meadow, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist, Judy Robertus.

Water is one of our planet’s most valuable resources, and other than air, it’s probably one of our most vital.

For Dayton landscape artist Judy Robertus, water is a focal point of her work: it is one of her mediums of choice (watercolor), and she incorporates it, one way or another, in much of her work.

“My passion must be rivers, since most of my work depicts them,” Robertus says. “My husband suggested I call my enterprise, Many Rivers Studio. He has a point.”

From her studio, which is close to several local waterways but not right on them, Robertus creates soft, dreamy landscapes of the region’s streams and rivers with their aspen trees and vegetation. With an emphasis on local scenes, Robertus frequently draws upon photos by local photographers Mel Bohleen and Carson Frankie.

Birchfield Evening original pastel painting by wenaha gallery artist Judy Robertus
Birchfield Evening, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Judy Robertus

“They travel the back roads of Eastern Washington and then entice me with their photos, encouraging me to paint them,” Robertus says. “One painting leads naturally to another.

“I haven’t given much thought about how I gravitate toward rivers,” Robertus muses, “and actually, I never noticed that I did until it was pointed out to me.”

When she and her husband, both now retired, are traveling, Robertus seeks out small rivers in quiet, intimate settings. Another favorite landscape subject matter — with or without water — are canyonlands, reflecting Robertus’ growing up in Utah.

“They’re so beautiful,” she says. “I am fascinated by them.”

So we have water on one hand, and canyon drylands on the other. In her choice of mediums, Robertus expresses a similar polarization:

“I go back and forth between doing watercolor and pastel work,” she says. “For many years, I only did watercolor, but about five years ago I started doing pastels and got really involved in it.

“The challenges of watercolor are also its benefits: it likes to do its own thing. It takes you where it wants to go and you follow.

Stand of aspen original pastel painting by wenaha gallery artist judy robertus
Stand of Aspen, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Judy Robertus

“But I also love pastels and their softness and immediacy.

“Both mediums are perfect for landscapes.”

Art became a part of Robertus’ life years ago when she attended the University of Utah, and while her professional career  was in social and community service counseling, her painting was an important part of her schedule, and she fit it in around and about her work life. Now with more time to devote to the endeavor, she has developed the artist’s coveted, and designated, studio space:

“My studio is in the center of my home, where a band of windows provides an abundance of northern light. A very large poster of Beethoven looms overhead.

“He is my muse.”

The muse must smile, because Robertus’ works have been shown in various regional and local venues and exhibitions, one of which resulted in an award from the Eastern Washington Watercolor Society. A member of the Blue Mountain Artists Guild in Dayton, Robertus regularly shows her work in local landmark locations like the Historic Depot and the Weinhard Hotel, in addition to being represented at the Wenaha Gallery.

“The practice of art encourages one to notice Nature’s beauty,” Robertus says.

“Over the years, I have come to believe that within each of us there is a basic wellness, a sense that all is ‘right with the world’ when we are absorbed in the moment in the world around us.

“Painting a scene or observing a painting of a landscape allows us to connect with this wellness.”

Judy Robertus is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, June 23 through July 12, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

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

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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