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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The Unexpectedly Unconventional Square — Showcasing the Landscape Art of Gordy Edberg

Fractured Terrain, original oil painting, by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Fractured Terrain, original oil painting, by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

In the mid twentieth century, the term “square” was derogatively used to connote a boring traditionalist, one reluctant to take chances or break out of the box in his or her thinking.

For 21st century artist Gordy Edberg, however, square is the new unusual, and the landscapes which he paints in this format are not constrained by what he calls the typical, conventional horizontal format that people have come to expect.

Endless Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Endless Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

“The square format, with its harmony of shape, is a useful and non-natural approach,” the Whidbey Island artist says.

“By using the square structure, the landscape subject is contained more, and it removes the expected topographical connotations.

“Thus there are segments . . . fragments . . . sections of the landscape and their abstract qualities which are allowed to come forward.”

Edberg, who has been painting since high school 60 years ago, approaches his artwork from the perspective of an architect, a profession he made his central career for 41 years. The combination of the two disciplines results in Edberg’s signature style, one “grounded in realism with a leaning toward impressionism.”

With a principal focus upon the landscape, Edberg says that, although he does not purposely make political statements with his art, he is fascinated by the existing environment, and how it is changed by man’s impact upon it. There are buildings, roads, pathways, patterns, and how they integrate with their surroundings creates and shapes the finished piece. The very nature of lines themselves — an element strongly used in architectural drawing — invites the artist, and his viewers, to explore the realm of abstract within the world of reality.

Basin Hills and Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Basin Hills and Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

“I look for change occurring, things disappearing, other characteristics of the environment that suggest potential for abstraction expressions,” Edberg explains. And herein that square format intensifies the fluidity of form and shape, emphasizing the transcendental in the midst of physical reality, bringing out the best of each.

“The goal is for the formal subject matter to be seen as a composition, an arrangement of shapes and colors and with aesthetic qualities while still suggesting place,” Edberg says.

While Edberg has painted landscapes from throughout the Pacific Northwest and the west coast, as well as forays into Hawaii, Mexico, Ireland, England, France, Italy, and Greece, it is his Southeastern Washington landscapes that showcase, boldly, the integration of line and form, abstract and reality, outline and shape. Large, illusorily monochromatic fields and agricultural spreads are intersected by roads, power lines, waterways and the patterns of the fields themselves, a balance of both natural and man-made factors.

Power Grid, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Power Grid, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

Shots of unexpected color, calligraphy, textured paint, and marks and incisions upon the substrate surface enhance the mood and setting of the work, creating a place that is real and identifiable, yet not remotely as a camera would capture it.

“Landscape images and also urbanscape and marinescape images painted in the studio are many times imagined in response to the mood and feel of actual places that I’ve sketched or painted en plein air,” Edberg says. In the spirit of fluidity and freedom, he refers to plein air paintings or onsite sketches for his studio pieces, and does not rely upon the camera.

The goal is to catch the mood, the place, the feeling, because within each landscape, Edberg feels, there is a story, and it is his pleasurable goal to tell that story.

Wheat Road, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Wheat Road, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

In addition to creating his oil-painted landscapes, Edberg also works in pastels, as well as designs and builds wood furniture. To do as much as he does requires space, and Edberg’s studio in the upper floor of his home is set up with four painting stations, including a wall easel which can accommodate up to six-foot sized paintings. The garage houses his woodworking equipment and tools, and, in addition to furniture making and packaging and shipping of paintings, another important activity takes place there: the cars can still be parked within.

That’s the architect, sharing space creatively with the artist.

A signature member with the Northwest Pastel Society, Edberg has earned awards from both that organization and the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists, and he has received Best of Show at the Washington State Convention Center Art Exhibition. His work is housed in both private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., and he maintains paintings in galleries on both the East and West coasts.

The architect may be retired, but the artist is very busy these days.

Wenaha GalleryGordy Edberg is the featured artist at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event from Monday, May 4 through Saturday, June 13, at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA.

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.

Expressions in Espresso — The Coffee Art, and More, of Paul Henderson

Dawn's Jade Glow by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.
Dawn’s Jade Glow by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.

Very few of us, after watching a movie, embark upon a yearlong project of intense and highly disciplined creativity, but fine artist Paul Henderson of Yakima, WA, finds insight in uncommon places.

“My artistic interests are wide and varied,” the painter says. “I love the Northwest wilderness and wildlife, but I also enjoy world history, cultures, and geography; therefore I call myself the ‘Northwest Artist with an International Touch.'”

Coffee is the medium of choice in Paul Henderson's Coffee Capital, Seattle painting.
Coffee is the medium of choice in Paul Henderson’s Coffee Capital, Seattle painting.

Inspired by the film “Julie and Julia,” in which blogger Julie Powell challenges herself to cook, within one year, all 524 recipes in famed chef Julia Child’s first book, Henderson embarked upon his “Modern and Experimental Series,” with the intent of creating two paintings per week for 52 weeks.

The spirit of the project never stopped, and while Henderson fell just short of 104 paintings (he completed 90), he continued the challenge, and in the five years since then has been finessing the sheer art of experimentation:

“I decided to not limit myself to detail but to do any style or subject from abstract to detail, to fantasy, to loose style, and to just experiment,” Henderson says.

“This has literally set my creative juices on fire, and I will continue even more creative techniques and mixed media. I love to try different methods; it keeps me fresh and invigorated.”

Color Storm by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.
Color Storm by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.

Some of those methods involve fiberglass taping mesh, highly textured papers, netting, plastic, or styrofoam from packing boxes which Henderson attaches to the canvas, conveying a 3-D effect to a two-dimensional substrate. Another innovation revolves around something most of us have in our kitchen cupboards — coffee — to give new perspective upon the medium of watercolor.

“In 1986, after my then five-year-old daughter accidentally splashed coffee over one of my sketches, voila! Espresso art was born,” Henderson remembers. “At that time, I became known as the ‘original fine art coffee painter,’ and my story appeared in newspapers and TV all around the Northwest.”

Planetory by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.
Planetory by Paul Henderson, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery.

Henderson’s coffee paintings — which use both regular and decaf, and whatever brand of coffee he happens to be drinking at that time — remain consistently popular, capturing Americana themes including both wildlife and western. He has shown at grand openings of many Nordstrom coffee bars as well as at Starbucks, and he offers both originals and prints through his studio and at local coffee bars.

Henderson’s philosophy of art, in short, can be expressed in one simple sentence:

Don’t limit yourself.

“I’ve drawn since I could walk,” Henderson says, “and I’ve been painting for 42 years.”

With a skill repertoire that ranges from highly detailed, almost photo-representational wildlife to dreamily hued abstract, Henderson is not circumscribed by any subject matter, and not only does he create Native American art as well as planetary fantasy, he also incorporates the two. In the same manner, his floral and landscape representational works dance in a background of abstract. It is all part of the spirit of exploration and adventure, an insistence upon not being boxed in, nor expecting his viewer to be so.

Forest Glow by Paul Henderson, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.
Forest Glow by Paul Henderson, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.

“I am free to create anything, to experiment and have fun along with the learning,” Henderson explains. “Art really comes from within the artist and expresses it in the physical.”

Henderson has exhibited in shows and galleries throughout the west, including Reno, Nevada, Hawaii, and California, and at one point was contacted by a gallery in Hawaii asking if he would paint a falcon to be presented at a private showing for the king of Saudi Arabia.

Autumn Glow by Paul Henderson, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.
Autumn Glow by Paul Henderson, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.

He has studied under Don Crook, affectionately known as the “Rockwell of Western Art,” and attended workshops by pastel and portraiture artist Daniel Green. His learning, his creating, his innovation and research — including classes on animal anatomy and taxidermy to give him a better understanding of his subject matter — have revolved around a schedule that involves full-time employment in a different arena than art. After hours, it’s time to create.

“My studio is in my home — I use one bedroom, half of the family room, and store in the garage — I also blitz on large projects in the garage where I take the cars out and go at it.”

There is a reason that the movie, “Julie and Julia,” resonated so much with Henderson — he really does approach life with an international flair.

Wenaha GalleryPaul Henderson is the featured artist at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event from Saturday, April 4 through Saturday May 2, at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA. There is an artist’s reception April 4, from 1-4 p.m. Free refreshments will be served, and Paul plans to create one of his coffee paintings during the reception.

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.