Baby, Even When It’s Cold Outside, Plein Air Painters Paint — The Landscapes of Bonnie Griffith

Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Some people spend a chunk of their day outside — mountain climbers, builders, hotel doormen, and definitely not least on the list — plein-air painters.

Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

A central facet of 19th century French impressionism, plein-air painting is so called because it is done outdoors, in the plain, fresh air, and those artists committed to the method rival U.S. Postal carriers in their approach to rain, snow, sleet, wind and the occasional, much appreciated, sunny day.

“There really is nothing like painting outdoors; it makes you a stronger artist, I think,” says Bonnie Griffith, a painter who trilaterally focuses on oil, pastel and encaustic (hot wax) as her mediums of choice.

“You are in natural light and not utilizing the eye of a camera to dictate to you what you see to paint.”

Admittedly, she adds, some days are exceptionally inclement, and she has been known to paint from the interior of her heated car. Given the amount that Griffith travels — participating in shows, teaching and attending workshops, and rotating gallery stock throughout the west and Northwest — perhaps the car isn’t such an odd option.

Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

“I am a landscape artist, so I am always on the lookout for a place that catches my eye,” Griffith explains. “I love to paint water, so often I am seeking out spots with streams to paint.”

Griffith, who has lived in Walla Walla, WA; Montana; and now Meridian, ID, confesses a special passion for the landscapes of the west, from Canada to Mexico, and is happiest when ensconced in the canyons of the Colorado River, or by the waterways of Montana and Washington, and all that is in between.

“My goal is to create paintings that draw the viewer into the painting, to experience the time of day, the temperature, the sound, the smells.”

River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Much of her outdoor, onsite work is done in pastel, a highly portable medium that has the added benefit of capturing and translating brilliant color.

“It is so pure pigment that you can create this wonderful sparkle with ease,” Griffith says. “Oils can be mixed to create wonderful color and a visual story. And when you combine either with encaustic medium, you get wonderful, often surprise results.”

Good surprises are, well, good, but given that working with molten material presents the potential for perturbation, Griffith does find herself — when working with wax — indoors, in the studio, and well prepared for any contingency.

“I do have a spare room that I work with my encaustics, complete with fire extinguisher since I utilize hot wax and a torch to create these pieces!”

Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Born into a family of watercolorists, illustrators, and musicians, Griffith has been drawing and painting since childhood, seriously pursuing gallery representation and public recognition from the early 1990s. Her work is in the homes of collectors throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, Sweden, Germany, and England.

She has participated in numerous prestigious, competitive shows, including the Pastel 100 National Competition, the Northwest Pastel Society Member Show, the International Pastel Show, Plein Aire Moscow, and Plein Air Moab, garnering professional accolades such as People’s Choice, Juror’s Award, and Director’s Award. Most recently, Griffith has completed a one-month Artist in Residence for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, during which time she avidly painted, gave public demonstrations, organized a community paint along, and provided art projects to the local school system.

Traveling, learning, teaching, experimenting, and transporting medium, substrate and easel from the car to the painting site — it is all part of Griffith’s interpreting what she sees onto canvas or paper so others can see it, too. And when they do, then this is sweet success.

“It is about color and painting a work that invites the viewer to step in and make it their own story,” Griffith summarizes. “I say that, if that happens, than I have done my job.”

Wenaha GalleryBonnie Griffith will be at Wenaha Gallery Friday, November 27 for a special art reception during Dayton, WA’s Christmas Kickoff celebration. Join us at the gallery from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet the artist, view incredible art, and enjoy free refreshments. Griffith’s work will be on featured display through December 12.

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.

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 Master Potter’s Student — Caprice Scott and Her Ceramic Art

Wildflower themed pottery platters by Caprice Scott.
Wildflower themed pottery platters by Caprice Scott.

There’s no fixing an exploded piece of pottery.

This is not, however, sufficient reason for the average person to give wide berth to ceramic bowls, cups, saucers, and platters. It’s not on the shelf that a piece of pottery rends itself asunder but rather, in the kiln with a temperature ranging from 1112 degrees Farenheit to 2300-plus.

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott
Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

“We’re not talking about just hot enough to burn dinner in the oven here,” College Place potter Caprice Scott, who specializes in hand-built and sculpted ceramic-ware, says.

“Working with clay is a tricky business,” she adds. “I don’t think people realize how fickle and capricious clay and glazes can be.” If the environmental humidity is low, the clay dries too fast and cracks before it even makes it to the kiln; if it’s winter in the Pacific Northwest and the humidity is high, it can take forever for the clay to dry — frequently when the potter is working on a commissioned order with a timeline. Glazes add complications to the creation process.

And that eruption issue?

“If there happens to be an air bubble somewhere in the clay, you might find your piece has exploded in the bisque kiln.”

With all the things that can go wrong, it’s astonishing that anything survives, but that it does — as well as thrive in beauty, functionality, and form — is testament to the skill of the potter. Scott, whose experience in the art arena ranges from teaching in private and charter schools to painting murals in million-dollar Colorado spec homes, turned her central focus to pottery upon her family’s moving to the Pacific Northwest six years ago.

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott
Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Scott’s drive to learn and experiment, in conjunction with an attention to detail, impel her to create unusual pieces and collections — such as the sugar/creamer set shaped like European village houses which garnered an award at an art exhibition, or the commissioned clay box fashioned into a Dr. Who fez hat, tassel and all.

“I take delight in coming up with something no one else has done before and probably won’t ever do again,” Scott explains.

“I usually work within a theme or do a bunch of one thing for a little while. I find something new and get really passionate about it and I make as many pieces as I can for a few months, and then I move on to something new.”

One aspect that is consistent in all of Scott’s pieces is the signature at the bottom: her last name, and then the biblical verse, Isaiah 64:8, which, when one looks it up, says,

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott
Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Scott stumbled upon the verse in a period of frustration, when everything that could go wrong with creating pottery (including explosions), did, and she decided to dedicate each piece to Him, as a work of His hands as well as hers.

“So when the pieces were blowing up or coming out of the kiln cracked, I was like, ‘God, Your pottery is breaking. And it’s Yours, so I guess it’s okay. If You’re okay with it, then I am, too.”

Completing a part of Scott’s journey, the verse confirmed that her work gave meaning to others as well as to herself, and she felt as if God were saying, “You, Caprice, can call me ‘My Father, the Potter.’

“I really feel this verse sums up all that I am and all that my pottery represents. Without the Master Potter, I and my work wouldn’t be.”

Scott’s work is unique, skillful, eclectic, passionate, and illuminated by imagery that celebrates the outdoor world: flowers, leaves, Native American art, and wildlife, reflecting an appreciation for nature that Scott acquired through living in Colorado, and reaffirms in the Pacific Northwest.

“I need to be surrounded by beauty. If I can’t be out in nature, I try to bring beauty inside.”

Beauty ignites.

Wenaha GalleryScott’s work is on display at Wenaha Gallery. During the Christmas season, Scott is holding a Christmas Ornament Workshop at the gallery, gently leading students (who don’t have to have any experience in pottery, because Scott does) into making a customized pottery ornament for their tree. The two-part workshop takes place Sunday, November 15 and Sunday, December 6. Cost is $55 for both workshops, with all supplies, and firing of the ornaments, included. Read more about the workshop at our article, Christmas Ornament Workshop.

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.

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.

Storyteller — The Western and Camouflage Art of Bev Doolittle

The Forest Has Eyes is a prime example of Bev Doolittle's camouflage art, with hidden things to be found everywhere.
The Forest Has Eyes is a prime example of Bev Doolittle’s camouflage art, with hidden things to be found everywhere.

In a cinema-saturated society where most people effortlessly rattle off the monikers of 20 living celebrities, naming a fine art painter — especially one who is still breathing — is a challenge.

Within that limited list, however, the name Bev Doolittle will probably appear.

Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle
Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle

One of America’s most collected artists, Doolittle paints highly detailed Western Art, primarily in watercolor, that focuses on the environment, Native American tradition, and wildlife. In ironic variance with her name, Doolittle has created, during a career that spans more than 40 years and counting, a significant body of work, which she sells as both originals and prints.

Her images are on calendars, journals, and note cards. They are in a number of books that she has co-authored and illustrated. Through Greenwich Workshops, her principle publisher, Doolittle’s limited edition prints have consistently sold out, and during a 2005 show at Wenaha Gallery when the artist appeared personally in Dayton to sign her prints, the line of purchasers extended out the door and into the sidewalk.

Runs with Thunder by Bev Doolittle
Runs with Thunder by Bev Doolittle

“From the front desk, where I was busy processing sales, I looked across the room where Bev was signing work and chatting with clients,” Lael Loyd, who presently manages the gallery, remembers.

“What impressed me the most is how much time she spent interacting with each person. She was not rushed or moving people through the line quickly. She took time to talk and sign and interact.

“People loved her.”

People still do. Although Doolittle is popularly known for her camouflage technique, in which elements like animals or human faces are hidden within rocks and trees or clouds and streams, not all of her work employs this stratagem. Loyd remembers Doolittle explaining how the public’s reception to the first camouflage piece was so overwhelmingly positive, that the artist was encouraged to, well, Do More.

“Many people call me a ‘camouflage artist,’ but that just isn’t true,” Doolittle says on the Greenwich Workshop website. “If I have to be categorized at all, I like to think of myself as a ‘concept painter.’ I am an artist who uses camouflage to get my story across, to slow down the viewing process so you can discover it for yourself.

“Everything I do is intended to enhance the idea of each piece. For me, camouflage is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

“My meaning and message are never hidden.”

Hide and Seek by Bev Doolittle contains a hidden message that, once clear, doesn't disappear.
Hide and Seek by Bev Doolittle contains a hidden message that, once clear, doesn’t disappear.

That being said, a viewer can spend a lot of time in front of a Doolittle piece, searching for images that may, or may not, be there. In Hide and Seek, a compilation of 24 smaller paintings of brown and white paint horses set against rocks and snow, the words “Hide and Seek,” once seen, are never unseen. They become one with the work, and the viewer feels as if he shares the secret, and the pun, with the artist.

But sometimes, according to Loyd, viewers see things that even the artist doesn’t know are there.

“Once Doolittle became known for doing camouflage, that’s what collectors began seeing,” Loyd says, “but as Doolittle herself says, not all of her work uses this technique.

“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Look — I see a fish in that rock!’ when there isn’t one, but I’m sure Doolittle wouldn’t mind.

“With both her ‘camo’ and her regular work, Doolittle has given collectors much variety.”

The Arrival, for a long time, was hidden to those who knew it existed, but couldn't find it.
The Arrival, for a long time, was hidden to those who knew it existed, but couldn’t find it.

One of Doolittle’s earliest ‘regular’ works, painted in 1977, is The Arrival, depicting a group of Indian scouts spotting the season’s first herd of buffalo. Sold to a private collector, the painting vanished from public view, and Greenwich Workshop made a concerted effort to find it.

“They knew it was out there, but they just didn’t know where,” Loyd says. “When they did find it, and secured permission from the owner to make limited edition prints from it,  it added to the history of the Doolittle collection. It tells a beautiful story, like so many of her works do, and I’m glad that this story can be told to more people.”

Doolittle is still telling stories, and in the spirit of adventure and the great outdoors, she adds additional diversity — more writing, as well as different media and sculpture — to the work done in her California studio. As she told Ralph Cissne, author of the 2015 article about Doolittle, Hidden in Plain Sight, in Chrome Magazine,

“You don’t really retire from art. Hopefully, I can keep going until I fall over on my brush.

“The West is an endless source of ideas for paintings and stories.”

Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery is featuring a collection of hard-to-find Bev Doolittle limited edition prints at our latest Art Event, running from Monday, October  19 through Saturday, November 14. Central to the Event are 14 framed pieces dating from Doolittle’s earlier paintings. Also included is The Arrival, released in 2010, and Beyond Negotiations, a limited edition of Doolittle’s first acrylic in 30 years.

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.

She Never Did Sell Wash Rags — The Oil Painting of Deborah Krupp

Bowls and Onions, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp
Bowls and Onions, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp

When painter Deborah Krupp was a child, she proclaimed to the world in general that her goal, as an adult, was to sell wash rags and towels.

“Art and color and decorating and architecture have been a part of me from as early as I can remember,” Krupp, who eventually pursued a successful career in teaching, explains. “My mother would take us shopping in the department stores, and I remember holding her hand while we looked at the beautiful items, especially those in the linen department where there were red and blue and orange towels.

Impressionist Roses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Deborah Krupp.
Impressionist Roses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Deborah Krupp

“So I announced that when I grew up I was going to sell washrags and towels. It was a story that followed me through my life as my mother enjoyed telling it.”

Even though Krupp’s initial avocation declaration underwent significant change, her love for beauty, color, and artistry did not. During the years that she taught K-12, or served as fulltime librarian in the Nine Mile Falls School District outside of Spokane, Krupp lived, and taught, the internal skills that she would later draw upon in her painting.

“As an English teacher, I had the students sit and think before they started writing, and I instructed that they put their pencils down for ten minutes and just think about what they were going to do next,” Krupp remembers.

“As the year went on, the kids naturally started to put the pencils down themselves, and the classroom — which normally has its share of noise — was very quiet.

Beachy Dream, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp
Beachy Dream, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp

“I rather believe that this is the same need we have in art. I think much of it is a matter of thinking to get into the feel, and that you have a peace by the time you get to putting color on the paper. It’s a slow process.”

For Krupp, who began actively pursuing a dream to paint after her retirement in 2009, this process of peaceful contemplation doesn’t always run smoothly, most significantly because her “studio” is a mobile one, which she sets up in the corner of the kitchen, family room, or den.

Golden Palms, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp
Golden Palms, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp

“I make an announcement that I need to be uninterrupted for a time, although that rarely happens,” Krupp says. “My ideal is that I have a separate studio where I don’t feel guilty about not baking cookies or getting dinner on the table.

“I’m probably not as indispensable as I think I am, but everyone likes my cookies!”

Despite any clamor, however, the cookies must wait, as Krupp, in a burst of enthusiasm echoing the voice of her childhood, explains that she loves to “paint, and paint, and paint!” With an initial background in drawing from architecture and drafting classes that she took at WSU, Krupp advances her skills through a combination of reading and studying art and the masters, analyzing the properties of paint, and transferring what she learns intellectually to paint or canvas.

She has taken workshops with David Riedel (still life oil painting), Carl Purcell (nature in watercolor), and Diane McClary (oil impressionism) and draws upon, for subject matter, the whole wide world around her.

Wenaha Morning Mist, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp
Wenaha Morning Mist, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Deborah Krupp

“There are so many colors out there and so much beauty that I don’t have enough time in the day to take it on,” Krupp says. She sets up still lifes and studies the way the light reflects off surfaces. Other times, she paints landscapes, both from photo references and memories, but always she is seeking to capture that ethereal synthesis of light with color.

“As young as I can remember, I recall staying with my grandmother, whose shades were amber. In the morning, when the sun shone through, it turned the room gold, and that early memory has influenced my life ever since — from the colors that I put into my house to the paintings that I do now.

“There is a glow and a life that I want in the painting.”

Recently moved to Dayton, Krupp is still in the process of unpacking, and though she has connected with the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, she hasn’t yet set up her painting space.

“It’s like withdrawal and I find myself a little edgy not being able to paint. I think I’m going to have to work in the kitchen again, although I hope to set up a shed we have in back, into some kind of studio.”

She just needs time, place, and a space, but the one thing that’s always there is the love for, and appreciation of, color.

“I’m always striving for that natural glow that takes you beyond reality.”

Wenaha GalleryDeborah Krupp is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, July 27 through Friday, August 21.

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.

Timelessness — the Wildlife Art of Jackie Penner

Lunch Break by Jackie Penner
Lunch Break by Jackie Penner.

Some things — not cell phones — never change, and in a world where the news of 15 minutes ago is hopelessly outdated, it is good to know that there is another world, a quieter one, where things move at a slower pace.

Such is the reality embraced and painted by fine artist Jackie Penner, who focuses on the west — its people, its landscapes, its horses, and its wildlife. And while, admittedly, cowboys and Indians are more of a legend than contemporary fact, Penner draws inspiration from a sphere of wildlife and domestic animals whose daily life, in many ways, consists of the work and play that they have always done.

Header Team by Jackie Penner
Header Team by Jackie Penner

Grizzly bears, despite their size and temperament, still look remarkably winsome as they’re trying to spear a fish; horses exhibit an intelligence resulting in veritable friendship between themselves and their owners; wolves, in their solitary existence, remain outcasts, but ones capable of evoking awe and respect.

“Western life in its variety holds a special fascination for me,” Penner, who for the last 49 years has lived on a family farm since she married her Dayton high school sweetheart, Jay Penner, says. Penner’s introduction to art began when she was a child, taking informal drawing lessons from longtime area resident and artist, Vivian McCauley Eslick, and she added oil painting to her repertoire upon adulthood.

Living within the midst of both farm and wildlife, Penner gathers reference material just by virtue of living each day, with many a gentle ride on her beloved Quarter Horses resulting in an unexpected siting of two young badgers playing; a bird in the bush; or one of the majestic, working Belgian horses, raised by her husband’s family for many years.

This, primarily, has been her education in art:

Welcome Ride Home by Jackie Penner
Welcome Ride Home by Jackie Penner

“Live in an old rural schoolhouse, surrounded with an abundance of wildlife, and paint, paint, paint.”

Like many artists, however, Penner has had to find time to paint, paint, paint. In the early years, raising two children to successful adulthood was her primary goal, but even after those human birds had flown, Penner found her hours demanded by the bookkeeping she does for the family business. Not so oddly for her, numbers are as fascinating as paintbrushes, and the attention to detail she accords accounting translates well to the canvas when she is recording a living subject.

“I’m very, very detailed,” Penner says. “All my life people have been saying, ‘loosen up, you need to loosen up.’ But I got to a certain age and thought, ‘I’m going to do what I like to do, which is detail.’ ”

This detail comes out most strongly in Penner’s graphite drawings, but her paintings, as well, focus on the damp textured pattern of a bear’s fur, the plumage of pheasant in flight, the intricate harness and tack of a Belgian horse team ready to work the harvest.

Building in Wheat Field, fine art photograph by Gary Wessels Galbreath
Building in Wheat Field, fine art photograph by Gary Wessels Galbreath

“Living on the farm, surrounded by nature and the animals and lifestyle I love, gives me the passion to transfer those feelings to canvas.”

Through workshops, Penner has studied under well-known wildlife artists such as Daniel Smith, Paco Young, Terry Isaac, and John Banovich, and she herself is a member, emeritus, of Women Artists of the West, an organization of more than 200 professional female artists. Penner has served as both its president and ad director.

“My art has taken me on a journey that I never dreamed possible,” Penner says. It is a diverse and varied journey that Penner, a 1966 graduate of Dayton High School, did not foresee 49 years ago, and as Dayton Alumni Weekend approaches this Saturday, July 18, Penner joins another Dayton Alumni, Gary Wessels-Galbreath (1975), in celebrating that artistic journey, through a combined art show and reception at Wenaha Gallery.

Wessels-Galbreath, like Penner, focused on art from a young age, with that focus being quite literal from the other end of a camera — beginning with a 110 Kodak pocket model when he was 12.

Traveling the world as a Navy Seabee, Wessels-Galbraith studied photojournalism upon rejoining the civilian world, graduating from Evergreen State College with a B.A. in art and Native American Studies. He directs his attention primarily upon the environment and landscapes, and, like Penner, captures a sense of timelessness in a rapidly changing world.

Animals. Landscapes. People. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thankfully.

Wenaha GalleryJackie Penner and Gary Wessels-Galbreath are at an artists’ reception in their honor Saturday, July 18 from 10:30 a.m. (immediately after the Alumna Weekend Parade) until 2:30 p.m. at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA. Free refreshments are provided.

Penner’s show at the Wenaha Gallery runs from June 27 through July 25. Wessel-Galbreath’s work is on hand from July 6 through July 25 .

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.

 

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.

Prolific, Determined, and 95 — Vivian McCauley, Painter of Just about Everything

At the Beach original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
At the Beach, original watercolor by Vivian McCauley, guest artist at the Wenaha Gallery

It sounds like a riddle that Gollum would propound to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit:

How does someone paint like Picasso, without painting like Picasso?

The answer, in the Shire of Dayton, WA, where fine artist Vivian Eslick McCauley has lived and painted for nearly 90 years, is this:

Barn with Wheat original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Barn with Wheat original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley

Both Picasso and McCauley are versatile in their art, never limiting themselves to a particular style or subject matter.And as a bonus, both artists painted into their 90s, with McCauley, at 95, still actively at work:

“My paintings are smaller now that I have moved from Dayton, to an apartment in Arizona,” McCauley says, “but I still do them and display them at my entry way or next to my door.

“Down here they have beautiful sunsets, and I’ve been painting them, along with some florals and a few Western pictures. Through the years I’ve done animals, flowers, landscapes, just whatever interests me at the time, and I’ve worked in all media. Right now, I’m focusing on pastels.”

Life slows down at 95, McCauley concedes, but that doesn’t mean it stops, and since her move to the desert two years ago, McCauley has painted both indoors and out in plein air, as well as taught a beginning watercolor class, something she would like to do again.

“I’ve taught classes in the community for years,” McCauley, who received her teaching degree in 1967 from the Laguna Beach School of Art in California, says. Although she started out in the elementary school classroom, she quickly broadened out to the adults in the area, offering classes to small groups of beginning and intermediate artists.  “Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, Dayton — I think just about every adult artist in Dayton can verify that they took lessons from me.

“Sometimes I would travel to the Tri-Cities and just stay, teaching classes throughout the week — drawing, portrait, oil, pastels — I taught all of them.”

Daffodil Pitcher by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Daffodil Pitcher by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Vivian McCauley

For McCauley, who farmed and raised her family in the Dayton area, art worked itself around daily life, but it always had a way of making itself known: through the years, McCauley painted public art for the Columbia County Fairgrounds; volunteered with the local art club to run the art department at the fair; and spearheaded the Columbia County Mural Society, which in the mid-90s commissioned muralist Robert Thomas to sketch out the mural outlines, that McCauley, and the dozen-plus members of the society, then painted in.

Abstract Mixed Media by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Abstract Mixed Media by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley

In 2008, McCauley joined forces with Dayton resident and artist Meredith Dedman to create the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, bringing rebirth to the area’s flagging art club, and within a short time, she arranged for local art to be in the public eye: Guild members create regular displays at the Delaney Building, next to the public library; the Liberty Theater; and most recently, the hospital.

“Vivian is very dogged when she sets her mind to it,” Dedman says. “She talked to the CEO and the board members and kept at it, and now we have a space in the entryway and the hallway. People love it.”

Regarding McCauley’s art, Dedman says, “Art is such a passion with Vivian, and she has such a good eye. She’s always been interested in taking a new class and learning something new.”

Through the years, McCauley has studied under noted artists such as Merlin Enabnit, Robert Wood, Frank Webb, Morten Solberg, and Barbara Nechis, defining and refining a style that is predominantly representational, with a nod now and then to the abstract. An interest that started with her first award, in first grade, and the assurance that she has a “God-given talent for art,” has led this prolific painter to show, sell, and teach her art wherever she finds herself. Intriguingly, she has done all of this without ever having enjoyed a proper art studio.

“I wish I could have had a studio,” McCauley says with a sigh. “I painted in the garage, sometimes on the patio, and sometimes on the kitchen table, depending on the weather. This means that when it was cold outside, I painted inside!”

Now, she paints in a small apartment, still with no proper studio, but also still with the dogged, indefatigable attitude that Dedman observed.

“I’m 95,” McCauley says.”But I just try to ignore that 95 and do what I can.”

Wenaha GalleryVivian McCauley is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from January 12, 2015 through February 7, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.

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 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.