Too Busy to Paint, But That’s Never Stopped Her — the Oil Paintings of Marilu Bryan

Blue Door Cottage original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan
Blue Door Cottage, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan

Most people, in the midst of raising a family on a tight budget, have little time, money, or resources to seriously attack fine art oil painting, but this never daunted Dayton oil painter Marilu Bryan, who has been pursuing her interest in art for more than 40 years.

Off and on.

When she can.

But consistently, sort of.

Beside Still Water original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
Beside Still Water, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan

“When the children were younger I kept my dream of doing art to myself for awhile, but then started to study art, color, and composition in spare moments of time,” Bryan remembers.

“I read library books, researched, and studied in whenever I could; I bought my first set of oil paints and started to paint.”

When Bryan says that she was busy, she means it, and not just the raising three children and three step-children while holding down an assortment of jobs part.

“There was a mother-in-law requiring special attention, a bi-polar brother-in-law who needed a place to go after being evicted from the state of Hawaii for stealing a car.

“There were deaths in the family, a cousin who needed a place to stay at a transitional time in her life and a stream of struggling youth who came into and out of our home through the church youth group we ministered to.”

The Duck Herd original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
The Duck Herd, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan.

After the kids were grown and flown, Bryan’s husband, Jon, started an excavating business and needed an office manager. In the midst of this, Bryan’s father was badly injured in a construction accident and fell into a coma, necessitating the temporary  dropping of everything else. A son had emergency surgery and skin grafts for cancer. Fulltime and part-time jobs came and went. Somehow, two houses were remodeled.

“But I kept painting,” Bryan says. “At each new start, I fell in love  all over again with painting, and learned and grew.

“And the desire, the need to paint, was always there.”

When the day came that the couple moved to a little Beach House in Gig Harbor — “I thought we would stay there forever, and I would have time to paint. And I did for awhile.”

But then a granddaughter needed time and attention.

And a son, teaching in Indonesia, encouraged Marilu and Jon to visit, and “I, working as a travel agent at the time, was able to get us a good deal on tickets to go visit.”

So they began to travel.

Out to Pasture original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
Out to Pasture, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan.

“Somehow we started an import business that was fairly unsuccessful but a great adventure. It enabled us to visit our family, to  see amazing and wonderful art, intriguing places, and meet fascinating people. But it also demanded huge resources of time and energy.” Painting waited, yet again, for a time when Bryan had more time. When that theoretically looked to happen, with the phasing out of the import business, Jon retired — and threw himself  into creating art-sculptured birdhouses and selling them on the art show circuit — joined by Marilu.

“There were times when I thought I would never paint again, that I might have forgotten everything I had learned,” she remembers.

“But Jon always supported me, and he was convinced I would get back to it. In the middle of one of  our busiest times — remodeling a house  with walls to paint and floors to grout — he bought me a new easel!”

Unsurprisingly, that went over with mixed emotions, and the easel stayed in its box indefinitely. And though the couple moved from the west side  of the state to Dayton with intentions to slow down and truly enjoy retirement, the acreage they took on seemed as if it would consume all energy resources they had available. One day, when a son and grandchildren were visiting and admiring the moon rising over the Bryan’s house, Marilu commented, “Someday I’m going to paint that.”

“When?” her son asked.

“That’s when I thought, ‘Wow! I’m 66 years old — if not now, when? I’d better get started!'”

And once she started, she hasn’t stopped. Boldly confident with color, Bryan paints humble places and simple  things, some straight from her imagination, others from reference photos she takes of a house, a garden, an old truck.  For the first time in her life, she focuses on creating one artwork after another, Jon remaining her biggest supporter and encourager, insisting that she keep painting when she questions if she isn’t being selfish, perhaps, in spending so much time doing something that she loves.

“There are weeds in the flower beds, the house might get messy, but I paint — it’s what I do.

“Psalms 16:5 says it all — ‘The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Marilu Bryan is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, August 25 through September 20, 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.

 

The Artist’s Life, and Wife — A Different Perspective on Fine Art Painter Steve Henderson

The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist Steve Henderson
The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist Steve Henderson.

“It must be fascinating, being married to an artist!”

This is one of those less than profound comments one encounters in social situations in which the speaker is really looking for someone else to talk to, but you’re the only one next to a free chair.

Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Steve Henderson.
Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Steve Henderson.

But yes, since you asked, it is fascinating being married to an artist, and my particular artist, painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, WA, is a man I haven’t completely figured out in 32 years of being together. (Of course, he’s still puzzled about me, and this is a good thing.)

The other day, we were sitting in the river — not just dabbling our feet, but immersing the bottom part of the canvas chairs and everything that was resting upon them, chatting. Steve had spent the afternoon in his renovated barn studio, working on an oil painting teaching DVD, and the river is our air conditioning.

Midway through an observation on the genius of Nikola Tesla and the lack of any serious follow up on his many and varied discoveries in electricity, the man stops.

Most of the time, this means that he has heard or seen an animal — a deer, a dog, a snake, this latter not a comforting thought since these reptiles manage to swim — but  this time it was the river itself.

“That light, reflecting on the water,” he mused.”And the canopy of vegetation. I wonder if I can get  my camera out here without slipping on the rocks?

“Ah, but we were talking about Tesla . . . ”

Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson
Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson

(He did manage to get the photo, and he didn’t slip on the rocks. He has the balance of a mountain goat, the hearing of a deer, and the eye of an eagle which occasionally requires reading glasses.)

In movies and books, artists are unbalanced, eccentric creatures, and the only reason in a murder mystery that they are not the perpetrator is that they are so scatty in their random, disparate thoughts. It’s a wonder that they manage to hold a paintbrush, much less wield it, but given the artwork that they purportedly create on screen, perhaps this isn’t such a surprise after all.

But in the real world, at least in the world I inhabit with Steve Henderson, the artist is an organized, well read, soft spoken, articulate, intelligent man who at any given moment is either digging up potatoes in the garden, taking photos of a model in Dayton’s Boldman house for a future series of 1940s period paintings, mending  a goat fence, dressing up as Santa Claus for one of his holiday works, or reading George Orwell’s 1984.

In the Workshop, original Santa oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson.
In the Workshop, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson.

He hikes to and through the landscapes he paints. He does not mind rain or inclement weather. He eats anything, with gratitude, and he treats every person as if they were equal to one another. His artwork is a fusion blend of representational attention to detail with impressionistic brushwork, and he loves rich color, complex light, and intricate shadow.

What he creates on canvas is the result of years — years — of time behind the easel, experimenting, learning, trying, retrying, and absorbing himself in beauty.

His philosophy of art — and  of  life — is that the world is a rough, cruel place, and it doesn’t need yet another painting about darkness, despair, gloom, hopelessness, discouragement, and muddy, mangled, greyed out colors.

“Hope, peace, joy, goodness — those are part of reality, too,” he says. “And they certainly look better on the living room wall.”

As an ordinary man, one who spent many years in the cubicle business world of commercial illustration, he is committed to getting art in the hands of real, regular people, and to this end he keeps the prices of his original works reasonable, and partners  with his agents to get his works licensed and available at online and retail establishments.

“Art is a necessary component to a well-rounded life,” he says. “Everyone should have an opportunity to own, and enjoy it.”

By choosing to focus on goodness, one is not denying the existence of evil,  he adds. Rather, one is not allowing evil to triumph over good by feeding it, extolling it, concentrating upon it.

“Artists interpret the times,” he says. “And in every historical time you will find children, family, people who love one another, picnicking, reading, walking, daydreaming. You will find trees, mountains, rivers, clouds, deserts, meadows, beaches, and sunsets — and all of these aspects of nature are filled with color and complexity.

“That’s what I paint.”

Steve Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 13 through August 9, 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.

A Connoisseur of Trees and Wood — the Hand-Carved Sculpture of Jordan Henderson

Carved goat in cherry wood by Wenaha Gallery artist Jordan Henderson
Goat in Cherry Wood by Wenaha Artist Jordan Henderson.

Sustainability: it’s contemporary, fashionable, sensible, and beautiful, and for woodcarver Jordan Henderson of JDC Woodcarving, there is an art to doing it right.

“I source all of my wood locally,” the Dayton, WA artist explains, “People contact me regularly to let me know that a tree has blown down, and am I interested in the wood? Sometimes they drive up — in the night — and leave the wood by the studio. It’s an unusual, but pleasant, surprise in the morning, and most of the mystery is figuring out who brought the wood.

Carved wood sculpture portrait in cottonwood by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson
Portrait in Cottonwood, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“I have acquired some really unusual pieces for sculpture this way — my favorite is locust, but I’ve worked with lilac, cherry, walnut, oak, white pine. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of trees.”

From a block of wood, Jordan uses hand and power tools to tease out the animal, or the plant, or Viking warrior, that is hidden there, waiting for him to create it into existence. The son of Dayton painter Steve Henderson, Jordan learned to draw as a child, and he uses this skill extensively in making preliminary sketches for each piece.

“I study the subject from all sides and perspectives before actually starting to carve,” Henderson explains. “This allows me to make bold, clear shapes and cuts, which I believe are absolutely essential, because hesitant shapes and cuts in carving look terrible.

“Wood is a very unforgiving medium,” he continues. “If you make a serious mistake your carving is ruined. The time spent on preliminaries is well worth it if it means that you don’t have to  throw out a carving that is three-quarters done.”

That time spent on preliminaries shows: Henderson’s carvings are free flowing yet accurate in detail, occasionally whimsical yet respectful of their subject: the trees curve as if dancing,  the chicken exudes nobility somehow, the bust of an Arikira Indian — based on a photo by Edward Curtis — stares forward with dignity and pride. Each piece expresses the individuality of the subject.

Carved wood sculpture rockfish by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson
Rockfish, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

Because of the dust inherent to carving from wood, Henderson prefers to work outside, which is pleasant in the summer months, he observes. However, due to his seasonal day job — growing and marketing organic produce for his business, Deer Pond Gardens — Henderson spends the warmer months with a shovel in his hand, as opposed to a chisel. Quite fortunately, since he is a man who wears shorts in January, he has no problem working outside when the temperature is more . . . brisk, shall we say.

carved wooden sculpture the gardener by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson
The Gardener, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“It’s still pleasant,” Henderson comments in his direct, yet soft spoken way. “And though in the summer — when it would be even more pleasant to be carving outside — I’m not able to devote as much time to it, I get many ideas for the winter.

“And in the winter, it’s very enjoyable, sitting by a woodstove, to do the preliminary sketches for sculptures by the fire. Or poring through seed catalogs. The two facets — gardening and carving — work well together.”

It’s back to that sustainability again — using wood that many people  would burn, to celebrate the world of wildlife, domestic animals, trees, fish, and — quite appropriately —  a gardener, leaning on a shovel.

“My goal is to create a clear and aesthetically pleasing rendition of the subject, with the aim to cause viewers to also see the beauty of these subjects,” Henderson says.

“The real benefit of wood is its inherent beauty: a woodcarving is not just a way of creating a form, it is also a way to show off the beauty of the wood it is carved from. That’s why it’s so important to have many different types of wood from which to choose, and thanks to the people who keep me in mind when they’re cutting wood, I’ve got that.”

Jordan Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 3 through July 26, 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.

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.