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.

Crazy about Art — The Eclectic Paintings of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild

An eclectic show of various media, subject matter, and art styles by the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery
An eclectic show of various media, subject matter, and art styles by the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery

There are so many misconceptions about artists, the most pronounced being that they are solitary creatures, reluctant to appear in daylight, preferring instead to lurk like hermits in their attic-loft studios.

Chickens, original watercolor by Sylvia Beuhler of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, Dayton, WA, showing at the Wenaha Gallery.
Chickens, original watercolor by Sylvia Beuhler of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, Dayton, WA, showing at the Wenaha Gallery.

Outside of mass media interpretation, however, artists are people like any other, and many of them enjoy assembling to socialize and encourage. One such group is The Blue Mountain Artist Guild of Dayton, WA, consisting of some dozen painters, who gather monthly to provide new artwork for the community — which they hang at the Delaney Building near the library and the Dayton General Hospital lobby.

“Our meetings are generally informal, sometimes a program is presented, and we always discuss the inspiration for our latest work and any special technique or process used in its creation,” according to Meredith Dedman, current president of the group, who, with  longtime area resident Vivian McCauley, co-created the BMAG in 2008.

Number 500, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery.
Number 500, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery.

“We had both belonged to art associations in Arizona and Florida, and we missed the camaraderie and inspiration when a group of artists get together,” Dedman explains.

That camaraderie these days revolves around the challenge of painting to a monthly theme, which the group decides upon and schedules up to a year in advance. This year’s challenges range from Something Red — to be shown in February — to Collage in April, Caricatures in October, and Toys in December. Summer’s challenge, in July and August, requires each artist to paint from the same reference.

Evening Meal, original acrylic painting by Brenda North of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.
Evening Meal, original acrylic painting by Brenda North of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.

“I was excited when I joined the Guild to find that they had a ‘theme’ for each month’s display of paintings,” member Brenda North says. “It was good to have fresh ideas and feedback from other artists.”

Co-member Sylvia Beuhler, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and taught art in public school, initially was not as enthusiastic about the concept.

“At first, I didn’t like the theme idea,” she says, “but after about a year, I really started to enjoy playing with the theme to see what I could come up with.”

The Conversation, original watercolor painting by Michele McIntire-Smith of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.
The Conversation, original watercolor painting by Michele McIntire-Smith of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.

Beuhler and North join Dedman, along with Kris Takemura and Michele McIntyre-Smith, to present a guild showing of their work at Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA, through March 7. A reception is scheduled Saturday, February 21, from 1 – 4 p.m., with all five artists in attendance, reflecting a subject matter ranging from seascapes to chickens, in acrylic and watercolor media, the latter the preferred medium of the exhibitors.

“Watercolors can produce beautiful and sometimes unforeseen results because of the difficulty of control,” Takemura, a retired early childhood and elementary teacher, observes.

Ballerina, original watercolor by Blue Mountain Artist Guild member Kris Takemura, for the Wenaha Gallery
Ballerina, original watercolor by Blue Mountain Artist Guild member Kris Takemura, for the Wenaha Gallery

Dedman thrives on the medium, having studied under well known watercolorists such as Sue Archer, Ann Pember, Tom Jones, Pat Weaver, Diane Maxey, and Karlyn Holman. In the spirit of learning and sharing, Dedman offers watercolor classes of her own, and several guild members take advantage of the opportunity..

As is the situation with many artists, guild members paint where they can, some in designated studios, others in spaces that become studios by virtue of being made to function as one. North turned a spare bedroom into a space to create; Takemura expropriated a table in her Rec room; McIntire-Smith chose a room in her home where she looks out at, and is inspired by, the deer-filled, bird habitat adjacent to the Touchet River.

“There is never a shortage of beauty in nature where we live,” North says. “And it’s good to have fresh ideas and feedback from other artists.”

McIntire-Smith agrees, echoing the sentiments of others in the group:

“I am grateful to the other members,” she says, “for their insights and encouragement.”

So, the next time you see the crazy artist, in the movies, mumbling and muttering to himself, and plucking at his ear, remember that they’re not all that way.

Wenaha GalleryThe Blue Mountain Artist Guild is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Feature at Wenaha Gallery from February 9, 2015 through March 7, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street. There is a reception with the artists present on Saturday, February 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. Free refreshments 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 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.

 

 

 

Mountain Man Painter — The Landscapes of Jim McNamara

Bend in the River, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara.
Bend in the River, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara.

Jim McNamara is a man who moves mountains, because that is what landscape painters do.

“Cameras can do a better job at exact duplication,” the Walla Walla fine artist says, “but one of the great advantages of being a painter is the freedom to move elements around to suit the needs of the composition. So if a tree isn’t where I want it to be, I move it.”

McNamara, whose day job until retirement 15 years ago was in public education as a school psychologist, has been drawing and painting all his life, thanks to a bunch of determined women:

Dirt Road, Big Sky by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara
Dirt Road, Big Sky by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara

“The nuns at St. Bridget Elementary in Omaha saw a spark in me and coaxed my parents into sending me to summer school at Joslyn Art Museum when I was barely old enough to ride the bus,”  McNamara remembers. Art classes continued in high school and college — interspersed with courses in English literature, counseling, and school psychology — and specialized workshops followed throughout adulthood, as McNamara studied under some of today’s outstanding outdoor painters: Jim Lamb, Ned Mueller, Ken Roth, Matt Smith,  John Budacin, and Ralph Oberg.

The result of all the study, eclectic interests, and hard work has been McNamara’s unique style, blending brushstrokes with realism, plein air with studio work, a painterly attitude with attention to detail:

“My colors and shapes are broadly realistic but I prefer to employ a ‘painterly’ style,” McNamara explains. “I think painting is more interesting and involving if it leaves something to the viewer’s imagination.

“I like to see brushstrokes in a finished painting: it adds a textural dimension, and makes the work more fun to look at close up.”

McNamara, who prefers oil but forays into watercolor on occasion, is a consummate landscapist, focusing on broad, sweeping images of the Pacific Northwest and West, which he captures both on scene — en plein air  — and in his studio, inside an old house, built in 1900, with the high ceilings and quantity of windows that prompt other artists to sigh with envy.

“Where I paint is what I imagine was once the master bedroom,” McNamara says. “There are paintings on the walls, as well as art books, paints and brushes set up. I have an iMac with four or five thousand images to keep my mind occupied in the winter, when it’s hard to get outside.”

Trailhead View by Wenaha Gallery artist Jim McNamara
Trailhead View by Wenaha Gallery artist Jim McNamara

With such an ideal set-up, one would think that McNamara would stay in the studio all the time, content with the absence of rain and wind, but the Great Outdoors seductively calls,  and McNamara has painted en plein air from the Rockies to the coast, covering most of the western states in his travels with his wife. His favorite painting experiences involve backpacking to some remote location, setting up his easel, and painting directly from nature.

“Painting outdoors produces the most accurate color and the most spontaneous result,” McNamara says. “But because outdoor conditions are not always ideal in the Northwest, especially in winter, I do rely on reference photographs, which are always taken by me.” Hence, the iMac, with its 5,000 images.

While in the earlier years of his full-time painting McNamara entered juried shows and competitions throughout the  region — the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts and the former Walla Walla Carnegie Art center, the latter where he won People’s Choice Award and sold the painting the same day — the artist now concentrates his time on as much painting as he can get in. Most of his sales generate from his home studio, The Fort Walla Walla Winery on Main Street, or Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, with one of the most pleasurably memorable sales being to a collector in France, in Walla Walla for a wine tasting — from one area known for its wines, to another.

“I think representational art always makes a statement because it regards its subject as important and significant,” McNamara reflects upon what he does. “Just the act of intensely looking at a subject for the sometimes lengthy time required to render it gives it significance.

“I believe the natural world deserves being looked at intensely and wordlessly.”

Wenaha GalleryJim McNamara is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from December 16, 2014 through January 10, 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; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Horses, Birds, and Wildlife — the Exuberant Art of Janene Grende

Sunday Morning Coming Down painting by Janene Grende
Sunday Morning Coming Down by Wenaha Gallery Artwalk Featured artist Janene Grende

The Lemonade Stand: many successful entrepreneurs remember starting their career with paper cups, a rickety table, and a pitcher of summer brew. Wildlife artist Janene Grende, however, approached things differently:

“My sister Carol and I both drew and painted from childhood,” the Sandpoint, ID painter remembers. “We had a little painting stand out by the road like other kids would have a lemonade stand. Our first sale was 25 cents.

“Carol went running to the house yelling at mom, ‘We have a cuspidor! We have our first cuspidor!'”

Grizzle by Janane Grende, Wenaha Gallery Art Walk featured artist.
Grizzle by Janane Grende, Wenaha Gallery Art Walk featured artist.

Since that momentous day, there have been many cuspidors, and clients, for both Grende sisters, with the excited Carol advancing to a career in bronze sculpture (her full-size statue of Sacagawea is a public art piece in Dayton, WA), while Janene directed her attention toward two-dimensional painting in oils, acrylics, gouache (rhymes with wash), and silk dye on silk substrate.

A prolific artist, Janene has licensed her work to Leanin’ Tree cards; designed plates, ornaments, and sculptured items for the Bradford Exchange; and provided original paintings, limited edition prints, and gift items to Wild Wings, a leading publisher and retailer of wildlife art that distributes its products to more than 150 galleries and gift shops nationwide.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Grende has made a name for herself in the wildlife and western art world, completing several paintings for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where she has twice been chosen the Artist of the Quarter; the National Wildlife Federation; and the United States Humane Society.

Selected as the Ducks Unlimited artist of the year for Idaho, Grende was the first woman to win this honor, and the first person to win it twice.

Her horse-inspired paintings have been featured at the American Academy of Equine Art, and among her many national awards is the Best of Show at the “In the Company of Cowgirls” art show at the Pendleton Cattle Barons Weekend.

Of the many awards under Grende’s belt buckle, however, her most prized accomplishment is the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation Award of Excellence, given once a year to the most well-rounded  artist for the accomplished artwork and teaching skills.

Two Girls on Horseback by Janene Grende, Wenaha Gallery Art Walk featured artist.
Two Girls on Horseback by Janene Grende, Wenaha Gallery Art Walk featured artist.

“I have paintings all over the world, in many different mediums,” Grende says. “One of my favorite commissions was a silk dye of two young girls who were avid English riders in New York State.

“They dreamed, however, of riding out west as cowgirls. Their dad sent me a variety of photos and I made them into cowgirls with wild rags, chaps, hats and spurs.

“Ridin’ right at ya whoopin’ and hollerin’ . . . with some great mountains behind.”

Another treasured memory involves a purchaser from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, who moved to Iran.

“He was in the evacuations when the U.S. needed to get out of Iran in a hurry,” Grende explains.

“He was wounded in the leg from a mortar round and airlifted out in a helicopter while holding my painting on his chest.”

Horses painting by Janene Grende
Horses in Hill Pasture by Janene Grende, Wenaha Gallery Art Walk featured artist.

An artist can’t ask for much better endorsement than that.

Grende paints and teaches from two studios in her Sandpoint, Idaho location, and while time to paint is never unlimited, ideas for what to paint next are boundless.

“I never have any trouble thinking about what I will create next — I have lists of ideas and more ideas come every day,” Grende says of the creative process.

“My favorite subjects are horses, birds, wildlife and scenery, in that order.

“I mean, have you ever seen anything as beautiful as a horse prancing about? Or an eagle stretching its wings as it glides off a branch into the sky? Or how about a huge bull elk strutting along in all his glory.

“A cascading waterfall, fireflies at dusk, autumn trees reflected in a mirror-still lake, spring flowers and that first hummingbird.

“How would anyone run out of ideas to paint?”

Janene Grende is the featured  Art Event Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA) from October 4-31. On the opening day of her show, Saturday, October 4, Grende joins Lewiston artist Craig Whitcomb at a special Art Walk reception in the gallery, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., part of the Dayton on Tour celebration.

Wenaha GalleryContact 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 World of Experience in Life and Art — the Paintings of Craig Whitcomb

Blue bird with flowers painting by Craig Whitcomb
Blue Bird with Flowers by Craig Whitcomb

 

From the Old West to the Far East, world traveler Craig Whitcomb, who settled down in Lewiston, ID, captures it all in watercolor, pastel, graphite, acrylic, and color pencil, because, in addition to not being stuck to any one subject, he doesn’t limit himself in the medium used as well.

A prolific artist who has been painting for more than 50 years, Whitcomb has fit art, quite prominently, into a career path that encompasses, first, 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a government analyst. This position took him throughout the U.S. and overseas to England, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Blue Indian by Craig Whitcomb of Wenaha Gallery
Blue Indian by Craig Whitcomb of Wenaha Gallery

After retirement from the military, Whitcomb embarked on a second career in teaching, focusing on art, philosophy, English, history and other disciplines — because why box oneself in to just one subject? — at Walla Walla Community College and other area schools in Clarkston, WA. Somewhere along the line he found himself in China and Japan, teaching English. And while he was teaching, he was learning — from the people, from the culture, from their art.

“My paintings, regardless of media, reflect what I have seen in my years of travel and work around the world and how I have perceived the subjects,” Whitcomb explains. Over a lifetime, those travels have taken him to more than 40 countries, with a resultant art portfolio encompassing subject matter that ranges from Nez Perce Indian “fancy dancers” to English thatched cottages, from Japanese Shinto temples  to landscapes of Idaho, near Whitcomb’s Lewiston home.

Oh, and scenes from Aruba,  an island off the coast of Venezuela that is the birthplace of Whitcomb’s wife, Stephanie. Now retired, although it doesn’t really look like it, the couple travels there to visit family, and Craig brings back images — solitary country homes, lush tropical flowers, idyllic island scenes — to paint.

The reason it doesn’t look like Whitcomb is retired is because he’s so incredibly busy — in his laid back, relaxed way. A member of the Northwest, Spokane, and Palouse Watercolor Societies as well as various general art groups, he has served as curator of the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, WA, a position that demands administrative and public relations skills as well as an eye for what constitutes fine art.

Whitcomb has exhibited with the Fred Oldfield Western and Wildlife Show, the Spokane Museum of Arts and Cultures, the Museum of Eastern Idaho, and national and international miniature shows in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Nebraska, England, and Japan. He jumped head first into 30-30-30, a gallery challenge in Moscow, Idaho that required daily paintings over the course of a month, and every year he takes part in the Clarkston Valley Art Center’s “Faking the Master’s” Exhibition, in which artists choose a famous painting to replicate.

“I know I will never duplicate a great master,” Whitcomb says, “but it gives me a challenge.”

Perhaps a greater challenge faces Whitcomb each time he finishes one work, before deciding upon, and starting another: what to do? It could be a portrait, or a landscape; a full-sized piece or a miniature so detailed that it requires a magnifying glass and a very thin brush; a whimsical approach, or a serious one. Whatever it is, it will be an eclectic blend representing years of travel, a mind sharpened by wit, and a background incorporating, literally, a world’s worth of experience.

Village Church by Craig Whitcomb at the Wenaha Gallery
Village Church by Craig Whitcomb at the Wenaha Gallery

“Art is intrinsic to every culture,” Whitcomb observes. “I haven’t encountered a culture yet where they don’t have some form of art.”

And looking at the vast repertoire of paintings spanning more than 50 years of capturing the world’s cultural heritage, one can’t help but wonder if Whitcomb hasn’t put a significant amount of it on paper or canvas.

Craig Whitcomb is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA) from September 22 through October 11, and October 4 he joins floral, Western, and wildlife artist Janene Grende at Art Walk, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery, part of the Dayton on Tour celebration.

Wenaha GalleryContact 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.

 

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.

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.