Sharing the Studio with Dogs — The Watercolor Art of Jan Taylor

The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery
The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery

While initially, it may seem that there is little in common between four Dachshunds, the canals of Venice, and the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, it all makes sense to watercolor artist Jan Taylor.

White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist
White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Taylor, who has traveled on every continent, paints what she sees, and while she is devoted to one artistic medium, she allows herself the freedom to paint any subject, from safari animals to florals, from antique still life to portraits of Dachshunds which Taylor, by close association, knows are rarely still — or quiet.

“We own three and a half Dachshunds,” Taylor says, her own voice expressing wonderment at the quantity. “One of them is a cross — he doesn’t care, and he thinks he’s quite superior to the girls.”

The “girls” are Lucy, Debbie, and Scarlotte; the mutt is Oliver Twist because he was a foundling, and all four have been featured in paintings by Taylor. Lucy was painted on a cloud with a glittering necklace adorning her neck (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”); the entire menagerie found itself in “The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux,” a whimsical nod to primitive cave art that caught the eye of a collector in Coeur d’Alene.

Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery
Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Apparently, Taylor is not alone in her attraction to small, self-confident, yappy (her own observation) animals, as every painting she has created of Dachshunds has found a happy owner.

“I’ve never had more than one dog before,” Taylor muses. “It’s out of hand now. But my husband is a willing perpetrator of it because you couldn’t do it otherwise. Who else would put up with this?”

TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery
TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Acknowledging a love for whimsy, Taylor incorporates a sense of fun and quirkiness in many of her works, but true to her style of not limiting herself to a style, she explores worlds and vistas that reflect life around her, wherever she happens to be that day: her floral works are bold and audacious; her view of Venice channels the viewer between buildings converging into one’s space; three tepees in a meadow acknowledge the artist’s ability to create stories from their surroundings.

“I believe that artistic expression is the fun part of life,” Taylor says. “When I like a work I’ve created, it’s a joy to me, and I hope to others as well.”

Taylor comes to the art studio from what many would consider the completely opposite world of business and computers, having taught 30 years in community colleges primarily in Spokane. Upon retirement, she took up drawing and painting, just . . . because.

Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist
Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

“I can’t talk about some interior drive where I had to express myself — I just started painting for fun.”

She educated herself through college classes and private workshops, benefiting from Spokane’s ability to attract top teachers.

“There are nationally known people who travel through, who have television shows and things like that. One of my favorite workshop teachers was Lian Zhen, an international watercolor artist from China.”

Since moving to Richland two years ago, Taylor has thrown herself into the local art scene, meeting regularly with fellow artists from the online cooperative, Cyber Art 509 (cyberart509.com) started by Tri-Cities artists Patrick and Patricia Fleming as a means of connecting creative people in the 509 area code region.

“I have a lot of fun with these people, and we get together a couple times each month. I get to see their work, and that’s inspiring.

“About 20 of us get together and paint and critique and have demos.”

With 30 years of teaching behind her, and extensive exposure to art classes and workshops, does she lead some of these demos?

“Oh no,” she demurs. “I do not feel that I have an art education.”

The niceties of distinctions aside. Taylor is a student who continuously teaches herself, and she treasures the hours she spends in her 500-square-foot home studio, replete with all the counters and storage an artist could want, as well as a grand, east-facing window which bathes the room with light.

Oh, and there are the doggie beds, because that is where Lucy, Debbie, Scarlotte, and Oliver love to be.

“If I’m in the studio, they’re in there too.”

Wenaha GalleryJan Taylor is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 11 through Saturday, February 6.

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.

 

Giving Gifts — Tis the Season, All Year Round — Dayton’s Project Timothy

Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA
Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA

Christmas is the season for giving.

It sounds like a Facebook meme, or the inside of a holiday card, and like most pithy sayings, merely brushes the surface of truth.

In reality, people in need — who truly appreciate a timely gift, given — are around all year. Thankfully for those struggling in Columbia County and Waitsburg, there is Project Timothy, an ecumenical ministry spearheaded by the St Joseph (Dayton) and St Mark (Waitsburg) Catholic parishes, but joined by a number of other churches in the area. It provides emergency housing, rental assistance, help with utilities, food vouchers, bus passes, and more for the nearly 700 families that seek its aid every year.

Project Timothy looks to Christ's example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein
Project Timothy looks to Christ’s example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein

“Project Timothy is unique to Dayton,” says Terri Schlachter, president of the 13-member board of the organization. Opening its doors in 1990,. Project Timothy grew out of the energy and vision of Father Paul Wood, who came to the area from the Brooklyn, New York, Diocese, and was struck by the need to collate the benevolent efforts of the Christian community into one place.

“It’s always been meant to be an ecumenical ministry,” Schlachter says. “It’s not just the Catholic Church; it’s the entire community helping.”

Working in cooperation with religious, private, and public agencies, Project Timothy runs from a designated office space in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on Main Street. Volunteers staff the office from noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and off hours, clients can reach an on-call volunteer by going through the Sheriff’s Department.

Operating with funds donated by individuals, private groups, Catholic Charities of Spokane, and grants, Project Timothy strives to be a physical interpretation of the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, a young Greek Christian who eventually became a bishop of Ephesus in the first century, A.D.:

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, and to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde
We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde

“Project Timothy works very hard to be good stewards of the money entrusted to us by our donors and grants to help those in need,” Schlachter says. There’s only so much to go around, the need is great, and it is a delicate balance ensuring that the funds go where they are most and truly needed, while every person who enters the office leaves with their dignity intact.

Volunteers, who undergo 20 hours of training in interviewing clients and familiarizing themselves with the bylaws of the organization, must be discerning and kind, wise and compassionate, able to make intelligent judgments without being judgmental. On the wall is a list of phone numbers of various agencies, resources, and organizations in the area, and before any client leaves, volunteers review additional options available for assistance and referral.

Putting into practice the things we read is a focal point of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson
Putting into practice the things we read, and meeting the needs of the vulnerable, are focal points of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

As with most giving organizations, Project Timothy finds itself most in demand in the winter months, when higher heating and electrical bills command more of a family’s budget. December’s activities center around Christmas baskets, some 85 boxes which include foods for a holiday dinner such as a ham, vegetables, potatoes, pie, rolls, and canned foods.

“If we have enough donations, we will include Dayton Dollars so families can buy a little something for their children for Christmas,” Schlachter says, adding that vouchers provided for food, clothing, and other essentials stay in the area, benefiting local businesses.

On the opposite side of the calendar, the month of June finds the organization with a request to fund a very specific purpose:

“We have had donations in the summer with the specific request that they go to swim passes.

“This has been a great asset for families as the price for swim passes has gone up. It (swimming) is a great activity for children, but expensive for some families.”

It quickly becomes obvious that Christmas is not the only time of the year for gifts, and quite fortunately, Schlachter observes, the people in the area are conversant with this. The gift of giving runs both ways.

“It is very clearly the Lord’s work, for after 25 years, Project Timothy is still going, even though there have been some real economic down turns in the American Economy.

“Dayton has some very kindhearted people.

“To help someone you know is really in need, it feels great.”

Wenaha GalleryLocated one block away from the Project Timothy office, Wenaha Gallery devotes every January to a food drive supporting the community food bank, one of the organizations to which Project Timothy refers. Each year, people from within and without the community donate hundreds of pounds of food to the effort.

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.

 

A Heritage of Trees — The Woodworking of Ron Jackson

Handcrafted, hardwood sleigh by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood sleigh by Ron Jackson

Thanks to the forethought and enthusiasm of 19th century settlers, the Walla Walla (Washington) Valley abounds with trees, its crown jewel, Pioneer Park, boasting 11 of the biggest examples of their kind in the state. To this day, valley residents take seriously the witty quote, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The  second best time is now.”

Demi Lune handcrafted hardwood table by Ron Jackson
Demi Lune handcrafted hardwood table by Ron Jackson

“For over 150 years the people of Walla Walla have embarked on a vigorous tree planting agenda,” says Ron Jackson, whose ancestors settled in the Starbuck and Tucannon areas before the state was even a state. In the mid- to late 19th century under the Homestead Act, he explains, settlers planted groves of trees as part of the agreement with the government regarding land acquisition.

But the thing about trees, he adds, is that they don’t live forever.

“The walnut tree, for example, has an average life of around 100 years. And then it needs to be taken out.”

Handcrafted, hardwood silver chest by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood silver chest by Ron Jackson

“Taken out” generally means chopped down, and Jackson, as the retired owner of Jackson-Sanders Hardwood (which he ran with partner Gayle Sanders during the 1990s) knows all about this: the company bought lumber from homeowners and tree services and sold it nationally to custom furniture manufacturers, woodworkers, and even Microsoft, which at one time boasted a woodworking club.

Handcrafted, hardwood sushi table by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood sushi table by Ron Jackson

For Jackson, a tree’s life doesn’t end when it’s cut down, and beautiful trees deserve to be turned into beautiful, functional art — cabinets, chairs, decorative boxes, even a children’s old-fashioned sleigh. In his “retirement,” this is precisely what Jackson does, operating out of a woodshop the size of a two-car garage, filled with hardwoods salvaged from the area.

“I let the wood dictate to me what it will be,” the lifelong woodworker says. “Maple trees are like Christmas presents — you never know what you’ll find inside until you cut them down. Black walnut is a most beautiful wood — it’s pretty, it’s stable.” Bird’s eye, fiddlebacks, burls, shimmers — the terms cascade off Jackson’s tongue as he describes the patterns found in a tree’s grain.

Slide lid box with Marquetry inlay by Ron Jackson
Slide lid box with Marquetry inlay by Ron Jackson

Over the years, and in between owning various businesses and working diversified jobs, Jackson has custom built three houses, complete with hardwood floors, and in his current home, all but two pieces of furniture or cabinetry came to life under his hands. (The only items he didn’t build were his mother’s dining room table and china cabinet.)

Whether the project is big or small, Jackson is ready for the challenge, and his portfolio includes everything from a recently completed commission of dining room table and six matching chairs to a sushi table, from a sliding lidded box with inlaid (Marquetry) imagery to a serving tray — cut from the bias of a bough — which became in high demand among the area’s wineries.

Serving Tray, similar to the one created for the wineries, by Ron Jackson
Serving Tray, similar to the one created for the wineries, by Ron Jackson

“One time, one of the wineries contacted me about making a serving tray, so I did.,” Jackson remembers “They just loved it — called me back and said, we need a couple more. Called me back again, said they wanted to sell them. Pretty soon other wineries were calling and wanting them, but there was a limit to how many I could supply as there was a limited supply of that particular wood.”

Despite having no website, social media presence, or even, up to a year ago, business cards, Jackson fields requests for his work from friends, family, friends of friends, and total strangers who have encountered his art in someone’s home, at the Farmer’s Market (“Depending on the weather — I don’t fight the wind or the rain or go if it’s too hot”), or local shows and craft fairs. On occasion, he takes commissions, but for the most part, he lets the wood speak to him, and the finished products speak to the viewers.

“I’ve been a woodworker all my life,” Jackson says. “The fascinating thing about working with wood is there’s always something else to learn — you’ll never get there. By the time you develop one skill you’re thinking about the next thing.”

But quite fortunately for Jackson, wood — unlike money — decidedly grows on trees.

Wenaha GalleryRon Jackson is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 30 through Saturday, December 26, 2015.

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.

 

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.

 

Fishing Tackle Boxes Make Great Artist Studios — The Hand-crafted Jewelry of Anna Steinhoff

A selection of jewelry by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery
A selection of jewelry by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Artists work in all sorts of spaces, but the waiting room of an airport has to be one of the more exceptional studio venues. Recently, while fellow travelers absorbed themselves in cell phones and digital notebooks, jewelry maker Anna Steinhoff settled back in a coffee-shop rocking chair and created wearable accessories until her flight boarded.

“I keep my supplies organized in tackle boxes,” the Dayton artist explains, “and I have one tackle box that has a little bit of everything for traveling.”

Bracelets by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery
Bracelets by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Jewelry making, while it is intricate and detailed, is highly portable, an aspect Steinhoff discovered at the age of 13, when she originated her sideline career in yet another unusual place: the hospital room where she was receiving treatment for lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer.

“I had almost three years of chemotherapy treatments, so I needed something to do,” Steinhoff says. “I started making jewelry because I needed a good distraction — you can only watch so much TV.” When a local leather-craft store offered Steinhoff supplies in exchange for her creating projects and displays for their windows, the teenager used her time well: she fashioned intricate seed bead projects, bags, and moccasins, as well as tooled carved leather into wallets, purses or belts.

Jewelry artist Anna Steinhoff gives demonstrations during Art Walk at Dayton's Wenaha Gallery
Jewelry artist Anna Steinhoff gives demonstrations during Art Walk at Dayton’s Wenaha Gallery

Out of hardship grew something beautiful, with the skills Steinhoff developed during adolescence growing and flourishing into adulthood and a business, Blue Mountain Made, which she advertises primarily through her Facebook page of the same name. And while leather and beads still factor into the supply list, Steinhoff has added extensive variety to her material stockpile, scouring antique shops, outdoor stores, and the proverbially treasure-laden family attic for unusual design elements.

Assorted rings made by Anna Steinhoff, Many feature the primer cut from the end of a used bullet shell
Assorted rings made by Anna Steinhoff, Many feature the primer cut from the end of a used bullet shell

“I’ve used parts from bicycle chains, antique pocket watches, fish hooks, fishing flies, bullet cases, old belts, rocks, and flowers,” Steinhoff says. “A lot of my materials are recycled. Almost all of the leather I use are scraps from upholstery stores or even motorcycle chaps.”

An especially impressive find unfolded in her grandparent’s attic, where she stumbled upon a jar filled with brass buttons. A note within described the buttons as from Steinhoff’s great, great Uncle Frank Jobe’s World War I uniform, and it didn’t take long to incorporate this memorabilia into a leather bracelet.

Steinhoff loves leather, it being a major component in many of her pieces. A highly natural, organic element, leather adds a sense of the mountains and countryside, not to mention its ability to impart beauty without being “girly-girl,” an appellation Steinhoff avoids.

“I like wearing something that comes from nature and/or reminds me of the olden days when things were hand forged and simpler,” she says.

Handcrafted earrings by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery
Handcrafted earrings by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“It’s important to me that I make quality goods, but I want them to have a hand-crafted, simple beauty to them — things you can tell that someone put a lot of time and love into.”

In addition to the wearers of her jewelry, Steinhoff has another, unusual fan named Tikka, the family Labrador with a leather addiction. Because the artist’s primary place to work is the kitchen table, she keeps a watchful eye out for Tikka, but sometimes the dog’s muzzle is quicker than the human eye.

“I have to keep leather put away, or she’ll eat it every time. She has actually eaten a lot of things I’ve made.

“I have some dangly leather earring’s I’ve made, and every time I wear them she nuzzles my neck/ears and it tickles. The more I giggle, the more she nuzzles and tries to nibble the earrings.”

Freeloader. But a fetching one.

With a day job in human resources at the Walla Walla Penitentiary, Steinhoff balances family time with commercial endeavor, and launched her business officially last year at Dayton’s Blue Mountain Station. She has recently been invited to share store space at Azure Mountain Botanicals in Dayton.

“I never know what I will make next,” the artist says. “I just like things that are simple, pretty, rustic, and handcrafted.”

Wenaha GalleryAnna Steinhoff is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, October 5 through Saturday, October 31. 

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.

 

 

Get Me to School EARLY — The Breaking-the-Rules Art of Brenda Trapani

Faithful Friends original watercolor India ink and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani
Faithful Friends, original watercolor, India ink and colored pencil painting by BrendaTrapani

Getting to school extra, extra early isn’t top priority with many children, but when Walla Walla painter Brenda Trapani was a girl, she made the proverbial early bird look like a sluggard.

“When I was little, we didn’t have money for art paper, markers, or any sort of drawing or painting materials,” Trapani explains. “When I went to school in the first grade, I found that if I came in early, my very creative teacher would let us draw on paper that was piled high, and use big ink markers that were in a shoe box.

Garden Pillars, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.
Garden Pillars, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“I didn’t have any of those at home, but I had time, and I couldn’t get to school early enough.”

Paper, pens, markers, pencils, brushes — throughout a childhood that Trapani describes as “shy and introverted” — the artist employed her creativity not only through drawing and painting, but in finding the material to do so, and no scrap of paper — especially the highly prized backs of used envelopes — escaped her.

“It has taken over 40 years for me to throw away an envelope or paper with a blank side, without habitually pausing and thinking about the doodling and scribbling it could hold,” Trapani says, adding that those childhood scraps of paper were direct answers to prayer, although she did not realize it at the time.

“I often didn’t think that God was even listening or helping,” Trapani remembers. “I was desperate. I didn’t pray for paper; I prayed for help.

Long Walks, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.
Long Walks, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“I prayed for things to get better in my life and home.

“God did not force His will by preventing people’s bad choices, but He gave me a way to escape — a way to cope — a way for things to be better for me.”

In fourth grade, Trapani’s interest in art solidified into a long-term, lifetime passion as she found herself in the classroom of teacher Anne Bullock, who created pottery and paintings founded in the skills of ancient, indigenous people. To a young girl, Bullock’s encouragement was life changing:

“Not only did she read  to us wonderful, insightful, imaginative and compellingly deep stories, she encouraged us to do the same.

Quiet Dwellings Peaceful Livings, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.
Quiet Dwellings Peaceful Livings, original watercolor, India Ink, and colored pencil painting by Brenda Trapani.

“Write! Read! Draw! Speak! Express yourself! Share! Make a big deal out of simple things! Tell your story!”

Telling that story is something Trapani has been doing ever since, both through her artwork — which encompasses watercolor, India ink, colored pencils, and oil pastels — as well as through her “day job” as a massage therapist, a skill she has practiced for the last 27 years.

“Like art, massage is a quiet, sacred type of work,” Trapani says.  “People often hold their stories, memories, traumas, and joys inside. Massage can help get the bad effects of pain and trauma out.

“Art can do this as well.”

The Memories of This Lifetime, original watercolor, India ink, and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani
The Memories of This Lifetime, original watercolor, India ink, and colored pencil drawing by Brenda Trapani

Because of her own challenging past, and the influence that adults like Bullock had upon her, Trapani donates her time and talent to the lives of others, and has taught art to children and teens in public and private settings, including the “Action Zone” drop-in care at the YMCA. She marvels at the impact that doing art has upon children, especially those she describes as being “sweet, but troubled.”

“I am reminded that art is a gift from God. It may not seem like an answer to a hurting child’s prayer, but since the family often isn’t well, and God does not force his will on people, God still hears the cries of the children.

“Even if they do not see it then, like myself, hopefully (they) will see God sent them powerful teachers, kind grandparents, at least one dependable parent, a cool college kid to look up to.”

If there is any statement that Trapani makes in her art, it is this — that God is real, and that He hears the cries of those who hurt. Another statement she makes is that there is no inflexibly right or wrong way to do things — people frequently comment that she uses paint, ink, and pens “incorrectly” — and it’s no use letting the perceived or potential criticisms of others get in one’s way.

As she tells the young people she teaches, if they have a dinner plate to put blobs of paint on, some wads of paper towel for a brush, and some scraps of paper — even the backs of envelopes — they can create art as unique as they are themselves.

“I feel sad when people say, ‘I wish I was artistic!’  or, ‘I don’t have any talent!’ That’s nonsense!”

And that’s commonsense encouragement from someone who knows how to draw — quite literally —  the most out of the back of a used envelope.

Wenaha GalleryBrenda Trapani is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Tuesday, September 22 through Saturday, October 17. Many of the works in Trapani’s Event were created using watercolor paints, India inks, and paper given to her by David Bullock, after the death of his wife, Anne Bullock, in 2014. “She was, and still is, in the lives of many of her former students,” Trapani says.

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.