Storyteller — The Western and Camouflage Art of Bev Doolittle

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

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

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

Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle
Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle

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

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

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

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

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

“People loved her.”

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

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

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

“My meaning and message are never hidden.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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Timelessness — the Wildlife Art of Jackie Penner

Lunch Break by Jackie Penner
Lunch Break by Jackie Penner.

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

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

Header Team by Jackie Penner
Header Team by Jackie Penner

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

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

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

This, primarily, has been her education in art:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully.

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

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

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

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.

Life Outside the City Really Is for the Birds — the Wildlife Art of Hiroko Cannon

Hiroko Cannon drawing of Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass at Wenaha Gallery
Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass by Hiroko Cannon at Wenaha Gallery

The world of birds is thoughtful, peaceful, meditative, a far cry — or chirp — from the hustle and noise of Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, two metropolises known for their economic and commercial activity.

Fine artist Hiroko Cannon, who now calls Pendleton, OR home, was for many years a commercial and graphic designer in Japan’s two largest cities, creating illustrations for department stores during the day, and studying under her dream teacher, noted fashion and figurative illustrator Setsu Nagasawa, at night — that is, when she wasn’t still completing drawings for work:

“It was very hectic — projects came in the morning for the next morning’s newspaper,” Cannon remembers. “I would finish the drawings in the afternoon and wait for the first proof prints to come out for me to check. After the second and final checks I was free, to catch a taxi to go home in the middle of the night.”

And the next day, it started all over again.

Swainson's Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery
Swainson’s Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The quantity of work required, at the speed it demanded, was an art school all its own, and this in conjunction with studying human figure drawing and watercolor painting at the prestigious Setsu Nagasawa Seminar pushed Cannon to finesse her skills, and accuracy, in drawing.

“How to quickly catch the human movement on paper was one of Nagasawa’s curriculum, which I enjoyed a lot,” Cannon remembers.

In 1985 Cannon immigrated to the United States, and while she continued to produce illustrations and write articles on a freelance basis for women’s magazines in Japan, life changed from hectic to busy, simply because Pendleton, at its most frenetic, is not Tokyo. In the midst of raising two children, Cannon took a break from art, exchanging painting  for chauffeuring:

“Both children were heavily involved in music and required lots of shuttling to and from practice sessions, performances, and other activities,” she explained. But life goes on and children grow up, and when Cannon’s youngest child hit high school and began driving, Cannon knew that it was time to pick up painting again.

It was sheer happenstance that Cannon turned her skill, background, passion, and expertise to birds, sparked by a donation request from Lynn Tompkins of Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue, who asked if Cannon would create a painting for the organization’s annual auction. Always a bird lover, as well as a strong supporter of the area’s non-profit organizations, Cannon agreed.

Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery
Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The public’s enthusiastic reaction to that first painting took its creator by surprise. Quickly sold for a good price, the painting sparked comments from others at the auction, who wanted to know where they could purchase more of her work. Cannon painted more originals which she reproduced as fine art prints, selling them briskly at the Pendleton Center for the Arts. Twice, Cannon walked away with the coveted People’s Choice Award at the center’s Open Regional Exhibit, and the demand for her work continued to increase. She then added greeting cards to her offerings.

Now working out of her house, which she uses as her work and storage place, Cannon explores the intricate detail and coloration of nature around her, concentrating on the big world of small things: birds, in their habitat; insects; spiders; flora; and the occasional snake. Her style is delicate, yet firm; accurate in detail; capturing the personality of her subject matter through its pose, or the expression upon its face. There is a sense of peacefulness far removed from sights and sounds and demands of a huge city.

“Looking back on my life in Tokyo, it was not for me anymore,” Cannon muses.  “Now, with my paintbrush, I am gently and slowly observing nature, including my life.”

Wenaha GalleryHiroko Cannon is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from November 17 through December 15, 2014. She joins Vancouver, WA, wood artist Craig Hardin at an artist’s reception Friday, November 28, 2014, at Wenaha Gallery during Dayton’s annual Christmas Kick-off.

Meet Cannon at the evening reception, from 4-7 p.m., and enjoy good company, fine art, and free refreshments at Wenaha Gallery’s historic downtown location, 219 East Main.

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.

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 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.

Birds and Antlers and Frogs — Oh My! The Sculpture Art of Ralph Trethewey

miniature pecan antlers by wenaha gallery artist Ralph Trethewey
Though these antlers are much, much smaller than the original from which they are inspired, they retain the accuracy and attention to detail of full size. Pecan Shell Moose by Ralph Trethewey.

Most people think of pecan shells as something to throw away after eating the nut within. For sculptor Ralph Trethewey, however, the material on the outside is far more valuable, and he has carved, quite literally, a career out of those pecan shells. Credited with discovering a form of sculpture unique in the world, the Walla Walla artist creates miniature masterpieces by carving, with rotary power tools and small knives, Lilliputian antlers, which he mounts to small-scale walnut plaques.

“My grandpa raised pecans in Phoenix, AZ,” Trethewey explains. “We would visit there in the winter, and one time when I picked up the shells I noticed the curvature, which is similar to the outer curvature of a mule deer’s antlers. I made a mental connection, and the next step was making the carving.

“It’s kind of nuts, isn’t it?”

Crazy or not, the resulting original and precision works are in the hands of collectors as unique and distinguished as the artworks themselves: Ripley’s Believe it or Not owns a set, as does contemporary Western artist Bev Doolittle.

“I was antler crazy at a young age,” Trethewey says. Raised in the Mojave Desert of California and near the Wasaatch Mountains of Utah, Trethewey grew up listening to the hunting stories of his father, John Trethewey, who once shot a buck with an eight-point rack on one side and twenty on the other.

“Every time I asked him where those antlers were, he simply said, ‘I just left them out in the cedars because we only needed the meat.'”

Trethewey recalls regularly embarrassing his father by asking total strangers where he could find antlers, and while he received some funny looks, he also picked up good tips, following up on them by looking in gas stations, on garages and fence posts, even straining to peek into bars to see antlers.

“It was a healthy addiction for which no support groups existed.”

Perhaps it’s a good thing no support group existed, because the result was that Trethewey directed his energy, and his passion for antlers, to art, cultivating what he considers a God-given talent for woodcarving into a career as a professional artist which he has been pursuing since 1973.

hand carved wood goldfinch sculpture by wenaha gallery artist Ralph Trethewey
Hand carved from wood and hand painted, Goldfinch by Ralph Trethewey meets the strict standards of approval by experts like the wildlife biologists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I began carving as a boy and got affirmation for my first efforts,” Trethewey remembers. “I turned to Utah’s aspen trees and would carve deer from these which sold for $25.”

In addition to miniature antlers made from pecan shells, Trethewey carves full sized antlers in wood, which he reproduces in limited edition cast polymer. He also creates original wood carvings of birds and other wildlife, as well as limited edition bronze sculptures. The next time you’re in downtown Walla Walla, walk to the southeast corner of Main and Third Streets to enjoy The Thinker, a whimsical frog based upon the iconic work of Auguste Rodin.

The various homes for Trethewey’s works are as varied and eclectic as the works themselves, and along with municipal public art and a presence at Ripley’s, Trethewey’s creations — from his realistic carved birds to his signature “Wyoming Wonder” World Record Antler sculptures —  have been purchased by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, musician Hank Williams Jr., and former governor of Oregon Barbara Roberts.

Trethewey has received numerous First Place, Best in Show, and People’s Choice awards in various group exhibitions, and he garnered Best of Show at the 17th Annual American National Miniature Show in 1992. His Thinker sculpture received the Walla Walla Architectural Award. To this point, he has produced 47 limited edition sculptures, many of which are sold out.

“The statements I make (with my art) are basically a love of nature and an attempt to duplicate/interpret realistically its beauty,” Trethewey says.

“Life is all about learning. It postpones the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“In summary, I love what I get to do!”

Trethewey’s many and varied artworks are on display at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event  in his honor, which runs from April 28 – May 17 at the downtown historic gallery, 219 East Main, Dayton, WA. Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@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. Gallery Website: http://www.wenaha.com

Read more about Art Event, our celebration of Pacific Northwest Artists,  here.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.