Life on the Farm with a Paintbrush — The Watercolor Art of Jill Ingram

Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram
Gossamer Meadow, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Jill Ingram

She is an artist, living on a farm.

“Farm” brings to mind livestock and machinery, hard work, early mornings, and late nights.

“Artist” describes the person who sees beauty and interprets it onto canvas or paper, one who walks around a clump of flowers growing on the path and returns later in the day, when the chores are done, to capture that fragile innocence.

Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram
Fluffed and Ruffled, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

For watercolorist Jill Ingram, who grew up on a farm and married a farmer, art is as much of her life as wheat and pigs, and she first recognized that she had a creative gift in third grade, when she was part of a team of three assigned to create a bulletin board scene depicting the change of seasons.

“There was a feeling of apprehension facing that huge white blank wall,” Ingram remembers.

“I have no memory of what we did, but the reaction of my fellow students gave me such joy, as they looked into a crystal ball and said, ‘You are an artist!’

“And they spoke a new faith into my heart.”

The daughter of Dayton artist Iola Bramhall, Ingram dabbled with painting and drawing throughout her childhood, but things became more serious — both life and art — following a horse accident, when Ingram turned to art as part of the healing process.

SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram
SLO-MO, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

“My belief in a loving God gave me the faith that this event would bring good into my life,” Ingram says. “He said art would be a catharsis for me.”

It was, guiding her into a world of color, hue, light, form, and movement, resulting in works that are resplendent in emotion, many zeroing in on the petal of a flower or an insulated growth of trees, rich with a hidden light.

“I believe in a personal God who created me to see beauty in the commonplace,” Ingram says.

“His hand is on my life, and He takes the hardest things, transforming the experience into some kind of beauty. He made me in His image, and so I think my creative imagination is an expression of Him, however blurry I may see and understand.”

Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram
Golden Thicket, original watercolor painting by Jill Ingram

Ingram landed on her medium of choice, watercolor, for a prosaic reason: because it isn’t as messy as oil or pastel, but just because it’s easier to clean up doesn’t mean that it’s easier to do. Working through paper choices and pigment temperaments, Ingram addressed subject matter ranging from botanical to figurative, building a portfolio of work with a fluid, open style that, she says, matches her personality.

Along the way, she studied under renowned artists like Del Gish, Arne Westerman, and Nita Engle, and soon found her own name becoming known: she has won first place at the Colorado Watercolor Society (for her painting, “Jewel”) as well as at the Northwest Watercolor Society’s Juried Exhibition in Seattle, in which “Ruby Slippers” took the prize. For several years, Ingram operated a gallery in downtown Dayton, Jill Ingram Watercolors, and sold her work, nationally and internationally, through galleries in Seattle and Spokane as well.

For all that, she remains, at heart, an artist who lives on a farm, and the day’s painting schedule revolves around a household of people who all depend upon one another to get the many things that need to be done, done:

“Painting in my home means that I am more available to my family,” Ingram says.

“Some days might start with painting, then shift into helping the farm boys move combines, and end with Mom planning meals . . .  unless I’m on a roll, and I paint all day long until they yell at me to come and eat!”

And even then, she may stay in the studio, grabbing a few precious minutes for a well-placed brushstroke here, a subtle drizzle of color there. Art speaks — to her, and through her. Or, as Ingram likes to say,

“English is my second language.”

Wenaha GalleryJill Ingram is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, March 14 through Saturday, April 9. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, March 19, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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.

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.