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.

Modish, Voguish, DIY

A wall of ready-made frames is an art statement in itself at Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA.
A wall of ready-made frames is an art statement in itself at Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA.

DIY — Do It Yourself — is a trend that never goes out of style.

With many people seeking to incorporate a uniquely personal touch into their home decor, DIY is chic and in vogue. It’s a great way to update the walls — some people create entire art installments using nothing more than well-placed, ready-made picture frames. And with a little effort and minor financial investment, even the least artistic crafter can put together something useful and attractive, a boldly bordered mirror, say;  or a memo board that looks like something Jane Austen would have used if she had had access to dry erase markers; even a place to hang jewelry.

A classy refreshment tray holds ceramic cream and sugar holders by Wenaha Gallery artist Caprice Scott, as well as a DIY ring holder.
A classy refreshment tray holds cream and sugar ceramic-ware by Wenaha Gallery artist Caprice Scott, as well as a DIY ring holder.

“Excluding the price of the frame, you can construct a classy looking craft project for $20 or so in materials,” says C.J. Horlacher, a lifelong DIYer who recommends Pinterest as an excellent site for creative inspiration. In the last several weeks, Horlacher has created frame-based projects ranging from a ring-holder incorporating folded fabric onto quilt matting and tucked into a small, deepset wooden frame, to a refreshment tray consisting of foam core (available in any art, frame, or craft store), topped by wallpaper, and then protected by glass. The entire sandwich is mounted into a carved wooden picture frame and attached to the back using offset clips (available at hardware stores). Adhesive felt or rubber protector pads add the finishing touch.

“Many materials I found just around the house, or in my husband’s shop,” Horlacher says. An especially popular project, one that she has been asked to make many times, is a jewelry holder consisting of small-meshed welded wire adhered to the back of a ready-made frame. A dab of glue in the corners ensures that the mesh, and any jewelry adorning it, stays in place.

“These are fun, and depending on the frame you use, you get a different feeling. An ornate gold frame is romantic; a clean, smooth wooden frame is sleek, almost glamorous,” Horlacher says.

A ready made frame and fine welded wire mesh join together to create a classy way to keep one's earrings in place.
A ready made frame and fine welded wire mesh join together to create a classy way to keep one’s earrings in place.

Ready-made frames, of all sizes and styles, are everywhere, she adds — from box stores to craft outlets to frame shops, and they make up about half the price of the project.

“It’s worth getting a high-quality frame, because the finished piece, whether it’s a mat-covered bulletin board that you’re going to pin things to, or a mirror that will dress up your bedroom, is part of the art itself.

“I happen to work in a frame shop and gallery, so that’s where I pick up my frames, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t use a cheap plastic or faux wood frame — the small extra cost is worth it, because it individualizes the finished craft piece, and makes it something you’re pleased to show off in your home.”

It's modern, it's classy, it's quick-to-make and it's useful -- a bulletin board doesn't have to look like cork.
It’s modern, it’s classy, it’s quick-to-make and it’s useful — a bulletin board doesn’t have to look like cork.

Mat remnants, available at many frame shops for a fraction of the original cost, add color and texture to a project, and set behind glass that is then mounted into a frame, they reconstruct themselves as a memo station; adhered to foam core or some other pinnable surface, they transmogrify into a swanky, upscale bulletin board. Useful, practical items don’t have to look like what they are.

Not everyone can paint a painting, carve a wooden  bowl, fashion a bronze sculpture, or shape a clay pot, but many of us still desire to create something artistic — that doesn’t look like something we fashioned during summer camp — which we can proudly display to our friends and family. And because we’re a practical people, the functional nature of many of these DIY wall projects is an added bonus.

They’re artistic. And they’re functional. And they’re inexpensive, expressive, and customizable. What’s not to like?

Wenaha GalleryThe Ready-Made Frame Extravaganza is the Art Event at Wenaha Gallery through April 4, 2015. C.J., our DIY expert, is also on hand many days for those who want to learn more about DIY creations using ready-made frames.

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.

Not Just Your Standard Birdhouse: the Art of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns

Ladybug Cottage bird house by Papa Jon's Fly Inns
An amply sized, glorious ladybug sings of spring, all year round. Ladybug Cottage by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

For sculptors Jon and Marilu Bryan, art is for the birds, literally.

The Dayton couple, who operate under the name of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns, create hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind birdhouses that look like something one would keep on a special shelf in the living room, but are fully functional outdoor homes for wildlife, designed to handle wind, weather, and wet.

“They’re made to be outside and for birds to really use,” Jon Bryan says, “but I have people who  plug the holes in them so birds can’t get in. Some people put them all over their houses as decor — in the kitchen, in the living room. We have Realtors who put them in houses that they’re showing.

“Other people put them outside and let me know about the different birds that have nested in them.”

Designed for small birds, the house shells are built out of premium, long lasting cedar topped by a hand-hammered, galvanized metal roof, which is insulated to protect birds from the heat. The entrance holes are sized to invite in small nesting birds, like chickadees or finches, but keep out predators and “undesirables,”  like starlings.

“We don’t want anything to get in to hurt the eggs or the chicks,” Jon says. “I did a lot of research about making a birdhouse that is usable by birds. I wanted to make sure that the materials were friendly to the birds, as well as the design.”

That being said, his part is the easy one, Jon insists, crediting his wife and business partner, Marilu, with creating — by hand — the decorations that festoon the houses, adornments that are carefully chosen and arranged to portray a particular subject matter or motif: There are coastal-themed birdhouses, complete with shells from the sea, driftwood from the beach, and Marilu’s quirky interpretation of a pelican. A farm-themed house features real straw, artfully strewn around a cow and a chicken.  There are trains, frogs, cactus, and a moose. One piece, a particularly tall edifice entitled Flying High in the Vineyard, features a tiny table with miniature wineglasses and a dainty loaf of French bread.

Standing in front of an array of these avian domiciles, the viewer understands the quandary of whether to hang the work up outside, for the birds to enjoy, or keep it inside, where human decor preferences prevail. One hopes that a happy compromise be established, and as it is recommended that the houses be brought in during the winter months, peace between species should prevail.

Flying high with wineglasses birdhouse by wenaha gallery artists papa jon's fly inns
Look on your left, and see if you can spot the wineglasses, the little bottle of wine, and that bird-sized loaf of bread. Flying High in the Vineyard by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

Started nine years ago as a means of supplementing their retirement, Jon and Marilu’s part-time project quickly grew into one that can take all the time they’re willing to give to it. Initially, they exhibited in art fairs and garden shows throughout the Northwest, but since moving to Dayton from Olympia five years ago, they have scaled back, and keep busy enough fulfilling orders from people who find Papa Jon’s Fly Inns at their Etsy shop, or who discover them at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton.

Over the years, Jon and Marilu’s’ birdhouse sculptures have won numerous awards, including Best of Show at Allied Arts Art in the Park in Richland and the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee,  and Judge’s Choice at Issaqua Salmon Days and the Chelan Fine Arts Show.

Oddly, or maybe not, the couple does not keep their birdhouses on their own country property, adjoining the Touchet River a few miles out of  town.  One would think that the birds would be delighted with such a setting. Jon agrees, but explains, “I’ve kept a few birdhouses up at our place in the past, but I don’t tend to do that now because I end up selling them.”

So birds at his place, unfortunately, must scrabble together a home on their own, without a table, wineglasses, and a loaf of bread.

“Our art is created with a sense of humor and light heartedness,” Marilu says. “There’s a sense of adventure: life and art should be fun and colorful.”

Gallery artists at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, Jon and Marilu Bryan of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns are the featured Pacific Northwest artists for Art Event, a three-week showcasing of their works, beginning Monday, March 31, at the gallery. Bryans’ Art Event runs through Monday, April 21, 2014.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, 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.