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.

 

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The Science of Art — Watercolor Paintings by Lisa Hill

Tangerine and Cream, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.
Tangerine and Cream, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

When it comes to art, there is a tremendous amount of science involved.

For those who don’t believe, watercolorist Lisa Hill of Richland poses a question:

Colors of Autumn, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.
Colors of Autumn, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill.

Why, when one mixes three primary colors in particular proportion — Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Rose, and Hansa Yellow (even the names sound like something from a laboratory) —  is the resulting color black?

“This is a lesson on how pigments absorb or reflect certain color wavelengths of light,” Hill, who teaches watercolor as well as creates it, explains.

“Between the three paints, all the light is absorbed, almost none is reflected back to the eye, and we perceive it as black.”

And not only black can be actualized from these three colors, Hill adds, pointing out that thousands of hues result from two or three of these ideal primaries, which closely match the CMY (cyan, magenta, and yellow) of printing inks.

Hill herself creates boldly vivid, richly chromatic artwork with a limited palette of roughly five colors (none of which are white or black), but, not wanting to make things too challenging for her students, she allots them a magnanimous seven paints to manage and master.

Ripple Ellipse, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill
Ripple Ellipse, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

“I teach my beginning students to make color mixing charts with these seven paints and show them how valuable the charts are as a planning tool for a painting. The color mixing possibilities are endless.”

If Hill sounds thoughtful, methodical, and organized (she adds the word, “meticulous” to the list), she comes to it from a background in dirt — planting soil, specifically — and her success in capturing flora and fauna two dimensionally is related to her first career in ornamental horticulture and landscape design.

Lost Edges, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill
Lost Edges, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

After moving to the Tri-Cities from Spokane, Hill was ready for a change of pace and occupation, a watercolor class with Kennewick artist Laura Gable sparking an interest that later turned into a vocation. With the same sense of inquiry that she used in horticulture, Hill focused on being a student of art, first; then an artist; and finally, a private teacher of art based out of her dream home studio, a 700-square foot apartment Hill and her husband teased out of a second floor bedroom, with an enviable view of the Yakima River.

Student, Artist, Teacher — Hill wears all three caps seamlessly, her fervor toward her chosen medium strongly evident in her research, experimentation, zeal, and knowledge.

“I’m going out on a limb here since I haven’t painted with oils or acrylics,” Hill muses, “but I think success with watercolor techniques requires a higher level of scientific knowledge of behavior of water and light, and the mechanics of vision, specifically color and value perception.”

Blue Skies, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill
Blue Skies, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Lisa Hill

What causes the “transparency” of watercolor?

Is it possible to layer a lighter color successfully over a darker one?

How does one keep the “wet” look once a painting dries?

“Understanding how water behaves puts the artist in charge (mostly) of what happens to the paint on the paper,” Hill says. “The answers are almost always related to the water — how much is on the brush, the paper, and in the puddle of paint.”

Quiet and soft spoken, Hill nonetheless speaks with confidence, and one person who noticed was Robin Berry, a nationally known author and porcelain and watercolor artist who put Hill in touch with Quarto Publishing of London. The happy result included a series of published step-by-step demos of Hill’s work, as well as images of her paintings, in three Quarto art books.

Cereus, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill
Cereus, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Lisa Hill

Hill, who regularly participates in Richland’s Allied Arts’ “Art in the Park” and the Custer Arts and Crafts Shows in Pasco, Spokane, and Wenatchee, garnered Director’s Choice at the 2014 Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, with the winning painting, Lost Edges, featured prominently in the event’s 2015 promotional materials. She sells her original work, as well as prints and note cards, to collectors throughout the Northwest.

An unapologetic proponent of representationalism, Hill admires the skill and knowledge necessary to create abstract or vaguely realistic art, but gravitates toward realism, an area she finds uniquely suited to capture the subject matter she finds most intriguing.

“I have a lot of plant knowledge and thoroughly enjoy gardening, so it is natural that the subjects I most  love to paint are flowers and foliage.

“I don’t think I am making a statement by painting these things — I just love them.

“Maybe that IS the statement.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Hill is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Saturday, September 19 through Saturday, October 17. She will be in the gallery Saturday, October 3,  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to give live watercolor demonstrations during Dayton’s Art Walk.

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.

Rock, Paper, Scissors — Cheri McGee’s One-of-a-Kind Cut Paper Paintings

Colorful Spheres original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee.
Colorful Spheres, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

Most people, even if they flee at the mention of a fabric store, have met a quilter. Those unfamiliar with the craft marvel at the concept of taking yards of intact fabric, cutting it into smaller and disparate pieces, and reassembling those pieces into one planned, designed, and cohesive unit.

Blue Cat, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee
Blue Cat, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

But a quilt seems like a simple thing when placed side by side with the cut paper art of Cheri McGee, an Enterprise, OR, artist whose palette consists of thousands of snipped, scissored, and punched out pieces of paper — some of them smaller than a tick. Practiced throughout the world, paper art can be as basic as a silhouette, those portraits in profile that we associate with the Victorian era, or insanely complicated — as  is the more intricate traditional work from China, Indonesia, Germany (Scherenschnitte), and the Philippines.

McGee does a little of everything, embracing a style that ranges from a timelessly nostalgic folk art village scene to a sinuously flowing, almost curvaceous abstract mixed with realism. And then there are the mosaic works, consisting of itsy bitsy (think back to that tick, in company with sunflower seeds and some orange pips ) squares and circles and triangles and diamonds meticulously arranged to create a paper version of something you’d expect to find in a Turkish marketplace.

African Dancers, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee.
African Dancers, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

“Painting with oils may be easier,” the artist comments, explaining how, in the process of cutting and layering card stock into a cohesive image, weeks fly by. But it is this very detail and intricacy, in addition to the uniqueness of the medium itself, that is the attraction.

“I have been working in paper for 30 years,” McGee says. “It began as both an experiment and a need for wall art when the phrase, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ kept echoing through my head.” Faced with a new home of blank, white walls, McGee’s eyes turned to her young daughter’s supply of construction paper, her hands picked up a pair of scissors, and a passion was born.

City Scene, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee
City Scene, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

In short order, one pair of scissors grew into more than 25, and the cache of paper multiplied to, well, the equivalent of a quilter’s stash, as McGee kept an eye out, everywhere she traveled, for unique, unusual, textured, exotic, patterned, and colored stock. A spare room in her home functions as her studio, where creativity reigns and portable desk fans, even on hot days, do not.

Every finished artwork is unique, and while McGee may work on multiple projects simultaneously, there are no (no pun intended) short cuts. While in the early days she pre-cut and stored in drawers images and shapes as a means of speeding up future artworks, McGee found that she never used them, preferring, instead, to custom cut exactly what was needed precisely when the moment called for it.

It’s a build-as-you-go process, and the artwork itself makes its own demands. But when it comes to subject matter, anything goes, depending up McGee’s mood and inspiration, both of which are influenced by her interests, a childhood background in traveling as the daughter of a military family , and marriage to another artist, sculptor and flute carver Roger McGee.

“Being a self-taught artist, I find inspiration in that freedom, to create what strikes my fancy,” Cheri says. “I have recently begun a series of images and designs from the ’60s. I am also inspired by Moroccan designs, having lived there as a child when my father was serving in the Air Force.”

Lucky Charmz, original cut paper art by Cheri McGee
Lucky Charmz, original cut paper art by Cheri McGee

McGee’s works are in the homes of collectors from California to New York, as well as in Japan. She has shown and sold her work at the Kalispell Art Show and Auction in Montana, Spokane’s MONAC Western Show and Auction, and the Western Art Association Show and Auction in Ellensburg.

But the best place to find the artist herself is in that studio, scissors in one hand, paper in the other, as eyes, soul, and psyche focus on creating a work of art that has no twin of itself, anywhere, in the world.

Wenaha GalleryCheri McGee’s cut paper art is on display at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, June 27, 2015.

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.

The Unexpectedly Unconventional Square — Showcasing the Landscape Art of Gordy Edberg

Fractured Terrain, original oil painting, by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Fractured Terrain, original oil painting, by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

In the mid twentieth century, the term “square” was derogatively used to connote a boring traditionalist, one reluctant to take chances or break out of the box in his or her thinking.

For 21st century artist Gordy Edberg, however, square is the new unusual, and the landscapes which he paints in this format are not constrained by what he calls the typical, conventional horizontal format that people have come to expect.

Endless Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Endless Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

“The square format, with its harmony of shape, is a useful and non-natural approach,” the Whidbey Island artist says.

“By using the square structure, the landscape subject is contained more, and it removes the expected topographical connotations.

“Thus there are segments . . . fragments . . . sections of the landscape and their abstract qualities which are allowed to come forward.”

Edberg, who has been painting since high school 60 years ago, approaches his artwork from the perspective of an architect, a profession he made his central career for 41 years. The combination of the two disciplines results in Edberg’s signature style, one “grounded in realism with a leaning toward impressionism.”

With a principal focus upon the landscape, Edberg says that, although he does not purposely make political statements with his art, he is fascinated by the existing environment, and how it is changed by man’s impact upon it. There are buildings, roads, pathways, patterns, and how they integrate with their surroundings creates and shapes the finished piece. The very nature of lines themselves — an element strongly used in architectural drawing — invites the artist, and his viewers, to explore the realm of abstract within the world of reality.

Basin Hills and Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Basin Hills and Fields, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

“I look for change occurring, things disappearing, other characteristics of the environment that suggest potential for abstraction expressions,” Edberg explains. And herein that square format intensifies the fluidity of form and shape, emphasizing the transcendental in the midst of physical reality, bringing out the best of each.

“The goal is for the formal subject matter to be seen as a composition, an arrangement of shapes and colors and with aesthetic qualities while still suggesting place,” Edberg says.

While Edberg has painted landscapes from throughout the Pacific Northwest and the west coast, as well as forays into Hawaii, Mexico, Ireland, England, France, Italy, and Greece, it is his Southeastern Washington landscapes that showcase, boldly, the integration of line and form, abstract and reality, outline and shape. Large, illusorily monochromatic fields and agricultural spreads are intersected by roads, power lines, waterways and the patterns of the fields themselves, a balance of both natural and man-made factors.

Power Grid, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Power Grid, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

Shots of unexpected color, calligraphy, textured paint, and marks and incisions upon the substrate surface enhance the mood and setting of the work, creating a place that is real and identifiable, yet not remotely as a camera would capture it.

“Landscape images and also urbanscape and marinescape images painted in the studio are many times imagined in response to the mood and feel of actual places that I’ve sketched or painted en plein air,” Edberg says. In the spirit of fluidity and freedom, he refers to plein air paintings or onsite sketches for his studio pieces, and does not rely upon the camera.

The goal is to catch the mood, the place, the feeling, because within each landscape, Edberg feels, there is a story, and it is his pleasurable goal to tell that story.

Wheat Road, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg
Wheat Road, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Gordy Edberg

In addition to creating his oil-painted landscapes, Edberg also works in pastels, as well as designs and builds wood furniture. To do as much as he does requires space, and Edberg’s studio in the upper floor of his home is set up with four painting stations, including a wall easel which can accommodate up to six-foot sized paintings. The garage houses his woodworking equipment and tools, and, in addition to furniture making and packaging and shipping of paintings, another important activity takes place there: the cars can still be parked within.

That’s the architect, sharing space creatively with the artist.

A signature member with the Northwest Pastel Society, Edberg has earned awards from both that organization and the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists, and he has received Best of Show at the Washington State Convention Center Art Exhibition. His work is housed in both private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., and he maintains paintings in galleries on both the East and West coasts.

The architect may be retired, but the artist is very busy these days.

Wenaha GalleryGordy Edberg is the featured artist at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event from Monday, May 4 through Saturday, June 13, at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA.

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Prolific, Determined, and 95 — Vivian McCauley, Painter of Just about Everything

At the Beach original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
At the Beach, original watercolor by Vivian McCauley, guest artist at the Wenaha Gallery

It sounds like a riddle that Gollum would propound to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit:

How does someone paint like Picasso, without painting like Picasso?

The answer, in the Shire of Dayton, WA, where fine artist Vivian Eslick McCauley has lived and painted for nearly 90 years, is this:

Barn with Wheat original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Barn with Wheat original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley

Both Picasso and McCauley are versatile in their art, never limiting themselves to a particular style or subject matter.And as a bonus, both artists painted into their 90s, with McCauley, at 95, still actively at work:

“My paintings are smaller now that I have moved from Dayton, to an apartment in Arizona,” McCauley says, “but I still do them and display them at my entry way or next to my door.

“Down here they have beautiful sunsets, and I’ve been painting them, along with some florals and a few Western pictures. Through the years I’ve done animals, flowers, landscapes, just whatever interests me at the time, and I’ve worked in all media. Right now, I’m focusing on pastels.”

Life slows down at 95, McCauley concedes, but that doesn’t mean it stops, and since her move to the desert two years ago, McCauley has painted both indoors and out in plein air, as well as taught a beginning watercolor class, something she would like to do again.

“I’ve taught classes in the community for years,” McCauley, who received her teaching degree in 1967 from the Laguna Beach School of Art in California, says. Although she started out in the elementary school classroom, she quickly broadened out to the adults in the area, offering classes to small groups of beginning and intermediate artists.  “Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, Dayton — I think just about every adult artist in Dayton can verify that they took lessons from me.

“Sometimes I would travel to the Tri-Cities and just stay, teaching classes throughout the week — drawing, portrait, oil, pastels — I taught all of them.”

Daffodil Pitcher by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Daffodil Pitcher by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Vivian McCauley

For McCauley, who farmed and raised her family in the Dayton area, art worked itself around daily life, but it always had a way of making itself known: through the years, McCauley painted public art for the Columbia County Fairgrounds; volunteered with the local art club to run the art department at the fair; and spearheaded the Columbia County Mural Society, which in the mid-90s commissioned muralist Robert Thomas to sketch out the mural outlines, that McCauley, and the dozen-plus members of the society, then painted in.

Abstract Mixed Media by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley
Abstract Mixed Media by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Vivian McCauley

In 2008, McCauley joined forces with Dayton resident and artist Meredith Dedman to create the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, bringing rebirth to the area’s flagging art club, and within a short time, she arranged for local art to be in the public eye: Guild members create regular displays at the Delaney Building, next to the public library; the Liberty Theater; and most recently, the hospital.

“Vivian is very dogged when she sets her mind to it,” Dedman says. “She talked to the CEO and the board members and kept at it, and now we have a space in the entryway and the hallway. People love it.”

Regarding McCauley’s art, Dedman says, “Art is such a passion with Vivian, and she has such a good eye. She’s always been interested in taking a new class and learning something new.”

Through the years, McCauley has studied under noted artists such as Merlin Enabnit, Robert Wood, Frank Webb, Morten Solberg, and Barbara Nechis, defining and refining a style that is predominantly representational, with a nod now and then to the abstract. An interest that started with her first award, in first grade, and the assurance that she has a “God-given talent for art,” has led this prolific painter to show, sell, and teach her art wherever she finds herself. Intriguingly, she has done all of this without ever having enjoyed a proper art studio.

“I wish I could have had a studio,” McCauley says with a sigh. “I painted in the garage, sometimes on the patio, and sometimes on the kitchen table, depending on the weather. This means that when it was cold outside, I painted inside!”

Now, she paints in a small apartment, still with no proper studio, but also still with the dogged, indefatigable attitude that Dedman observed.

“I’m 95,” McCauley says.”But I just try to ignore that 95 and do what I can.”

Wenaha GalleryVivian McCauley is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from January 12, 2015 through February 7, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.