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.

A Heritage of Trees — The Woodworking of Ron Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.