The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

I must make an admission here, at the start. . . I was nervous to meet artist, Linnea Tobias. Having seen her work for the first time over a year ago, I was immediately drawn in. The world created by her art is layered with colorful details, whimsical creatures, and a depth of vision that I thoroughly enjoy.

Since that first exposure, I’ve seen her art work in more and more places: coffee shops, galleries, small businesses, and even a friends home! After a while, finding her art became like an Easter egg hunt, a thrill to spot. As I became more familiar with her works, I also became curious about the artist. So while waiting for her to arrive for our interview, I was both excited and a little nervous to meet her. Of course, a low dose of panic set in when I realized that my phones wifi wasn’t working and I couldn’t access a picture by which to recognize her. Thankfully, Linnea found me.

Immediately putting me at ease with her gracious good humor, I found that Linnea is quick to smile, very kind, open minded and just generally fun to talk to. I had promised to keep our interview to 30 minutes, but over an hour later we were still chatting. Like her art, she is absolutely engaging.

Keep reading to learn more about this amazing, intuitive artist.

SnS: Linnea, please tell us who, or what, inspired your love of art?

L.T.: My grandfather used to take me to a little art supply store where he lived in Hot Springs, South Dakota. I loved going there – art supply stores are like candy stores for me! I would take my new supplies, hang out in his basement workshop, and draw. He made wood furniture, but he also liked to talk about drawing. My cousin is an artist and I remember as kids he would always have a sketchbook filled with amazing drawings and cartoons that he had created. I was fascinated by them.

SnS: Are you classically trained, or self taught?

L.T.: I always drew as a kid, but I also took quite a few classes as well. I studied art at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA and spent my senior year in Europe, at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts on the island of Paros, in Greece. I also took classes at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, a few years later.

SnS: So how long have you been in Spokane, what drew you here?

L.T.: After graduating from Evergreen State College in 1991, I moved to Mendocino, CA and lived there for a few years before moving to Arcata.  I moved to Spokane about three and a half years ago, when my husband landed a job here. I have a sister who lives here too, so this area wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me.

SnS: What mediums do you work with, and which is your favorite?

L.T.: I have worked with almost everything you can imagine, and I have liked all of it. I’ve worked with pastels, watercolor, oil, acrylics, encaustic, gouache, collage, colored pencil, printmaking, and clay. 

Currently, I love fluid acrylics, watercolor, and experimenting with a combination of encaustic and pyrography.

SnS: For folks like me, who are not artists, please explain encaustic and pyrography? I’m guessing pyrography has something to do with fire.

L.T.: Yes, it does. Pyrography is wood burning. Encaustic is a mixture of pigment, beeswax, and varnish. You heat the mixture up and use the resultant colored wax to “paint” with. It isn’t precise, but is fun to work with.

SnS: How would you describe your style, and which artists (if any) influenced it?

L.T.: I’ve always found that a hard question to answer. I love color and nature. I paint intuitively, starting with an idea or drawing that inspires me. I add pattern to it, or abstract imagery, and I put it together going with what feels right. It’s like putting together a puzzle, and only my intuitive self knows the answer.

Quite a few artists inspire me. Paul Klee, Pierre Bonnard, Gustav Klimt, and Odilon Redon are a few.

SnS: Where else do you find inspiration / motivation for your art? Do you listen to music, hike through the woods, drink herbal tea while watching Syfy or Nat Geo?

L.T.: I love to spend time outdoors taking long walks with my dogs, or in my garden. Nature gives me the most inspiration. When I lived in California, I lived next to a redwood forest. It was amazing, and I loved the light. Now that I’m in Spokane, the light is different, darker, but I’m still close to nature and enjoy many of the walking trails and parks throughout town. 

I often meditate before I paint. It puts me in a calm, receptive mood. Puts me in “the zone” so to speak. The zone is where I find my flow, transcend self imposed limitations, and let creativity lead me. I also love to travel, and find lots of inspiration from that.

SnS: Travel is always good. Do you have any destination goals?

L.T.: Oh, so many! I’d like to visit Denmark, Norway, Spain, Vienna, Prague, and Japan. Here in the states, I’d like to visit New Orleans, but not during Mardi Gras. I don’t enjoy crowds that big.

SnS: Me either, but I do enjoy how layered and detailed your paintings are. How long does it usually take you to complete a project?

L.T.: It depends. Often I work in a series of three paintings that relate to each other, and work on them simultaneously. Those can take a few days, to a week, to complete. Some paintings take longer. I may put a layer of paint on them and then let them sit for a few weeks, or months, while I contemplate what to do next. Sometimes I complete something within a day or two, when I can visualize clearly what I want it to look like.

SnS: Has your art changed over time? 

L.T.: My art was much darker when I was younger, probably due to residual teen angst 😉 It changed as I grew up, and when I got married, but one of the biggest changes came after I had my daughter, not long after 9/11. My art became lighter, more joyful, and more colorful as a result. I guess it was my way of pushing back the darkness for myself and my family, and to create a positive atmosphere. 

Moving to Spokane changed it again as I had to get used to the difference in the light. Spokane is darker than California, and has an actual winter.

SnS: what do you think of the Spokane Art scene?

L.T.: The local art scene is small but good. I see a lot of enthusiasm here, and I’d like to think that means that we’ll keep moving forward, keep growing, spreading beauty and hope.

SnS: Well you are doing a good job of that. 🙂 Did you / do you have a day job?

L.T.: This is my job. In the past I have worked for art galleries, non-profit art organizations, and I’ve done some graphic design work. I worked at a summer stock theater in Custer State Park for six years, during college. I painted sets, ran the box office, whatever they needed. I had lots of other boring jobs in between.

Fun fact: my first job, at age 15, was as a tour guide in a commercial cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota where I grew up.

SnS: Obviously, you’ve been working on, around, art and artists a while now. What are your goals as an artist? Have you reached or surpassed any previous goals?

L.T.: One of my goals is to keep trying new techniques and ideas, to stretch myself as an artist. I’m always searching for new ways to express my ideas. 

In the past year, I’ve been experimenting with encaustic, and that has been really good for me. Working with beeswax and pigment forces me to give up control over the end result, and let the materials take over.

SnS: Speaking of control. . . If you could control space and time, travel through it to enhance your art, where would you go and why?

L.T.: I love to visit beautiful places like national parks, gardens, the ocean, lakes, etc, and this past week I went to Palm Springs to see the desert bloom in Anza Borrego State Park, and Joshua Tree National Park.

As for going back in time? When I spent that time on a Greek island, I was fascinated by the ancient ruins and old marble mines where they found the marble to use for sculptures on the Parthenon in Athens. I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece, so I’d visit there.

SnS: Nice! Would you ride along with “The Doctor”, H.G. Wells, “Doc Brown”, or “Bill & Ted”?

L.T.: Probably none of them. I’d rather bring my dogs instead.

SnS: Well that sort of answered my next question of, which would you prefer as a companion: a dog, cat, squid, or squirrel?

L.T.: Beside my dogs, I do have a cat I adore, so she’d have to come too.

SnS: Okay, final question. Do you have any causes or charities you support that you’d like to share here?

L.T.: I love PBS and NPR. I support local public radio stations and television. I’ve donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Humane Society in the past year.

If you would like to see more of Linnea Tobias’ work, you can find her locally at: Pottery Place, Artemesia in the Women’s Club on South Hill, Lindaman’s, the Chocolate Apothecary, and during the summer, Entree Gallery in Priest Lake, ID.

On line you can find her at: LinneaTobias.com , Etsy , Instagram , or Facebook

Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”

Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”

 

S&S: Hello Kelly. Welcome to the new year! I’d like to start off by looking back at the important events of 2016. Did you meet your goals for the year? Was there anything that you feel has changed, or enhanced your art?

Kelly: Hello! It is always a goal to show my work throughout the year and have a piece sell. I displayed work at the Loft of Missoula, the ZACC, and the Stensrud Event Hall in 2016 and sold at least two paintings and several framed ink prints.

Anything that enhanced my art? Well, I’d say life. 2016 was an interesting year for most everyone. Lots of emotion which went straight into my work.

S&S: What are you looking forward to this year? New goals?

Kelly: In May, Candice Rhea and I will be doing a conjunctive showing at the Loft in Missoula. It’s a great space, large and open. I’m looking forward to that.

One of my goals this year is to get back into doing live art to live music. I’m an introvert for the most part. Though maybe with a little help from my friends I’ll be able to do this 🙂  My goals have always consisted of doing my best to vary my style, and I like to raise more questions (in the content of my work) than can be answered. The mystery awakens ~ but is never quite understood.

S&S: Please describe your type of art and the mediums you work within. Which medium is your favorite? What do you call your style?

Kelly: I utilize pastel, acrylics, and charcoal mainly using canvas, wood, or driftwood as a surface. My favorite is probably charcoal on paper. The dark on white background is very dramatic, and allows me to really show emotional content in my drawings. 

I would say my style is abstract, sometimes with forms and figures based loosely in reality. Many of these have forms influenced by the female face and figure. I think it’s quite original myself. My work is kind of hard to explain though.

S&S: How long have you been an artist? What got you started?

Kelly: I have been working an artist since 1994 when I went to high school in Seneca Valley, Harmony, PA. Before that I was a flutist, in my former high school in Germantown, TN where I studied with a private instructor. My family moved approximately every two years while I was growing up. When I moved from TN to PA during my Sophomore year, I switched from the flute to art. I was clueless in another new school, and Josh Reynolds, as I recall, was the one who pointed me toward the art corridor. I was always a creative person, and James Rettinger was my first art teacher / artistic influence.

During the latter part of my high school career, I spent half my time in the art department working on a large multi-medium collage / mural on plexiglass. I would get passes to leave other classes to go work on art projects. The key was getting my school work done ahead of time so I could have the extra time in art. The collage turned out great and stood in the school lobby for a long time. Art class was the only place I felt half way comfortable. I loved the freedom of expression. .

At the time, I had a variety of body ailments due to stress, as well as my budding Bipolar situation. I will never forget how low the lows got. It was during this time that I began Art Therapy. Practicing Art Therapy is my kind of meditation.  Creating art is very cathartic.

S&S: What inspires you to create? (nature, music, people, drama, zen gardens, what?)

Kelly: Music! The music I listen to is usually upbeat, or carries forward momentum. I prefer instrumental music as words can sometimes get in the way. Art as meditation and as therapy and healing are extremely important in my life.

S&S: Do you have a process?  (Do you have to sing, chant, or scream before addressing the canvas? Do you dance while drinking a margarita, or do you just binge on coffee and chocolate to get revved up? (Personally, I favor the coffee and chocolate while writing 😉

Kelly: I have several processes for different artistic purposes. For mood, I enjoy a candle on, some incense lingering in the air, and music as preparation to get into “the zone” 🙂 

S&S: I’m no artist, so can you tell me, what is “the zone”?

Kelly: The zone happens when I’ve relaxed into my creation enough to find figures, people, beings expressing themselves, showing their forms to me from within whatever I am working on. Once I find them, I just bring them forward.

S&S: Who are your favorite artists alive or dead? They can be from any genre or medium.

Kelly: My favorite artists include Montana’s Jay Rummel, Albert P. Ryder, and Picasso. Some of my most favorite artists are also good friends. For instance, Candice Rhea (Serenity Creations on facebook), and Akhilesh also on facebook.

S&S: What does art mean to you? Why do you do it?

Kelly: Art is my soul’s survival. Art is passion. Art is everywhere. The creation of art, for me, is “Emotion in Motion”, which is the collective title for my work.

S&S: If you could travel to any place / time for your art, where would you go and why?

Kelly: I would travel through my subconscious mind. Maybe then I would know which direction to start. I believe being in the “Right Time, Right Place” brings success. I would prefer to travel to the places where I wold be steadily successful with selling work. I would also like to travel to enrich my life and my art. I really do not have a definitive place in mind. Just the right time, right place!

S&S: And finally, do you have any special projects / charities you support?

Kelly: I do. I hold Art Therapy meetings at my home, as well as more informal “Arting” sessions. I work with both youth and adults. 

S&S: Please describe an Art Therapy session. Is it in a group or more individuals?

Kelly: I’ve only hosted a few Art Therapy sessions. Mostly they’ve been individual based, but it’s possible to have groups. Depending on the situation, the person either brings their own supplies or they use what I give them, then they just begin. Sometimes they talk while creating, other times they are quiet.

Art can be very therapeutic as the act of creation is very empowering. A person can take something negative going on in their life and turn it into a positive, maybe even beautiful thing.

Abstract artist Kelly Loder certainly does this! Her creations are both beautiful and evocative. Thank you Kelly for sharing your talent with us. 

If you would like to see more of Kelly’s work please visit her website kellyloder.webs.com or her facebook page Emotion in Motion.

Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

**Plus bonus interview with exhibition curator Megan Holden!**

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“Room 208” (or) “Mother Please!” by Tom Norton

Our meeting started out with a smile and a hug. Artist and musician Tom Norton, the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit is a kind, funny, deeply considerate, “live in the now” kind of guy. He believes that, “the last check you write should be to the funeral home, and it should bounce.”

A true Spokanite, Tom grew up near the Garland district and says his love of music started in first grade, when the nuns at St. Xavier asked him to play piano for them. He continued playing at G Prep where occasionally his talent bought him some leeway, getting him out of class, and sometimes out of trouble!

Always looking for the silver lining in things, Tom is still a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his paintings. He believes that “Less is more” and admits to having painted over finished works when he felt that he’d tweaked them too much. As a writer, I understand that need to edit, re-do, edit again. I believe it is a condition endemic to the artists heart.

Now celebrating seven years of sobriety, (WTG Tom!!!) this self proclaimed “reformed” bad boy is putting his talent for art and music to good use and in turn, making the world a better place. Keep reading to learn more about this fun and fascinating man.

Q: Congratulations! You are the People’s Choice winner at the Little Dog Art Gallery’s “Origins of Fear” exhibit. Your piece, “Room 208 / Mother Please” is apparently creepy and haunting enough to have chilled the most spines. Please tell us what inspired it? Did you make it specifically for this show or had you finished it prior to the open call?

A: Thank you! “Room 208” began as a quick sketch of a face, which I immediately didn’t care for :), so I painted black hair over the face. A straight jacket came to mind – don’t know why, and so it “began”.

I began to think about my mom and her many, many dark years suffering from bi-polar depression. She was treated for this throughout her life, before anti-depressants and therapies evolved into what they are these days. I grew up watching her, not understanding what was happening – only being told to be quiet and kind to her – that she was “ill” and that we needed to do everything we could to make her days easier. Shock treatments, massive amounts of prescribed drugs, and the fallout from these things: nightmares, isolation, realizing that our family was not like the happy families on television – it was tough. Mom could be extremely manic and in no control of what was going on inside herself one day, and then sweet, gentle and wonderful the next, so these thoughts had some things to do with this painting.

It’s not about my mom though. It’s about isolation, and controlled environments. About being kept away from the world. And no, I did not create it for this exhibit. It was completed before the call, and just seemed to be a good fit to me as an entry. I wrote a quick story to go along with the painting . . .

“Mother says that she cannot protect herself from the world around her . . . and me. Mother please. She built a door for me. Then she sealed it closed. She sees me in my room. She put a ladder there today. I fear the world. I dream of better days instead. I must not try to leave. Mother please. . .”

Q: Is this a genre you usually work in, or was this a step outside of your comfort zone? Also, what would you call your style of art?

A: This was way outside my comfort zone or normal work genre. I don’t have, nor do I want a specific style of art. I go day by day, and ideas come to me, or scribbles turn into something. Most of my work ends up being “lighter”, more whimsical, more fun. Some of my art is dark though, and it’s rare that I show it, or even finish it in one pass. One day I’d like to do an exhibit of my darker art, but I fear that I may be locked up if I do! 

Q: How long did it take you to finish this piece? What materials did you use?

A: I started this one at Mt. Baker Blues Festival. I was performing there with The Bobby Patterson Band. I play keyboards. I finished it a few weeks later, so I guess about a month to complete. It was done with acrylics and charcoal on wood panel.

Q: Did any of the other pieces at the exhibit creep you out?

A: Yes, I don’t like spiders, but the spider mobile fascinated me. I stared at it for a long time. They were just so beautiful I was mesmerized. 

Q: How long have you been painting, and how did you learn your craft?

A: I’ve loved art since I was a young boy. Always doodling, always amazed by the artists in this world. I am primarily self-taught. I was invited to take some art classes at GU when I was in high school. I wish I would have studied art and learned more techniques back then, but I decided to be a rock star instead 🙂 and the music business consumed me for a long time. My art took a back seat, and it wasn’t until 2009 that I revisited that passion.

Q: As an artist, what do you do to find inspiration? (Hot yoga, spelunking, e-books?)

A: Everything inspires me. I love galleries. I love people. I love dogs. I didn’t paint for over 20 years. Then I retired, sort of. Now I can’t stop getting inspired!

Q: Do you make a living with your art or are you moonlighting from a more “muggle-ish” job?

A: No, I don’t make a living with my art. I sell a few pieces here and there. I’m supposedly retired, but my music and art keep me very focused, very busy. I don’t want to be that old man who sits in a chair and looks out the window. 

Q: After checking your facebook page, it looks like you are both a Seahawks fan and an animal lover. Is that correct? 

A: That’s right. I am a long time Seahawks fan! I love Seattle. I miss living there. And I love animals. Football players are animals too ;). I love my two dogs, Max and Sophie. I don’t care much for cats. They don’t like me.

Q: If you could travel to any place / time for your art, where would you go and why?

A: France and Italy in the present. I love the new emerging art, and I love the old masters. I was in Europe last March. Paris is amazing. I could spend a lot of time there, painting, learning, eating. . .

Q:Who are some of your favorite artists, in any genre, and how have they affected your artistic expression?

A: Dali, Picasso, Gahan Wilson, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Pollock, David Choe, Os Gemeos, andy and all true graffiti artists. The radical differences in these artist and styles of art have “infected me” for many years.

Q: Do you have any causes / charities you support that you’d like to share?

A: I’m currently supporting getting Trump to go away and never be seen again. (D’oh!) And I feed the homeless sometimes. I support 2nd Harvest and Salvation Army along with a few others, but I need to do more to truly support those in need. I need to make the time to do that.

Q: Where can we go next to see or hear more of your work?

A: I’m exhibiting at Left Bank Wine Bar again for the month of November. I love that place. I sell art there! People come, drink wind and beer, and sometimes they see and like my art! I like showing in wine bars. I don’t drink anymore, but I enjoy seeing people drink and have fun and then buy my art. 

If you are not into wine bars but want to check out Tom’s work, you can visit his website Tom Norton Art .

Or, if you are more interested in music, you can find him most Sundays playing with Voodoo Church at Cheap Shots. 

Q: So final and possibly most telling question. Tom, do you prefer Star Trek, Star Wars, or Dancing with the Stars?

A: I prefer Star Trek. I enjoy the cheesy first episodes, the evolution of Spock, and its more optimistic view.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Tom preferred Star Trek. He is constantly looking for the good in life, in people, in art and music. His kindness and wit made this interview completely enjoyable.

Of course none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Kay West at the the Little Dog Art Gallery and her chosen curator for the “Origins of Fear” exhibit, Megan Holden. A fine line illustrator, graphic designer, and jewelry maker, I got to sit down with Megan a few days ago and ask her about  herself and the exhibit.

Unsure about what to expect upon meeting her, the first thing I noticed about Ms. Holden, beyond her gorgeous auburn hair, was her awesome Led Zeppelin shirt and amazingly detailed fingernails painted with skeleton parts on a black back ground. Pretty much everything about her oozed quiet confidence and fun loving friendliness. I was instantly put at ease, and drawn in.

Pun not intended, Ms. Holden’s drawings are intensely detailed, lively and full of motion, it is easy to get lost in them. A feast for the eyes, and her jewelry is just as lovely. You can see for yourself by visiting her facebook art page Poseidon’s Consort  or her jewelry page JewelryDesignedByMegan.

When I asked her how long she’d been a curator, the surprise answer was this had been her first foray into curating! Apparently, she’s known Kay for a while, having met at the New Moon Art Gallery , when they both had pieces there. Kay asked her to curate the show and, despite never having done it before, Megan jumped in with both feet and created an amazing exhibit.

She had two criteria for choosing pieces from the many entries the open call brought in:   1) Did the artist follow submission guidelines? No cutting corners or dodging procedure allowed.                                                                                                                                                              2) Did the piece generate a feeling of fear or a perception of danger in some way? Did it dredge up memories of past fear?

I asked how she came up with the theme of the exhibit. Her response was thought provoking. “I was raised watching Hitchcock films and although it was initially inspired by October and the heightened sense of tension created in Hitchcock movies, I came up with the subject matter by wanting to further explore the fears that lie deep within us. It was about tapping into things like fear of loss, fear of commitment and things that affect daily decisions or shape our character. I like to see how fear of all kinds either promotes or inhibits growth. It is a shared experience everyone can relate to on some level.”

I think we can all agree, we’ve all had some sort of fear response to unusual situations, shocking surprises, and those things that go bump in the night, right?  Thankfully, Ms. Holden wasn’t afraid of the unknown and agreed to curate the “Origins of Fear”.

Once selected, the artists works spent a month in the Little Dog being admired and voted on. Tom’s “Room 208 / Mother Please” ended up being the most popular / creepy. Second place went to a lovely gal previously interviewed for this blog, Kim Long! Her submission (below) is called “Surrender the Heart” or “Spirit of the Birch”.

Congratulations to Tom and Kim for winning the most votes, and to Megan for organizing a terrific exhibit!

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Coming soon!

Coming soon!

An interview with the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit at the Little Dog Art Gallery

There are still 3 days left to vote. If you haven’t stopped by to experience the chilling art work or to cast your ballot yet, you’d better run down there. RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Then, stay tuned guys and ghouls, to find out who caused a shiver to run up the collective spines of all those visiting the gallery this month, and learn just how twisted they really are! Muahahahahahahahaha!

Outside the PNW, my tre”Maine”dous trip through Kennebunkport’s art galleries.

Outside the PNW, my tre”Maine”dous trip through Kennebunkport’s art galleries.

It started out as a work training trip for my mechanically inclined hubby but, thanks to a serendipitous find of cheap plane tickets, I was able to accompany him to Kennebunkport, Maine. We treated the trip like a belated 25th anniversary adventure. At night we both enjoyed traipsing through the various gift shops, and savoring the local food specialties, especially the lobster! Or as the folks of Maine would say, “lobstah”. During the day my husband went to work while I explored the towns plethora of art galleries, so of course I decided to share a few of my favorites here.

Click on the links to see what I’m so excited about!

One of the first places I found was located at 8 Western Ave. Deborah Randall Fine Art  is owned and operated by its namesake. Even in the few moments I got to spend speaking with Deborah, I can tell you she exudes strength and passion in person, as well as in her art. The front of the gallery displays her amazing Maine seascapes in large, small, and even smaller amuse bouche sizes. Water, clouds, and earth in every shade capture the many moods of the surrounding area in a majestic and magical style. The back of the gallery doubles as her studio / office, but also houses her more whimsical enamels. Smaller 5″ x 7″  paintings, these bold offerings are fun and thought provoking little petit fours of artistic expression.

**I fell in love with two pieces “Big Red Sky” and one of the chicken enamels. Love!

The Maine Art Gallery  at 14 Western Ave. was my next stop. Filled with paintings and sculptures from many incredible artists. I was blown away by the eclectic nature of the works offered. Paintings of every discipline graced the walls, while sculptures both wood and metal filled up any blank spaces. In fact the metal sculptures continued to the outside parking lot as wind catching whirligigs. Gallery Director, Amy Lewia, kindly answered my questions with a smiling enthusiasm that drew me in and kept me browsing. From ethereal to earthy there was something to appeal to every taste.

**My favorite sculpture was a perfect sphere, nearly as tall as me, made out of rusty old horse shoes. Amazing!

David P. Fouts at 31 Ocean Ave. The Landmark gallery was painting a seascape featuring a tall ship when I walked through the door. That didn’t stop him from getting up to shake my hand and inquire about my day. Personable and talented, his work as well as that of many other regional artists, both painters and sculptors, is displayed in this lovely renovated firehouse. Sea birds, ships, boats, beaches, waves and sand, the offerings in this gallery are representative of all things nautical and lovely. A total treat for the eyes, the styles ranging from dreamily impressionistic to amazingly life like are well worth looking into.

**David P. Fouts’ painting of St. Ann’s (sorry I lost the title!) and David Tutwiler’s “Thunder of the Iron Horse” stood out to me. Gorgeous!

Northlight Gallery , 33 Ocean Ave. is right next door to The Landmark and one of the owners, Harry Thompson, was jamming out to 60’s music when I stepped in. I had to admit, the music drew me in and put me in the mood for a bit of funky art. I wasn’t disappointed.  This gallery displays artists of all kinds. Paintings, photos, and sculptures don’t compete for space as much as share it and compliment each other. Harry himself, besides being a talented artist, is a warm and lively host / curator with a quick smile and great sense of humor. Creative to the core, he asked me to compare and contrast east coast (Maine) artists against west coast (Washington) artists. Well Harry, that topic is way to broad for this old broad (jet lag being what it is) so instead I’ll give you all the highly generalized short version: Kennebunkport vs. Spokane.

The artists I enjoyed in Kennebunkport, despite their wildly different styles, all seemed to have a couple things in common: a sense of life and inevitability. Like the ocean they live by, the waves against the shore, ever changing, ever the same, their work can be counted upon to create feelings of  wonder and awe. Motion and mystery.

The artists I know and love in Spokane share a different aesthetic. Evergreen forests and animals inform much of their work. The wildness of the ocean is traded for the ruggedness of mountains and river valleys. Spokane artists tend to honor native traditions, question authority / reality, and highlight nature’s bounty, and wrath. Their work invokes appreciation of and respect for inland nature, as well as a sense of mirthful irony.

**So many great artists to choose from here, I have to say I was struck by Stephen Maka’s folded photographs, Harry Thompson’s colorful dorys, and Jack Standish’s clean, minimalist paintings. Overwhelmingly cool!

My final visit ended up being the most amazing. Little did I know when I walked into the  W. Robert Paine Gallery  who I was meeting or how lucky I was to do so.

The screen door squeaked when I opened it and I was greeted by the sound of small dogs barking. I was looking at two 8″ x 8″ paintings hanging just inside the doorway; waiting for my ankles to be attacked, when a door opened and a gentle voice shushed the enthusiastic pups. A tall, elderly gentleman approached me and apologized for the noise. I joked about his “vicious guard dogs” and inquired about a familiar painting above his left shoulder showing George and Barbara Bush sitting with their dog. That one question started a forty-five minute conversation that would keep me smiling for days.

Turns out, the elderly gentleman was none other than the artist W. Robert Paine. Ninety three years old and still as sharp as a tack,  Mr. Paine shared many lovely memories about his paintings, his family, and his friendships. Incredibly charming and elegant, he regaled me with stories of serving his country, going to art school with renowned American artist Norman Rockwell, creating those iconic Palmolive dish soap ads, and hanging out with both Presidents Bush and their families.

Agog at his history, I asked him if he’d ever considered writing an auto-biography. I should have known better. Mr. Paine strode across his studio and picked a book off his coffee table. Together we leafed through it as he pointed out past work he’d done and people he’d known. The book is out of print now, but as I promised him, I tracked one down. It’s used, but I’m hoping if I send it to him, he’ll sign it for me. W. Robert Paine has lead an amazing life. I am honored to have gotten to spend time with him, and wish him all the best. I also wish I lived closer so that I could visit this amazing and kind man again. God bless you Bob!

**Favorite painting at W. Robert Paine’s house? “God Bless America.” Great story attached to that one. Thanks again for sharing it with me sir. 

**A quick mention** On our way to catch our return flight home, the hubby and I stopped by  the Franciscan Guest House and the adjoining grounds of the St. Anthony Monastery and Shrines. If you appreciate Catholic / religious icons and statuary, or just wish to enjoy a walk through beautiful garden-like areas, drop by.

 

 

Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings.

Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings.

Artist Clancie Pleasants has been creating art her whole life. Always moving, always learning, this Aquarian, former Montessori teacher does more in a week than most folks do in three, and she loves what she does.

I got to speak with Clancie after she’d spent the last few days painting originals for an upcoming show, going to meetings at her local community center, doing some live model painting with friends, and picking elderberries with her brother. Kindhearted, adventurous, relaxed, and possessing a positive “can do” attitude, she is a sweet whirlwind of a woman. Keep reading to learn more about this fantastic artist.

**Featured Image is titled, “Players”**

Q: What first inspired your love of art; your want to create?

A: As a child I was always encouraged to do art, read, write, anything creative. I was a country child. I had 2 older sisters and a younger brother. We lived on a large cattle farm/ranch in Northern California and spent a lot of our time doing whatever we wanted, we were self entertained. We had horses, dogs, cats, chickens, but not a lot of children, other than each other, to play with. We created our own play and had the materials at hand to do whatever we wanted. A lot of my love of nature comes from this experience. I was encouraged to read classical literature, draw, paint, make baskets, build forts, and work with clay.  I have been doing this for almost 70 years now.

Q: Have you always been an artist, or have you had a 9 – 5 day job? If so, was there a defining moment, when you decided to make a go of it as an artist?

A: I have always been an artist. I didn’t realize that I was until it was all that I wanted to do. I would do it 24/7 if I could.

I had my own Montessori School for 24 years on our acreage, on Hoodoo Mountain, out of Blanchard Idaho. It was a very creative school, and, of course, full of art. I ran it three days a week and did art the other four, while raising and homeschooling my own children. It was an artful way of living.

I have never created art with the idea of making a living at it. It was just something I had to do, a driving force. It is hard to make a living doing fine art, especially as a woman. It is just something I incorporated into my life and everything that I do. If I make money doing it so much the better. But, selling is not the driving force.

That being said, I have been showing and selling art for over 30 years. I have been in numerous galleries nationally. Locally, I’ve had pieces in The Art Spirit Gallery and various other galleries. I now show at Studio 107 regularly, in downtown Coeur d’Alene Idaho.

Q: I’ve seen your paintings on canvas, boxes, clocks, etc. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever painted on or do you wish to paint on?

A: Probably when I helped a friend paint a VW van in the 60’s. A fun project, as was the time a fun time. Also, I built an active art fence and painted part of that at a funky place where I was living while in college.

Sonoma County was a fun place to be during my college years. Lots going on. Lots of art, lots of music, lots of experimenting. We used to hear Dave Brubeck, Charlie Musselwhite, Miles Davis, just to mention a few, at a little place in my college town. The campus was always having music outside and you could plop yourself on the lawn, do your art, study and listen. Sonoma State University was a very small college at the time. Our teachers were, for the most part, really creative, as they were artists and writers and doing it all themselves. It was such a creative place to be.

Q: Do you have a “process”? (Do you drink tea and dance the Macarena before painting?) What do you do to get in the mood to create? What inspires you?

A: Everything inspires me except for the negative forces at work. Sometime even the negative inspires me as I like to find the light in the dark.

I live in the middle of my medium and so never have to go far to have it available. I have a beautiful studio. It has a bathroom and closet in the way back. And then one big room with two hanging lofts for paintings on either side. My home is also my studio where my art has taken over more than just one room. Our wood working shop, where my husband frames some of my work, is available to me as well as all the saws, sanders etc. 

My process is to just do it. That is what I tell others when they ask me about this. Don’t think about it….just do it. Don’t think about what you have to do to get ready to do it….JUST DO IT.

But, of course I think about what I want to do, lots. I just have to calm myself down or the daily chores of living would never get done. But, while doing those chores, I am always thinking about what I will do next or what I am currently working on. I have unfinished paintings hanging from the rafters of our living/kitchen area, just to study while I am doing other things. 

My husband is a saint, did I mention that yet?!

Q: Why do you say your husband is a saint?

A: Because he has always supported me in my endeavors. He helps wherever he can, and never expected me to play the super traditional housewife role where everything is kept spotless and supper is on the table by 6:00. He’s happy with who I am.

Q: From the pieces I’ve seen in gallery, and on your website, your creations seem both poignant and playful. How would you describe your style?

A: Narrative, impressionistic, expressionist.

Q: Do you have a favorite artist (from any genre) & how might they have influenced you / your style?

A: Virginia Woolf, because “A Room of One’s Own” is terribly important.

Picasso, because he lived it ALL the time. Of course he had many women supporting him and doing all the other things. One can dream.

Truthfully, too many: Van Gogh, Alice Neel, Klimt, Kollowitz, Diebenkorn, etc.

Q: Your website mentions you have a BA in English Lit. as well as art. What type of writing do you do? Does your writing ever inspire your painting or vice verse?

A: Yes both inspire each other. I have a book of fiction almost finished and ideas for two more. The 70’s are a good time to work on those, don’t you think?!

I also write poetry, essays and fiction. Creative writing is terribly important to me. I love reading and writing it.

I have a blog, Clancie Pleasants.blogspot.com  . My poetry pairs with my artwork on there. I don’t have a lot of followers as I have not announced it to the world. It is mostly for me to blog on privately, but I guess it’s time to share it.  ** Yes folks I got permission to post that link 🙂

Q: You mentioned you’ve been working on writing a book. Can you tell me what it’s about?

A: The first book is a piece of fiction which takes place in Idaho. I have lived in Idaho for almost 40 years.

In the second piece I’d like to tell the story about my grandparents and how they lived. My grandfather was a 3rd generation farmer / rancher in Norther California. My grandmother was a new teacher in the one room, country, Pleasants Valley School. They got engaged and she returned to Southern California for the summer. They wrote letters back and forth. I have all of my grandfather’s letters to my grandmother tucked away in a shoe box. I do not have her letters to him. So I would like to write the letters myself and put the whole thing together with other information I have. It is a sweet story for the most part and it would be fun to write it with the grandfather I never knew.

The third book would be about the other side of my family. I am a 5th generation Californian on both sides, and there are many stories that no one has written about. I guess I feel pulled to do some of that to keep it alive.

Q: What advice would you give to new artists just starting out?

A: Take some classes and find out what you love. Take more classes, read a lot of art books and find out who you love.

Then, DO IT…just do it.

Traditional study, self taught learning, whatever, study those artists who are doing what you love. I have lots of art books that I binge on as well, and I check out art books from the local libraries to recharge. But, when the schooling process is finished it is good for an artist to isolate and do her own thing. I have spent years finding my own voice and doing my own thing. But, I am still learning from everyone I know and paint with, when I get together with other artists. Also from reading, studying, learning about different artists, relearning about different artists.

Also, don’t listen to negative people but listen to good constructive feedback. Then, isolate, and listen, mostly to your inner voice.

Q: If you could travel ANYWHERE (time or place), where would you go and why? Who would you bring with you?

A: Mostly, I have found that traveling to the natural, untouched by man, places, are where I find solitude enough to do my creating. There and home. We live on Hoodoo Mountain out of Blanchard in North Idaho and have acreage. It is wild and natural and peaceful. It is on the edge of the wilderness and we have all kinds of wildlife around.

I would still love to go to the European continent, in the 60’s or before, live there for a year or more, to paint and write.

I would love to travel to Africa and live there for a year or more, sometime in the 1920’s.

I would always choose to take my two daughters, who also both do art, and my dear husband with me.

Q: Are your daughters painters like you?

A: Yes, both daughters paint and work with clay. They are both very creative. One is a Montessori teacher and the other one is an architect. They both are good writers as well.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or causes you support?

A: Educating people about the importance of art.

Supplying children with the art education that they are not getting in school.

I love sharing the art experience with children and adults. I run our community arts program out of our beautiful community center, in Blanchard Idaho. We run a free art program for children in the summer. We have adult classes throughout the year. We offer area seniors and teens scholarships to our classes, workshops, and sessions.

I have been doing this for the past 10 years. I see this as my community service, my way to pay back for my good fortune in life.

Camping and hiking and being with the family doing these things, is how we love to spend most summers.

I am passionate about organic gardening and herbs, medicinal and otherwise.

If you would like to see more of Clancie Pleasants work, you can visit her website at Clanciepleasants.com – or see her in person at the CDA Plaza this Saturday 10/15/16 for “Art in the Making”, an event put on by Steve Gibbs and the Art Spirit Gallery. “We will all be painting and drawing from live models, something we do every Oct.”