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.
Yet another incredible find at The Little Dog Art Gallery . I first saw artist Kim Long’s work at the Exquisite Woman exhibit. A colorful, acrylic portrait of a woman’s face peeking through the purple, dread-like fronds of an amaranth called “Love Lies Bleeding” hung opposite to an amazingly detailed charcoal and pastel confection called “Living With Your Heart Wide Open.” (pictured above, top left)
I was amazed by both works and my first thought after the shock and awe wore off was, “This artist has some range to her! I have to interview her.” Thankfully she agreed to meet with me and we spent an honestly fun hour or so together where I learned that she is just as warm, layered, and original as her works of art. Read on to learn more about the intricate, imaginative illustrations of Kim Long.
Q. When did you first discover your talent / love of art?
A. Art / Drawing has always been a part of me for as long as I remember. There have been times in my life when I thought I had to set it aside and concentrate on more conventional business pursuits, but they were trying times, and it never “fit”.
Q. As a writer, I get the not fitting into the whole 9 to 5 thing. What was the worst job you ever had?
A. I was managing a small business. Something I’d done successfully before, but at this particular job, I was asked to keep track of too much. The owners would call me and expect me to spout numbers and figures at a moment’s notice. I just can’t do that. Numbers, facts and figures are not my forte’, though I am very detail oriented in my art.
Q. Have you gone to school or taken classes to learn your craft or are you self taught?
A. I have very little formal training. I have just kept showing up at the drawing table. There have been hits and misses, but I believe I have cultivated a unique style.
Q. From what I’ve seen, you have an amazing way of blending nature into your work. What do you call your particular style?
A. Best guess, Magic Realism? I also describe my work as intricate, imaginative illustrations.
Q. Do you have a favorite subject (animals, trees, people, concepts, etc.) from which to create?
A. I find the natural world divine. I love animals and people. 98% of my work has eyes! At one point my boyfriend walked into my studio and exclaimed, “Everything is looking at me!” It made me laugh, but I just love expressive eyes.
Q. What is your favorite medium to work within?
A. Drawing (dry media: pen, pencil, charcoal) is what I love most. Painting and gold leaf are secondary supports.
Q. Who are some of your favorite artists?
A. Illustrators are my very favorites!!! I love Alphonse Mucha and Frank Frazetta. I’ve had people look down on me for enjoying the works of illustrators, for wanting to be like them, but I enjoy what they do, and what I do.
**For the record, this interviewer thinks their work is amazing also, and finds Kim’s work to be an incredible morphing of their individual styles into her own. So poop on any naysayers!
Q. What is your process and where do you find inspiration? Do you listen to music, take walks, visit galleries, drink enough Red Bull to spawn hallucinations? 😉
A. Close with the Red Bull, but for me it’s coffee! I have converted my living room into a studio, and the second bedroom into a “chill room”, so every morning after coffee I hit the drawing table. I have been solely supporting myself with my art for approximately two years now, and take my inspiration from life, my friends, and my love.
Q. Can you give me an example of finding inspiration?
A. Yes. The picture called “Dandelion” (shown above, bottom left) came to me while a friend and I were on vacation. We were out walking around and we saw a girl wearing what I think was a white, afro wig. It intrigued me, but the idea of it looking like a dandelion didn’t come to me until a little while later.
Q. That’s really cool :). Now, can you tell me a bit about your love? Where did you meet? Do you have any pets?
A. I met my boyfriend while showing my work at Arbor Crest. He and his group “The Dog House Boyz” had been hired to do the music. We’ve been together for five years now.
We do have a cat, Allycat. She’d been letting herself into a vacant home nearby, via a pet door. When some friends moved in with their dogs it became obvious she needed a new home. Every time I visited, she would sit by my shoes and stare at me. We bonded instantly. She and I fit together perfectly.
Q. Are you currently working on any new projects?
A. I usually have five things going at once. I’m most excited about the beginnings, so it helps to have pieces in different stages of development. This allows me to choose what fits my day / mood. My next show will be at The New Moon Art Gallery in October / November.
Q. Do you have any other interests or passions?
A. I enjoy the natural world and Archaeology. The history of man is most fascinating.
Q. Final question. If you could travel ANYWHERE in space or time for your art, where would you go and why?
A. I would travel to the Lascaux Cave in southwestern France, about 17,o0o years ago! I would be so interested in seeing the people making ancient art. It is estimated by the depth of the (then) floor, that they must have constructed scaffolding. Were they really all that different from us? Was there a ritual? Was it to bring good hunting? Or, were they like us, needing to impart beauty / feeling upon a surface?
I don’t know the answer to that one, but I’m sure glad that Kim Long has decided to share her talent with all of us!
If you would like to see more of Kim’s art you can visit her website at KimLongArt.com.
An interview with artist Mitchell Pluto.
Introduced to this young artist through a mutual friend (Allison Wier, you can see her interview further down the page.), I recently had the pleasure of interviewing artist Grace Fairchild. A new resident of Post Falls, she has grown up in and around the Spokane / Couer D’Alene area, has two cats, Smokey Bear and Melly Belly. “The name Melly Belly comes from her laying on her back when we stretch her belly and she lifts one leg up, it’s hilarious.” She also has a sweetly supportive boyfriend (as evidenced in the interview below). While speaking to her on the phone, she described herself as shy, especially when it comes to talking to people, but I found her to be a vivacious, well spoken, good humored young lady. Read on to learn more about this rising star.
Q: When did you first discover your talent / love of art?
A: I got a set of graphite pencils and was always doodling cartoons and what not. One day on Instagram I came across art featuring pages and they were sharing such beautiful things. After sifting through so many posts I realized that one lady was drawing with colored pencils. It interested me. So one day my boyfriend got me some as a surprise. I tried one of the contests that a page was hosting. I had to draw a human eye ball but that didn’t go so well, so I took a photo of my cats eye and discovered that I wanted to try more of that furry goodness. On my second attempt at my cat I was hooked. I needed more pencils and decided that this is what I am really good at and stopped drawing cartoons.
Q: How long have you been actively creating art?
A: I have been creating miscellaneous art here and there all my life, but really only drawing since about May of 2014.
Q: Do you have a favorite medium to work within?
A: Colored pencils by far, they are so much fun and you can do so much with them, though they take a long time to create things.
Q: What do you call your style of drawing?
A: I would call it realism.
**We both (at different times) attempted to Google descriptions of her style and though hyper-realism comes close, we both found that term to be super subjective.
Q: What is your process? Do you listen to music, keep a snack nearby, burn incense, what?
A: No snacks. I am a messy eater. If I have something nearby it will end up all over me and my project! I don’t really listen to music when I’m drawing. I am a Netflix / Hulu tv watcher. I keep my tablet nearby and use the programs to keep track of time while creating a new portrait. I’ve been re-watching X – Files, Stargate, and Veronica Mars. I enjoy crime shows too, but they freak me out a bit. A friend keeps telling me to watch Dr. Who, but I’m not sure if I will.
**I, being a 10 year Whovian, encouraged that whole heartedly.
Q: How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
A: If I can work on a project without interruption 7 – 10 days. Otherwise I do about two projects a month.
Q: Do you have a favorite subject to draw, paint, etc.?
A: Animals are definitely my favorite to draw, there is always something interesting in them. My favorite part though is the eyes. I love drawing eyes! Especially when you get a really good picture with a neat reflection it.
Q: Is there a part you don’t like drawing?
A: I hate ears! They usually have weird hairs in or on them and, as I draw from pictures, it is really hard to get a good look at the detail.
Q: Where / how do you find inspiration?
A: I am a part of a few online groups which have so many people always posting and sharing beautiful things, I think that is where a lot of it comes from. Seeing what other create, sharing new products, reference photos and their own techniques drives me to want to improve. Having social media where so many amazing artists post their work helps. I think if I didn’t have that ability to find them and see their artwork I wouldn’t have discovered what does inspire me.
Q: If you could travel ANYWHERE for your art, where would you go and why?
A: Anywhere, I haven’t really been to too many places. I think doing a meet up with some of the people I admire would be amazing, so many of them are in the UK, Australia and Texas. We (my boyfriend and I) like to take drives and get photographs of all sorts of stuff so that I can try and draw from my own reference photos too. So anywhere to do that also.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?
A: This is so difficult! Danielle Fisher Portraits, Jessica Lennox, Lisa Lachri, Wendy Layne Windrich, Rachael Wild, and Kelly Lahar just to name a few. All but Wendy I discovered on instagram, and I recently purchased a print from Kelly.
Q: What are some other interests of yours? Hobbies, volunteer work, causes you support, etc.
A: Well my art was a hobby so when I am not working I will go home and draw.
Q: So you have a job other than super artist? (Yes I checked out your fb page and loved it!;)
A: Haha yeah, I work full time for a seasonal Bark Blowing company, which is an awesome job filled with amazing people. So in the off season, like this winter, I was able to spit out some art quicker than normal.
Q: Do you have a website for your art?
A: I do, it’s not finished and I am thinking about purchasing one instead of doing a free one but here is the link: http://graciesartcorner.weebly.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graciesartcorner/ Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/handmade/Gracies-Art-Corner and if you search graciesartcorner on Instagram you will find me there as well.
**Some of Grace’s work can currently be seen at The Artisan Gallery @ 53 Wisconsin St. Priest River, ID.
According to their website, the “Urban Art Co-Op is a group of talented and diverse local potters focused on promoting and supporting the arts in our community with the intent to expand to include artists who work in other mediums . We have created a welcoming environment for all levels of potters where artistic growth and collaboration happen. We teach classes and workshops, exhibit, sell and give to the local community. Our structure is supported by artist’s participation in all duties and functions of the Co-Op which allows us to maintain an affordable space for all members.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two of the founding members, Karen Mannino and Nick Lowe and one resident artist JoDee Moody. Their energy and good humor made for a fun and relaxing time as they showed me around and gave me the scoop on the Urban Art Co-op.
The idea for the Co-op was born December of 2014 when a group of Spokane pottery artists dreamed up their perfect space. Autumn Bunton, Karen Mannino, Nick Lowe, John Newman, Keith Harger, Jo Dee Moody, and Libby Schoedel are the founding members of the Urban Art Co-op. Their idea was simple yet powerful. Create a space where artists of all kinds can come to share ideas, inspiration and tips of the trade. A place to make friends and build community connections.
With this goal in mind, the group met weekly to write up by-laws, hammer out membership parameters and contracts, and generally figure out how to get started. Excitement grew as they worked well together and by February of this year the group had built enough capital and gathered enough donated materials to begin. February of this year, they found a space at 3017 N. Monroe and began remodeling it to fit their needs. Despite a few structural difficulties to overcome, it didn’t take long for them to settle in. Their Grand Opening & Mug Sale was held on March 28th and 29th. Amazingly, not only did they get their studio ready but the artists created over 200 mugs and six special prizes to be raffled off, some of which are pictured below.
According to Karen and Nick, “It actually came together amazingly easily. Everyone of us was able to contribute in different ways, from building the website to constructing special sinks that can collect clay run off without clogging. We are proud of what we’ve started and hope to expand into other mediums; let other artists use this space to create art and hold workshops.”
They are off to a good start. The Co-op currently has seven potters wheels, and (for the moment) 1 working kiln with 3 more to be installed soon. They offer wheel throwing, hand building, pinch, coil, and slab sculpting classes. The classes are eight weeks long, with an additional two weeks for final touches and cost only $125.00. This includes clay, glazes, and kiln time. Pottery, however, is not the only medium they teach. As with so many artists, the core group has a list of other skills to offer. Their talents include painting, photography, writing, basketry, glass creations and more. It was this mixed bag of interests and talents that helped shape their goals for the Co-op and lay the groundwork for them to offer special workshops beyond the pottery medium.
Their first workshop was called “Fastenings and Findings”. Two of the co-ops members, jewelry artists Jo Dee Moody and Mary Cooper taught how to wire wrap ceramic pendants, make bails, adjustable clasps, and decorative knots in cord, and two styles of earring heads. JoDee was very pleased with how well the workshop went. “Everyone was happy with it. Mary brought in so much information for our students, things they probably wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. For only $40.00 they left with at least four items. Everyone made two pairs of earrings, a wire wrapped pendant and fastener/finding, and a necklace. Our workshops last one or two days and vary in price and difficulty. This first workshop was geared toward people with some experience in making jewelry but we also offer workshops for beginners.”
More workshops will be offered soon. A Felted Vessel workshop is already open for reservations on their website (link at bottom of post) and will be held on May 31st. Plans are also in the works to hold an August workshop teaching Eco-printing on silk, and an October workshop teaching how to create mugs/jars with faces like the one pictured above. Bookmark their website to keep on top of all the amazing workshops offered.
With a current total of fourteen co-op members, including six teachers, and three resident artists they are hoping to expand their co-op into other mediums soon. According to Karen, “We are currently available to host date nights, ladies nights, birthday parties, and corporate events. Our ultimate goal though, is to own a larger building, bring in small groups of artists that work with different mediums and are willing to bring their talents and enthusiasm to teach more workshops, share equipment and collaborate on projects. We need people willing to put in a little seed money, time and talent to help us grow.”
“All members help with upkeep of the studio and donate a portion of their work for sale so we can keep prices low. We want to make it a good deal for the artist; give them an incentive to be here.” So far it’s working out nicely. The co-ops artists, using a variety of techniques, have made some beautiful and useful items.
Interested in taking a class, attending a workshop or becoming a member? Are you an artist in need of some space? Do you, or anyone you know of, have any items you’d be willing to donate? Check out their website at http://www.urbanartcoop.org/ .
** The co-ops wish list includes more cabinets, pottery wheels, and an extruder (think giant Play-doh press).
I am always excited to find new talent in our local art scene. Young artists with passion and perseverance inspire and amaze me. Twenty one year old Allison Wier is one such artist. A native of the flat state of Michigan, Allison moved to the Pacific Northwest (Sandpoint, ID) to live near the mountains, enjoy nature and the abundant wildlife. These are the things from which she finds inspiration.
Allison has always had an interest in art. She remembers her love of drawing going back to the 4th grade. Her parents (mom a receptionist, dad a factory worker) always encouraged her to explore her talent and it was this loving support that made her say, “Someday I want to be an artist.”
Allison enjoys many artistic outlets / mediums. She’s sculpted with everything from pipe cleaners to clay, painted with water colors and acrylics, and drawn with pastels, colored pencils and the occasional charcoal. But that’s not all. I asked Allison which medium she enjoyed the most. Her response?
“I love scratchboards. I enjoy using light to create shadow”. As you can see, her enjoyment of this medium shines through.
Always considering herself an amateur artist, it was only a few years ago that her friend Mary gave her a box of colored pencils and told her to try making a living at it, to be a professional.
“I didn’t sell anything for three years, but then a member of one of my favorite on-line forums commissioned an acrylic painting of a butterfly after seeing a small watercolor I posted. I’d just finished it, my first acrylic painting on canvas, and called it “Butterfly on Birch”. I was ready to give it to the customer when my cat peed on it!”
Allison re-did the piece, now called “Butterfly on Birch #2” and the customer was thrilled. Since then, Allison and her best friend and fellow artist Mary have created many amazing works of art, including an entire butterfly series, and opened on-line studios on both Etsy and Facebook. (Links to both can be found at the end of this article.) She now credits Mary for making a great investment by purchasing those pencils for her.
When asked about her process, Allison told me that she likes to travel around, whether on foot or bike and take pictures of anything that catches her eye. She saves the photos in a folder on her computer to use as inspiration later. Many of the photos are based in nature, especially the flora and fauna surrounding Sandpoint. Together with her friend Mary, these two young artists have logged many miles and hours exploring the amazing country surrounding them. Beyond using her pictures for inspiration, Allison has also brought natural elements into her art, recently painting her first shelf fungi. She also enjoys a family tradition of snow sculpting. One of her snow sculptures caught the eye of a local news reporter and was featured in The Daily Bee in January of 2014.
I met Allison through my Lupus Support Group. She called after suffering a bad bicycle accident that caused swelling in her brain, which in turn, caused her to have seizures and painful muscle spasms. After many hospitalizations and new health issues surfacing she was officially diagnosed with Systemic Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (a group of inherited disorders that mostly affect the skin, joints, and blood vessels) in February of 2014.
One might think that this would slow her down, undermine her ability a bit. It hasn’t. Allison is smart and determined. Illness might mess with her schedule but she uses her down time to create. She challenges herself constantly, attempts to keep a good work / life balance, and uses her experience to infuse her art with feeling.
“My art is a way to show people how I perceive the world. I want to share that.”
I believe she’s succeeding beautifully.
Recently a new challenge has presented itself to Alison and Mary. Their computer and printer bit the dust. If you would like to help them please visit their on-line studios at either https://www.etsy.com/shop/WeaselsOnEasels
or head over to their kickstarter page, watch a video with the artists and donate to the cause at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/677174180/weasels-on-easels-growing-one-goal-at-a-time