The rediscovery of my love for Plein Air Painting is now complete. I spent 2 weeks driving around Coeur d’Alene ID and painting outside. The beauty of where we live has brought my artist’s soul back to life. The art expedition involved multiple trips, cruising around, and sightseeing till I noticed a great view. Then, stopping to hop out, set up the easel, and paint my heart out.

Barn Elkhorn Flats H0523
10″w x 8″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper/board cradle. Old barn in the prairie where Elkhorn Flats Wildlife Mitigation Unit is in Idaho.

3 Paintings

This was the first plein air I did during the art expedition. An old barn stopped me on the road and I had to back up to go see it. The old barn won an honorable mention ribbon and was the first painting sold in our booth.

Roadside Centurian Stump
11″h x 14″ w oil on stretched canvas. Stump on slow vehicle turnout from Hwy 97 E side of Lake Coeur d’Alene ID 23.2 miles from I-90

I pulled into a slow vehicle turn out to let traffic go by, and this guy greeted me right up front and center. What a personality this tree stump has. He didn’t win a ribbon but there was one young man who fell in love with it. He went off and brought back his whole family to vote for it as the people’s choice.

Blooming Wet H0723
11″w x 14″h x .75″d watercolor, acrylic & ink on 140lb wc paper/boar cradle. A wetland about 25 miles south on Hwy 97, full of blooming lilly ponds, grasses and wildlife named Thompson Refuge in Idaho.

This painting won the “People’s Choice” award for the plein air booth. Bloomin Wet is a close-up view from the bank of the water full of blooming lily pods, grasses, reeds, and lots of mosquitos.

1 Demo Painting

sunflower As described in a previous post, I did a demo of plein air painting from some fresh sunflowers in the booth during the Art on the Green show.

Single Sunflower
4″ x 4″ wc on 140 lb paper from a plein air demo at the Art on the Green booth.

This small 4″ x 4″ demo sold. There is another partially done one that I intend to finish in the studio. I’ll share about that when it is done.

55th Art on the Green

Jessica Bryant Art on the Green
Jessica Bryant is a watercolorist worth knowing and fun too!

The 55th Art on the Green ( AoG) Festival was a pleasure to experience. We had the distinct pleasure of being right next to Jessica Bryant’s booth making it possible to get to know her over the weekend. She is an amazing watercolor artist doing landscapes that just blow you away. A fascinating individual with so many interesting stories about traveling and painting in her life. Jessica’s beautiful brainchild started two years ago, to help with the KEA fundraising and increasing public awareness.

The Plein Air show was sponsored by both “Art on the Green” (AoG) and the “Kootenai Environmental Alliance” (KEA) non-profit. They promote, “clean water efforts” in the Lake Coeur d’Alene water drainage basin area. The booth celebrated area artists who participate in the creation of art that is created outside while experiencing the beautiful surroundings around the lake.

We were located in the middle, close to the food booths and the stage. The entertainment included great music and phenomenal singers all day. The music inspired people to get up and dance, and even some toddlers got up to dance to the music. A great family fun day for everyone.

Even though the plein air painting contest requires that I spend a lot of time in the two weeks prior looking for views and painting outside. It is worth putting up with the “sun and bugs” because I love painting outside  so much.

Each day Fanie Van (first place winner), and I did plein air painting demos, using fresh sunflowers from my garden. People were relaxed and easy to talk with us and were eager to cast their votes on their favorites for “People’s Choice”.  A lot of the paintings were sold and it was a successful show all around. This will remain an event that I look forward to being a part of next year.

Surprise Treasure

Kylie's Bluebird DayWe received a surprise treasure in the mail today. It is a perfect rendering of a magnificent ‘BLUEBIRD DAY OF SKIING” at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah last year. Kylie, you are an amazing artist, thank you! I look forward to more art by you, especially in this subject.

Pete and I had the privilege of teaching our granddaughters to ski years ago on this same hill. Many years have passed and both of these great girls have families of their own now. They are some of the dearest individuals in our lives.

Last year, we had the triple privilege of helping to teach Nick, Jace, and Kylie skiing fundamentals. Can you believe it, grandson, and great-grandkids? We were able to ski with all four of them while we enjoyed some of the most beautiful days up on that hill last year. It ain’t easy to learn how to ski but it is truly worth the effort. It is unexpressible to try and describe the happiness that they all had. Pete and I always have loved to ski.

“Ski Bums” and proud of it. We are addicts, that is all there is to it.  Any day of skiing beats almost anything else out in winter. We are aging and sometimes the aches and pains get our attention in the evenings, but that does not take the joy away that skiing down pristine winter landscapes gives us. The views, endless gorgeous skyline, crisp wind in the face, and the butterflies fluttering in your belly as you challenge yourself coming down the slope. The absolute best fun you can have without having to worry about having bail money handy.

Sarah, you still ski like a dream. Thank you for including us in your family outings, we love sharing this fun with you.

Spokane in Bloom

Spokane in Bloom 2023Spokane in Bloom 2023 is this Saturday from 10am-5pm. This year’s theme is, “Journey Through the Senses“. Come and experience 6 truly beautiful gardens on the south side of Spokane. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online (PayPal) and at multiple locations listed on the flyer. A map is available on the Inland Empire Gardeners’ website.

The last time we did this invitational art show was in 2019 (before COVID). We are looking forward to seeing the art, food, and gorgeous gardens full of wonderful like-minded “garden lovers” to enjoy the day with. It is so much fun to talk with people who love to garden just like you do.

The Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour is an annual event along with the Garden Expo presented by the local garden club, “The Inland Empire Gardeners“. We want you to have a good time as you get to visit with other gardeners, artists, and craft vendors. Between 600-800 are anticipated to attend the garden tour throughout Saturday.

Come see us at the “Hear the Wind Garden” which is the creation of Jody & Todd Hechtman at 2020 E 23rd Ave, Spokane, WA 99203. Directions to the “Hear the Wind Garden“, starting at 29th & Regal, right on E 29th Ave. Right on S Southeast Blvd. Left on E Rockwood Blvd. Left on S Crestline St. Right on E 23rd Ave.

Our booth will be exhibiting art originals and prints for sale by myself, Valerie Woelk. There are colorful watercolors, oil paintings, and drawings of a wide range of subjects. There are a lot of unframed originals, that are economical since we didn’t frame them. The last time we did the show in 2019, every bagged watercolor original sold.

Actually, the very best part of our day then was the conversations we had with others who love to garden just as much as we do. Hummingbirds were a frequent subject, and every kind of flower was fully described and discussed.

Remnants of Life

Remnants of Life PhotographNoticing the remnants of life around me. After a great visit with our family in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we started the long drive home.  Aspen are magical, as they transform the color of an entire mountainside in Fall. They take my breath away. My husband and I stopped on the side of the road and took a short walk to stretch our legs and reenergize. We followed what looked like an old game trail meandering up the hill.

A Beautiful Spot

Remnants of Life 02
14.5w x 22.5h watercolor, acrylic on 140lb wc paper

Suddenly, as we crested the hill we came upon a beautiful meadow with a patch of brilliant yellow aspens just a little way off in the distance. There was this great old fencepost standing with a lean, he was all tangled up in barbed wire and I could see where the fence line was long ago. There were multiple posts leaning and falling down in a line leading away from us.

Remnants of Life 07I wondered what kind of stories that old fence post could tell if he could talk. That post was where a gate had hung, at the base of a beautiful expanse of grazing land. Was this a large farm or ranch in the past? Were there cattle, horses, gardens, homes, and barns? This artist’s mind kicked into high gear then. Wouldn’t it be great to explore and see if the story from a long time ago could be found? Are there pioneer cabins back there? Big ole’ log barns? Ponds?

Remnants of Life 12Where did all the people go? Standing there, we were very much alone as the sun sank further down in the sky. I took some photographs of this sturdy old cracked fence guardian before leaving.

Remnants of Life 18His, “Remnants of Life” will remain a secret, but the beauty of the land that he guards will be seen by whoever views this painting.

Homeless Solutions

Homeless Solutions Durrett Chas 007Homeless Solutions were the topic. Thursday night was chilly at Whitworth college but the lecture hall was warm and full of concerned local residents. There weren’t many seats left open. New Hope Resource Center in Colbert WA invited renowned architect/author, Charles Durrett to speak. He began by pointing out that 206 homeless people died last year in Spokane. The deaths aren’t the only problem, there are significant additional costs to our community each year because of homelessness. Costs of $30-60k per homeless person are incurred for increased emergency medical services, law enforcement, and incarceration events. Solving the homeless problem may not be free of charge, but, doing something about it now makes a lot of sense.

Durrett Chas 001

Durrett shared about many of the successful “village” projects he has designed around the world. These communities have produced so many positive outcomes. He shared the grassroots strategies used to enable “doing something now” about homelessness, instead of waiting for a bureaucracy to move on to finding a solution.

Durrett Chas 003Communities voluntarily have worked together to handle finances, planning, and permits, along with materials and labor costs. Working together they have successfully built communities where homeless people have a roof over their heads with a locking door. By providing a safe place to live we allow a person to connect with neighbors and build a community. “Villages” become a place of transition where disconnected homeless people can manage themselves, and then become part of society again.

Durrett Chas 006Charles Durrett revealed methods to solve homelessness now. He talked with many people afterward. We left with a mood full of hope and the motivation to step out and make a difference. Become a part of Homeless Solutions in Spokane WA, and attend a public meeting tomorrow at the North Spokane County Library starting at 9:30 am.

Homeless Solutions
9:30 Saturday
November 5th, 2022
at the
North Spokane County Library
44 E Hawthorne Rd

north spokane library


Children’s Church Table

Table Mountain 01A 2nd table for the children’s church is painted for the kids at CCOB (Country Church of the Open Bible). It has a mountain and animal theme and a quote, “I lift my eyes to the mountains,” from Psalms 121:1. I start by painting a snow-capped mountain in the distance below a bright blue sky. There is a purple darkening below the mountain so that a row of evergreen trees will be able to show up.

Table Mountain 02Now the winding river leads down to a small pond or lake surface where I will paint a reflection of the mountain on the smooth water surface.

Table Mountain 03The fun starts here as I put various animals in the scenery which I will hide so that a “Where is Waldo” game can be played. There is a total of how many animals are on the table. Only the children will know.

Table Mountain 10Now I can start to add leaves to the tree going up the right side of the table which will help to hide the critters in the tree and in the sky.

Table Mountain 13

See how the leaves make it harder to see the critters here. Now, I measure to put the lettering in straight. I use a piece of chalk to make lines to follow as I paint the words, it is the best as it does not interfere with the paint.

Table Mountain 14The moose is hiding behind the “s” in the word mountains.

Table Mountain 15There are many more added grass blades in many colors, and lots of leaves until it seems right. The final step is doing two coats of polyurethane varnish so that the table top is easy to clean.

You can see the process involved with painting the first table here.



Hurley the Golden Retriever Poodle
15″w x 11″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper. Portrait of a fun and energetic Golden Retriever Poodle mix (GoldenDoodle) named Hurley.

We said goodbye to Hurley yesterday at the vet’s, there was nothing that could be done.

Hurley J01He was always a truly kind soul and full of fun all of his life. I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body.

Hurley Camera ShyHere is a picture of him when he did not want his picture taken. This big guy came to us with many allergy problems but after we got them figured out, he was a joy to have in our home. He enjoyed getting dirty every day and splashing in his doggie pool often during the hot months so that the dust he’d lay in would stick well. Our house is never spotless. He was the first guy in the water at Elk Park.

Hurley Loves Snow 02He loved cold weather, and he would chase snowballs all day long. He’d go outside and roll all over in the snow and then just lay in it with a smile on his face.

Hurley Snow 01We were truly blessed to be able to share so much of his life with him. He is already greatly missed.

Children’s Church Table

table 02The children’s church tables needed a facelift because the veneer on top was damaged and yucky looking and getting hard to clean. Linda spent a whole day stripping the top surface off, then scraping and sanding so there was clean wood. I got both the tables on my deck then and began restoring the tabletops. First, there is the primer layer to seal the particle board that was exposed. You should have seen how fast the primer is absorbed into that type of wood, especially when you are painting in 100 degree farenheight weather.

This table design is a bright and colorful statement, “Let Your Light Shine”. So, I start with a subliminal “sun” shining message with an obvious sunburst in the middle fading out to white on the ends.table 03

After the sunburst background dries, I use chalk to draw the letter shapes straight and with enough room for all of the letters. If I try to wing it, there can easily be an “oops” disaster to deal with. For me, safety is the best road for doing lettering. You can see how the words are laid out in the next 4 images.

Now, you can see how each letter is initially just painted with alternating primary and secondary colors. I am just starting out simple.table 09

The basic letter forms are then creatively outlined and decorated to make them interesting. This open-ended design as you go step is my favorite part.table 10

Further embellishments begin with added flowers, leaves, vines, stars, hearts, flowers, and bubbles spread out all over the table. Then little critters are added to become conversation starters for the kids.

table 11Wa La! we are finished after two coats of polyurethane to seal and protect everything.

Big Fish Craft

big Fish Craft 10I made a Big Fish Craft for our church VBS program. The backdrop was made from a 4×8 sheet of mylar that Allison Kromer gave me, she had painted a Riverside High School backdrop on it. Allison your mylar is now, “the big orange fish” at the Country Church of the Open Bible in Elk Washington. The theme is Big Fish Bay teaching about Jonah.

big Fish Craft 03There were paper plates and about 100 clothespins used. big Fish Craft 04To the best of my figuring ability, I was able to find that 6″ diameter plates would fit in a “scale” configuration and allow for about 100 kids to do the fish. big Fish Craft 08It was a quick and fun craft to fill any free time that the children had during their program day. This image shows a very helpful assistant next to “Mr. Big Fish” who is about 1/3 complete.