Dahlia Beauty

Another Dahlia beauty experience right after our home burned down. It was because our neighbor is an absolute green thumb magician.
dahlia Pink Two 10
Her garden (it survived) after the fire, was still beautiful and abundant. Jerry made sure to bring the generator out to be able to keep watering it. Jen shared all the tomatoes and flowers we could pick from her garden, it was a real blessing making us feel as though we would be okay.

dahlia Pink Two 03This painting is from one of those dinner plate Dahlia’s that we picked and I took pictures so I could paint them later on. I hope to someday be able to produce the beauty she does in a year.
dahlia Pink Two 02

Night Time at the Cathedral

Night time at the Cathedral
Night time at the Cathedral oil

Night time at the Cathedral. This was a painting done while attending the week of painting event at Eagle Idaho, just north of Boise. It was a great time for artists and adventures in plein air.

Night time painting of cathedral

I have never tried to paint at night so this was an unfamiliar setup and subject. Outside in the dark, downtown Boise all alone in a parking lot across from a cathedral that had lighting that caught my eye.Cathedral of the Rockies10Cathedral of the Rockies10

Progressive stage. I will be painting at night again… it is a challenge. It feels like an opposite approach, rendering the highlights on a dark background. Drawing is usually rendering shadows on a light background.

Arbor Crest Plein Air

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar View 01

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is a beautiful historic estate on top of the hill, just north of the Spokane River in the Inland Northwest. It is an absolutely perfect place to have a plein air paintout. A group of friends from the Spokane Watercolor Society met up here for an artist’s day out. This place is full of surprises that catch your eye. There are so many beautiful settings, gardens and views that it is hard to choose the best one to paint.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar 2This view captured me, and as I settled down to paint, I wondered about that brave soul who selected this amazing location to settle and and admire the view. What a daring free spirited individual that must have been.

Can you imaging sitting here with your morning coffee? I can.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar 3Here is one of those unfinished paintings (7) on my desk that is now part of the ash where our house used to be. Since I do have pictures to work from I may recreate this one.  Maybe even spend another day at the Arbor Crest Wine Celler grounds to get the colors right.

August 18th 2023

Home we builtAugust 18th 2023 was a date that will stay in my memory. The day began normally with a trip into town for a chiropractor appointment for Pete and I. Afterwards, we did grocery shopping followed by getting other supplies at North 40 on the way home. When you live out-of-town you tend to get all of the errands done in one trip.

Pete got a new pair of slippers at North 40 taking a little while talking and it was making me nervous about making it home in time. I had a 3:30 Zoom Board Meeting for the Spokane Watercolor Society. When we got home I rushed and turned the computer on and was only about 5 minutes late. The meeting was short maybe 30 minutes.

As I was getting ready to shut down the computer, there was a pounding on our front door. It was our neighbor Travis G. from just above us on the hill. He was saying did we see the fire

Then Everything Changed

What fire? Then all of our cell phones started beeping that spooky evacuation alert. A spooky incessant sound. Looking off of the front deck with Travis there was a great big cloud of smoke going high into the sky. Travis saw 200 ft high flames from his house. The smoke was going away from us, when suddenly, the wind changed and it started to come striaght at us.

Another neighbor, Brian C. came up our driveway saying the same thing and asking if we had notified everyone. He had let his next door neighbor know, and she had already evacuated. He said he would make sure the Eastmans knew on his way back.

I went inside and notified all of the people in our neighborhood watch group via email, and we all started making calls to whoever we already had on our phones. Just then, I noticed a folder of pictures on my desktop that I had taken for the insurance company after our last wildfire scare a few years prior. It was 150 pictures and I opened Google Drive and started an “upload” saying a little prayer, it could send it in time.

I  found backpacks and bags and begin dumping medicines, medical gear, and bathroom drawers, just dumping them in. Packed a weekend backpack with clothes like I was going on a weekend trip. And Pete grabbed his suitcases and put clothes and stuff in them.

Pete grabbed the box of our important papers, then started carrying loads of guns and ammo upstairs into the back of the truck. Everytime I made a trip into the car, I watched for small electronic devicesthat could fit in and charger plugs and anything else along the way. I got Max’s dogfood bag, his brushes and his leash but forgot his dish. I grabbed the cooler off of the deck and pulled the soups out of the pantry that were ready to eat thinking, I did not do all that work for nothing. Someone was going to be hungry. The car was getting full fast. Then, the electricity went out.

No More

My next load from inside was going to be computers, keepsakes, and treasures. I paused for a second to look at the pictures, Grandpa’s clock, and the piano OMG! Then, a pound on the door revealed the sheriff returning yelling, EVACUATE NOW! We followed him out and as I was heading to the car I noticed the chainsaw and gas weedeater with a blade hanging on the back of our Kubota tractor. I stepped over there and started unwiring them. Pete came and helped me, grabbing them and putting them in the back of the truck. We gotta go!

We followed the sheriff out with all our neighbors behind, Guy was driving his tractor and as we turned the corner where the mailboxes were, the flames were crossing the road around us. Just a little too close for comfort. We all just kept going through a thick curtain of smoke.

The Oregon Road Wildfire on August 18th, 2023 was a day forever impressed into our memories. Peter, myself, and Max made it out.

 

Rediscovery

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 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