Portfolio | Art in the Pacific Northwest

Meet 5 artists who make their homes in Oregon & Washington

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Gretha Lindwood

Gretha Lindwood, Reeds and Weeds, pastel, 9 x 12.

Gretha Lindwood, Reeds and Weeds, pastel, 9 x 12.

As a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Gretha Lindwood is intimately familiar with its varied landscapes, yet she always discovers something new to portray. “I live on what we call the wet side of the mountains, to the west of the Cascades,” says the plein-air painter. “There’s a lot of green here. Earlier, I didn’t care so much for the dry side because it was foreign to me, but now I spend more time painting there. The grasses turn golden when they’re dry, and with a clear blue sky, it’s just a gorgeous color combination.”

The award-winning artist participates in juried plein-air events around the country, but when she’s not traveling, she’s often scouting out new places to paint locally. Lindwood also revisits favorite locations at different times of the year, including nearby Sauvie Island, a large island along the Columbia River. The lush isle boasts farmland, lakes, a wildlife refuge, and even smaller interior islands. As Lindwood puts it, “It’s like visiting old friends, but they’re always wearing something different.”

The artist started painting en plein air with oils years ago, but these days she more
often reaches for her pastels because of their vibrancy. “People say they feel like they can step into a Lindwood painting, and that’s my goal,” she says. “When I’m out painting in a beautiful location, I can hear birdsong, the water, the wind. Who wouldn’t want to be out there?”

See Lindwood’s work at Art on Broadway, Beaverton, OR; Aurora Gallery, Vancouver, WA; Cannon Beach Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR; Fairweather House & Gallery, Seaside, OR; Ryan Gallery, Lincoln City, OR; and White Bird Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR. —Kim Agricola

Kathryn Townsend

Kathryn Townsend, Point at Salt Creek, oil, 8 x 12.

Kathryn Townsend, Point at Salt Creek, oil, 8 x 12.

Kathryn Townsend’s work vibrates with painterly movement and color, showing both strong compositional structure and a sense of place that reveals a passion for the land. Townsend’s bold brush strokes and generous paint application give a unique quality to her work.

Townsend began painting after taking art- history classes in college. From the beginning she adopted a spontaneous approach. “There’s a momentum of being in the right brain when I begin a painting. Once I start overthinking it, I know it’s time to quit,” she says. “I am indebted to the artists I’ve studied with who have a painterly approach, such as the late William F. Reese. I am continually experimenting and would like to become even more abstract in the future.”

Townsend seeks wild places to paint outdoors with artist friends, from the Grand Canyon to Yunnan Province in China, and she often finds secluded areas to set up her easel. “I like the adventure of going to the vast places, such as Grand Staircase-Escalante or the back side of Capitol Reef,” she says. Yet she always returns to her roots in the Pacific Northwest, where the old-growth forests and mountain glaciers have been an inspiration since childhood. Over the years her work has been selected by U.S. ambassadors to hang in embassies across the world, including embassies in the Bahamas, El Salvador, Oman, Vatican City, and Jordan. Townsend’s work can be seen at www.kathryntownsend.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

Dotty Hawthorne

Dotty Hawthorne, Wildlife Refuge Sanctuary, oil, 16 x 20.

Dotty Hawthorne, Wildlife Refuge Sanctuary, oil, 16 x 20.

Dotty Hawthorne’s paintings offer a soft lens through which to see the world. Whether she is painting fields of flowers, rolling vineyards, or shimmering waters, the artist’s soft touch is evident. “I work with the painting to express what I see and feel about the area. I try to capture the spirit of the land because it’s something that I have always gravitated to,” Hawthorne says. “I want to appreciate the beauty that is in the land and try to reflect it through my work.”

Hawthorne began her art career 20 years ago working in watercolors, but she was drawn to the immediacy and wide color spectrum that pastels offer. Working pri-marily en plein air, she has also begun to dabble in oil painting. Color is prominent in all of Hawthorne’s works, and she often places colors that are close in value right next to each other. “This creates more of a vibration in the painting, so it feels more lifelike,” she says.

Although many viewers are familiar with her paintings of more arid locations, such as California and Arizona, the artist’s recent move to Portland, OR, has already influenced her work. Where her earlier paintings often carried undertones of gold and orange, her most recent work reflects the lush greenery of her new coastal home. “I’m also learning to paint rivers and puddles because there’s water just about everywhere,” Hawthorne says. “It’s fun to have a new challenge.” Hawthorne’s work can be seen at www.dottyhawthorne.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

Amanda Houston

Amanda Houston, Daring Chickadee, pastel on copper, 8 x 8.

Amanda Houston, Daring Chickadee, pastel on copper, 8 x 8.

Pastel painter Amanda Houston dances along the line between realism and abstraction, between her left brain and her right brain. On one side, her portraits of birds on copper plates include each species’ distinct markings and fine details that are lauded by birders across the country. On the other side, her landscapes show a looser hand and a fondness for vibrant, golden-hour colors. “I find I am inspired by the edges of our day, the morning and evening lights that cast shadows and give me that peaceful feeling,” Houston says.

After a long career in the corporate arena, Houston settled down to begin her family. She took local painting classes and began painting full time after retiring from her job at age 40. In her creative process, she finds a balance between the analytical and emotional. “Most realist painters are painting with the left side of the brain, so it’s very comfortable,” she says. “To stop analyzing and thinking and to just let it flow becomes a daily exercise for me.” Houston says she believes her lifelong journey is to loosen up her work.

Houston finds endless inspiration in the backdrop of everyday life. “It can be the most mundane road in the middle of nowhere, and the light can hit it just right and it’s beautiful,” she says. Houston’s work can be seen at Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes, WA; American Art Company, Tacoma, WA; Clearwater Gallery, Sisters, OR; Cole Gallery, Edmonds, WA; Valley Art Gallery, Forest Grove, OR; Attic Gallery, Camas, WA; and www.amandahouston.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

Chad Houtz

Chad Houtz, Cedar Hollow Falls, oil, 11 x 14.

Chad Houtz, Cedar Hollow Falls, oil, 11 x 14.

In 2012, Chad Houtz took the nest egg he had saved up while working as a project manager and chased a longtime dream. The artist, who had been painting with watercolors for years, devoted seven months to studying traditional oil painting at a private atelier in Florence, Italy. “It was a cornerstone in my life,” he says. “Your medium affects how you visually translate the world around you. At the most basic level, oil painting is a marathon, whereas watercolor is a sprint.”

Today, in his figurative and landscape paintings, Houtz strives to achieve a visually pleasing balance between the tactile and transparent properties of oil paint, whether he’s working from life to create a painterly effect or from photographs and sketches to attain a more polished finish. He also paints en plein air at scenic sites around his home in Anacortes, WA, from Washington Park and Bowman Bay to the Mount Baker wilderness area. “On other trips, I’ll focus on the little picture,” he says. “I’ll head into the forest, which is very busy visually. This forces me to focus on small elements, a portrait of a tree, perhaps, or a moss-covered rock. I’m always looking for the most interesting shapes and lines.”

Recently the artist has been exploring portrayals of street musicians in figurative works like PLAYIN’ FOR PENNIES. For Houtz, their passion for performing conveys the blissful absorption he himself experiences when painting. “What’s so powerful for me as an artist can be shown visually by these musicians who lose themselves in their process,” he says. “You’re not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. You’re just here.” Find Houtz’s work at www.chadhoutz.com. —Kim Agricola

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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