Pastel dust on the road

Columbia River Art Center

Last week we drove over to Hood River and Portland, OR to visit a couple of galleries  seeking future show spots for the Northwest Pastel Society.  The route follows the Columbia River and is a beautiful drive.  The Columbia River Gorge is deep and there is enough history and geological facts to fill countless blogs, but I am going to touch only on the aesthetics of it for now :-).  The bottom line is, for an artist, there are tons of wonderful places to paint almost anywhere along the 200 or so miles to Portland.  Once you leave Walla Walla, you drive 30 miles before you get to the river at Wallula Junction.  At that point state route 730 takes you along the river at close proximity on a 2 lane road.  Near Umatilla, OR you start to move away from the river edge and get on I-84 near Boardman.  You take that road on to Portland and once again follow the river closer.  

One thing about the Gorge is the fact there is often wind.  Really good winds; blow  you off the curb good; forget that hat forever good.  The water on the river can get some pretty high swells during the windy times, but when there is no wind…the water is smooth as glass and the gorge is beautiful.  Not that it isn’t beautiful when it’s windy…

There are some good places to stop and explore along the way…Hood River is one.  It is the self-proclaimed Wind Surfing capital,  near Mount Hood and skiing and hiking and has a first class Community Art Center.  The Art Center was our point of interest for the day.  It is not only a visual art center but a performing one as well with great gallery space for their members to show 2 and 3D work as well as space to host major shows.  There is a performing arts auditorium as well as a studio/workshop space.  This gallery is certainly a good venue for a professional show.  Typically the NPS show has a workshop at and around the time of the show opening and the Columbia River Art Center would certainly fit that bill.

I also visited the Gallery 903 in Portland as they had expressed some interest in a show.  It is beautiful space in the midst of the Pearl District, however, we determined that with their current space and artists represented, a show such as the NPS show would not work there.  It is always a quest to find galleries that are willing to host a show of 60-80 paintings or have a space that can accommodate.

Bottom line…I need to take more time meandering down the gorge and stopping and doing some plein air painting or even some good reference photos.  It’s a great view and with spring almost in full force, the hills of the canyon are green with fresh grass and waterfalls are flowing in lots of places.  Take the drive…

Next blog…look for some images for the Higbee show in California…


About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

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