Northwest NEWS

April 10, 2000


Local artists shine, one burns

Barb Douglas watercolor

This floral watercolor by Woodinville artist Barb Douglas features her love of pastels.

Diane Frederick

Artist Diane Frederick uses the ancient art form of firegraphics to create her scenes and portraits.

by Bronwyn Wilson

   Barb Douglas hasn't been the same since she viewed a PBS program several years ago. On the television screen, an artist's brush splashed watercolors on paper. Douglas thought it looked like fun.

   With the purchase of some brushes and a few how-to books, she set up a studio in her Woodinville home. At first she practiced, smushing magenta deep with moonglow and brilliant cranberry.

   Soon, shimmers of color took shape. Then springing onto paper, a painting of an empty Adirondack chair on a dock overlooking a serene lake and slate blue mountains.

   "I felt something when I did this," Douglas says. "It just popped." She calls this watercolor "I Wish I Was There," and it remains one of her favorite works.

   Another of her paintings didn't work as well and it almost made the trash basket. But Douglas saved it and decided to work on it later. When she got back to it, the misty images of hollyhocks and foxglove came together in striking shades of pink and lavender. This floral is now her business card signature.

   As Douglas' art progressed, relatives, co-workers, and friends began ordering custom pictures. The Maltby Cafe purchased her painting of the gazebo, old gas pump, and windmill that surrounds the restaurant's landscape.

   Douglas admits her best work comes when she's not trying. "I just love the flow. I like the way it can make you feel."

   She also likes the color pink. "Pink, to me, is warmth and love and welcoming," she says, adding that she always puts a shade of pink in the windows of the homes she paints.

   Pink also shows up in her garden art. She creates stained glass stepping stones, and one in particular has an inlaid design of glass tulips, all in dazzling pink.

   Carnation resident Rex Howard doesn't have one special color. If it's the color of wood, he loves it. Howard fashions exquisite bowls out of gnarly burls of bird's-eye or fiddleback maple.

   Losing his right-hand fingers in a 1970 accident didn't stop this artist. "Now I'm left-handed," he says.

   A former student of the Art Institute in Pittsburgh, Howard began with chainsaw carving, then moved to whittling. Currently, he's designing an abstract 4-by-5-foot wall mural using twenty-seven different types of wood. He doesn't have one favorite wood.

   "I love them all," says Howard. "They all have their own individual colors and smells."

   But Diane Frederick not only loves wood, she loves to burn it. Frederick is an artisan in the ancient art form of firegraphics. With a woodburning tool, the tip heated to 950 degrees, she burns gorgeous scenes and portraits on alder or birch plywood.

   She has an affinity for horses and street musicians and etches these two subjects with amazing depth, tone and clarity. Her picture of musicians playing didgeridoos at the Oregon Country fair is rich in shading and vivid detail, down to intricate patterns in clothing.

   Frederick believes her work is enhanced without varnish. An example of this is a captivating driftwood piece she's just completed.

   "It's a sensual art," Frederick explains of the underwater scene of mermaids and dolphins swimming over the smooth ripples in the driftwood's texture. Embedded colored pearls sparkle like jewels from an etched seashell, giving the work an enchanting touch.

   Her enthusiasm for woodburning began in 1974 when she decorated a wooden box with burned edges as a gift for her boyfriend. After seeing the lovely details and contrast from light to dark, Frederick was hooked.

   "It's my passion, my healing space," she says of her art. Today she displays her work at street fairs and will be showing next at the Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival in May.

   These three local artists have different ways of expressing their artistic creativity and imagination, but they have one thing in common. They're doing what they love to do. They are there, in that place that brings joy to life.

   For more information on the artists and their work, contact Stillwater Reflections in the old Maltby Schoolhouse (next to the Maltby Cafe) at 360-668-2024.