Eclectic friends

Second Story Gallery January art show will be filled with variety

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Katey Sandy and Judith Howard knew each other professionally for several years before either realized that they shared a love of painting.Both women worked in the field of early childhood education and met at an Association of Christian Schools International conference.

Afterward, Howard visited Sandy’s children’s learning center at Warner Pacific College and was impressed with all of the artwork.

“I thought to myself that I’d never seen someone get so involved with the kids and art,” she said. “There was hands-on learning and lots of art happening.”

In 2007, both women retired, Sandy as an associate professor and Howard as the Northwest assistant director for early childhood education for ACSI.

And, as fate would have it, both signed up for a Mature Learning acrylic painting class at Clark College at the same time.

“We saw each other and said, ‘I didn’t know you painted,’” Sandy recalled. “We stayed in touch after that.”

Howard joined the Southwest Washington Watercolor Society at Sandy’s suggestion.

“Katey has been such an inspiration to me and I like her abstract style,” she said.

Now, the two educators and friends will present their work together at the Second Story Gallery in January.

“Eclectic Friends: Quiet Scenes to Abstract Realism,” will feature watercolor, acrylics and mixed media, and open with an artists’ reception this Friday.

Sandy, who has a degree in art, has participated in several art shows since her retirement, including a solo show at the Second Story Gallery in 2008.

“I took a hiatus from painting for several years but after I retired, decided to get back at it,” she said.

Now, she has won several awards and her paintings hang in galleries around the Northwest.

Howard has had several small shows in her backyard and different paintings in group exhibits, but this will be her first big show.

“It’s going to be exciting to put my art out there for a wider audience,” she said. “I’m a self-taught artist and still evolving.”

Just like their art backgrounds, their styles are very different: Sandy leans toward the abstract and refers to herself as a “process painter” who is expressionistic.

Howard’s style is still evolving and she leans toward an impressionistic, realistic style.

“I get my inspiration from a whole variety of places, from the shadow on a leaf, the deep rich color of an iris, or the twinkle in a child’s eye,” she said. “I thought at one time I would be a textile designer but practicality took over and I went into administration and early childhood education. Now, finally, I am letting the many colors and images flow onto paper and canvas, and getting to share them.”

The two friends and fellow artists teamed up to do a show together because they say it is easier to work in a pair than alone.

“It is just too hard to do it yourself,” Sandy said.

Although their work is very different, each finds painting to be a spiritual and emotional experience.

“I like to experiment and it’s such a release and so relaxing,” Sandy said. “It certainly beats cleaning the house. I’m an active, busy type of person and this gives me something creative to do.”

Added Howard, “I like creating beautiful things. You look at the world and how you want to represent it. Painting is very contemplative.”