Tom West was so talented at coloring contests in elementary school that teachers moved him into more challenging competitions so other students had the opportunity to win.
Given that history, it’s no surprise that the Vancouver resident now makes his living as an artist using color pencil, graphite, markers and acrylic paints.
West is one of 27 regional creators featured in this weekend’s Washougal Art Festival, sponsored by Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance.
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, in Washougal’s Reflection Plaza, 1703 Main St.
“Our event last year was such a success for us, our artists and the community, that we are excited to host the festival again,” says Janice Ferguson, festival committee chair and member of the Clark County Arts Commission. “We are delighted with the high caliber of art that will be on display and for sale.”
This year’s festival features more than 20 juried, professional artists from the Southwest Washington region, live performances, hourly raffles, and a children’s art zone. Proceeds from the annual art festival benefit the Washougal Arts and Cultural Alliance and help pay for public art throughout the city of Washougal. In 2016, festival proceeds helped purchase Tom Jackson’s “Golden Back Heron” metal sculpture, which is on display outside Washougal City Hall.
West is new to the festival, and says he’s excited to exhibit his work there.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all the attendees and fellow artists that will be at the festival,” West says. “I can’t wait to show my work to the growing art community in Washougal and (the) southern Washington area.”
West’s favorite aspect of creating art is what he calls, “the beginning conceptual process.”
“I love to start with a blank page and brainstorm concepts and ideas first,” he says. “It’s always fun to start with a concept in my head and work through the process of sketching, designing and then creating the final piece in whatever the final medium I choose.”
Returning artists include jeweler Helen Brock; Christopher Luna and Toni Partington with their collage and multimedia art poetry books; fused glass artist Janet Ellis; Barbara Wright, who works in watercolors, ink, colored pencil and graphite; Marilyn Estenes with her fiber art and photography; Cyndee Starr, a mixed media artist; Liz Pike, who will show her oil paintings on canvas; Chrissie Forbes, who creates “found object robot art”; Anni Becker, a mixed media/ink and embroidery artist; Kathy Beckman, who works with acrylics on canvas; and metal artist Tom Jackson.
Starr, who’s known as “She Who Doodles,” created the artwork used in the 2017 Washougal Art Festival promotions. It depicts a view of replica canoes at Captain William Clark Park in Washougal, and a limited number of signed posters will be available for purchase at the festival for a $20 donation.
“I’ve always been an artist,” Starr says. “It’s just who I am. I have to be creating. When I was little it was paint and color crayons. Then, calligraphy and ink on watercolor. Sewing was next — clothes, mini quilts, whatever I could sell through the local shops.”
After her marriage ended, Starr took a collage class, and had an “ah ha” moment.
“That was it for me,” she says. “A new world of mixed media opened up. I love the freedom it allows me, to go wherever I want, and get lost in the moment. It allows me to escape the boundaries that life puts on me, or that I put on myself. There are no rules.”
In addition to freehand doodles, Starr has taken up drawing over photographs. She will go on walks and hikes, take photos, then “play” with the photo until she finds what works best, print it out, and doodle over it.
“I am particularly proud of the work I’ve done using my brother Alan Richmond’s photographs,” she says. “Since he died several years ago as a result of Alzheimer’s (disease), I’ve been able to go through his photo archives.”
Starr says she looks forward to her second year at the festival.
“The community was so supportive and so many commented that they were so happy to see the community was finally putting on this type of event,” she says.
Artist Vicki Green has worked with glass for more than 30 years, but is a newcomer to the Washougal Arts Festival.
The Vancouver artist says she loves interpreting things she sees in nature and textiles into glass work.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the people of Washougal and introducing my art to them,” Green says.
In addition to art, the festival features musical performances from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We have an amazing group of local talent to welcome on the stage for this year’s event,” says Rene Carroll, WACA committee member and entertainment coordinator.
Performers include Wayne Havrelly, The Insanitizers, Caryn Jamieson, Tianna and the Hustle, and Jeffree White from the Washougal School of Music.
To help keep children entertained during the festival, The Paint Roller – Mobile Paint Party will offer free youth-focused art projects.
Carroll noted that a popular element of the festival is the raffle for works of art donated by participants. Raffle tickets cost $5 each and people can choose the work of art they would like to win. For a preview of artists, browse www.WashougalArts.org.