Clark County Open Studios tour offers inside look at local artists’ workspaces

50 artists, including 6 in Camas-Washougal, will open their art studios to the public this weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6

Camas artist Cheryl Mathieson draws inspiration from the outdoors for her paintings. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Camas artist Claire Bandfield shows her collection of hand-cast, moss-covered planter pots in her backyard on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Camas artist Claire Bandfield shows one of her hand-cast stone planter pots that includes a drain inside her Camas art studio on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. Although the stone pots do not require such a drain, Bandfield said some people prefer them. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

A collection of concrete-adhering paint color samples sits inside Camas artist Claire Bandfield's art studio on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

A moss-covered planter pot crafted by Camas artist Claire Bandfield sits outside Bandfield's Camas art studio on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

(Contributed photo courtesy of Claire Bandfield)

Camas artist India de Landa's jewelry is inspired by modern design. (Contributed photo courtesy of India de Landa)

Washougal artist Tamara Dinius will show her art studio space and mixed-media art at the 2022 Clark County Open Studios tour this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6. (Contributed photo courtesy of Tamara Dinius)

Hand-built ceramics by Camas artist Lesleyanne Ezelle (Contributed photo courtesy of Lesleyanne Ezelle)

Camas artist Cheryl Mathieson draws inspiration from the outdoors for her paintings. (Contributed photo courtesy of Cheryl Mathieson)

Camas artist Liz Pike will show her art studio space and nature-inspired oil paintings at the 2022 Clark County Open Studios tour this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6. (Contributed photo courtesy of Liz Pike)

Camas artist Claire Bandfield didn’t set out to create the unique, moss-attracting stone planters she’s known for. In fact, Bandfield, a Portland native who moved to Camas in 2014, was simply experimenting with concrete mixes she might be able to use in her garden beds.

Before creating a garden bed from the special concrete mixture she hoped would evolve into a moss- and lichen-covered wonder, Bandfield wanted to craft something smaller.

“I cast the first pots in my grandma’s old Kitchenaid mixer and Tupperware,” Bandfield said.,

The experiment may have worked a little too well.

“I had so much fun making the pots, I ignored the garden,” Bandfield recalled, laughing.

Her new art experiment — in which Bandfield would use household items like Tupperware cups, glass yogurt containers and recycled paint buckets to cast frost-proof planter pots made from a mix of cement, sand and organic materials that will eventually, if left outside, attract an abundance of soft green moss and lichens — fascinated the self-taught artist.

Soon, Bandfield found herself selling her own household’s unwanted goods on Craigslist to make more money for her newfound art project. When the Craigslist customers started asking about the unique planter pots in Bandfield’s home, the artist decided she might be onto something.

Instead of selling household items to support her pot-making hobby, Bandfield decided to shift gears and actually sell her planter pots. Using recommendations she gleaned from a book by Kari Chapin on the art of selling handmade goods, Bandfield reached out to buyers at Portland-area markets and nurseries. Her first buyer was the New Seasons market near her suburban Portland home. Soon, Portland-Vancouver nurseries were clambering to get ahold of Bandfield’s beautifully crafted and unusual planters, which the artist said walk a thin line between antique and space-age.

“One person told me they’d been in the nursery business for more than 20 years and had never seen anything like them,” Bandfield said.

In 2014, after moving to Camas with her then-husband and their son, Gus — now a junior at Camas High School — Bandfield registered her new business name, A Pot Spot, built a website, created several social media channels and kept pushing herself as an artist, incorporating more recycled and sustainable elements into her hand-cast stone pots; casting stone forms inspired by modern architecture and Japanese gardens that would look just as comfortable in a high-end art gallery as they would in a sprawling bed of native plants; and working out a deal with a California company that creates concrete-adhering customized paint colors for some of the nation’s most recognizable corporations — Home Depot, Target, Dick’s and Holiday Inn, to name just a few — so she can add splashes of highly pigmented color to her planter pots while rescuing leftover paint that would have gone into the landfill.

Bandfield’s pots tend to sell out pretty fast. Her Instagram page and website (apotspot.com) show just how many of her creations have sold recently and nurseries can’t stock them fast enough, but would-be customers in the Camas-Washougal area hoping to score A Pot Spot planter pot are in luck. This weekend, Bandfield will join 49 other Clark County artists in Artsta’s annual Clark County Open Studios event and plans to sell a wide variety of color-infused as well as moss- and lichen-covered pots from her own collection.

The free, self-guided Open Studios tour will showcase 50 Clark County artists, including six from Camas-Washougal, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6. Printed studio guides are available at the Attic Gallery in Camas as well as Art at the Cave, Aurora Gallery and Vancouver Art Space in Vancouver. Visitors also can download a user-friendly Google map showing all 50 art studio locations on their mobile devices.

According to the nonprofit Artstra, which hosts the annual Open Studios event, the juried art tour is “designed to enhance community awareness of talented local artists while enriching the cultural life of Clark County neighborhoods.

Bandfield’s “A Pot Spot” art studio is located at 2536 N.W. Quartz St., Camas. Other Camas-Washougal artists participating in the 2022 tour include:

  • India de Landa (829 N.E. Sixth Ave., Camas) — In her statement posted to the Open Studios’ website, Camas artist India de Landa explains: “I design and create contemporary modernist jewelry using nontraditional materials including plexiglass, resin, rubber, and aluminum. Because I could not find jewelry that reflected my style, I began to create my own. I feel that jewelry should be art and reflect the personality of the wearer. Bold designs, abstract shapes, and bright colors are my signature. As a child of the 1960s, Twiggy and Op Art influenced my aesthetic. Abstract artists Mondrian, Calder, and Kandinsky provide inspiration. I use micro-screws as cold connections and all filing, sanding, buffing, drilling and construction are done by hand. My jewelry is not for the timid. My pieces are for individualists who want to make a statement.”
  • Tamara Dinius (814 S.E. 357th Ave., Washougal) — “Art has been a stabilizing force in my life. It has brought me comfort and gives my emotions color and form. I am inspired by daily life and how global issues impact each of us,” Dinius, the sole Washougal artist on this year’s Open Studios tour, explains in her online Open Studios statement. “I enjoy creating art that elicits conversation and creates a pathway to acceptance and understanding. Many pieces of my art have written messages on them, embedded in them, or hidden under the numerous layers. As a mixed media artist, I use hand-carved stamps, stencils, texture, and mark-making tools in my artwork. I use a wide assortment of acrylics, inks, watercolor, charcoal, graphite, pastels, and other mediums to create my paintings.
  • Lesleyanne Ezelle (28228 N.E. Reilly Road, Camas) — “I work in two mediums, hand-building ceramics, and fiber works. I am an alpaca farmer and use all the products I harvest each year from my herd to produce woven scarfs, knitted hats and scarfs, felted scarfs, woven rugs, and braided rugs,” Ezelle states in her Open Studios’ “about the artist” statement. “We harvest the fiber once a year, by shearing, then sorting the fiber into grades. I hand dye the fiber and send it to a local mill to process it into yarn or rug yarn. From that product, I make a number of different pieces of wearable or usable art. I am also a ceramicist working from slab clay creating functional and decorative pottery. I have a love of texture and all my pieces, whether woven, braided, or constructed from clay have movement and texture. I have mainly sold products from craft fairs or at fiber festivals. Recently I converted the garage to my house into a studio and small store where I sell my products.”
  • Cheryl Mathieson (2520 N.W. Cascade St., Camas) — “Once I discovered plein air (outdoor) painting, my enthusiasm for painting landscapes overpowered everything,” Mathieson states in her “about me” statement on the Open Studios’ tour website. “A morning spent watching the sun and clouds change the landscape in front of my eyes and working to capture a portion of it with paint is exciting, satisfying and poetically peaceful. This experience carries over to the studio. There I use my outdoor studies as guides to express a statement in a larger studio painting. I use oil paint or gouache for outdoor studies. … While plein air paintings are usually created quickly to capture an interesting light pattern, object relationship, or feeling, my studio paintings are an opportunity to explore and interpret a view, an object or a figure. There I clarify what I am trying to communicate to the viewer.”
  • Liz Pike (26300 N.E. Third St., Camas) — In her Open Studios description, Camas artist Liz Pike describes herself as “a self-taught artist” who “began working in oil on canvas at age 22” and said she paints out her art studio at Shangri-La Farm in Fern Prairie, where she “continues to be inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the lush gardens at her organic farm.”

There will be a preview exhibition and artist reception ahead of the two-day tour from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at Art at the Cave, 108 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver.

For more information about the Clark County Open Studios event, visit artstra.org/open-studios.