Handmade holidays: Washougal artists open studios

Washougal Studio Artists Tour's holiday market set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13

Camas artist Angela Swanson's "Midnight Raven"shows the type of artwork that will be available during the 2022 Washougal Studio Artists Tour Holiday Market.

Artist Angela Swanson's "Solitude" is an example of art that will be featured in the Washougal Studio Artists' 2022 holiday market. (Contributed photo courtesy of Angela Swanson)

Angela Swanson discovered her passion for art relatively later in life. The former financial consultant and urban planner started painting in 2017 and has been selling her work for only two years.

But now that she’s started, she can’t stop. The Camas resident loves art for its ability to, in her words, bring balance and harmony into her life.

“When I’m doing art, nothing else really matters around me,” she said. “It’s very mindful, and I love that about it. And I love the ‘happy accidents’ (that result) from experimenting with something. One time I put 90% alcohol on paint, and it came out with a really cool effect. I love the intuitiveness and the surprises that happen along the way. I do occasionally plan my artwork a little bit, but most of the time, it just starts with one idea and then kind of evolves as it’s coming together. I love that mystery and that sense of surprise that happens with that.”

Swanson and 14 other local artists will participate in the 2022 Washougal Studio Artists Tour (WSAT) Holiday Market, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, and Saturday, Nov. 13, in five Washougal locations.

“I really wanted to be able to get my art out there and get people to see it and interact with people that are seeing it,” she said. “Being an artist is very isolating and solitary, and you don’t get out there and meet the people that buy your art that often. And also, I’ve lived in Camas for 15 years, and I really have not done much in the art community in this area, so I just thought this would be a really good opportunity.”

WSAT organizers debuted the Holiday Market in 2021 as a way to expand on their popular Washougal Studio Artists Tour event, which has been held every May since 2018.

“We are excited to once again safely invite visitors back into our studios and outdoor display areas for this year’s event,” said WSAT co-coordinator and glass artist Shirley Bishop. “We are delighted that many people taking the tour are discovering the rich art community in Washougal, and they really enjoy the tour route that winds along the scenic Washougal River and through the Washougal foothills. It’s nearly as beautiful as the art.”

Swanson and mixed media artist Roxanne Turley are new to this year’s market. Returning artists include Kathy Marty (handwoven eco-friendly rugs); Bishop (fused glass); Dana Bergdahl (acrylic painting); Tamara Dinius (mixed media); Toni McCarthy (original beaded and metal jewelry); Sharon Ballard (acrylic painting); Trish Johnston (watercolors); Charlene Hale (fused and enameled glass); Suzanne Grover (watercolor and pastel paintings); Stu Ager (organic metalwork design); India de Landa (contemporary jewelry); Sandy Moore (textiles and fabric collages); and Sharon Buckmaster (fiber arts jewelry).

“Most artists create in isolation and never have an opportunity to share the story of why, or how, they made a particular piece of art,” Dinius said. “(The) Washougal Studio Artist Tours Holiday Market gives us a platform to do just that. I find it enjoyable to share my process with others and possibly spark an interest in another person to pursue art as a hobby or career.”

That spark has been lit for Swanson, who dabbles in a variety of different mediums, including paint, collage, watercolor, oil, wax and acrylics.

“I’m very diverse in my approach to art,” she said. “I do a lot of different things. That’s why I like mixed media because you can try a lot of different mediums and combine them. And my subject matter is very diverse, too. I kind of lean toward doing abstracts with a little bit of realism in them.”

Swanson’s artwork is regularly exhibited on the Mosaic Art Alliance and Society of Washington Artists’ websites, and has been exhibited at the Phoenix Gallery and Latte Da Coffee and Wine Bar, both in Vancouver. She was an artist in rotation at the Ford Gallery of Art in Portland and is currently an artist in rotation at the Phoenix Rising Art Gallery.

She is also a member of the Washington State Artist Trust and recently started working with the Artisans’ Guild of Camas.

“I’ve always been creative in anything that I’ve done,” she said. “I’ve always tried to find creative solutions and use creativity in that process, but I’d never really tried to draw or paint or collage or anything like that until 2017, when I started doing the expressive art classes to help with my mental health. I started developing a sense of balance and a sense of composition, and it just kind of developed from there. All of these opportunities kind of came my way, and it kind of blossomed.”

Swanson wrote on the Artisans’ Guild of Camas website that she has “a natural tendency to envision objects beyond the superficial level and absorb invisible vibes” which illuminate her artwork.

“I’ll see something and I’ll be like, ‘I like how those colors go together,’ and that will give me inspiration for a color palette,” she said. “Or if I’m like, ‘Hey, those are some interesting shapes,’ or somebody tries a process, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, I wonder if I could try that process.’ But then it always changes as I’m doing it. It just starts out with a little kernel of, ‘Let me try that,’ and then it evolves into something completely different.”

Swanson’s artwork is available for sale at sweetpapayaarts.com.

“I also represent other artists on my website,” she said. “It was just mine, and then I thought that it would make more sense if I put other people’s art on there, too, so now it’s kind of a gallery site, representing seven local artists. And through this process of getting involved in all the art groups in the (local) communities, I (became the webmaster) for about 80% of the art organizations in the county. I like artist websites because I can be creative with them. It lends itself to art. It’s like it’s its own creative process in itself.”

For more information about the Holiday Market, visit washougalstudioartists.org.