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Studio sanctuary

An artist's studio is a place where the artistic mind can step away from the world and let creativity happen.

A studio is a necessity, an inspiration, a sanctuary, say some of the artists who will invite the public to their studios during the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County's 20th annual Art Harvest tour.

“I couldn't live without it,” Elaine Walzl said of the studio where she creates wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery. Attached to her home in Lafayette, her studio is “an essential part of my being,” she said.

Walzl is one of about three dozen artists who will let the public into their private studios during Art Harvest, scheduled to run the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of Oct. 5-7 and 12-14.

Studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. those days. Tour-goers pay $7 for a an admission button at any of the participating studios, then visit as many of the locations as they like.

Some of the artists also plan to host visits by students on weekdays as part of Art Harvest. “I enjoy having the children visit my studio,” said Win Martinson, a watercolor painter participating in the program.

Working from photos, she often paints large birds, such as herons and sandhill cranes, and wild animals, such as lions and leopards. When fifth-graders from Yamhill-Carlton Intermediate School arrive, she said she'll probably demonstrate something involving flowers, since they are studying Georgia O'Keefe.

Martinson has a studio in one bedroom of her McMinnville home. She set up the space when she and her husband moved here in 2001.

She named the studio Signs Soaring, a reference to a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem about sharing beauty.

Martinson said painting is her way of sharing. The granddaughter of painters, she considers her talents a gift from God.

Although she had already been painting for herself and relatives for about 20 years, she said she didn't go public with her work until she came to McMinnville.

She met Sandi Colvin, who encouraged her to sell prints of paintings.

Now she sells originals, as well. She even painted in public at the Saturday Market for more than a year.

“That environment was so conducive to sharing,” she said.

Although she liked painting on-site at the market, Martinson said it's important to her to have a studio where she can get away from everyday concerns.

“When I paint, I usually paint all day, especially if I like what I'm doing,” she said. “I get pretty engrossed.”

Dwight Evalt also appreciates having a separate studio for his work in mixed media painting and sculpture.

He built his 600-square-foot studio next to his house in Carlton. “It means a lot to have this,” he said. “It's definitely a place to go to work … where I don't have to pick up everything when I'm finished.”

Evalt has been interest in art all his life. In addition to making art, he taught art in a high school for 15 years. “I stopped so I could concentrate on my art,” he said.

Now he creates his paintings and sculptures using a variety of media, including oil and spray paints, ink and watercolors. “They interact and create something different,” he said.

His work is very process-oriented, he said. He said he uses processes found in nature and explores how different natural systems work together.

Inspiration comes from nature. “I spend a lot of time outdoors. I draw a lot, look at things a lot,” he said.

Lafayette potter Elaine Walzl is inspired by the clay itself.

“The very first time I picked up clay 40 years ago, it felt right to me,” she said. “It still does.

Working with clay is “total satisfaction,” as well as a challenge. It's something Walzl said she feels “right down into the middle of my bones.”

She has always made functional pottery. Sometimes she has “gone off on tangents,” she said, but she always goes back to that functional core with her wheel-thrown and hand-built items.

But her pottery also is always changing and evolving, she said.

“When you first are learning to work on the wheel, getting something perfectly round is the end-all and be-all,” she said. “It's heresy for someone to say 'change it.'”

Yet round had its limits, she said. After years of making things round, she is trying new things to bring the feeling of movement to her pieces.

She said she started by changing the way she made and applied handles. Then she started rethinking the way pots sit on a flat surface. Now she often cuts up, manipulates and otherwise entire shapes.

“That's art. It's a process, a journey,” she said.

That journey takes place in Walzl's studio, which she designed specifically for art when her home was being built. It takes the place of what would be, in most homes, the garage.

“My car doesn't mind sitting in the driveway,” she said.

Walzl's studio holds her pottery wheels, a slab roller, a very large work table, two kilns, an area where she makes her own glazes and a spray area, for applying multiple glazes to get more interesting texture, she explained.. There's room for her to work on her own, or to teach classes.

“It's important to have this space," Walzl said. "Pottery is not something you can do at the kitchen table.”

But even more than that, her studio is her sanctuary, her solace.

“During difficult periods in my life, the studio is where I went to become whole again,” she said. “When I feel like I don't know what to do, I'm drawn right out to the studio and first thing I know, the day is over.”


If you go

What: 20th annual Art Harvest Studio Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5-7 and 12-14

Where: About three dozen studios around Yamhill County

How much: $7 adults, free to those 18 and younger, covers as few or as many as you want to visit

Don't forget: To bring extra money -- most of the artists will be works for sale

More information: Arts Alliance of Yamhill County,


Studio sanctuary

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