Going off the theme that the is no theme, natural landscape artist Jackie Bush-Turner renderings of birds, barns, sunsets, wetlands and waterways are taking over the walls of Collective Visions Art Gallery for the month of March.
Bush-Turner, who resides in Grapeview, Mason County, started her arts career as a sculptor, then switched to woodcarving and then into painting. Her career has come back to woodcarving as she plans to show several pieces within her own hand-carved wooden frames which are a first for her own works.
We recently sat down with her over a cup of coffee in advance of her March 2 opening of “Landsacpes: An Eclectic Blend” at the Downtown Bremerton gallery (located at 331 Pacific Ave.) which kicks off with a reception from 5-8 p.m. as part of the First Friday Art Walk.
Q: What’s your media of choice?
I work in mostly dry pastels on paper.
Q: How did you decide to use pastels?
A: It was through trial and error. I had started walking in the wetlands along Hood Canal near Belfair and it inspired me to paint. I tried watercolor and some other things. But I was trying to capture the color and pastels to me is the only thing I found where I could do that.
Q: Because of the colors?
A: The brightness, intensity and variety. Everything else was muted for me. There maybe someone else that knows how to do it, but pastels were the right media. And I like working with my hands because I was working with sculpture and ceramics years ago and then I got into woodcarving. And working with pastels means working with your hands, opposed to a brush. It’s been a natural carryover.
Q: So you started as a sculptor?
A: That was way back in college when I got a (master’s in fine arts) degree in sculpture at Wichita (Kan.) State University. That was a lot of years ago.
Q: Did you put down your art for a while?
A: Back in the ’70s I got into conceptual art and got away from individual objects. I was more into making a social statement at the time as young artists are prone to do. And then life takes over and doing these pastels starting in 2000 was my way to step back into it. I did use to draw so there’s lots of pictures of my husband asleep on the couch.
Q: So how long did you stay away from creating art?
A: For about eight years. Then I learned to carve and began carving furniture pieces, sculpture and commissions for carved doors, mantles, etc. I just had to find myself again and what direction I wanted my art to be. Back when I was in college to think I wanted to do the type of art I’m doing now — these beautiful landscapes I’m trying to capture — it would’ve been hokey. But that shows how life changes.
Q: When a lot of people think of Belfair, they don’t think of scenic vistas worth painting. How did you find your inspiration?
A: I started going to the Theler Wetlands on my lunch breaks seven years ago for exercise. Once I got there and saw what it was, I was amazed. I went back everyday and it just stuck with me. I used to go rain or shine, it didn’t matter, but now I find myself looking for nicer days. I still go and every time I step down there I wonder why I don’t go more often because it still affects me the same way. I’ve got a lot of photographs I’ve taken over the years to work from.
Q: So how many photos do you think you’ve taken of the wetlands?
A: I don’t know, maybe thousands, hundreds for sure. Although I’m not a representational artist, some might even call me abstract which I find hard to believe, but people who walk there recognize places.
Q: Are your paintings based on a single photo you’ve taken or are they a combination of elements from different photos?
A: I use the photos more for reference, as a jumping off point. Sometimes I might totally change the colors. Usually there’s a reason why I take certain photos — to record light or something I see or even a feeling.
Q: So that’s why some call your work abstract?
A: I’m not trying to make it look just like what I see or in a photograph. That’s where I take an artist’s liberties and make changes that I believe are important to the composition.
Q: So how many pastels do you plan on showing?
A: Right now I have 15 completed, but I may add more. It’s all stuff that I’ve never shown previously. I’ve painted it all over the past seven months.
Q: Does that depend on how many frames you can carve by the day of the show?
A: Adding the frames is new to the show. I used to make hand-carved furniture for a number of years with my husband and I love doing it. Now that’s something I’m excited about bringing back and blending with my pastels.
Q: Why make your own frames?
A: I see it as a continuation of my paintings. Some will be different natural elements which will accent and not take away from the paintings. But half of the show will still have traditional frames.
Q: Why are you calling your show “An Eclectic Blend?”
A: There’s nit a single theme as I’ve done in the past, or even two themes as I did in December for the Old Town Silverdale Art Walk. I kept trying to come up with a single idea but I couldn’t do it. That’s why I’m calling it an eclectic blend.