Making Poulsbo brighter one painting at a time

POULSBO — Local artists are making Poulsbo more colorful.

There are more than 150 locally created pieces of art displayed in town, thanks to members of the Poulsbo Artist League. If you’ve had coffee upstairs at Central Market or wandered past the Poulsbo City Hall Council Chambers, you may have seen the ongoing art exhibits.

When Nancy Sefton moved to town a few years ago, she ran across the group and decided to join as a way to keep herself actively painting.

“I’ve been successful at selling my artwork through PAL,” Sefton said. “That wasn’t really the goal I had. I just wanted to keep painting. But it’s nice to have an outlet.”

Sefton and 59 other members take turns displaying their art at about half a dozen places throughout the city, including local coffee shops, the Poulsbo Library and a few business offices.

The members have weekly painting sessions and they host instructional lectures with professional artists showing them new techniques, Sefton said.

“Meetings sometimes include visits by successful artists from outside the area who provide hands-on classes,” she said. “In addition, members occasionally demonstrate their own special skills. ‘An artist never stops learning’ is a recurring PAL theme.”

The group formed in 1983 when Alberta Cramsey and Mary Heffner gathered a few local artists together so they could paint. The group will celebrate its 35th anniversary next year.

“Putting brushes to pallets and inspiring each other” was the goal, Sefton said.

Members paint in various mediums, including oils, acrylics, and watercolors, and sometimes work with fabrics, collage, block prints, etchings, and more.

Each summer, PAL hosts a gathering at a picturesque outdoor location in order to paint in the open air. Among members’ favorite sites are farms, lakeside parks, forests and streams, shores, and local landmarks.

“An artist needs only paper or canvas, a pencil and paints,” member Garven Kinley said. “The principal thing is to have fun.”

And working together helps members.

“Interaction with other members has helped me grow and evolve as an artist, learning about materials, techniques, and framing,” member Lisa Stowers said.

For many of the members, their work is a hobby and they can’t afford to hang their works in art galleries, which often take a percentage of the profits when a painting is sold. Thus, having places to show their works, where it can be seen and they can begin to make a name for themselves is important. And selling a piece or two doesn’t hurt, either, they said.

The group ranges in age from 20 years old to 93. Despite the range, they are a close knit group.

“I look forward to PAL meetings because the members are passionate about the creative process,” said Donna Russell. “I learn so much.”

Another important benefit of membership is the chance to order art supplies as a group, at greatly reduced costs.

The Poulsbo Artist League meets from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays (except December) at Vinland Lutheran Church’s Haughton Hall on Finn Hill Road. Attendance is not mandatory. Dues are $30 per year. The group welcomes artists of all skill levels. Any member, even one fresh from a beginner’s class, has the opportunity to hang art at PAL’s venues.

For more information check the website at, or email Bill Fulton at

For Sefton, she’s glad she found the group.

“I’m only painting because I had the wisdom to join PAL, and I love hanging my work where the public can view it,” she said.

Garven Kinley places PAL paintings on Central Market’s upstairs wall.

Garven Kinley places PAL paintings on Central Market’s upstairs wall.

Bill Fulton, current PAL President, lines up fellow artists’ paintings at Central Market.

Bill Fulton, current PAL President, lines up fellow artists’ paintings at Central Market.