Schack artist of the year embraces watercolors

EVERETT — Well-known Camano Island painter Jack Gunter says watercolor scares the pants off him. He’s not alone.

That sort of fear makes watercolorist Joan Pinney just grin.

Pinney, the Schack Art Center’s Artist of the Year for 2014, is the focus of the current show at the Schack in Everett.

Maren Oates, a Schack spokeswoman, calls Pinney an accomplished watercolorist “who draws inspiration from her extensive travels in the Pacific Northwest. Dramatic skies, sun-washed houses, mountains, waterfalls, quiet harbors, lighthouses and sailboats across (the region) all contribute to her creativity and provide the themes for many of her paintings.”

Since 1992, the Schack — formerly the Arts Council of Snohomish County — has annually honored one artist who is recognized by his or her peers for their considerable accomplishments and contributions to the visual arts in Snohomish County.

Pinney, who lives and works in Snohomish, has produced paintings that have been selected by jury in regional and national shows, including the Northwest Watercolor Society’s annual show and the Frye Museum’s Puget Sound Area Exhibition.

In 1999, Pinney received the Northwest Watercolor Society’s purchase award. Foss Maritime has selected her paintings for six company calendars. In the 2008 West Coast Paper Exhibition, one of her paintings was chosen for the third place award. Her commissioned work can be seen in many collections, including on the eighth floor of the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

Pinney, 69, is a “signature” member of the Northwest Watercolor Society and a founding member of the Sky Valley Artists Guild and the Arts of Snohomish Gallery, where she maintains an exhibit of her work. The Schack gift shop also carries numerous prints of her paintings.

In the current art show at Schack, look for “Golden Light,” a seemingly impossible representation of the morning sun coming around the corner of an island ridge somewhere in the Salish Sea. Or find the glowing image of Mount Rainier.

In order to capture that light, “Watercolor must be planned and painted in stages, sometimes actually masking areas off while other parts are painted,” Pinney said. “You have to be sort of a scientist to know what needs to happen when.”

Pinney, who starts painting early each morning, often uses a water spray bottle, a dribble of paint and the rotation of her paper to get her ideas flowing.

“These scenes just come out of my head.”

In one corner of the show, see a number of small vertical paintings, primarily of wilderness waterfalls, most of which had a start with that spray bottle. Along with paint brushes, Pinney uses everyday household items such as an empty toilet paper roll to help shape her scenes, including the ledges of those waterfalls.

Some of the paintings in the show are separated twins.

“The good thing about painting on paper is that you are just a razor blade away from something new, like two paintings,” Pinney said.

The show includes scenes of her trips to Europe, some portraits, florals and houses in historic Snohomish. However, her forte may be landscapes and seascapes.

“I know I have succeeded with a painting if I can smell the air in the scene or I can hear the running water,” she said.

Pinney was “dumbfounded” to be named the artist of the year.

“It is a great honor and very humbling, considering all the great artists we have in this area,” Pinney said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @galefiege.

Schack’s Artist of the Year

The paintings of Joan Pinney, Schack Art Center’s artist of the year, will be exhibited through Sept. 19 at the center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett. During the exhibit, the Schack also pays tribute to retired Everett teacher Maryalice Salget, the 2014 Art Advocate of the Year, and retired teacher Saundra Westvang and her husband Robert Westvang, the 2013 Volunteers of the Year.

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