Amy Duncan of Everett is a mixed media artist using old photos, posters and antiques. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Amy Duncan of Everett is a mixed media artist using old photos, posters and antiques. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Watch artists in action at Everett’s Fresh Paint festival

See them doing their thing, then purchase the fruits of their labor at the event set for Aug. 17-18.

Amy Duncan uses layers of our past — photographs, newspaper clippings, even glasses — in the construction of her mixed-media collages.

“I usually start with a paper-type collage, pulling out a story from different elements, usually using an old photo and finishing it with actual found elements; old eyeglasses, keys, clock faces,” she said.

One such work, “Woman of Substance,” is enclosed in an old wooden drawer, lined with 20 button cards, all from the Tacoma Button Co. The piece incorporates an old Vogue sewing pattern, tracing wheel, an old pair of scissors and is topped with 50 thread spools in blues, grays, browns and oranges.

The 16- by 20-inch work was sold 10 minutes before Fresh Paint, the event at which it was displayed last year, officially opened — bought by a woman who wanted it for her sewing room.

Fresh Paint, Everett’s two-day summer art show, is set for Aug. 17-18 this year. Its underlying philosophy is to provide more than an opportunity for people to buy art directly from artists. All of the more than 100 participating artists have to demonstrate their art in some way.

“We call it the festival of artists at work,” said Maren Oates, a spokeswoman for the Schack Art Center, which organizes the event. “We really want people to understand the creative process, helping people make the connection from artwork being created to the finished product, and to interact with the artists.”

The festival, celebrating its 23rd year, began as a plein air event at Legion Memorial Park in Everett, Oates said. From there, it moved to the Everett waterfront, where it remains, and has expanded to a two-day, free event.

Painters might bring their easels and work on a painting over the weekend, she said. Glass artists sometimes bring pieces in progress to give people a better understanding of the different stages of firing and the science behind it.

Amy Duncan’s “Woman of Substance” is enclosed in an old wooden drawer and incorporates vintage buttons and sewing tools.

Amy Duncan’s “Woman of Substance” is enclosed in an old wooden drawer and incorporates vintage buttons and sewing tools.

The Schack Art Center will bring its mobile hot shop to the Everett Marina. “People like to hang out and watch the artists,” Oates said. “Glass blowing is always fascinating.”

Fresh Paint also has a hidden side, the hunt for about 200 blown glass floats on Jetty Island, this year scheduled for Aug. 17.

“We have them all along the beach and in the driftwood or buried in the sand,” Oates said. About 10 a.m., the beach opens for the float hunt. “It’s kind of a mad dash,” she said.

The event has been part of Fresh Paint for at least a decade. “I think our favorite thing is to see kids find them,” she said.

Floats aren’t always found on the day of the event, neither are they always discovered on Jetty Island.

Storms sometimes shift the island’s sand to make floats visible that previously were hidden. The floats sometimes live up to their name, drifting away on the tides. A woman from Mission Beach sent in a photo of one that washed up on her shore.

“There definitely are some that are found weeks, months or even years later,” Oates said.

The find-a-float event is free. Parking at the jetty costs $3. Those who take the ferry to Jetty Island are encouraged to make a donation to support its operation.

“Nevertheless” by Amy Duncan (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“Nevertheless” by Amy Duncan (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Duncan, the Everett artist, has had a love of vintage items since she was a child. But this interest didn’t turn into an art form for more than two decades.

Her college degree is in economics and planning. She worked in management for nonprofits, including a national child abuse advocacy organization and in adult education and community development for the Girl Scouts.

She moved to the Seattle area in 1985 and has lived in Everett for 17 years. She has participated in Fresh Paint for eight years.

Her interest in vintage items came from her mother, who sewed all the clothes for her six children.

“I’ve always been fascinated with things that are well-loved and worn rather than anything bright, new and nondescript,” Duncan said.

If you go

Fresh Paint, Everett’s annual arts festival, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 17 and 18 at the Port of Everett Marina, 1700 W. Marine View Drive, Everett. The event is free. Ride Everett Transit to Fresh Paint from Everett Station or from downtown. More at

Kat Houseman, a Bellingham wildlife artist who created the poster for this year’s Fresh Paint festival, featured the iconic gull in her design.

Kat Houseman, a Bellingham wildlife artist who created the poster for this year’s Fresh Paint festival, featured the iconic gull in her design.

Fresh Paint’s poster artist

This year’s Fresh Paint poster offers a different take on the annual event.

Bellingham artist Kat Houseman’s artistic niche is painting wildlife.

“They said they really hadn’t had a wildlife artist do the poster before,” Houseman said. So she incorporated some of the things she saw at the Everett waterfront, “a little of the background of what you’d see from the Everett Marina.”

The bird she chose to include in her painting is a gull, “an iconic bird.”

The painting had to be long in length to allow space for the Fresh Paint lettering that will be included in the poster.

Houseman, 36, is a 2003 graduate of Montana State University. Her work has been shown in galleries in that state as well as in Bellingham and the Smith & Vallee gallery in Edison.

She previously has participated in Fresh Paint and plans to have a booth there again this year.

“It’s a fun festival,” she said. “I’m excited to be back. Everett is kind of lucky to have such amazing art facilities, making art accessible to the community.”

— Sharon Salyer

Washington North Coast Magazine

This article is featured in the summer issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to for more information.

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