by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Natasha Bacca’s artistic process is unique. And by unique, we mean one-of-a-kind. The local professor and artist has captured light and color using an innovative process that has garnered national and international attention. Through pushing the boundaries of the traditional photographic process, her patented technique explores the world in vibrant hues, shades and silhouettes.
Bacca has always been an artist. “Early on I was interested in anything I could get my hands on,” she explained, “ceramics, drawing, painting, photography…everything!” In high school after she had taken all the art classes offered, she looked to the local college, Modesto Junior College, for her next creative outlet.
Once at the University of Oregon for her bachelors degree, Bacca continued her exploration into different art forms, but found a powerful draw to photography. “During the time I was pursuing my photography-based art degree I witnessed meteoric changes within the photographic world. The once commanding darkroom was being replaced by the newest computer lab, while prosperous photography businesses were closing their doors forever,” she explained. “I both embraced and questioned the digital world photography was being assimilated into. I delved further into the basic concepts of photography; where it came from, what it meant and where it was going.”
Her exploration into the discipline, and even root meaning of the word “photography” (photo meaning light, graph meaning to write) brought Bacca’s attention to a very literal translation: writing with light.
“Following extensive research, I developed various methods of painting with light on photosensitive paper and designed different tools for this purpose,” she said. What followed became an unexpected journey into the world of patents. Bacca knew her process was unlike anything else out there, so kept her exploration a secret. The impetus for a patent came when her husband suggested attending a meeting with the Central Oregon Inventors Guild.
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Kimry Jelen’s brush strokes are a journey, not a destination. Her paintings express a love of working with horses, and are made all the richer for the individual connection she has with each animal. She is a firm believer that the balance between her work training horses and her career as a painter is essential to her happiness and productivity. The deep hues and rich colors of her pallet create intimate portraits of the majestic animals, all inspired by the astonishing array of colors she finds in the mountains outside her Sisters studio.
“The wilderness is where I find my inspiration and get grounded when I ride horses or even hike; nature is better at complementary colors than I will ever be,” Jelen explained. “I study lichen and moss and think it’s amazing how many lessons nature gives us as far as color studies, I may not paint that lichen on that rock, but I’ll go home and have those colors in my mind and combine that in my paintings.”
Jelen’s path to becoming a successful painter began with a nurturing and artistic family, however because art was seen more as a hobby than a profession, she was encouraged to choose a more “career” track in college. “The closest thing I could find was fashion design,” she explained, “so I found ways to do art like painting colorways (color palettes in the fashion industry), but then the computer took over and the creative process wasn’t there like before. Even sketching the clothing was all computer generated. I was in for 12 years, and then I decided to move to Montana to be a cowgirl and get in touch with the outdoors.”
She has always been drawn to horses and explains getting her first horse at 16 was a pivotal moment. “Art and horses were my loves growing up,” she said. The two passions finally came together in Montana. I started painting for fun again, started to get back to my roots,” Jelen stated. While she was learning the horse trade, she became more and more confident in her paintings, creating a powerful combination that stands in her life today.
A move back to Portland for family reasons prompted her to tap into the numerous opportunities to take art classes. “I was self taught until that time, and I thought I should learn how to use the mediums,” she explained. “I took weekend workshops, and during a figure drawing class one afternoon when we were drawing a women who was on her side, [I thought] her hip, waist and shoulder looked like a horse; the outline looked like the back of a horse, so I started drawing a horse instead of the model. After that I started painting horses, it just kind of happened.