by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
The playful and exploratory nature of Shelli Walters’ artwork manifests in dramatic colors; the layers of collage build to reveal vibrant images of beauty that are strong graphical works, a nod to her 20 years as a successful graphic designer.
“A painting is basically just a design,” Walters explained. “I think it makes me a better painter and designer to [create both] in tandem.”
Walters has painted her whole life. She was born in Montana, but early in life moved to Seaside, Oregon and then Bend. When it came time for college, she teetered on the decision of art school, but ultimately choose to pursue graphic design at Linn-Benton Community College as it provided more stability in a career. “I thought that I could always paint on the side,” she explained. “I love designing, and love doing it, it’s been a really fun and rewarding career.”
She has worked at local firm DVA Advertising and Public Relations for most of her career, but when she turned 40 the realization hit that time was flying by and she hadn’t devoted much spare time to her painting. “Turning 40 really motivated me to get back into it. It has been five years now, and I’m still working hard to get my skills back.”
Walters likes to explore other artistic disciplines: fused glass, sculpture and jewelry are all interests of hers, but found that making jewelry was hard on her hands. “It became really quite painful, and knew I couldn’t sustain it. Everything directed me back into painting.
“One of my favorite sayings about painting is you have to create a lot of really bad paintings to get a good one. You want things to go a certain way and you have to work through it and let go, then you are that much closer to the one you want.”
Walters began her journey back into painting with the help of classes and workshops; one of her most inspiring sessions was with painter Robert Burridge through the Art in the Mountains workshop series. “He has been really influential, I’ve taken three of his workshops now,” she said. “He is inspiring, at 70 years old he is this fireball and incredibly fun and energetic, and real and nurturing. I learned so much from him, he has a similar background as an industrial designer until he [started painting when he] hit 40; I feel a connection to him…It was a process to get back, but it’s been extremely joyful and rewarding.”
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Color is pivotal to Karen Bandy’s artwork. Whether choosing a gem for one of her custom designed pieces of jewelry, or layering paint on canvas in her newer foray as a painter, her use of color drives both disciplines. The result? Vibrant works of art that have garnered awards and accolades both nationally and internationally.
While Bandy has been a professional jeweler for almost 30 years, her painting career is much younger, having picked up the brush about nine years ago. Both disciplines are influenced by her life-long love of art and continually inspired by time spent in nature.
Growing up in Portland, she explored creative outlets like stringing beads and, “aggravating her mother [by] playing in the wax of burning candles, fashioning miniature sculptures.” In high school her wax art took on more structure as she began experimenting with wax model carving and lost wax casting, both foundational disciplines in the art of custom designed jewelry.
“I went to the University of Oregon and took lots of jewelry classes, but wasn’t sure of my direction then,” she said. Bandy graduated with a degree in art education and proceeded to teach art in Eugene on the junior high level for three years.
A casualty of the recession of the ‘80s, her job was eliminated and she chose to move back to Portland to join her boyfriend (and later husband Scott Linden). In the Rose City she began working for a jewelry store where she was inducted into all disciplines of the business including sales, advertising and customer service. “It was a great education,” she said.
A year spent in Sacramento, California prior to her move to Bend in 1987 helped cement her interest in the jewelry business as she became the designer for a three-chain jewelry store. “That’s really how I focused,” she explained. “I took all of those elements [I learned in Portland and Sacramento and used them to] open my business in Bend.”