((Left) Deschutes River Near Dillon Falls, pastel on sanded paper, 8”x10” by Kay Baker. (Right) Mountains of Sedona, oil on canvas board, 20”x16” by Gordon Baker)
Gordon and Kay Baker are Bend artists who paint scenery from the saguaros and red rock of Arizona to the magnificent snow-covered mountains of Denali National Park in Alaska. Their many depictions of landscape, made both en plein air (outdoors) and in the studio, range from the intimate to the sweeping, often featuring mountains, rivers, waterfalls, forests, wild critters, old barns and sometimes people.
A selection of Gordon’s and Kay’s paintings will be featured this April at Sage Custom Picture Framing and Gallery, next to the Tower Theatre’s rear entrance. Renderings in oil, acrylic, watercolor and pastel reflect the wonder of nature as seen through their eyes. Impressionistic, representational and somewhere in between, the couple’s images provide windows to elsewhere: a momentary escape, an adventure, a place to rest your soul.
Interest in and appreciation of nature developed at an early age for both Gordon and Kay, and it’s one of the bonds that cements their marriage. Born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa, the couple met at a YWCA sponsored dance and married in December of 1957. Both attended the University of South Dakota. Kay received a bachelor of arts in art and education and pursued more formal training at the University of Wyoming while Gordon worked on a master’s of science in Geology there through the support of a three year fellowship.
In early 1965, Gordon joined a major international oil company and was assigned to Tripoli, Libya as an exploration geologist. Kay wasted no time getting involved with European artists living in Tripoli at that time. On the dark side of their six-and-a-half years in Tripoli, the 1967 Arab-Israel war resulted in the evacuation of American and European dependents for three months. On the light side of life there, the couple made friends with people from other nations, absorbed new cultures, traveled to many countries in Europe and experienced a camera safari in East Africa.
Through the decades, Kay balanced painting with the very important job of raising three adventurous boys at home. She has attended many art workshops and is ready to grab her gear on any suitable day for plein air painting. During inclement weather, you can catch Kay in her home art studio just across the hall from Gordon’s studio.
Gordon’s art career started in 2000 after 31 years in the oil industry and five years of voluntary public service in not-for-profit organizations and government agencies. With no formal art education, the generous help of local artists enabled Gordon to plunge head-first into painting. Along with Kay, he has taken many workshops but has gained more by dialoguing with many good artists both locally and on Facebook. As one might expect, with adjacent studios, Kay and Gordon enjoy a productive interaction with one another’s paintings in a non-competitive manner.