Introducing Artist No. 31 – Anji Grainger

Anji Grainger is currently working on a body of work exploring the world of raindrops. The series is called Pacific Northwest Raindrops.

“If we look closely, there are many wonders to see inside a raindrop – its own little world so to speak – but actually it is  refraction of what is around us.  In this painting series my goal is to give the viewer a look into the tiny world of raindrops and to create a feeling of magic and mystery.  The challenges I face are accomplishing the combination of the exactness of a raindrop with the blurred and distorted effects that happen in the refraction process of a round and clear sphere.  With watercolor as a fluid medium, it was very difficult to get sharp clear lines so it took many hours of working slowly to achieve my goals.

“My work derives its inspiration from the magic and wonders of nature.  I paint with the movement of nature and visualize the growing twists and turns of a twig or a leaf.  I try to capture the stillness of an early morning walk in a field, along a river or in a forest.  I also focus on detail whether it’s simply the blending or bleeding of two colors like one would see on a ripening peach or the finite lines and edges of a raindrop. My current explorations are in the discovery of how elements of nature and texture react in watercolor to leave beautiful patterns and surprises in unique patterns on the paper.”

Four years ago Anji quit her day job and began a full time career as an artist and instructor. “It was a leap of faith and has taken many hours of hard work. This last year I made it past the earnings mark and had a great year supporting myself solely as a working single artist.”

To see her beautiful paintings, and visit with her about her art and her process, stop by her studio during the Portland Open Studios tour this fall.

Introducing Artist No. 11 – Rick Wheeler

Rick Wheeler has been a working artist for most of his adult life. “My art career includes working as a ‘commercial’ artist, doing illustrations for clients around the country, as well as being an art instructor to several art organizations and private students for about the last 20 years. This is balanced with my studio work, which includes painting (acrylic and watercolor), drawing (varied media), and mixed media projects (found objects). My work has been jury selected to a number of national and international exhibits, and has been collected by local, regional, and international clientele.

“My style of work also covers a broad range of interests, from tight realism to a looser, more painterly approach to my work, as well as outdoor/plein air work. Subjects range from landscape, wildlife, to figurative. Exploration in media, subjects, and style of work is one of my great pleasures as a visual artist. As a result, I can’t be easily categorized. And I’m okay with that.”

Rick is looking forward to seeing you all at his studio during the PDXOS tour, and he plans to be working on a painting in his studio so he can share his technique with his visitors.  “I find working with the public in this way an enjoyable opportunity to exchange ideas.”

Introducing Artist No. 73 Samyak Yamauchi

Samyak Yamauchi is one of the most interesting artists I’ve ever met, or maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten to know her personally.  Read her blog at and you will have the privilege of seeing directly into her psyche, and learn just what she is thinking and visualizing at any given moment.  And you can immediately see the expression of those thoughts in her paintings. As we all show only part of who we are to the rest of the world, I’m fascinated to know more.  You can learn more too, by visiting her in her studio during this fall’s Portland Open Studios tour.

She describes herself as “Third generation Japanese-American – mostly self-taught painter – native Portlander – partner, parent, grandparent – tree-hugger – color lover – hair enthusiast – retired teacher – friendly introvert – Superpower: big inspiration in a small frame.”

Her art background:  “I am pretty much self-taught.  I’ve always made art, but I was a ‘closet’ artist until 2001 when I started making and showing glass mosaics. Through many years of making mosaics, I learned a lot about color, composition, and ‘seeing’ imagery.”

While she is self-taught, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been learning.  She has taken figure drawing classes through PCC and from artist Phil Sylvester, who helped her get out her head and draw the way she sees things.  Serena Barton taught her to use her hands and paper towels; Jesse Reno taught her about letting things morph and change. Most recently she took a class from Bill Park who taught her to embrace drips!  “Mostly I have learned to paint by going into my studio almost every day and moving paint around and paying close attention to what the painting has to say and how it feels to paint.”

Her actual process has changed very little over time. The biggest change is her color palette. “When I started I painted dark abstracts. Then I began using mainly primary and very bright colors. My paintings got more and more colorful and bright until suddenly last winter I started using mostly black, grey and pale blue. I think I was feeling sort of overwhelmed by things going on in the world, and the change in my color palette was calming. Getting ready for a recent show at the P 5, I knew I need to have lighter backgrounds to show off the paintings on those dark walls, so I did a series with white backgrounds, bold black lines and little pops of color.  Now, I’m using subtle color and lighter backgrounds. My challenge is to figure out how to get adequate contrast in value with such subtle colors because I really like contrast, so I’m interested in incorporating black lines in interesting ways.”  She’s always growing.  I love that.

She tells me she has had many ‘pivotal’ experiences, but she tells us about three.:

“1. Being featured on Oregon Art Beat gave me more confidence in calling myself an “artist”. At the time I was facilitating painting workshops, and sharing my painting process with others. The Art Beat episode reached a lot of people who wouldn’t have seen my art otherwise. Because so many people started signing up for my workshops, I met lots of really lovely people, so that really opened my world up a lot.

“2. Another really life changing event was the day I met Portland artist, Fred Swan. Fred is one of the most gracious, creative, authentic people I’ve ever known. Meeting Fred, and coming into his orbit has brought me a beautiful sense of grace and gratitude. And

“3. The last experience was not really an art experience, but a recent spiritual retreat from which I returned, surprisingly, without a desire to call myself “artist” anymore. I believe that as I let this settle in, it will probably be the most important experience of my life.”

I asked her what the best piece of advice She’s ever been given was.  She had two: First: “If something in your painting isn’t moving the piece forward, get rid of it.” – Jesse Reno   Second. “Change direction.” – A voice in a dream.

Introducing Artist No. 12, Winifred Martinson

Winifred Martinson is also new to the tour this year.  She describes herself as “California born and bred”.  Unbelievably she only began learning the techniques of making art as an adult.  “I paint realistically what I think is beautiful in nature, in an atmospheric and ethereal style.  In the 1980s I learned from workshops with Zoltan Szabo in Los Angeles, from Life Drawing courses at Pasadena City College, but mostly I am self-taught.  “Mr. Szabo’s work still inspires me.  His subtle color choices and impressionistic style have a strong influence on my work.  When I teach, my students for the most part learn from those techniques. His advice to limit the number of colors used is basic to my style.

“I usually paint indoors, from a sketch or photo of a subject that somehow resonates with me.  I often paint animals or birds, beginning with the eyes.  If I can’t love the effect of the eyes, the painting will be abandoned.”

A pivotal point in her artistic career occurred in 2001 when she moved to McMinnville. “I was encouraged by the Hidden Treasures Gallery, The Currents Gallery and The Pacific Frame and Gallery to go public with my large privately held body of work.”

If you visit her on the tour you’ll be able to watch her working on a current project.  She also plans to have a children’s station

Introducing Lulu Moonwood-Murakami, Artist No. 100

This is Lulu’s first year on the tour, and we’re really glad she’s here. Here’s a little bit about her in her own words.

“Since childhood I have always had romantic notions about being an artist, and used to squirrel myself away in a small room upstairs in our home writing and illustrating stories. I taught myself how to make dolls when I was a teenager, and saw them as an extension or a “coming to life” of the characters from my stories. I aspired to become a writer, but when a high school teacher looked at my work and suggested I pursue art in college. I haphazardly answered, “Ok!” It was a bumpy ride at first as I lacked drawing skills (according to one of my profs!), but I persevered and had the good fortune to fall into textile arts. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oregon, and continue to explore arts education through workshops.

“I am interested in the ways we humans have communicated over the centuries, not only through language, but also through the visual cues, colors, and symbols that we choose as an expression of our selves. I see these communications in clothing, art and architecture, and the way we use found objects. By borrowing, adapting, and creating new symbols, my own ability to communicate the unspoken evolves.

“I make art because creativity is in my blood and bones; making things is who I am. It is my language, my mode of expression. I feel unwell if I go for any amount of time without making art. “

She is currently working on two series of abstract art quilts. One series is about color as a metaphor for place. The other series is an interpretation of music composed by various African composers and performed by the Kronos Quartet.

“I have an amazing studio space that I am eager to share with visitors. I plan on showing the variety of work that I do, from my art quilts and whimsical art dolls, to my mixed media paintings. I will have projects in various stages of production so that visitors can learn about my process.”