After a Tragic Fire, Charlotte Healy Finds Renewed Inspiration on the Mendocino Coast.
My interest in jewelry began at the University of Denver. During ski trips in the Rockies, my eyes opened up to jewelry as an art form when I discovered European silversmiths, such as Georg Jensen, working in the Scandanavian contemporary style. Navajo jewelry as well as the Mexican Taxco school of jewelry also became major influences.
I helped build a sailboat and spent a winter sailing along the coast of California and Baja. I felt drawn to the amazing marine life and loved being close to nature. I moved to Mendocino County, in Northern California, and helped build a house in the coastal mountains. I lived for many years without electricity using a sewing machine treadle, transformed into a treadle polishing wheel, to finish my work. Making jewelry lent itself to the lifestyle I had chosen.
I eventually moved to Redwood Valley, surrounded by grape vineyards, only to loose my house and studio in the firestorm of 2017. My stone collection was gone, one that I had assembled from places all over the world. However, one positive note from the disaster was that my friends and fellow artists proved to be incredibly generous. I received donations of jewelry tools and beautiful stones. Now I live close to nature on the Mendocino coast, which has always been a source for inspiration and creativity, and have renovated my garage into a new jewelry studio.
It’s an adventure for me to try and find interesting and unusual stones to incorporate in my work, plus I enjoy the immediacy of working in metal and love exploring its reflectivity and malleability. Often I have to let go and let the piece show me what it wants to be. My designs attempt to celebrate our connection with all living things. The person wearing it bridges the distance between viewer and object and completes the circle, giving it a life of its own.
Behind the Shot: On this wintry January evening, a friend called me to say he’d spotted whales along the shore. I drove down to a nearby bluff and was mesmerized to see them so close. Then I looked over and was stunned to see nearly a thousand gulls on a long, narrow sandbar. Their colorful beaks and feet glowed from the low light of the sun. Moments after the sun went down, the temperature dropped. The sky darkened, the birds began to fly home, and I said goodnight.
“This year nearly 1,800 photographers from across the United States and Canada submitted more than 6,000 images to the 11th annual Audubon Photography Awards. Our expert judging panel had the difficult task of choosing just six winners and four honorable mentions from the pool, but with so many awe-inspiring submissions, we always enjoy picking some favorites that didn't make the final cut.
As usual, we've selected 100 additional photographs, shown here in no particular order. During this year of collective tragedy and canceled plans, we are especially grateful to share a gallery that displays even a small slice of global birdlife in all of its stunning and joyous variety, from acrobatic Ospreys to hungry hummingbirds to busy woodpeckers.”
We’d like to thank all of our long-time customers who have come in to shop at Northcoast Artists Gallery this past year. We appreciate the fact that you support local artists! As an expression of our gratitude, our ANNUAL SALE starts today. You can find special deals throughout the gallery for the entire month of January. See some of what’s being offered in the post below! Happy New Year!
Like many seasoned artists, Lisa Orselli delights in the unexpected. Although she went to art school with the intention of becoming a printmaker, after attending her first encaustic workshop some 15 years ago, she was hooked. Melting pigment into wax, adding layer upon layer, the unanticipated variations thrilled her. “It’s the element of surprise that keeps me engaged.” she says.
Encaustics is an ancient method that was used by the Greeks. The word encaustic actually comes from the Greek word enkausticos, which means to heat or burn. The medium is made up of beeswax melted with a small amount of damar resin to make it hard and then pigment is added to make it usable as paint. The practice of using encaustics had virtually disappeared until Jasper Johns started using melted beeswax again during the 1950’s. Ever since, encaustics has experienced a steady resurgence.
Typically when Lisa enters her studio she has a vague idea of something she wants to explore. She then goes through a long period of working with a special pen that enables her to draw with the wax. She’s enamored of making dots, building them up with many colors and then painting over them and then scraping the paint away to see what’s left behind. In the midst of this she’ll often add photographs, painting on them and arranging them into patterns.
Like Hansel leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest, Lisa leaves a trail of personal experiences on her waxy canvas. There are images of the many places she’s traveled to. The homes she’s lived in. The bits of tickets and maps and printed material that’s caught her eye. In it all, the natural quality of the polished beeswax is so very pleasing and Lisa’s small paintings are like little jewels, often small enough to hold in your hands. Each one is imperfectly perfect, letting the light come in and revealing a corner of the mystery that is Lisa Orselli.
In addition to being an artist Lisa is married, has grown kids, grandkids and is a yoga teacher. Luckily, like her long time yoga practice, her art brings her a sense of balance. “When the piece stops talking to me, I know it’s complete. The satisfaction found in that completion is hard to come by in other areas of my busy life.”
Come meet the artist at her show, Paper, Patterns, Places—Encaustics. It opens on First Friday, November 2nd, 5 pm to 8pm, at the Northcoast Artists Gallery in Fort Bragg, CA.
Mariko Irie • 2018
Painting is a language onto itself, completely outside the realm of words, but every bit as valid. Mariko Irie is a skilled painter and she takes joy in the conversation her images convey. It’s this connection with the viewer that compels her to paint and feeds her passion. When she sees her art bringing happiness to others, she feels fulfilled.
Mariko paints in both watercolor and oil, two very different mediums. The watercolors give her the delight and experience of surprise that occurs when putting pigment onto wet paper. While the oils exhibit a more physical and decisive expression, showcasing her strong calligraphic brushwork. Both her watercolors and her oils reveal an intelligence and simplicity that comes with years of practice.
A life long artist, she was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. In 1982 she moved to this country. She then courageously did the thing so many people say is impossible: She succeeded in living her life as a full-time artist. A hard worker, she paints everyday, and it shows. From across the room many of her paintings appear nearly photographic, while up close you can see all the variations and brush strokes.
You can’t paint the world in this way without feeling a deep respect for your subject matter. You can’t capture a sunset in the way she does without loving the beauty of it in your core. It requires skill, yes, but it’s so much more than that. Her paintings embody not only the natural treasures that surround us here on the Mendocino coast, but also reflect her deep respect and love for her subjects. She paints the things that comprise her life, and shares them with others.
Her remarkable work is collected internationally and she has won many awards. At Northcoast Artists Gallery she offers both originals and very reasonably priced prints, making it easy for you to take a little piece of Mendocino County home with you!
I suspect that painting, not English, is her true second language, and she speaks it beautifully. Come see her show, Mariko Irie 2018. See what her paintings say to you. The First Friday Opening is October 5, 5pm to 8pm at Northcoast Artists Gallery in Fort Bragg.