Life on Whidbey: Natural light gives plein air luminous quality

A canvas glowed golden from across the rustic Crockett Barn, but before I could study it more closely, my eyes beheld dozens of other paintings, some bold, some introverted. The childhood wish to become a real artist came rushing back.

The inspiring work of 94 artists from all around the Puget Sound and some from Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho and B.C., filled this year’s Plein Air Painters’ U.S. Open Gala and Silent Auction, benefiting the Coupeville Arts Center.

When painting plein air (out of doors), the artist must paint in the light they have. Artists checked in and began painting throughout the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. Their finished paintings were turned in for jurying by AL CURRIER (Insights Gallery) the same Saturday morning as the evening event.

Said SUE SYMONS, executive director of the Coupeville Arts Center, “We could not have done it without the help of all the painters, patrons, volunteers and the Historic Crockett Barn (owned by PAULA SPINA and LANCE LOOMIS). They even put up gallery lights for us. Paula said when she bought the place she wanted to reopen it as a community events center, and she has.”

JAMES MOORE, Symons’ husband, fellow artist SUSAN WINKLER, GARY WINKLER and Symons started the Plein Air Painters’ U.S. Open in 2006, bringing the first plein air event to this area. See the winning paintings at www.plein

Winning artists were TERESA SAIA, best of show; MARY ANN WARNER, award of excellence; Marty Rogers, award of excellence; JEANNE EDWARDS, Al Currier (Juror) award; and MIKE WISE, Insights Gallery award.

Unlike many art auctions, Plein Air Painters’ U.S. Open artists receive 65 percent of the sales. Symons said art sales were up from $21,000 last year to $26,000 this year.

“Total revenues for the Plein Air Painters’ U.S. Open were over $41,000,” she continued. “After expenses, the Coupeville Arts Center should realize over $13,000. This event clearly supports what the Coupeville Arts Center is all about — helping artists realize their creativity and bringing the visual arts to everyone. It was a great event!”

Trust your instincts

A local roofer drove up to my house one summer day and I stepped outside to meet him. “What can I do for you,” I asked, and he replied, “You wanted me to come by and bid on replacing your roof, remember?” I was struck speechless and then said, “That was over a year ago.”

I took him off my list and continued to shop for a bid I could afford. I was in no hurry, but bids and proposals tell me nothing about a contractor’s integrity. My instincts would.

I chose Old School Roofing. The fact that they hand nailed vs. using a nail gun made sense to me. They do not believe in shortcuts.

Quality comes first to owner JEREMY CROGAN. He sets the pace for his crew and they maintain his high standards.

Jeremy worked with his dad for several years before launching the business with his wife SARAH as partner. They are a team at work and at home where they are raising three young children, ages 10, 6 and 2.

His references reaffirmed what my instincts already knew. “He’s the best roofer on Whidbey Island,” said one, and another, “I wouldn’t use anyone else.”

Thanks, Jeremy and crew, for a beautiful job. And thanks to LEAH ABRAHAMSE at Martin’s Auto Electric for putting the bug in my ear.

Let them eat cookies

They sold 1,000 of them and the crowd wanted more. Yes, the Cookie Project being run by parents of seniors in Oak Harbor High School’s class of 2008 is a hit.

If you were at the new stadium for the opening night game and bought one of the 1,000 bags of two cookies for $1, you were supporting next June’s Grad Night.

CARLA NAYMIK’s son MARCUS is a senior. She explained that, “Parents organize a Grad Night party to keep their kids involved in something that’s safe, alcohol- and drug-free.” The grads are whisked away after graduation to a top secret location to celebrate their accomplishments.

Cookies are baked fresh at many homes across North Whidbey. NAYMIK suggests buying students a coupon book so they can buy a bag on Thursday mornings when they skip breakfast or at the football games. Call Naymik at 279-1942.

Fleetwoods singer

at ’50s fund-raiser

“Come Softly to Me” sung by GRETCHEN CHRISTOPHER, founder and lead singer of the Fleetwoods, was number one on the charts back in 1959. Other bestsellers were “Mr. Blue” and “Graduation’s Here.”

The Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County must sell 300 tickets to ensure Christopher’s appearance at their fund-raiser on Sept. 29 in Oak Harbor High School’s Parker Hall. All proceeds benefit the panels DUI and underage drinking prevention programs.

JoANN HELLMANN of IDIPIC has been working out details for the Olympia-based singer to appear. Christopher expects to release her CD “Gretchen’s Sweet 16” just before the fund-raiser.

Tickets cost $25 and are available at Bayshore Chiropractic, Forever Pretty, North End Fitness Center and the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Call 675-8397.

I had to walk a fair distance to get to church as a teenager. One Sunday, no one showed up. I fussed and fumed, thinking, “Did they cancel church?” It was a lesson in Daylight Savings time I’d never forget and since then, I stay up until 2 a.m., waiting to turn the clocks back or ahead. Just kidding! Share your funny stories. Call me at 675-6611 or write to

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