Kent Sanders holds up a scarf painted by his late wife Dottie Sanders, a prolific artist. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Kent Sanders holds up a scarf painted by his late wife Dottie Sanders, a prolific artist. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Late artist’s work featured in show

Dottie Sanders was known as a prolific artist, acclaimed cook and popular entertainer.

She died unexpectedly last summer, but her fellow Whidbey Allied Artists members are honoring her memory and work.

Select pieces of Sanders’ art are featured at the annual WAA Mother’s Day show, which runs until 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coupeville Rec Hall.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the American Association of University Women and potentially Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation.

Her husband, Kent Sanders, chose those nonprofits because of Dottie’s devotion to animals and the mission of AAUW, especially in its scholarships for girls, he said.

Kent said he and Dottie met in Nome, Alaska, where he taught chemistry and physics and she taught art, English and drama.

The two regularly drove their snowmobiles to work in the mornings at 5 a.m., he said. One day, the fog set in and they got lost.

“And then we kissed that day, and that started it,” Kent Sanders said.

He was drawn to her artistic and adventurous nature, he said. He liked to dive for gold in remote areas near the Bering Sea.

He said he’ll never forget one time when he took her along and she started cooking in the tent that night.

Miners from all around were drawn by the smell and sight of her food, and many joined them for dinner, he said.

The couple moved to Whidbey Island in 2006 after they retired and Dottie decided they should go where no one has heard of an ice scraper, he said.

Her artistic side “rubbed off” on him, and later he was inspired to pursue jewelry making and welding, he said.

Both of their work was featured together for a time at Artworks Gallery in Greenbank.

“I never thought I had a creative being in me,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Dottie to start expanding her social circle on the island. She made fast friends wherever she went, Kent said.

She often extended dinner invitations to people she just met while grocery shopping.

“You didn’t walk into any store and expect to get out of there within a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Fellow artist and WAA member Penny Holland said the two became friends when Dottie walked into a group class at the senior center and decided to sit next to Holland.

The two instantly hit it off, realizing they had much more in common than a love for art.

“She’s the friendliest person I’ve ever known,” Holland said.

Dottie Sanders clearly lived her life in a people-centric way. Kent said her favorite thing she did on Whidbey was teach an art class at the senior center.

She was also an “unbelievable” entertainer, he said.

“I would say she was a one-woman restaurant,” he said.

Despite her busy social life, she usually made time to go in her art studio at least a couple days a week. But once she was in there, she could spend eight to 12 hours working on a piece, he said. She mainly used watercolor, but also painted scarves, created pottery and used acrylics, he said.

Her paintings sold at the Mother’s Day show will cost between $35 and $197. Those who buy a painting will also get to select a small print for free.

Holland hopes people take what may be one of the last chances to own some of Dottie’s work and honor her legacy.

“Food, art, friends,” Holland said. “She just had it all.”

Dottie Sanders, left, and Penny Holland, right, enjoy a trip to the Seattle Art Museum. Holland decided to feature her late friend’s art at the Whidbey Allied Artists Mother’s Day show over the weekend at the Coupeville Rec Hall. Photo provided by Penny Holland

Dottie Sanders, left, and Penny Holland, right, enjoy a trip to the Seattle Art Museum. Holland decided to feature her late friend’s art at the Whidbey Allied Artists Mother’s Day show over the weekend at the Coupeville Rec Hall. Photo provided by Penny Holland

Above is one of Dottie Sanders’ paintings that will be featured at the show.

Above is one of Dottie Sanders’ paintings that will be featured at the show.

Watercolors by Dottie Sanders of the Coupeville Wharf and Deception Pass Bridge.

Watercolors by Dottie Sanders of the Coupeville Wharf and Deception Pass Bridge.

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