Arts and Entertainment

One Langley woman shows her appetite and aptitude for art

Painter Cary Jurriaans works in her Langley studio. - Deborah Short photo
Painter Cary Jurriaans works in her Langley studio.
— image credit: Deborah Short photo

Opposing pineapple posts stand in a whimsical welcome at the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio entrance.

The studio’s founder, Cary Jurriaans, a newly ensconced resident of Langley, made them, with inspiration from local artist John Alsip.

Further down the drive, one is delighted to see more of Alsip’s inspiration — a band of blue glass bottle sculptures drooping their free-form flower petals like supple dancers in blue, arching toward a field of green.

English Labradors, Lodi and Maya — one brown, one golden — bark their greeting emphatically, so as not to be outdone, perhaps, by the happy pineapples and the blue-glass bouquet.

It’s a welcoming scene made even more satisfying by Jurriaans’ open-armed warmth and utter vivacity.

The new studio, built exactly one year ago in May by Jurriaans’ husband, Sieb, sits behind the main house in the Edgecliff neighborhood. The Jurriaans, originally from Holland, moved to the island from Fall City, where Cary opened the Fall City Fine Art Studio.

Now, situated close to their son (also Sieb) and his growing family, the couple get to enjoy the closeness of familial bonds, while also reveling in the abundant artistic life of Whidbey Island.

“I just love everything about Langley,” Jurriaans said, “And I would love to help make it even more a center for the arts.”

It seems Jurriaans has all the tools at her fingertips to do just that.

The studio is a light and airy space, with one high-ceilinged room devoted to studio and class space. The room is attached to a just-the-right-size one-bedroom apartment ready to house instructors for the weekend workshops.

The Jurriaanses are using the studio’s apartment for now until they finish renovating the main house, but a large kitchen makes the place perfect for an intimate group of artists to paint and draw in the studio, while having all the comforts of a cozy kitchen nearby, just in case a cup of tea is in order.

The Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio, Jurriaans said, is dedicated to providing education in high-quality representational art for artists at every level. It is devoted to a study of realism, and features workshops with some of the foremost figure artists, portrait artists, watercolorists and draftspeople in the country.

The studio offers drawing and painting from still life, figure and landscape, in studio and en plein air.

“It’s never going to be a huge thing,” Jurriaans said. “I want to keep it very small and special.”

The classes and workshops are purposely kept small and intimate, which allows for more individual attention and a personalized approach. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the island offers lots of great scenery to paint.

Jurriaans’ idea to create the studio came directly out of her desire to become a better painter.

Having a natural aptitude in all things creative throughout her life, Jurriaans spent many years as a decorative artist, honing her skills at everything from sewing to collage, découpage and decorative painting. But then she found her oil brush and everything changed for her.

“I’m the kind of person who gets bored quickly. But I could never be bored with fine art,” Jurriaans said.

“I always see more that I can do and learn. The learning process in painting never ends.”

Growing up in the Netherlands, Jurriaans was surrounded by some of the greatest art in the world, and she is actually a descendant of a 17th century Dutch portrait painter by the name of Johan Joeke Gabriel van Wicheren. She studied art at the Seattle Academy of Fine Art (now the Gage Academy of Art) and at the Florence Academy of Art, in addition to other workshops in Europe and the U.S.

Such deep training allows Jurriaans to pass on what she’s learned, and she’s passionate about that. She teaches beginning painting and drawing classes at the studio.

“That’s another thing I want people to know: Anybody can learn to do this,” Jurriaans said.

“It takes skills to paint, there’s a lot to learn and you have to have the foundation first. You have to learn how to draw the figure and learn shapes, shapes, shapes. Then you can take it to any level. But anybody can do it if they keep working at it,” she insists.

It seems Jurriaans has been working very hard to master the art of realism herself, and the work has paid off.

Her gallery dance card is quite full these days with a show opening at the Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm on Friday, June 4 called “The Stillness of Things,” a display of several of her oil-on-canvas still lifes. That show will have an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. during “Fridays at the Farm,” an artwalk and wine tasting event.

Jurriaans is also curating a show through June at the MUSEO gallery in Langley titled “Celebrating Realism,” with a number of her fellow representational artists both local and from around Washington. That show holds its opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 5, featuring an “Artists in Action” demonstration by portrait artist Ned Mueller and one for painting the still life by Tenaya Sims.

Jurriaans has also scheduled a show in October at the Brackenwood Gallery in Langley, and having this camaraderie between galleries is part of what she loves about the South End.

“I love the way everybody is working together in Langley,” she said.

The next workshop, “The Draped Figure,” with accomplished figurative artist and teacher Zhaoming Wu, is for all levels of painter and is May 31 to June 4. (Find out more about the teacher at www.zhaomingwu.com.)

There will be an open demonstration by Wu from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 3 at the 4-H Building at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley. The fee for the demo is $65. Jurriaans asks visitors to enter quietly if the model is posing.

There is also still space available in “Plein Air on South Whidbey,” with instructor John Budicin, from June 21 to 25.

Be sure to look for the studio’s booth at Choochokam Arts in July for painting demonstrations.

The Whidbey Island Fine Arts Studio is at 813 Edgecliff Drive in Langley. Click here for more information, or call 360-637-4690.

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