Whidbey artists open doors for weekend tour

Those who wonder what guides the many artists of South Whidbey are in luck this weekend. The Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour is opening the doors of many artists’ studios for visitors to experience the creative process of an artist.

Faye Castle and Phyllis Ray make frame in preparation for their art pieces in the Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour this weekend.

Those who wonder what guides the many artists of South Whidbey are in luck this weekend. The Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour is opening the doors of many artists’ studios for visitors to experience the creative process of an artist.

This year’s theme is “Discover what makes a work of art.” The seventeenth annual event features 55 artists on the free, self-guided tour from Greenbank to Clinton.

A lot goes into each person’s art, Tammi Sloan, committee chair, said of the theme. That’s what’s nice about the tour, to see the process and go to the studio where the artist works, she said.

“You get a better appreciation of what goes into things,” she said.

This year there are a lot of new artists and artwork to look at, she said. Some emerging artists include Ken Price’s woodworking and Rebecca Ruby’s photography and drawing.

Phyllis Ray is also showing her paintings on the tour for the first time this year at Studio 106 in Langley. Ray will show her work along with two other artists at the studio, Faye Castle and Barbara Barry. Together they will have more than 50 pieces on display for the show.

Ray said the exposure the tour gives and each person’s personal response to her work is important for artists.

“It’s gratifying to talk about art (with people),” she said.

Ray, a Langley resident, paints in oils, acrylics and watercolors. She said she paints as a response to something she experiences and is emotionally drawn to. Ray said she is always doing art. Everything she looks at is a composition study, or she is trying to figure out what color something is and how to paint it.

Ray wants to show people what it takes to be an artist and what it’s like being in the studio. She wants people to feel welcome in the studio.

“I hope they get what it feels like to be in a studio with the community and the artists who come by,” she said. Celeste Erickson / The Record | Dan Freeman shows one of his art pieces featured in the tour.

Castle, a Freeland resident, has shown her work on the tour before, but this is her first time in years. She said some of the feedback she received from visitors is praising her talent. But the talent is a myth — it mostly comes from her interest in the art, she said.

“I want to show the range of how art manifests and is ever changing at the studio,” she said.

Another artist on the tour, Dan Freeman, makes sculptures from several materials including metals, wood, branches and rocks. This is his seventh year on the tour and he will show about 50 pieces. He said he enjoys the variety of people who visit his studio during the tour.

“I run into real gems of human beings,” he said.

Freeman, a Clinton resident, said he is drawn to the process of making the sculpture with the different materials.

“I’m not off-put by any material; I’ll experiment with anything,” he said. “I so enjoy the process of creation and I hope that’s imparted to someone else.”

Sloan hopes this year the tour is more user-friendly with new smartphone apps and maps on the website. The tour does not sell tickets, but Sloan estimated about 1,200 people attended the tour last year.

The Whidbey Island Community Education Center gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, the tour runs the same hours. A piece from each artist will be at the gallery.


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