Works in progress

A handprint in tempera paint. A few pieces of construction paper pasted tellingly on cardboard. A swirl of paste spackled with pasta. Ask any 4-year old, creating a work of art is easy.

But adults know creating art means work, trial and error and more than a few disasters before a notable, much less saleable, item emerges from the manipulation of reed, clay, wood, fabric, stone and pigment.

For art admirers and even the art-inept, getting a glimpse of artists in action, in their native habitats is a rare opportunity. During a free, open studio tour today and Sunday, a group of artists in North and Central Whidbey will show how they triumph over simple raw products to produce functional, decorative pieces of art.

From just north of Greenbank to Oak Harbor, 15 artists will display and discuss their art in 11 working studios, in much the same way South Whidbey artists have been doing for years in their own annual studio tour. The group’s offerings vary from flat — photography, printmaking and painting; to three-dimensional — basketry, ceramics and woodworking. The artists involved admit it’s an eclectic tour.

“I think we have a good blend of artists for our first tour attempt,” said ceramist Dan Ishler. “We want people to meet artists who live and work on North and Central Whidbey.”

Ishler creates sleekly glazed ceramics and textured ash-glazed and pit-fired works. No matter the finish, all his works are functional from teapots and cups to vases and canisters.

“This tour’s a hodgepodge,” said Penn Cove Pottery owner Steve Eelkema. “But it shows the diversity of art to be found on Whidbey.”

Eelkema’s pottery is just as functional as Ishler’s, but his teapots, cups, vases and canisters come in different forms and glazes. Eelkema even has a glaze based on a West Beach clay.

Oil painter Stacey Neumiller will display at Eelkema’s San de Fuca store. Neumiller’s bright, big works feature barnyard animals and pastoral scenes.

Within walking distance of Penn Cove Pottery, Perry Woodfin will show his visions of island and Northwest scenes and old buildings.

Woodfin regularly exhibits prints at local farmers markets. The tour will give people a chance to see his original work: some that may not make it to prints.

Woodworker Gary Leake will open his workshop and gallery on Morris Road, Coupeville. In addition to creating art furniture from unique woods, Leake refinishes and restores contemporary and antique furniture. Furniture of every age, condition and use can be seen in his workshop on Morris Road.

All the artists on the tour will be ready to discuss, explain and detail their particular works. And if anyone wonders about artistic disasters, just ask. True artists enjoy discussing flops as much as showing triumphs.

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