Artists reflect on ‘Whidbey Expressions’ to benefit Coupeville school

Gary Schallock

Gary Schallock holds a soft spot in his heart for Coupeville’s Pacific Northwest Art School.

It was an art workshop at the school in 2007 that exposed Schallock to Whidbey Island and opened his eyes to the island’s beauty and rich arts community.

A year later, he and his wife sold their home in Bakersfield, Calif., and chose Langley, near Goss Lake, as their retirement destination.

“We absolutely fell in love with Whidbey Island,” Schallock said.

In an effort to show his continued gratitude toward the Pacific Northwest Art School, Schallock will be among six artists who will be hosting the “Whidbey Expressions” benefit show at the Coupeville Rec Hall Aug. 14-16.

Fifteen percent of the proceeds from art sales will go to the nonprofit school.

It’s the third year of the benefit show. The idea was hatched by Schallock and fellow watercolor painter Randy Emmons of Oak Harbor.

The two artists met in September of 2007 while attending a workshop at the school held by renowned watercolor painter Frank Webb.

A friendship formed.

“We kind of became connected,” Emmons said.

Now, Emmons and Schallock at times will scout scenery together on the island for inspiration for their work.

“Both of us like to focus on Whidbey Island,” Schallock said.

“We go out with our cameras and look for scenes that we like, which is kind of funny,” Emmons said. “Sometimes, I’ll paint something and here comes Gary with the same scene a while later. It’s fun to see how differently we handled it.”

Both have worked at the art school; Schallock as an instructor and Emmons in marketing.

The school, located at 15 NW Birch Street, is known for drawing nationally-known artists to teach workshops in various mediums.

Other artists joining them in their efforts to support the school this weekend are Patty Pico (encaustics), Bev McQuary (glass jewelry), Pat Collins (wood sculpting) and Mark Lucero (acrylic painting).

An opening for the “Whidbey Expressions” show featuring musician Lisa Toomey will take place from 4-7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 14, at the Rec Hall.

The show takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“The art school is a nonprofit. It kind of runs on a shoestring budget,” Emmons said. “It never has a lot of money to do what it wants to do or needs to do. I used to work there years ago, so I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for the school.”

As does Schallock.

“It kind of brought me to Whidbey Island to start with,” he said.