The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Challenging media interest artist


October 25, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

Landscapes and other art of artist Beth Bailey are on display at Redmen Hall in Skamokawa.

River Life Interpretive Center at Redmen Hall in Skamokawa is currently featuring artist Beth Bailey's work.

Art was always a family affair for Bailey. Her mother was an oil painter and her grandmother was an artist as well. Bailey and her siblings spent a lot of time with her grandmother, who introduced them to clay, watercolors, and more.

"My grandma was probably the biggest influence," Bailey said. "She would just let us do whatever, but she'd do something with us to make sure we were having fun."

When she was young, Bailey would follow her mother to art shows and art meetings. She met all kinds of artists.

"They were nurturing me along the way," Bailey said.

Exposed to a lot of techniques and mediums, it is pen and ink and watercolors that held Bailey's interest.

Why? She likes the challenge.

"Watercolor and pen and ink are not very forgiving. Once you have the ink down, there is nothing you can do," Bailey said. "You can't erase it, you can't put whiteout on it."

"I have a method down where I draw it first in graphite, make a copy of it, transfer it to Bristol paper and then I start doing my inking," Bailey said. "That is so if I make a mistake then I can come back and redo it.

"The first time I tried pen and ink, I ended up drawing right through a window."

She laughed.

The medium may hold her attention because it inspires her, stretches her skills, or gives her opportunities to problem solve, but it's also something she can have with her at any time.

"It's pretty precise and very portable," Bailey said. "That's probably my favorite reason. I can take it wherever we go. If we go sailing I can take it with me. I can have it in the car if I go out, and just say, that looks interesting, I think I'll draw that."

She's not much for portraits, preferring scenery. Water and architecture are frequent subjects.

"I think water is probably my favorite," Bailey said. "Drawing and painting water is a challenge. It's a learning process. It reflects so much and it's difficult to see all the different textures in there.

"Architecture is my next favorite, but it's not just buildings," Bailey said, "I like to do boats and things like that."

When Bailey and her husband first moved to Rainier, Ore., she took an interest in the old historical homes. It's turned into some of her favorite work. She has drawn lots of homes in Rainier, Seaside, and Astoria, and in some towns in Washington as well.

One of her works of the Astoria Column, done before the renovation, now hangs in the town's sister city in Germany, thanks to the mayor of Astoria. Local Coast Guard wives have commissioned her work to give to people who come to the area to train as a memory. She designed the logo for the Town of Rainier and created banners for a celebration in Longview.

For her 30th anniversary, she and her husband sailed their 28 foot pilot house boat up the coast for seven weeks.

"It was a great trip," Bailey said. "It was a little scary at first because of the fog. We left in August and we went slowly through the bar in total fog. You couldn't see more than 25 yards in front of you. When we came back down in October, it was 75 degrees and the bar was flat. I've been on it when it's rough and they closed the bar behind us. I told my husband I would never do it again after that, but I did."

"I take my art with me and paint as I go," she said. "Even under sail, I'll be down below, so long as my husband doesn't need me."

Bailey is a native of Kankakee, Illinois. She received a degree in commercial art and French from Illinois State University.

Diana Zimmerman

Beth Bailey

One of her classmates moved to Seattle after they earned their masters in French. Curious, Bailey and her husband visited and fell in love with the northwest.

"We sold everything we had, paid off every single bill, got in a motor home, and went across Canada for about a month and a half," Bailey said. "We didn't have jobs lined up but knew we would find something."

They settled first in Lebanon, Ore., where Bailey sold advertising for a newspaper. Eventually they moved to Rainier and have been there ever since.

Bailey is a member of the Columbian Artist Association and the Broadway Gallery, where she teaches classes for adults and teenagers. She is also a member of the Cathlamet Yacht Club.


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