New Tsuga artist focuses on color


Diana Zimmerman

Cathlamet resident Laurel Check has joined Tsuga Gallery.

You might say it was the pie that got her in the door of Tsuga Gallery.

Laurel Check was looking for a way to plug herself into the local art scene and meet people, but it's pretty safe to say she was also hoping to snag a slice of pie at the Cathlamet Woman's Club Pie Social.

Sadly, she was too late for dessert, but it's all worked out. She's since joined the gallery and is making new friends and sharing her creativity with the community.

"They said yeah, you're very different than anyone else in here," Check said. "I'm kind of crazy with the color and textures, and my art is more on the decorative side. Some of the people who do realism and do it well are incredibly gifted, but that is not what makes me happy."

As a child, staying in the lines was acceptable business for Check. Color was where she most wanted to express herself, with purple ladies and green bunnies.

"I was never one to paint anything the right color," Check said, going on to explain why she liked art.

"You can make whatever you want," she said. "Whatever is in your head. It doesn't have to be real. It doesn't have to be something that is real."

During an art class in high school, she was encouraged to consider a career as a graphic artist.

So that's what she did, heading to Western Washington University, where she studied graphic design.

She joined the workforce, doing layout work and becoming a typesetter. She worked for printing companies, software companies and a couple graphic design companies.

Early on, she learned she was better suited to management.

"It's kind of a stressful career," Check said, "everything has to be perfect."

Retired now, she's pouring that energy into running art pages on Facebook, including an artist trading card group, where artists from all over the world would create art as a response to a community prompt, and then send the art to Check who would redistribute it to the group.

But, she says, interest in pages on Facebook comes and goes, and she's moved on to administer another Facebook page, Chasing the Muse.

"I think the hardest part is when you don't feel like creating," Check said. "I have ideas constantly. I would never run out of ideas, but it's more like being in the mood or thinking you can do something good today. It's like your muse has gone on vacation."

It's just one of the reasons that Check has enthusiasm for her new Facebook page.

"[Chasing the Muse] is for anyone or everyone who likes to do art, or are artists," Check said. "We've got people on there that are quilters, people who are beginning, people who are really good. It's just kind of all over the place. It's about being inspired and inspiring others."

That is, inspiring others to be creative, and Check's happy way of describing each process she used to create her paintings, or collages, or mixed media made me wonder if she'd ever considered teaching.

"I feel like I missed my calling, I should have been an art teacher," Check said, laughing.

She likes the idea of children being immersed in art, or anyone, really.

"I think it's great to be creative. It's like meditation," Check said. "[Kids] can find out what they like to do. You might find yourself a budding artist."

Check likes to explore and experiment, and has tried many different styles. She's playing with watercolors these days, but mixed media is one of her favorite mediums.

"I'm kind of a paper freak because I worked in the printing industry for a hundred years," she said. "I love the printed papers and I love the idea of repurposing old books and pages of books that are falling apart or are going to get thrown in a landfill. Instead I'm recycling them into something beautiful that gives them new life. I love repurposing old sheet music and dictionaries and anything I can get my hands on."

Stop by Tsuga Gallery to see some of Check's work or you can find her work in several places online including Chasing the Muse at, or her Facebook page,, on YouTube,, and on Instagram, .


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