Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance

Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance

an organization of realist and figurative artists from the pacific northwest

Artist Bios

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Aaron Coberly

Aaron Coberly was born in Seattle in 1971. He has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He started taking art seriously as a teenager after being invited to attend a life drawing class. Living and traveling in Europe further inspired him. He began oil painting in 1999. His work is primarily figurative with a stylistic nod to the Masters and the Impressionists. Aaron runs an open painting and drawing session in Seattle. He resides in the greater Seattle area and is married with a young son.
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Damon Brown

Plein aire oil painter, Damon Brown, was born in 1952 and raised in British Columbia, Canada, a land known for its dramatic mountain and ocean vistas. Damon was introduced to landscape painting through the work of Tom Thomson and Canada’s renowned “Group of Seven” painting school.

The Group of Seven painted Canada’s wilderness landscape during the early 1900’s. A serious student of art history, Damon has studied many celebrated painters, and historical landscape schools that developed in North America.  Principle among these schools was the early California impressionists who painted the landscapes of Carmel, Laguna Beach, Yosemite, and the Sierra Mountains. Edgar Payne and William Wendt were among the most influential on Damon’s work. Like them, Damon paints in the field, returning to his studio to paint larger canvases. Damon believes that by doing so, he is better able to capture the freshness of color and vitality of the moment.

Contemporary painters that Damon has studied with include Scott Christianson, Matt Smith, Ray Roberts and Kevin Macpherson. Locally Damon studied with Jim Lamb.  Damon studied drawing with Juliette Aristides and Tony Ryder.

Damon Brown currently lives in the village of Indianola, located on the beautiful Kitsap Peninsula in Washington’s Puget Sound Basin. He finds inspiration in the combination of virgin forests, breath taking mountains and quiet bays. In all types of weather he can be seen painting the ever-changing landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Damon’s current project is to paint studies of the major river valleys of the Olympic National Park and Forest.
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William E. Elston

William E. Elston has taught at Fort Wright College, The Spokane Art School, The Academy for Realist Art (now The Gage Academy,) the Frye Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and has been a guest lecturer at Marymount Manhattan College in New York, Whitworth College in Spokane, Eastern Washington University in Cheney, University of Washington in Seattle, and The Gage Academy. He continues to teach ongoing plein air classes and workshops in Seattle and surrounding areas.

William E. Elston's work has been widely collected in the United States and in Europe, and is included in many public, private and corporate collections. He is best known for landscape and urban landscape subjects.
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Eric Eschenbach

I was born and raised in Seattle, and, as a northwest native, I have always been attracted to the varied land around us.  From the lush, verdant western side of the mountains to the arid, sublime eastern side.  Recently, man has altered the land, but, historically, nature has transformed the land in unimaginable ways. In our geologically rich area, vast floods of basalt one thousand feet thick covered the land only to be sculpted by vast floods of ice-age water.  I paint to capture the essence of this changing landscape and the role of man in that landscape.
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Jennifer Frohwerk

In the summer of 1999, I studied abroad in Italy. One day, during a drawing class in Florence, I remember sketching the interior of Chiesa Santo Spirito, sitting cross-legged on the stone floor of the church, with my drawing board in my lap. My professor came around to critique my work and suggested that rather than getting lost in representing the ornate details of the columns and arches in perspective, I should simply think about how to draw the space contained by the architecture. How would I draw the air itself and the beautiful filtered light? I loved that idea. How would I really depict that intangible feeling of being inside of a particular space?

This summer, when the sun fell across the wall of my apartment, it illuminated that memory. It is a feeling of being inside of a sacred, safe place where the thoughts and emotions of daily life intersect with the larger flow of spirit. Now, I am in my home, a space I have experienced for the past ten years. By painting a simplified domestic interior, I can further focus on how to explain all of the intangible things that the space contains. Even though the plain white walls are not filled with furniture and objects in my paintings, these are not empty spaces. They are spaces that hold personal narrative. The movement of light across a wall or repeated through a stair rail is a reminder of all of the life that moves through the space. It is a complex tangle of energy, growth, change, and memories. With the passage of time and the seasons, it is dynamic. Windows and stairways are the boundaries of the space. These are places where the interior self interacts with the natural world outside.
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Keven Furiya

Keven Furiya's body of work includes landscapes, cityscapes, interiors and portraiture. Keven's paintings are done on-site in a loose, painterly manner.  He dubs his style "painterly realism," and loves to paint scenes that he is both challenged by and attracted to because they are, simply, an "image to be painted." 
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Paul Havas

Paul Havas was an accomplished painter; able to transport us among the scenery he loved and knew so well, from the Skagit Valley to downtown Seattle. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1962 and earned a Master's Degree from the University of Washington in 1965.

He taught at the University of Washington, the University of Idaho, and Stanford University. He was good friends with Northwest painter William Ivey, discussing painting and the arts. He had numerous exhibits throughout his career as an artist in the Pacific Northwest.

Paul passed away in 2012.He is survived by his wife, the architect Margaret Miller Havas, and daughter Madeleine Miller Fish.
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Suzo Hickey

Suzo Hickey is a painter and multidisciplinary artist living in Vancouver, Canada. Born in 1959, she migrated from north coast (Prince Rupert) to desert (Kamloops) before settling in Vancouver in 1991. She graduated from Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1994, and has exhibited around BC and the US on themes of urban landscapes, queer mothering, namecalling, narrative and death in the family.
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William G. Hook

Bill Hook received his architectural degree at the University of Illinois in 1970 and practiced architecture in Chicago before he moved to Seattle where he joined the firm of Olson Walker in 1980. He started his own firm providing architectural illustrations in 1986. His role as an illustrator for the next 25 years placed him in a unique position to observe and participate in a vast range of projects of all scales from residences to entire cities and to work with developers, architects, planners and institutions locally and nationally.

His media of choice is watercolor, which he is currently using to explore the more industrial and transitional elements of our environment, as opposed to the beautiful imagery of the future as projected by planners, architects and developers. He is particularly interested in using the qualities of light and weather conditions to present, what some consider, mundane subjects in a new context. He loves the dynamic processes of construction and maintenance which are an intrinsic part of the urban experience.

His most recent works show up on his facebook page as well as his website,
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Tom Hoffmann

Tom Hoffmann has been working with watercolor for more than thirty years. The fascination began in Carl Schmalz's class at Amherst College, where he first experienced the rewards of going out on a limb. Since then, he has carried a watercolor kit up mountains and down urban alleys, painting from life to get to know the spirit of each place.
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Mark Kang-O'Higgins

My work is firmly rooted in the figurative tradition. This has brought me work as a fine art instructor and as a commission portrait artist. I am interested in the human condition in both the physical and emotional sense.

Much of my work is formally concerned with solid objects/masses in space. I am interested in how objects/beings unfold themselves in space, manifest themselves, and realize themselves as objects and beings, spatially and mentally. In short how objects and beings emanate as physical and mental energy. In my work I want to describe their presence, in every sense of the word: both presence as individuals or events and presence in relation to (or in juxtaposition with) other events and environments.

The synthesis of an individual consciousness with its surroundings and the interaction of different consciousnesses are of particular interest to me from a phenomenological and existential point of view. Recently my work was also concerned with masked or depersonalized intelligences – how individuals can, at times, find each other unfathomable in the Wittgensteinian sense. Specifically, that of one individual never truly being able to know the mind of another and therefore being forced into speculation. Most recently, however, the philosophical questions and issues that my work springs from and attempt to address have been tempered by my desire to additionally represent the simple beauty and mystery of creation.
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Cynthia Krieble

Cynthia Krieble taught at Central for 28 years and received a Distinguished Professor for Artistic Achievement award in 1987. A native of the northeastern United States, she completed an art history degree at Middlebury College in Vermont. She then traveled west and received a bachelor’s of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a master’s of fine arts from Stanford University. Her work has been featured in countless solo and group exhibitions, and is displayed in numerous public and private collections. Locally, a few of her paintings can be seen at Kittitas Secondary School, and at CWU’s Milo Smith Tower Theatre and the James E. Brooks Library. Krieble is represented by the Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle.
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John Laney

John Laney is a native of Sprague, Washington. He studied at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and spent many years painting and teaching in New York City. He was an active member of the Figurative Artists' Alliance in New York, and a founding member of the Northwest Figurative Artists's Alliance. He has worked in the field of computer graphic design, as an independent consultant and at Real Networks.
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Jan Cook Mack

Jan Cook Mack grew up in the United States and Taiwan, and received her Fine Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont. She established herself as a fine artist in New York City before moving to eastern Washington State in 1986. Mack’s paintings arise out of an emotional response to the pursuit of an intimate relationship with the natural world. She began painting dairy cows while living in Vermont in 1970. "The geometry of their weight and placement offered an armature of formal structure which reinforced my realism" she explains. "My love of cows gave me a connection to the activities of farming. Tractors, bales, windrows became subjects. From a distance, farming tools and process seemed like large-scale drawing on the land."
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Peter Malarkey

Painting landscapes has helped me become aware of the varieties of optical experience, and has helped me learn to use them. My aim is to provide the viewer the experience of watching or being at that location, rather than offering a likeness of the place's features. Painting weather is a great way of doing this.
I think all landscapes contain a pervasive human element which we identify or create as soon as we take it in. This is a function of our outward activity and of our internal perceptual makeup. Seeking this has meant painting narratives whose stories or lessons may be more felt than prescribed.

In painting, I try to select from various specifics of a locale, selecting the information which determines the rate and variety of seeing, and which evokes that environment's presence for all of the senses. Rather than duplicate the scene, I try to duplicate the act of gazing at it, and of being in that place.
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Ron McGaughey

I am a landscape painter living in Manson, Washington. I grew up in Wenatchee and have been painting North Central Washington views for over 25 years.  I especially like the basalt coulees of the shrub-steppe but sometimes stay closer to home and paint orchards and other subjects.

I studied painting at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and graphic arts at the Burnley School of professional art in Seattle.
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Henk Pander

Henk Pander’s paintings reflect personal experience, giving form to events he has witnessed throughout his life, where individual experience meets historical time. In an attempt to make visual sense out of contemporary dilemma, he deals with issues such as the passage of time, entropy and loss, in the form of memories of war and childhood, portraits involving aging and personal history, vanitas still lifes, and technology versus the natural world. He has consistently maintained a concern with careful composition, a rich and intimate surface, a quality of atmosphere, and fine drawing.
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Sue Perry

Sue Perry is a Seattle based artist that spends a large part of each year in Paris. Her works are primarily autobiographical, and weave narrative fragments into a complex visual web.
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Sandra Power

Sandra Power was born in Hull, England. She was educated at the Hull High School of Art and Crafts, where her early passion for art was nurtured. She came to the United States in 1962, married, and took her husband's name of Murphy. She studied drawing and painting with Edmond Archer, at the Corcoran College of Art, Washington DC. Her budding career as an artist took a major detour, following the birth of  twin sons, prompting her focus to shift toward raising a family and pursuing a career as a professional nurse.In 1990 she returned to her maiden name and to her first love; painting. Now, she finds that the richness of her life experience inspires her art both spiritually and creatively.  This is reflected in her skillfully rendered still lifes which express a unique sensibility and engage the viewer on many levels.

Power has won several honors for her art. Her most recent are Oil Painters of America 2012 Best Associate Award and First Place in the Artist's Magazine Still Life competition 2010. For several consecutive years she has won Finalist in the Artist's Magazine annual competitions.

In the summer of 2002, Power moved to Seattle, Washington where she lives near her two sons. She has exhibited in group and solo shows on the East and West Coasts and in England.
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Cathleen Rehfeld

Cathleen Rehfeld is a native of Austin, Texas, who has made her home in Hood River, Oregon. She paints the simple objects, people and scenes of her environment, actively teaches workshops, and maintains a studio. She paints from life, often setting up a still life and painting it alla prima.
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Bill Sharp

Bill Sharp was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Delaware. He studied painting and printmaking at the University of Delaware and The Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating with a BFA in painting.

After college Bill moved to New York where he apprenticed with hand made papermaker Douglas Morse Howell.

Moving to Portland in 1981, Bill showed mixed media and oil paintings in Portland, Sisters, Bend and Cannon Beach. A trip to western Ireland in 1996 inspired a series of oil paintings of the Irish landscape.

During a hiatus from exhibiting to run a small business, Bill began filling sketchbooks with ink and watercolor studies of Portland scenes. Over the last 5 years, Bill has returned to oil painting and has recently begun making still life paintings and urban landscapes, especially sites along Portland's riverfront.
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Todd Smith

Todd Smith lived in the Dalles, OR, and painted along the Columbia Gorge. His work also included figures, portraits and still lifes. He passed away in 2012, after a long illness. Todd is survived by his children, Graham (and fiancée Karen), of Scottsdale, Ariz., Leslie, of Salem, Ore., and Claire, of Tualatin; and former wife Esther, of Hood River.

Todd said this of his painting: "I live by myself in an area that is on the cusp of a wet/dry area in beautiful Oregon near the Columbia Gorge. My painting subjects vary widely- recent paintings have been of cars, birds, still lifes, and a nude."
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Kurt Solmssen

Kurt Solmssen studied painting and fine art at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA. He moved to Vaughan, Washington with his family about two decades ago. He lives in an old beach house that has been in his family since 1964, and finds most of his inspiration and subjects from the waters of the Puget Sound and his immediate environment. One subject that he has returned to over the years is an iconic, yellow wooden boat that was built in 1933.

Mark Kang-O'Higgins

charcoal on paper

copyright ©2012

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The Northwest Figurative Artists’ Alliance was an organization of artists from the Pacific Northwest that formed in the early 1990s as an advocacy and educational group devoted to figuration and realism in the visual arts.
The Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance is no longer active, and is not accepting memberships.
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Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance