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Auburn artist brings home People's Choice Award

A Home of Straw: Wendy Ray’s oil painting came away with the People’s Choice Award at the museum-supported exhibit.  - Courtesy
A Home of Straw: Wendy Ray’s oil painting came away with the People’s Choice Award at the museum-supported exhibit.
— image credit: Courtesy

As an emerging artist, Wendy Ray welcomes the challenge to bring beauty to life on canvas.

When it comes to capturing the color, texture and character of people, animals and other things, she blossoms with a stroke of a rich oil or smooth watercolor brush in her own realistic style.

Such mediums of choice bring joy and the confidence to employ new approaches.

"I am having so much fun trying out different forms of art at this point, I haven't stopped to think about the whys," said the Auburn woman, who even took a welding class to experience the medium. "(But) when I get to paint, I feel like a kid who has just been let out for recess, and all I want to do is squeeze as much playtime in as possible."

The kid at heart inspired Ray to paint a popular entry at a local exhibit. Envisioning what a child would fondly remember growing up, Ray captured the spirit of a small farm and a scene of seven soft, adorable baby chicks playing and plucking for worms inside a straw-filled barn.

"We've become so urbanized, and it seems comforting to remember life in the country," Ray said of her oil painting, A Home of Straw, on exhibit through Dec. 16 the White River Valley Museum. The painting is part of the Small Works, Big Presents: The Gift of Art, a juried exhibit and art sale at the museum.

"(The painting) evokes memories of going to grandma's house and exploring the barn and fields, playing with farm animals, doing chores, getting dirty and the family working together," she said. "I never lived on a farm, just visited them, but that is how I imagined it to be."

A Home of Straw – a 4-by-18-inch oil painting – attracted plenty of good reviews from the public at the annual show, winning the People's Choice Award. It is the first time an Auburn artist has captured the honor. Ray won a $400 prize and the opportunity to have one of her works featured on the exhibit's promotional poster and advertisements next year.

"I was thrilled," said Ray, 57, whose popular painting was sold at the show.

Ray has had a passion for art since she first touched brush to canvas as a teenager in Alaska. She enjoys creating oil and watercolor paintings that highlight her love of animals, family and the beauty in a simple landscape or a bouquet of flowers.

Ray was in the antique business for 20 years but left it to devote more time to growing as an artist. She hasn't looked back since. People enjoy her work.

"It is my desire to have every customer be completely thrilled with their purchase," Ray said. "Every customer is very important to me. As a result, a high percentage of my business is from repeat customers and referrals."

Ray welcomes many subjects and recently has started to paint portraits.

Ray is active in the local arts community and volunteers at her church and in the community.

She and her husband have two grown sons.

More information on Wendy Ray and her artwork can be found at www.wendyray.com

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On display

• Exhibit: Small Works, Big Presents: The Gift of Art (through Dec. 16) – a juried exhibit of small, but mighty, affordable art for sale.

• Where: White River Valley Museum, 918 H St. SE, Auburn

• More information: 253-288-7437 or www.wrvmuseum.org.

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