Nellivander’s Shoppe brings artistic touch to Elma

As other people were shutting down businesses during the pandemic, Laurie Bremer of Elma decided it was a great time to continue investing in her fledgling painting instruction business. Ever the innovator, she had participants pick up “Grab & Paint” bags and then tune in while she instructed via Zoom! A self-taught artist, Bremer first picked up a paintbrush in 2017 and by July of 2021, she had rented out business space in downtown Elma. That’s where she teaches “Crafty Kiddos” classes to children and “Crafty Canvas” painting classes to all ages, as well as hosting private painting parties at various locations – and of course creating her own artwork. She also enjoys supporting various charity fundraisers with painting parties. When Bremer opened up Nellivander’s Shoppe at 313 W. Main St., it was clear by the hearty response that she was providing something that people wanted and needed. 

Photo by Gail Greenwood Ayres

“I think creating art is a respite from the chaos, whether it be the chaos in the world or personal chaos,” said Bremer, 64, a retired counselor. Her acrylic paintings, featuring a variety of subjects, methods and styles, line the walls of Nellivander’s Shoppe. Her current favorite technique is to paint a scene within a scene. All of her paintings, as well as a few art supplies, are available for sale.

On a recent Saturday, the storefront nearly filled with people of all ages and abilities who had signed up to paint. Each of her carefully separated “creation stations” included a table, chair and all the supplies needed, as well as a little grab bag of treats and coupons from local businesses for each painter. While she gives an example of a picture to paint and some basic instructions, Bremer loves watching the individual perspectives of each painter’s work unfold: “It’s so fun to see the differences. I don’t want you to have yours be like mine.” Last summer Bremer also frequently taught painting in Fleet Park during the Montesano Saturday Morning Market. People of various ages and abilities painting on a summer day added to the ambiance of the busy market scene.

“People who are artists are so respectful of what I’m doing. They seem mellow and humble and just see that I’m trying to encourage the creativity in others as well as express it myself,” she said, adding that every once in a while, she will have a young student whose natural ability is startling.

Likewise, just recently the Elma City Council has seen something promising in Bremer. It has approved her to spearhead a project called, “Our Wall,” where artists will be allowed to paint on the alley sides of Elma buildings. In addition, Mayor Jim Sorensen has asked her to head up a new Elma Arts Commission, with the task of presenting ideas on how to beautify the city with art. “We’re already brainstorming how to bring fine arts, music in the park, one-act plays, poetry readings, etc., into the public arena in Elma for people to enjoy together,” Bremer said.

For more information about her class schedule or to book a private party, Bremer can be contacted through Nellivander’s Shoppe on Facebook or by e-mailing her at

Ken & Vicki Mitchell create a colorful life

Ken and Vicki Mitchell know firsthand how a caring educator can change a life’s trajectory. Lifelong artists and career educators, this extraordinarily talented couple’s path was altered by one of Ken’s college professors. While attending Northern Colorado University, Ken was struggling academically. School had never come easily for him, but being a top shot putter helped get him into college.

He enjoyed history, but keeping the dates straight, writing papers without spelling mistakes, and completing all the reading was overwhelming. One day his history professor, Dr. Reynolds, called him in for a meeting. Reynolds told Ken he was nearly flunking out, but then asked Ken to look at a wall in his office. There the professor had tacked up a collection of drawings that Ken had made during the history lectures each day and simply left in the classroom.

Photo by Rick Moyer

Apparently, Reynolds had made a habit of picking them up. However, this professor wasn’t reprimanding his student; he was simply a talent scout with a plan. Reynolds had already talked to the head of the art department and then suggested that Ken fill his next semester entirely with art classes to get his grades up and to give them time to work out why this eager, bright student was struggling. “So that’s what I did. I took all art classes the next term and I went from being on academic probation to having straight A’s and being on the dean’s list in one semester,” recalled Ken, 79. “And we learned my problem. At the time, in the early 60s, it was something they were just learning about. I had severe, severe dyslexia.” Ken ultimately got a master’s degree in art, as well as a minor in history, and then became an instructor of fine arts himself.

Photo by Rick Moyer

Rewarding careers

Ken has spent more than 50 years as an educator and continues to prolifically produce paintings of all kinds, including some historically accurate ones that led both he and Vicki, 73, to be recruited in 2013 as artists in residence at the National Park in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Since then, each year they’ve served a month there, usually during the spring or fall.

There, Ken has six historical paintings at the main visitor’s center depicting the historic events surrounding this Civil War site, each requiring careful scholarship and painstaking attention to detail.

Vicki’s work there includes seven paintings that represent the major park themes, as well as a park coloring book, a 75th anniversary poster and a portrait of one of John Brown’s conspirators for the John Brown Museum in the park. She even restored an 18th century faux marble fireplace mantle in the park’s visitors center. And, the two of them worked together to create a mural at the park.

But the couple – and their artwork – is also well known in other places across the country. In fact, this May Ken was honored with a retrospective of his work at the Prairie Museum in Colby, Kansas. His work is well known there, including large murals in the city and one that he and Vicki both painted on the campus of Colby Community College, where they both taught from 1969 to 1989.

During those 20 years, Vicki taught art history, figure drawing and women’s studies, and was known for her creativity, even dressing up and acting as different historical women to bring them to life for her students. Ken taught everything from watercolor and oil painting to ceramics, silk screening, design, color theory, figure drawing, composition and even fashion design.

When Vicki realized she was interested in pursuing more education so she could work in academic administration, she added a doctorate in college administration to her bachelor’s in fine arts and master’s in education. During this time, they were raising their son, K.C., and daughter, Kendra. For two school years, Ken was “Mr. Mom,” while Vicki studied at the University of Texas.

Their next stop was in Central Washington, where they worked at a variety of institutions including Yakima Community College, Columbia Basin College and the Heritage College. Then in 1997, they moved to Grays Harbor for Vicki to take a job as vice president of instruction at Grays Harbor College. Ken worked as a substitute teacher for the Aberdeen School District and later taught math and art at Harbor High, the district’s alternative high school. After a few years, Vicki joined him there, teaching English and art.

Despite their illustrious and varied careers, the couple agrees that working at Harbor High was easily the highlight. And Ken is looking forward to the pandemic waning more so that he can at least go back to substitute teach there.

At Harbor High, Ken often told students about his struggles with dyslexia; and many could relate. Also, they both noted, it seemed like many of the students at Harbor High were particularly artistically gifted. Not unlike what Dr. Reynolds did for Ken, the Mitchells strove to do at Harbor High. They could be the people who spotted talent and encouraged and supported students in a variety of ways.

At home in Cosmopolis

The couple’s colorful Cosmopolis home is replete with both of their work, featuring a variety of subjects and styles. Despite a valiant effort, all the walls in each room can’t hold it all and some is stored on tables and in racks. Of course, that doesn’t include all the work on display at Harpers Ferry as well as all the work in museums in Kansas and that has been bought over the years or given away to auction for charities.

“There was even a time when money was tight in Kansas, where we were trading paintings for appliances and dentistry!” Vicki recalled. Ken says his favorite medium is actually pencil drawing, “but it doesn’t sell well,” he said. “I also love oil painting, but I can’t do it inside because my wife is allergic to it.”

But it’s clear by the resulting work that he also loves watercolor and acrylic painting. Some of his pieces are so detailed and accurate they look like photographs.

“He does highly, highly illustrative work, because he can draw so well,”  Vicki said of her husband. “He is a superb draftsman. He can draw anything! He is also an excellent colorist. He absolutely understands color and every combination of colors. That’s something I often ask his advice on. He is very patient getting every detail just right in his work,” she said.

As for her work, Vicki says she is enjoying picking it up after some 12 years of not being able to pursue it during her busy career. “I created some 80 pieces during the pandemic,” she said, and that doesn’t include the time spent on her hand-painted cards and humorous essays! “I like pastel best, but I like some pen and ink, and pencil,” she said. “I even went through a period where I was decorating gourds.”

“She’s determined and she likes to change,” Ken said. “She will get to a high level and will switch to a different subject or medium,” he noted. “We have never been intimidated by each other’s art and enjoy each other’s styles.”

While they both would say they’ve grown in their artistic expression over the years, some things don’t change. The couple attends Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Aberdeen. And, just like during those history lectures more than 50 years ago, during the sermons, Ken draws. But, instead of leaving the pictures lying around, at the end of the service he gives them away to eager parishioners.

In addition to seeing their work in West Virginia and Kansas, some of Ken and Vicki Mitchell’s work is available for purchase at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, where they have donated it to raise money for the church to restore its magnificent stained-glass windows.

Photo by Rick Moyer

ART HQx encourages creativity

At some point, most young kids draw on the walls with some variation of crayons or markers. When she was four, Jeanne Ward took a different route, drawing on the outside of her babysitter’s house with a charcoaled stick she found in the barbecue.
“It was this sense of so much joy in the experience of marking up this house with the charcoal, that I had no concept of it relating to anybody else in the world,” recalls Jeanne. That’s all it took to set the now 49-year-old Aberdeen woman down a path full of creativity and creating opportunities for others.

Photo by Katie McGregor

As you walk into ART HQx, Hoquiam’s informal philanthropic creative collective, you’re greeted by large chalkboard walls covered with haikus and drawings, colorful curtains, and the friendly countenance of Jeanne herself.

The space she’s cultivated on 7th Street in the heart of the city, makes it obvious that creative ideas are encouraged to run free.

Even the name ART HQx is a bit of a free spirit. People pronounce it “Art Hoquiam X,” “Art H Q X,” and “Art Headquarters X.” As for Jeanne, well frankly she seems to relish the ambiguity and doesn’t offer a definitive pronunciation.

Whatever you call it, if you can imagine it, you can probably create it at ART HQx. Jeanne has a ready collection of free-to-use art supplies including chalk and chalk paint, yarn, beads, paints, fabric, foam, paper, clay and more. All of the supplies are stored on mobile carts so ART HQx can serve its multipurpose function. The space can be used for crafting, but also performances, parties, and even the Galaxy Harbor Bellydance program that comes to the studio once a week.

It’s important to Jeanne that visiting ART HQx can be a social activity or a very private one. The curtains she’s hung up can block off certain parts of the room to create a calmer environment, or one more conducive to performance art, and she’s just as willing to let visitors create on their own as she is to guide and help them.

“I hope to have a space where people of any age can dabble.” Jeanne makes it clear that she’ll provide personal guidance for those who would like it, or she’ll connect them with someone else who can guide them in their creative endeavors. She says that she’s learned a lot from people who come in with ideas she’s never even thought of.
Jeanne may be the show runner of ART HQx, but she emphasizes that the program is really a community effort. Jeanne opened its doors on Logger’s Playday 2019, only one week after she signed the lease. This was possible because of all of the local help she received during the process.
“What I’ve loved about this program from the very first day is that it has been accessible to the whole variety of people who live in the community,” she says.
“It’s really important that people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds interact together. … This isn’t a free program for people who don’t have money; this is a free program for everybody,” Jeanne explains.
In the years since it has opened, Jeanne has brought many local artists and organizations into the space, including Mark Vincent, Kelly Hogaboom (The Vegan Tailor), Theresa Beck, Judy Clark, and Dancing Crows Studio.
There is always something new going on at ART HQx. The projects and programs offered are made possible through donated time and materials. “I am a conduit,” Jeanne says, “but we couldn’t do it without the remnant donations or the people who come in and make the art.”

Photo by Katie McGregor

The goal is to be as close to zero waste as possible and make use of what might otherwise be thrown away. Jeanne utilizes everything. Bits of chalk are made into chalk paint, scraps of paper are made into clay, and bottle caps are made into sudoku training boards. Jeanne’s top tip for those wanting to start making art is to just try. “Make a little space and time, and if you can’t make space and time, you can find it here at ART HQx.” ART HQx, located at 413 7th St. in Hoquiam, is open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. All activities are free to participants of every age. Donations in the form of supplies and monetary support are appreciated. Art HQx can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon. In addition, Jeanne can be reached at

(360) 209-4546 and at

Artist Spotlight Mark Vincent

Hoquiam artist Mark Vincent loves the poetry of color, from the vibrant yellow of a simple bouquet to the dozen variations of green in a single tree. As an artist, he finds himself particularly drawn to the subtle expression of a still life. But the abundant beauty of windswept beaches and pines in the Pacific Northwest also provides endless subjects for his art.

Vincent learned art in the Netherlands as a young man. After growing up in Southern Oregon and spending a year at Grays Harbor College, he set off to see the world. While he never quite made it around the world, he did experience quite a bit of Europe, living in the Netherlands for 11 years. He attended art school in Eindhoven. But more importantly, he found a mentor in Dutch artist Henk Brokke.

“That’s where I really learned about art and how to produce paintings,” says Vincent, now 66. “He was my guide in the art world.”

While he studied sculpture, old-style graphics, metalwork and even blacksmithing, Vincent found his passion in oil painting and oil pastels. By the late 1980s, he started painting abstracts, showing his art in galleries in the Netherlands and in Germany. 

Photo by Katie McGregor

Through the years, though he still sees the abstract everywhere, he has moved on to create primarily still lifes and landscapes. “Still lifes are my thing,” he muses. “As Henk told me, when you’re doing a still life, you’re interpreting what life is like in quiet, in the stillness. When I’m painting a still life, I’m in a meditation of that stillness.”

Vincent maintains that developing one’s own interpretation of life proves essential for any artist. “You learn to draw. That’s the alphabet of art,” he explains. “Then you bring that into color, and you have to have form. But individuality is what makes art great. It’s more getting to know oneself.”

To see or purchase Mark Vincent’s art, check out his website at or search for Studio Mark Vincent on Facebook. He also shows at the Alder Grove Gallery and at Mother Crow’s Gallery, both in Aberdeen.

Artist Spotlight Barbara Sampson

With 15 years of experience in watercolor painting and more than 50 years in ceramics, Barbara Sampson has mastered her craft and discovered a love of teaching.

Her paintings and ceramics come together as a lovely body of work, perhaps because she understands the important balance between practicality and taking creative liberties to fulfill her vision.

“When I talk to my students, I talk to them about the development of an artist,” the 75-year-old Westport resident says. “When you first start out you are tied to reality because you’re trying to learn skills, so you’re doing a lot of copying of what’s there. But your goal as you move through the steps is to become a storyteller like a novelist is. … It’s a lot more fun to tell a story my way.”

Sampson has been creative since she was very young, with aspirations of becoming an architect when she went to college. However, she graduated with a master’s degree in art education from the University of South Florida, going on to teach public school, college courses, adult courses at Grays Harbor Community College, and free classes for young children with artistic aspirations.

Photo by Katie McGregor

However, Sampson is currently focusing less on teaching and more on creating her own work in her studio on the Westport beachfront. The inspiration she takes from her coastal surroundings is obvious in the scenes she paints and the motifs and colors she incorporates into her ceramic pieces.

Her beautifully detailed depictions of lighthouses, oceanside cliffs and coastal towns are recognizable and feel familiar. But Sampson rarely paints a scene as it is in real life. She prioritizes composition, taking small pieces of reality and fitting them together into a final cohesive scene.

“The importance is in the composition of the painting, not the reality of the location,” Sampson explains.

Her ceramic pieces, most of which are functional pieces that feature birds or aquatic creatures, have similar themes.

“I always put thought into how the piece is going to be used; what shape it should be to be useful, how it feels in your hands,” she says. Sampson’s meticulous nature also extends to the colored glazes she uses, always making sure that food will look appealing on the dishes she creates.

Barbara Sampson’s work can be found at Nelson Crab Inc. in Tokeland, Tim Rossow & Associates Art Gallery in Ocean Shores, and, occasionally, Stitches Quilt and Craft in Westport. She can be contacted at

Artist spotlight Tim Rossow

For watercolor artist Tim Rossow, opening a new art gallery in Ocean Shores all started with building a shed – and then a house. In the first year of operations as Tim Rossow Watercolors & Associates, the former Lutheran minister has proved to be adept at building community as well, creating a warm gallery filled with an array of North Coast artists showcasing their diverse talents in a spacious setting highlighted by natural Northwest woods and driftwood display designs.

Originally from the Midwest, Rossow moved with his wife, Phyllis, to Ocean Shores about six years ago. The move seemed to reinvigorate his artistic passion, and he soon had new paintings piling up in the custom house he built.

Seeking a place to construct frames and contain his artwork, he ended up opening an art gallery last summer at 171 E Chance a La Mer N.E., in what is now known as Sunset Plaza. Rossow makes his own frames, display tables, and even crafted the wooden floors of the gallery.

Photo by Angelo Bruscas

As a young boy, Rossow’s first inspiration in art came when he saw a photo in the World Book Encyclopedia that looked like the family cat. He asked his mother, a teacher, for a pad and pencil and started drawing. “It wasn’t bad,” he recalls. “And that was kind of the beginning of it.” He also credits his junior high and high school art teachers with his lifelong love of art.

“I was mostly a designer and could draw real well,” Rossow says. At Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska, where he met Phyllis, Rossow majored in humanities, and went on to earn a master’s of divinity degree, a master’s of arts degree in philosophy, and a PhD in ministry. “I enjoyed studying. So, God was good to me.” In the 30 or so years before moving to Ocean Shores, Rossow estimates he might have produced one or two of his own paintings a year. “I really didn’t need the art. But the year before I came out here, I must have done nine or 10 paintings.”

Photo by Angelo Bruscas

“I paint from photos, and 90 percent of them are my photos.” Some of his Northwest scenes include Cape Disappointment, Lake Quinault Lodge, razor clam digging at Iron Spring, waves crashing at the North Jetty, and the sailing ship Lady Washington in the Harbor. The gallery is promoted as a “Pacific Northwest beach and rain forest-themed gallery.” Other artists include Barbara Sampson, Cheryl Stevenson, Lynda Nolte (watercolors), Lora Malakoff (oil paintings), Sharon Gochoel (fused glass), Bryan Isaacson (blown glass), Titus Capoeman (coastal Salish Quinault art), and Moda Mark (photography).  Most recently this year, the gallery has highlighted the photography of self-portrait artist Jade Black and wildlife photographer Skip Radcliffe.

“Since we opened, I’ve had people come up and say, ‘We’re so glad you’re doing this in Ocean Shores.’ We have tried to do an upscale gallery, although we have art that’s priced for pretty much every budget from $10 to $5,000,” he says. In addition to the Tim Rossow & Associates Art Gallery in Ocean Shores.

Photo by Angelo Bruscas