Whatcom County artist Evan Whitehead, 31, captures his love for the outdoors and many of the activities he enjoys in his colorful paintings. He will exhibit some of his works through Feb. 16 at Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen, 601 W. Holly St., and will present a free informal art talk at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at the eatery.
Question: What were your growing-up years like?
Answer: I am very fortunate to have been brought up exploring the beauty of the North Cascades; camping, backpacking, fishing and, most importantly, skiing and then snowboarding. Some of my first memories were skiing down my front yard at age 2.
This year will be my 29th winter riding the slopes of Mount Baker and its surrounding wilderness. Working at Mt. Baker Ski Area after high school, and attending Whatcom Community College (when it wasn't snowing), I've been averaging around 75 days a year snowboarding for the last 14 years. Being engulfed by the mountains has compelled me to portray that beauty through art.
Q: Who encouraged you as an artist?
A: My parents got me into a few art classes when I was young, encouraging me throughout the years. I recently returned from a family trip to Europe; I was able to explore the museums of Paris and learn more about some of my favorite artists, such as Van Gogh and Monet.
However it was through snowboarding that some of my mentors have emerged, particularly artist and pro-snowboarder Jamie Lynn, who has greatly inspired the direction I would like my art to go - creating art on boards and skis - within the snow- and outdoor-enthusiastic community.
Q: Have you taken classes in any of the genres you work in?
A: Besides the normal school art classes, I haven't taken any painting classes. I was about 17 when I went out and bought my first brushes and paint, but it wasn't until the last six years that I have been painting so prolifically and focusing on painting as my chosen career.
Q: What's your working process?
A: I've always been creative and had a large imagination, so a lot of the fun for me is trying to transform the ideas in my head onto the canvas (or rock, wood, metal, old snowboards), manipulating the paint to portray my vision. This is inspired by our bountiful backyard here in Bellingham.
I've recently started to work with and on wood, old-growth cedar slabs and various other woods that I come across. I'll pretty much paint on anything I can find. I recently did a mural on an old-style Subaru wagon, and a trailer in downtown Glacier. I did my first mural in my bedroom when I was 15 or so.
Q: Do you do commissioned work?
A: I do commission work. I am always interested in new ideas and themes within the mountains. Working out of my studio on Mount Baker's doorstep in Glacier, I have the perfect space to tackle any project.
Q: Where can people see your art?
A: I have permanent displays at Chair Nine in Glacier and Arlis's Restaurant on Cornwall Avenue. I recently painted a mural on the old Glacier Creations building in Glacier as well. I've also participated in the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour the last two years at my studio in Glacier.
Besides the upcoming show at Chuckanut Brewery, I will be showing possibly at Casa Que Pasa after the brewery and Harris Café in Fairhaven next fall.
Q: Do you have a day job?
A: I do have a day job, in the loosest sense of the word. As a way to be able to snowboard every day I want to, every day it is good, I have been cooking in various restaurants for the last 15 years. Working nights in the restaurant industry has allowed me to have my mornings to ride, and ensures I am not a starving artist. I drastically cut back from working five days a week to now just two days so that I have more time to paint. My day job was getting in the way of my passion. Or my passion turned into my job.
Q: What are your other interests?
A: Most of the stuff I do is involved with my parents and my younger brother. We all live up on the mountain together, we boat together in the summer in the San Juan Islands, and do a little bit of traveling together. Last winter we took a road trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I am very fortunate to be able to do everything with my family. We're pretty close.
I love to travel and check out cool new and old places, but it always makes me appreciate where I've grown up. My favorite part of traveling and leaving for a period of time is coming home. Nothing's better than getting back from a tropical paradise and there's a blizzard up at our hill.
Q: What are your plans?
A: My main goals are to snowboard as long as my body will allow me to, physically. I've got a solid 29 years sliding on the snow and imagine I've got another 30 to go.
But it is through snowboarding that has shaped me artistically. Looking back at some of my old paintings, it is very cool to see the progression in a fairly short time, and to imagine where that progression will continue to take me and my art. This year I have my graphics on a pair of Lib Tech skis made in Sequim.
I love cooking and was very interested in opening my own restaurant (still am, I guess), but when I first started to sell paintings and started pursuing that as a career I realized that this was my mission. I'm still in the beginning stages, but as I continue my goal is to get my art out there for more and more people to see and enjoy, to take a little of the mountains home with them, and remind people why they love these mountains.
And I am enjoying the single life. Leaves me more time for my art and my hobbies (passions).
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-2273.