Rebecca ThorgaardHaving moved to Pullman in 1962 from Atlanta, Georgia, I was fortunate to land in Victor Moore’s high school art classes. He introduced his students to various styles of drawing, illustration and thinking. As a naïve high school student, his classes were exciting, challenged my conservative upbringing, offered new ways of viewing my surroundings, while establishing a base for future pursuits in art and design.
Not knowing what Graphic Design really was at that time but being fascinated with the simplicity of black and white imagery, I chose Graphic Design as a Fine Arts concentration of study in college, learning photography and print technology at Western Washington University. Transferring, WSU Fine Arts offered classes in graphic design, typography, and illustration. I studied primarily under Richard Thornton and Francis Ho, with drawing classes from Robert Feasley, Galen Hansen, Jim Balyeat, and Keith Monaghan. Ceramics from Don Anawalt and painting and sculpture from Bob Helm (graduate student and TA) were additional influences. It was an inspiring time to be a student in the WSU Fine Arts Department.
The Palouse Area Barns series started the Rose Creek Collection. My dear mother, Julia Cohen, volunteered my services to design and illustrate a promotional calendar for the newly-formed Washington-Idaho Symphony. The theme? Barns of the Palouse. I became known as the "barn lady”. Still a favorite pen and ink series of note cards today, I was, however, compelled to draw grain elevators, railroad stations, wildflowers, and landscapes of the Palouse region. I've approached the barns, elevators, and railroad stations as historic collections, depicting our regional "monuments" as testimony to a way of life in the Palouse. Putting these structures on paper using pen and ink was a way to preserve these working buildings that are fast disappearing. These illustrations launched a broader pursuit of graphic design, calligraphy, and more illustration. Commissions have included portraits, recognition certificates, exhibits, and various images and design for print and web. (www.RoseCreekGraphics.com)
In 1983, ten local artists collaborated to form A Fine Line, an artists’ cooperative first housed in the upstairs of The Combine Mall (now Prune Orchard). A Fine Line soon became a successful venture as a regional fine arts and crafts store. Each artist contributed original work and shared in the sales and management. A Fine Line closed in 1997, after 14 years as a unique outlet for the arts.
A period of six years in Olympia in the House of Representatives, BJSS Architects, and Sunset Life Insurance Company provided design opportunities, some of which resulted in winning national awards.
Recent works use colored pencil and water color/gauche that suggest untold stories and explore corners of the imagination. Simple photography is also gaining importance in my work as illustrative additions to brochures for clients or just a way to capture a memory or scene. Computers and print technology have provided welcome tools, particularly in areas of graphic design and photography.
In the future, I’d like to pursue oil painting and 3-dimensional artwork, using paper, clays, natural plant fibers, and feathers to name a few components. Images and impressions are waiting to be expressed. Setting up a studio at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown offers the space and camaraderie to move ahead with these ideas.