Arts and Entertainment

Festival sweetens up to ‘Bee’

— image credit:

for the Sequim Gazette

For Melanie Reed, winning the Sequim Lavender Festival’s “A Shade of Purple” poster artwork competition is still surreal.


Reed, a Sequim artist and stay-at-home mother to a 10-month-old daughter, submitted three mixed media paintings for the competition but actually didn’t expect to win.


“When I saw a mock-up of a T-shirt, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful! Wait a second, that’s mine!” Reed said.


Forty-two artists from all over the nation submitted paintings, drawings, photographs and even a framed glass mosaic to the first-ever competition. In the past, poster art has been consigned from a committee-selected artist.


For winning, Reed received $750 and a free booth at the festival street fair.


“Lavender Bee” features a close up of a bee on a lavender bloom in the field and was created using mostly watercolors with some ink and tempera paint. It will be featured on the official 16th annual Sequim Lavender Festival poster, T-shirts and other items.


Second place was awarded to Kendra Harrington for her photograph “The Hat.” She received $500. Third place and $250 went to Helene Cooper for her oil paper painting “Lavender Landscape #2.”


Pictures of all entries are available at
A new tradition

Judging of the competition took place in three phases and included feedback from both the community and Sequim Lavender Growers Association members. A total of 1,100 votes were cast.


“By process of elimination we picked the top three and Melanie’s was chosen as the winner,” said Terry Stolz, Sequim Lavender Growers Association vice president and a professional artist. “It’s a nice-looking painting and fits us well. We are thrilled.”


Not wanting to restrict artists’ creativity, the only real “rule” was that all submissions had to use “A Shade of Purple.”


“We had a great response and are planning to do it again next year,” Stolz said. “I’d like to see 85 or 100 entries next time.”
Renewed spirit

For Reed, the success couldn’t have come at a better time.


“I was feeling unmotivated about art and wondering if it was even beneficial to keep pursuing it right now,” she admitted. With the addition of daughter Lily to the family, she and her husband, Boyce Arrington, had become a one-income family and had turned the art studio into a nursery. Between feeding time, diaper changes, doctor appointments, play dates and naps, Reed paints in the dining room and puts her supplies away before the next meal.


“The other entries were really great pieces of art, so I’m honored to be the winner,” she said. “My enthusiasm for art is back and I’m busy creating new paintings to sell at the booth.”


All three of Reed’s submissions will be on display at the booth during the Sequim Lavender Festival Street Fair on Fir Street from July 20-22. Prints, postcards, greeting cards and more from her lavender line and personal collection will be for sale.


Reed is considering bringing her easel and doing a live painting demonstration as well.
About the artist

Reed grew up in a small town in eastern Washington. She pursued an interest in art while studying at Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco and then Western Washington University in Bellingham. A Fourth of July family vacation to the “Blue Hole” inspired her to move to Sequim. The beauty of the Olympic Mountains and fields of lavender in bloom continue to captivate her imagination.


Before moving to Sequim, Reed focused her artwork on people. Now, many of her pieces are a tribute to the scenery of the Dungeness Valley.


Reed earned numerous awards for her graphic design work at the Sequim Gazette, where she worked for six years. Now she creates art from the home she shares with her husband and daughter.


When given the choice, Reed gravitates toward drawing, painting and photography. Often, a single painting will use all three of her talents. She will sketch from a photograph she’s taken and then fill in the sketch with watercolor and tempera paints. To see more of Reed’s work, visit
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