She was born in Oregon and lived there for 22 years. She started painting as a child and graduated from the Portland Museum Art School in 1954 with a degree in commercial design and advertising. However, she got her “Mrs. degree” two months later when she married Ronald Priest and never used her diploma.
Priest and her husband moved to Sequim to be near his family, which had been one of the founding families in Sequim, running the livery, water, electric and telephone companies. Priest has a photo she took years ago of the Discovery Bay Lumber Co. where her husband’s great-grandfather worked. The mill, which sat at the end of Discovery Bay, since has been removed. In the photo, the water is perfectly calm, and the mill is reflected in the water.
Too busy for art Priest kept busy raising children and farming in the early years of her marriage and didn’t get much of a chance to paint. She finally got out her paints in 1979 and discovered that she could not tolerate the oils she previously had used. She enrolled in a class at Peninsula College to learn to use watercolors, much to the amusement of her children.
Priest was involved with the Cultural Arts Center when it was in the old brick high school. She also was a member of Sequim Arts at the beginning. Priest was involved with the museum and was instrumental in merging it with the Cultural Arts Center to form the Museum and Arts Center.
She owned Sequim Gallery in the building where The Buzz is now. There she took up framing and matting, which she still does in her home.
Teaching 28 years Priest started teaching classes for Peninsula College in 1982 and has been teaching ever since. She taught for the Cultural Arts Center and gave private lessons as well as evening classes at the college. Now her classes are 10 a.m.-noon every Monday at the Sequim Senior Activity Center, 921 E. Hammond St. The classes are open to any-one interested in watercolors. The fee is $6 per class.
Priest says painting is like making a sentence. There is a subject or focus to the picture. That should be painted in detail. Then there are a predicate and one descriptive phrase. The picture should create a feeling about that subject and tell a story.
For instance, she has a picture of a barn at haying time. The barn and the hay are painted in great detail. The rest of the scene is suggested only by colors and spaces. With her teaching, Priest helps each person find his or her own style and abilities. She stresses that they copy no one.
Works on exhibit Priest has several painting and photographs hung at Strait Financial Advice, 193 W. Cedar St. While the paintings are for sale, she does not sell the photos.
One photo of a swan was taken at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, British Columbia. Priest was trying to get the swan interacting with two children but it would not cooperate and sped away. She caught it as it left. The picture was awarded 59 out of 60 points when it was judged by longtime Olympic Peninsula photographer Ross Hamilton at a show. One point was taken off her score for the mat, which was not cut evenly.
Her other photos include a thundercloud that looks like a pig’s head and upper body, hummingbird chicks ready to leave their nest and a Sequim sunrise.
Priest says her favorite thing to paint is the sky, followed by water. She wets the paper and washes color onto the water. She has learned a technique of wetting paper, spraying paint onto it and tilting the paper so the color looks like waves splashing up.
When the paper dries, Priest adds rocks or a shore for the waves to splash on. Another technique she uses is called negative space painting. She uses dark paint around and behind her main subject to make it stand out.
Priest’s artwork will hang at Strait Financial through March.