More than a decade of art

Carol Eichler is a self-described artistic late bloomer.

“I had a paint-by-number kit in fourth grade and I loved it,” Eichler remembered. “Then I kind of stopped doing art.”

It wasn’t until Eichler retired after 30 years as an insurance officer and moved to Sequim that she began to 
itch for an artistic outlet. She began taking classes with artists Mary Franchini and Gail Larson and soon found a niche in collage and mixed media work.

“They just sort of inspired me,” Eichler said of her teachers, Franchini, Larson and the late Robert Brown. “When you’re around people who talk about nothing but collage, you get hooked.”

According to Eichler, the best part about collage work is the ability to take any scrap or knick-knack and create a masterpiece; however, she added, the field has its disadvantages.

“If you’re a collage artist, it’s a sickness,” Eichler laughed. “You never throw anything away. You always 
think ‘Oh, I might be able to use
this for a piece.’”

By her own admission, Eichler was a little self-conscious about jumping into the art world after retirement, “later in life” as she described it. The first time she was confident in her work, she said, was after receiving recognition by other area artists.

“One of the things that validated me was being asked to join the Blue Whole Gallery,” Eichler said. “Someone that is an expert in their field is saying (my work) is good enough.”

Eichler said she’s thrilled to help the Blue Whole Gallery celebrate its 11th birthday by being the June Artist of the Month along with ceramic artist Maria Loe.

To celebrate more than a decade of art, the gallery’s members are all hard at work producing original works of art for the “100 under $100” event featuring at least 100 pieces on display and sale for less than $100 for the entire month of June.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in the community to own original pieces for a reasonable price,” said Blue Whole Gallery artist Priscilla Patterson.

The monthlong celebration kicks off June 6 at the First Friday Art Walk with cake and refreshments and the unveiling of Eichler and Loe’s pieces.

“It was quite a risk to open up a 
co-op like this,” Eichler said of the gallery’s founders. “For a co-op to last this long, it’s quite exciting.”

For Eichler, being considered a talented 
artist has been quite a ride. The June Artist of the Month doesn’t like to focus on herself and changes the subject when complimented, pointing to a rack of greeting cards in the center of the gallery.

“This is a winter thing 
I like to do,” she said of the cards. “I take pieces of failed paintings and turn them into these cards. 
I have a lot of those failed
paintings, trust me.”

For her non-failed paintings, Eichler said her inspiration usually comes in the wee hours of the morning.

“I’m not like a lot of other artists, I don’t usually work from photographs,” she said. “I don’t always know where my stuff comes from … mostly I just dream up stuff.”

From 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 6, Blue Whole Gallery will host a birthday celebration with cake and refreshments. The 100 paintings under $100 will be on display and for sale during the celebration, as well as for the rest of June.

Also on display for June are the works of the Artists of the Month, collage artist Carol Eichler and ceramic artist Maria Loe.

For more information, contact the gallery at 681-6033.
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