Sunnyshore Studio loves to encourage young, emerging artists. Kourtnie Baird is such an artist. It is especially exciting to us to have her in our upcoming Christmas on Camano art show because she’s a talented artist, but also because her dad, Harry, is a lifelong friend of Jason Dorsey, Artistic Director at Sunnyshore Studio.
Meet emerging artist Kourtnie Baird.
Sunnyshore Studio: tell us about yourself and your art.
Kourntie: “I’ve loved art since I was young. I think it was because of the way it brought colors to emotions or made my imagination soar. I delved in it as a preteen then after becoming a mother in my early 20’s I found myself again through my artwork. I like to say that it puts flame to my lit candle that most of us tend to allow to dim over the years. Losing passion and then finding it again in the small things in life. I have always wanted to tell stories through my art or convey my own feelings into meaning through art. I strive to do so today. I find inspiration through my sons, music, my emotions, even the way the sun shines through the leaves or the way the wind sounds as I drive home from work with my window down. I hope through my art I can make others feel the same inspiration that I do every day, even with the little things.”
Sunnyshore Studio: What do you like most about Christmas and the winter holiday?
Kourtnie: Oh, I would have to say that my absolute favorite thing is the lights of the holidays. The colors meshing together. The decorations of the christmas tree and the way the ornaments and lights are placed. It might be silly but christmas is just so stunning to me.
Sunnyshore: What were traditions your family had over Christmas/winter holidays?
Kourtnie: I have many that I remember but as I age they change. I remember leaving out cookies at my grandma Cheryl’s house. And sleeping in the living room to catch Santa, but never did. I remember going to leavenworth with my dad and now it’s a yearly thing with my sons and my fiance’s daughters. I think viewing Leavenworth in all its glory is a special kind of memory to have and I hope to continue it throughout the years.
We are thrilled to have Amy Martin in our Christmas show again this year (for information, see below). Besides being a terrific artist, Amy is also a veteran and a bad@!! Black Hawk aviator.
In a quiet town in the snow belt, a bit south of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, I grew up playing baseball, building forts in the woods, playing Atari, and riding my bike to the community pool. When I was fourteen, I bought a Terry Gambit road bike and spent the summer riding miles into the countryside where I hid my bike between corn rows and hiked through fields with a backpack filled with paints and an easel. I spent my days painting landscapes, then strapped the wet oil painting to my backpack to ride home for dinner. I read Dear Theo that summer, Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother. The descriptions of his paintings filled most every page and influenced my vision of the natural world and the ways I painted it. I began to focus on using color to depict how I felt about the world around me rather than just what I saw.
My love of reading, writing, and painting has always been fused. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Painting in 1995. My oil and acrylic paintings are of the natural world and are often created plein air as they were when I was younger. I sometimes take my old canvases and paint over them while leaving pieces of the original work in view. A lake might become a cup of tea resting on a picnic blanket; a red clay desert floor flipped might become a new sky.
After college, I worked as a house painter for a construction company in Eugene, OR–– putting my skills with paint and brush to work to pay the rent after moving cross-country. I worked alongside and learned painting techniques from their head painter who was also an accomplished artist painter. I found a housemate from an ad in the Eugene library who was a student painter at the University and we covered our living room in brown butcher paper to protect the carpet and spent our evenings easel-to-easel painting together. We have been lifelong friends made through art.
I also worked as a cook in Montana, Utah, and in remote sport-fishing camps in Alaska to experience new adventures, to write, and to find new landscapes to paint. It was in Alaska, flying low in bush planes over iridescent landscapes that I often sketched out the world for later paintings. I kept copious journals filled with writings and sketches of fish and water.
Alaska is where I also gained an affinity for flying. I won a scholarship from Women in Aviation and Cessna and earned my Private Pilot Fixed Wing Rating in 2000. After three years paying the bills as an anti-piracy specialist for Microsoft, I made a snap decision to join the Army to become a helicopter pilot. But the recruiters said they didn’t want to waste their time on me. The flight program was tough to get into and I was too old (almost 29), too small (5’2”), and too “female.” Obviously—that left me no choice but to drop everything and force my way in. I went over their heads, did my own paperwork and was accepted into the Army’s Warrant Officer Flight Program in 2002 and graduated from flight school the next year as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot. I flew air assault and V.I.P. missions in South Korea and served as a medevac pilot in Fairbanks, AK where we flew rescue missions to save civilians. During my two years in Korea, I often painted both the Seoul cityscape as well as their patchwork farm fields and flowers. In Alaska, I loved to fly low and gaze at the vibrant mixture of colors of the world and never grew tired of the tangled rivers that unfolded below me. My aerial paintings are a result of those hours spent looking down and out.
I met my partner Steve while flying together in Korea and we had our daughter Margo in 2008 after which I served out my remaining year stationed at Ft. Lewis in WA. Then, I took employment with Boeing in Supplier Management on the KC-46 Tanker Program and later, the 777X. In June 2016, I left Boeing to use my GI Bill and earn an MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College (Port Townsend, WA, 2019). I now work as a painter and freelance writer from my home office and studio on Camano Island. I spent the last few years writing (and rewriting) a flight memoir. If you’d like to get on the waitlist for my book (and also see more of my art)—follow the link to my website:
My experiences flying, living, and working outdoors have been great influences on my both my writing and painting. I seek to bring those perspectives to my art.
Meet Laurie Laun, one of the local artists in Sunnyshore Studio’s upcoming Christmas on Camano show that opens Saturday, December 7.
Laurie has practiced art throughout her life, including early study at the Chicago Art Institute. While raising her family and earning several college degrees including an MBA, she served for many years as an executive at high tech companies. In her travels to over 30 countries Laurie has become informed by many artistic cultures: she mastered batik in Java, aboriginal dot painting in Australia, mulberry paper-making in Fiji, wood engraving and block printing in Singapore and haiku poetry in Japan. She lives on beautiful Camano Island, where she paints with a focus on exuberant color and graphic form.
Last Christmas Laurie donated her miniature collection to Jenny. Laurie was downsizing. She knew Jenny loved miniatures and was still collecting. You will see her beautiful miniatures on the windows at the Studio during the Christmas show. Thanks Laurie!
We caught up to Laurie and asked her a few questions:
Sunnyshore Studio: What is a favorite Christmas tradition?
Laurie: A favorite annual Christmas tradition in our family back in the day, starting in 1973, was for the ladies and the kids to drive around the byways of Camano Island to our favorite spots to pick wild rose hips. Then we came back to Mom’s house and sat in front of the fire with a hot cup of eggnog. With needle and thread, we beaded the lovely red hips on long garlands to hang up in the kitchen to dry for tea.
Sunnyshore Studio: What is Christmas to you?
Laurie: Christmas to me, is about gathering…
Gather: to bring together into one group; to harvest; to collect one’s energies and ……. for all to say, Happy birthday to Jesus.
Sunnyshore Studio’s Christmas show opens on Saturday, December 7, 10am-5pm, and runs through Saturday, December 14, 10am-5pm. Learn more here.