Arts and Entertainment

North Kitsap ‘Art in the Woods’ brings out the art of nature

Pam Tempelmayr’s watercolor work — (‘Raven Dancer’  pictured) — is known for its “picture within a picture” complexion, while the artist’s studio is known for the salmon-bearing stream running through the backyard  - Courtesy/Pam Tempelmayr
Pam Tempelmayr’s watercolor work — (‘Raven Dancer’ pictured) — is known for its “picture within a picture” complexion, while the artist’s studio is known for the salmon-bearing stream running through the backyard
— image credit: Courtesy/Pam Tempelmayr

Poulsbo watercolorist Pam Tempelmayr features the art of the salmon run, in more ways than one.

Poulsbo-based watercolorist Pam Tempelmayr has developed a reputation for being dedicated to her craft.

She doesn’t answer the phone. She meditates while skipping rope. She’s a former protestor who found her voice through watercolor. And she’s created a trove of aesthetically and intellectually engaging paintings — though she doesn’t sell her work through galleries or spend a great deal of time promoting it.

“I’ve found if I’m in that world too much, I’m not in this world,” she said, standing in a guest house gallery full of her work, just a few yards away from her home and studio on Liberty Bay. “If I was doing that, I wouldn’t be doing these paintings. And I don’t know how much time I have on Earth.”

The annual Art in the Woods Studio Tour — a self-guided tour of artists’ studios throughout the North End, slated for Nov. 13-15, sponsored by the Cultural Arts Foundation Northwest, — is one of the rare occasions in which Tempelmayr (pronounced Temple-mai-er) comes out of her shell.

Fittingly, of the more than 20 studios on this year’s tour, hers — Whalebone Studio — holds a distinction of its own. It’s the only stop south of Liberty Bay, and one of a few studios showcasing just one artist, Tempelmayr’s studio has chum salmon running up a creek in the backyard.

“This is where you’ll see them when the tour’s on,” she said, walking up the bank of Johnson Creek, just a few paces away from her guest house gallery.

Tempelmayr has dedicated a good chunk of the eight years she and her husband Manfred have lived on the property to fortifying and maintaining that section of the creek and the vegetation surrounding it.

Early in the decade the state installed a fish ladder, which bolstered runs even further.

“Last year was the biggest run we’d ever seen,” she said, noting hundreds of fish over the month-long period. “I don’t know what it’ll be like this year ... but it’s a really close up experience out here.”

Equal to, or perhaps even more so than her art work, Tempelmayr touts the salmon run as an indelibly powerful event — especially for younger visitors. When kids make that kind of personal connection with natural phenomenon at a young age, it can have a profound effect for the rest of their lives, the artist notes.

Living by the stream has certainly had an effect on her art.

Tempelmayr’s gallery is full of watercolor-rendered salmon and halibut and trout, deftly depicting life cycles, Northwest imagery and mythological symbolism — often within the bodies of her creatures.

“In my head I know the shape and what I’m going to do,” she explained her process, “then the washes soak in, and when they dry, you can see pictures in them ... I’ll just pull those out.”

A lifelong, self-taught artist, Tempelmayr is well-versed in what she calls “the art of stillness.”

She used to take her watercolors out to the wilderness and simply paint nature. Nowadays, nature and art have become synonymous in her vocabulary she says. More so than any kind of creator, she sees herself simply as a vessel for nature and its creatures to speak through.

“Man can make some of the weirdest conditions in life,” she said. “But if you step outside and look either up at the stars or sit and look at some beautiful plant, all of a sudden, it puts it all in proportion. It gets you seeing things the way you are supposed to.”


at Whalebone Studio, 18788 Viking Way on the south end of the North Kitsap Art in the Woods Studio Tour Nov. 13-15.

She's one of more than 50 artists at 21 studios along the free, self-guided excursion of artists’ studios throughout North Kitsap, sponsored by the non-profit Cultural Arts Foundation Northwest.

And while hers and a few other studios feature just one artist, many on the tour play host to two or more.

Joan Wells’ Miller Bay Studio at 22125 Sunridge Way NE, near Indianola in Poulsbo, features the resident artist’s fabric handbags and jewelry along with Jamie Zack’s claywork, Davell Severson’s irrational dot paintings, Lori Barrett’s mixed media assemblages and more.

The Poulsbo independent secondary school West Sound Academy — located near the Northwest College of Art off Highway 305 between Poulsbo and Suquamish — will feature woodwork, jewelry, fiber, clay, glass, watercolor, ceramics, photography and mixed media from the likes of Anna Hoey, Michelle Van Berkom, Paula Gill, Wanda Garrity among others.

The Art in the Woods’ artist roster is an amalgamation of artists across the spectrum, both in media and professional status — from first time exhibting hobbyists to Indianola sculptor Brian Berman whose sculpture was featured last winter at The Louvre in Paris, France, and Lauri Hewitt whose Spin Glasswork made it onto the Hollywood set of “Nip/Tuck” last year.

In addition to opening up their creative sanctuary and body of work to the general public, many studios — some tucked back in places you may have never known existed — will also be hosting live demonstrations and hands-on activities.

The tour will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 13-15 and is free and open to the public.


For more information and a printable brochure with artist info and directions to each studio (above), go to

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