La Center artist captures natural and architectural beauty on scene


Hoisting easel and tools, La Center artist Mame Redwood frequents scenic landscapes across Washington to paint on canvas outdoors, on-site. Redwood uses oil paints to create a piece that captures the feelings of wonder invoked by the landscapes.

Her paintings capture the essence of the landscape from her perspective in a way that photography cannot, Redwood said.

“Sometimes the whole photo is not equally in focus, or the photo is not equally lighted, so there’ll be little corners where you can’t see the details. When I’m there in person, I can see everything much more clearly,” Redwood said. “The paint lets you adjust the composition a little bit.”

Redwood’s paintings frequently combine the geometric elements of manmade structures, such as bridges and buildings, with natural scenery. Historical buildings, abandoned structures and bridges are some of her favorite subjects, Redwood said.

“I like to paint architecture because it has geometric shapes, and I think they look interesting next to the organic shapes of nature and trees,” Redwood said. “The architecture [also] shows the scale. if you see a doorway or a window next to a big tree, it makes an impression of how large the tree is.”

Redwood has painted landscapes across the world and has traveled as far as Italy with her painting tools. Compared with other artistic practices, plein-air painting is easy to do while traveling due to the small easels and limited toolset, Redwood said.

A day of plein-air painting entails traveling to a picturesque destination and selecting a view. Redwood then prepares her easel, canvas, oil pastels and paints. First, she begins with a sketch and adjusts the landscape composition to create a pleasing scene. She then layers oil paints, using brushes and palette knives to render the scene.

“For the background, I use a lot of brushes, but when I come in for the details, I use palette knives to get sharp edges,” Redwood said. “When you’re painting on-site — plein-air — a palette knife is much easier to clean than a brush.”

Redwood frequently seeks views of waterscapes, where the reflections are mirrored in the water.

“I enjoy painting things near water because I like to paint the reflection. It makes a peaceful symmetry that’s pleasing to the eye,” Redwood said. “You paint the [canvas] right side up, and then you paint it upside down for the reflection.”

Though Redwood loves painting plein-air, she occasionally paints in her La Center studio using photos. Her latest painting, featuring Mount Hood, is painted in her home due to the mountain view being obscured and difficult to artistically compose from nearby vantage points.

“The studio I’m painting from allows me to take artistic liberties. This picture has a nice sunset, so I used the sunset from this photo. But, this one has the view of Mount Hood that I want. In neither of these photos is a field of poppies, but I’m going to put [in] a field of poppies that will have that same kind of orange color as the sunset,” Redwood said.

Studio painting also allows Redwood to create larger paintings that would be too time-consuming to paint in one sitting on-site, Redwood said.

In the future, Redwood aspires to paint Hells Canyon in Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon. She also plans to paint more historic buildings in Clark County and participate in more local art shows, Redwood said.

To learn more about Redwood, email