Discovering his palette

Steve Henderson sits at the easel he built in his studio converted from an old barn on the outskirts of Dayton.

Steve Henderson sits at the easel he built in his studio converted from an old barn on the outskirts of Dayton. Photo by Ken Graham.

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“Eyrie,” which depicts the Grand Canyon, is one of three Steve Henderson paintings accepted into the 2012 Paint the Parks competition, featuring paintings celebrating America’s national parks.

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For artist Steve Henderson, the rolling hills around Dayton are a great inspiration.

“I really enjoy painting the landscape around here,” he said, “and the paintings it has inspired have been very well-received.”

Henderson has created a series of paintings called Homeland, depicting the landscape along the North Touchet Road south of Dayton. He has sold them around the country.

Since he began working seriously as a fine art painter in 2006, Henderson, with the help of his wife, Carolyn, has developed his passion into a successful career and a profitable business.

This year, one of Henderson’s marine paintings, called Opalescent Sea, has been part of a touring show sponsored by the American Society of Marine Artists. The show will continue through 2013.

Three of Henderson’s paintings were recently selected for a yearlong nationwide tour of works depicting America’s national parks. All three are landscapes, including images of Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks.

“We took a trip through those parks last year, and I took literally thousands of photos to use for painting,” Henderson said. “It gave me lots of variations of light, shadow and perspective to work with. That’s the great thing about digital.”

Besides landscape and marine painting, Henderson also specializes in human figures. He often combines genres, incorporating landscape and marine elements in his figure works. He paints mostly with oil, but occasionally does watercolors.

Henderson lived in several towns in the Northwest growing up as a minister’s son. He studied art at Central Washington University and then went to work as a commercial illustrator. He spent seven years at Coffey Communications in Walla Walla, leaving there in 2010 to devote full time to his art career.

“I feel like I learned more about doing art from the commercial work I did than I learned in school,” Henderson said. “It taught me a lot about different techniques, particularly when painting figures. I also learned about meeting deadlines.”

Carolyn Henderson is a College Place native, and the couple lived there until moving to Dayton in 1999. They have three daughters and a son, ages 16 to 24.

The family shares their small acreage south of town with several cats, dogs and chickens, as well as two goats. Henderson converted an old barn on the property into his studio.

Henderson sells original paintings through two nationally-known galleries: Lawrence Galleries, near Lincoln City, Ore, and Mystic Seaport Galleries in Connecticut. One of his works, Autumn Sail, was accepted into the International Marine Art Exhibition there.

He also shows his work regularly at the Wenaha Gallery in Dayton and through artists’ groups in Clarkston and Tri-Cities.

The Hendersons have expanded their art business beyond galleries: they now have agreements with four licensing companies. These companies purchase the rights to Steve’s images to use for everything from fine art prints to coffee mugs and note cards.

“The art business is moving beyond the gallery model,” said Carolyn. “With direct sales on the Internet and licensing of reproductions, an artist can develop several sources of income.”

Carolyn Henderson not only runs the marketing end of Steve’s art business, but she is also a professional writer. U-B readers may remember her “Middle-Aged Plague” column.

She is a regular contributor to several art-related blogs and has produced a series of ebooks combining her writing with Steve’s art.

On Henderson’s web site, stevehendersonfineart.com, original paintings can be purchased, as well as signed limited edition prints. Also available are note cards, caricature sketches and some of Carolyn’s writing.

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