Pat Tremaine, who is known by many for her watercolor landscape paintings, has been an artist all her life. Growing up in Seattle, Tremaine said she took an interest in her craft at a very young age.
“My parents’ best friends had a daughter who was a little older than me and we both liked to draw,” Tremaine said. “Her father worked at the water department and he’d bring home old blue prints so we could color on the back of them. That was our entertainment; we didn’t have an iPad or a computer so we drew everything in color.”
Fast-forward to her college days. Tremaine recalls saying she wanted a job where she could get paid for coloring. And it just so happens she was able to fulfill her dream.
“I ended up getting a degree in Landscape Architecture and going to work for then Puget Power at the time. That was before there was CAD drawing, so you had to draw everything at that time,” Tremaine said. “When I prepared landscape plans for permits, I’d draw elevations freehand and then have to color them, so there, I was so there I was coloring and getting paid for it.”
Having been a landscape architect by trade, Tremaine naturally gravitated to painting landscapes.
In 2015, she signed up for her first art class in Seattle, conducted by professional artist Jean Haines, a well-known watercolor painter who “had traveled the world and written several books on painting with watercolor.”
Haines is also a member of the Society for Woman Artists. She studied abroad in China, India and Pakistan, and is a 2009 Anthony J. Lester Award winner whose work has been likened to Joseph Crawhalls of the famous Glasgow Boys — a circle of 20 influential modern artists and designers working in Glasgow in the 19th century that produced some of Scotland’s most innovative and well-loved paintings.
“It was a two-day workshop that put me on focus,” Tremaine said. “It really hooked me and I painted every day for nine months.”
Tremaine has painted with acrylic and oil, but says she prefers watercolor over both.
“There’s a lot of streaking light that come through watercolors that you don’t get with acrylic. You may get some with oil but not much,” she said. “Some people say they don’t like water because they can’t control it — but you really have to understand how to use it — don’t fight it, just work with it. Once you can actually do a lot with it.”
Haines is just one artist Tremaine draws inspiration from. She is also impressed by the works of Thomas Schaller and Bjorn Bernstrom. Schaller is a well-known architectural illustrator turned watercolor painter.
“His approach is if you look at an image, look at the lightest, look at the darkest and look at the mid-tones. He separates things into three very specific shapes and paints that way. He’s a realist, but he understands how light comes through.”
Bernstrom is a Swedish watercolor artist who paints landscapes.
“Bjorn does these great rural scenes — fields and little cozy cabins,” Tremaine said. “I like his use of color and abstraction. I’ll be studying with him in Seattle in June.”
Tremaine gets the majority of ideas for her paintings while traveling to and from the west side of the state along U.S. Highway 2 and the I-90 corridor. She says she typically snaps a picture of a scene that piques her interest, but never duplicates the photograph.
“I never copy a photo and that’s key to what makes what I do art,” she said. “I do take good photographs, but I have taken them to another level — to my emotional interpretation of something I’ve experienced.”
Tremaine migrated to Ritzville after the 2009 construction fallout.
“My husband and I had our own business. We both had worked for some large construction companies in Seattle and were eventually doing our own construction management on some high end houses, a half-million- to million-dollar range” she said. “When we hit the fallout we were OK through 2010, but by 2012, business was not picking up and architects and contractors were not doing anything and we were at the end of the food chain.”
Her husband had previously lived in Ritzville and at one time ran the Old Hotel, so they sold their house in Alki and headed east to the tiny community in Adams County.
Tremaine is retired from the construction industry, but teaches yoga and works part time for the Conservation District in Ritzville, which gives her plenty of time to perfect her art.
“I paint almost every day,” she said. “I also like to work in my garden and I continue to attend painting workshops.”
Tremaine has shown her art at the Gallery Store in Moses Lake. There isn’t a current venue to display it in Ritzville, but you can see it hanging on the walls at the Old Hotel in Othello and on her Facebook page. She has also sold some of her works online.