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Artists come together

Green 'cabbies' join forces for upcoming events


Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Penny Forrest is a full-time artist, working mostly with oils on boards. “If not now, when?” Penny Forrest asked herself.

So, 10 years ago she quit her job and embarked on the journey of a full-time artist, hungry to return to her artistic roots to begin painting again.

Now, the Forest Grove resident shows her work around the region and is an active member of The Green Cab, a local artists’ community.

Artist Helvi Smith, who maintains a studio in an old, pink Forest Grove house, founded The Green Cab in 2012.

“I’m a fearless self-taught artist who paints everyday,” says Smith, who was inspired to organize The Green Cab by the Blue Rider group (Der Blaue Reiter), an early 1900s group of artists, which included Kandinsky, Jawlensky and Bloch.

The Green Cab’s mission is networking; making, showing and selling art; and supporting and promoting each other’s artwork. Forrest’s work will be included in a Green Cab show in November and December at the Hillsboro Public Library’s Main Branch and at a December event at Helvi Smith’s Forest Grove gallery. Other “cabbies” include Rebecca LS Buchanan, Lisa Griffen, Bruce E. Ulrich, Jeffery Hall, Kathryn Jtineant, Elina Zebergs and Mary Beth Round Bliss.

Since becoming a “cabby,” Forrest has jumped right in, enjoying brainstorming sessions about places to show art, showing her work at a pop-up gallery in Orenco Station in Hillsboro, and getting more exposure for her work through group and individual exhibits in venues ranging from galleries to wineries and restaurants.Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Penny Forrest is a full-time artist, working mostly with oils on boards.

For several years, she had happily shared a studio in downtown Hillsboro’s Sequoia Gallery + Studios and loved working around other artists.

Forrest feared leaving Sequoia because she felt she would lose her community, but instead, she gained another community in Green Cab, while maintaining contact with her Sequoia artist friends.

“It’s easy to get shows,” she maintains, and doesn’t take “no” personally when she encounters it.

“My goal is to be the best painter I can be,” she says.

Forrest’s favorite medium is oil paint on board, but because boards are heavy and hard to haul around, she often paints on canvas. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be an oil painter,” she said. “I need to focus on one thing to become good.”

“I’ve always been compelled to put images on paper,” she added.

Forrest worked for engineering and architectural firms creating maps and photo simulations of large projects, but during those years, she rarely did her own artwork. But even though her oil painting is becoming more well known, Forrest longs to dabble with sculpture and metals. “I love to experiment,” she said.

Forrest’s painting has evolved, from careful figurative work to looser pieces she calls “deconstructed landscapes.”

“It comes easy to me,” she said of her drawing and painting skills. “If I see it, I can draw it. I had a little art school training and I still love to take workshops and classes, particularly at Sequoia and at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon Coast. I’ll never feel that I know it all.”

“Everybody needs to create,” she said. “I used to garden and cook, but not now. I just paint. It involves everyday problem solving and keeps the mind going. Otherwise, I’d just dry up. And I can’t just watch TV. I can’t imagine retiring and doing nothing.”

These days, she’s contemplating some simple images in primary colors to help her get her mojo back after the loss of her 2-year-old dog, Bono. “I’ll have to paint through the grief,” she said.

Forrest is happy working in her home studio, while enjoying the feedback and art talk with The Green Cab members. “It’s comfortable and I’ve made some nice new friends,” she said.



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