Glenda Guinn-Gilles creates art with French knots, and showed her work at United Church of Christ on Saturday.
Glenda Guinn-Gilles creates art with French knots, and showed her work at United Church of Christ on Saturday.

BethAnn Lawson’s father was a street artist in San Fransisco, who did primarily surrealist paintings, and taught her everything he knew when she was young.

Though she used to paint realistic, representational pieces, her work has evolved to out-of-the-box affairs with imaginative lines and layers — work she presented at Vixen Day Spa & Boutique, a stop along Magnolia Art Experience’s (MAX’s) fourth art walk of the year on Saturday, Oct. 26.

She said she discovered her own style of painting, which seems abstract up close and more realistic from farther away, after a rash response following a disappointing experience painting portraits. She couldn’t get them as realistic as she wanted.

“In a fit of frustration, I just wadded up all of my photographic references I was using into balls, in a tantrum, and when I went back to the studio,” Lawson said. “When I uncrinkled the photographs, I realized all of the creases and the ruining I had done to these photos had broken up all of the lines that nature was trying to give me. For the first time I really stepped outside the box and started doing my own shapes.”

In her work, she said there is no silk screening or stenciling. All the lines are done freehand.

Lawson said she was happy to be part of the quarterly Magnolia Art Walk, having the opportunity to display her work after a friend from Magnolia told her about it. Since her work is usually on display at Gray Sky Gallery on First Avenue, Lawson decided a foray into Magnolia would be good exposure.

MAX board member Kerry Rowland-Avrech said the organization started the art walks to help bring art to the neighborhood and to expose local artists to the public. Working with the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce, MAX is always pushing for the beautification of the Magnolia area through art, she said.

“MAX is busy, always trying to encourage the artist in all of us,” Rowland-Avrech said. “It’s not age specific. It’s not group specific. Its basically trying to bring more arts and culture and support into this part of the community.”

This walk’s theme was textures.

Alexis St. John said she dialed her abstract paintings entirely into textures that she enjoyed and was passionate about to get ready for the art walk.

“For these pieces specifically, I was really interested in texture,” St. John said. “It’s the theme of the show. I love texture anyway, so it gave me an opportunity to really put the layers on.”

She said her inspiration is often immediate.

“Whatever I’m feeling in the moment, whatever textures graced my eyes in the last 24 hours that stick out — whether it’s a lump on the sidewalk or a crack in the ceiling — is what inspires me,” she said.

St. John usually works out of West Seattle, and, like Lawson, she became involved with the Magnolia Art Walk after a friend invited her to show off some of her abstracts. Find her work at

Real estate agent Michele Harps opened up Windermere Magnolia to display her acrylic paintings on canvas, which hang on the walls in her office. Harps said her paintings are largely inspired by cloud formations.

Harps said she often lets clients choose a painting from her website,, as a house-warming gift.

Another stop on the walk was Westerly Studio, where owners Beth Goodman and Julie Jacobson display their art full time.

Goodman said she’s eclectic in the art she creates.

“I work with everything from pastels to acrylic to oil,” Goodman said. “Most of it is, my inspiration comes from what’s around me. So, for example, with my pastels, there is the water and the sea.”

In addition, Kirkland resident Glenda Guinn-Gilles showed off some texture by working with French knots.

“On blank canvas, without a design — I just kind of do this freeform work,” she said. “I do individual French knots with a variety of very small threads — linen, silk, cotton, some metallic. I will generally mark off a shape to start with… and then let it guide me where it takes me.”

The art walk even showed off the works of local authors like Brenda Peterson, who recently published her children’s book, “Catastrophe by the Sea,” which was on display at Magnolia’s Bookstore. It was created in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium, to promote empathy in youth.

The next Magnolia Art Walk will be in the first quarter of 2020.