Outside the Lines: Uncharted Territory

Kay Pendleton and Sharon C. Cook


Growing up as children, how often did we hear, “You have to color inside the lines!” Growing up as women, how often did we hear, “You can’t do that! That’s for men to do. Stay in your lane!” Artists Sharon Cook and Kay Pendleton decided long ago not to color in the lines or stay in their own lanes.

They met in an artist’s studio during a workshop in 2018, and it was synergy at first sight! Both found they had a passion for abstract expressionism in oil and cold wax, and they never looked back. Now their residency at the Bush Barn Art Center gives them an opportunity to inspire and challenge each other, and bring their creativity to full bloom in “uncharted territory.” Come meet them and participate in their experience. As Stanley Tucci is so fond of saying about his culinary creations, “It may change your life forever.”

Kay Pendleton

I’ve spent most of my life in the Willamette Valley, graduating from Oregon State University with a BA in Elementary Education and Oregon College of Education with an MS in Counseling. A great influence for me was teaching in Chicago where I spent a great deal of time at the Chicago Art Institute with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Throughout my 33 years in education as a primary teacher and then as a counselor using art therapy strategies with children, I always thought I’d like to take painting classes when I retired.  

Since retirement I’ve participated in volunteer activities: Stayton Public Library Foundation board, Marion Cultural Development Corporation board, Santiam Heritage Foundation annual garden tour coordinator, and library volunteer.

My husband and I split our time between Stayton and Pacific City. I discovered the wonderful Artists’ Studio Association in Lincoln City and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and began taking classes.  After experimenting with watercolor and acrylics, I discovered oil and cold wax about five years ago.

Sharon C. Cook

Although Carrie Mae Weems’ quote on my coffee cup from the Museum of Modern Art is meant to be humorous, there is a lot of truth in it for me: Art Has Saved My Life On A Regular Basis. Raised in a small farming community in northern California, I knew from my first experimentation with finger painting in Kindergarten that I was meant to be an artist. But as John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” I wasn’t encouraged to express myself—not in my family and not in my first marriage. It was the era when women were not supposed to have a voice. I didn’t find my own voice until much later in life.

After attending Stevens College in Missouri, I worked various part-time jobs while raising a family. Art was pushed to a back burner. When my children “left the nest,” I got a job as a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. My personality bloomed with the exposure to worlds so far removed from my small-town upbringing. I could speak at last and found that I actually had something to say. In between trips, I was drawn back to art, my first love. I began to explore my creativity and felt my voice begin to emerge. Retirement finally provided me with the time I needed.

At last, I have been able to express myself in my art. Beyond words and thoughts, my abstract expressionism exposes what is deepest inside me. Working in oil and cold wax on large-format birch panels evokes emotions I wasn’t allowed to experience when I was younger. Then, too, I find that this emotional expression connects me with others who resonate to my art. What begins as a solitary experience becomes a communal experience. And therein lies my joy.