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Wednesday, June 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

The Verve: A painter of stories

Judy Foust-Harrell is a traditional painter, working in oil and pastel. She will be the featured artist at Avenue West Gallery through July. (Colin Mulvany)
Judy Foust-Harrell is a traditional painter, working in oil and pastel. She will be the featured artist at Avenue West Gallery through July. (Colin Mulvany)
By Jennifer Larue

Judy Foust-Harrell is finally living her dream.

It’s a dream she first had as a child growing up in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where, surrounded by the great outdoors and living next door to a portrait artist, she decided to be an artist and to go to art school. Though she dabbled in art, everyday living took precedent; she married, had four kids and helped run a logging business with her husband for 35 years. After closing that business, the couple hit the road to work for a power line company.

During that time, Foust-Harrell started painting with gusto. She showed her work in the Central Washington communities of Cashmere, Leavenworth, Wenatchee and Cle Elum, and in Bangor, Maine. In 2007, her husband died and, in 2009, she married her ex-brother-in-law, who had also lost his partner.

Now residing in the Nine Mile area, Foust-Harrell paints daily. She takes classes at Spokane Art Supply each week with painter Joe Kronenberg, and through July, she will be the featured artist at Avenue West Gallery, 122 S. Monroe St. Her exhibit is titled “Living and Painting in the Northwest.”

She is working on her largest painting yet. The subjects are from a photo she took at a powwow in Idaho last year. “I really hope I can capture the adoration the couple had for one another,” she said, “There was something so beautiful about the way the dancers gazed at each other.”

Self-taught for the most part, Foust-Harrell’s main goal is to tell stories through her work. Using mostly pastels and oil, she illustrates the ever-changing world from landscapes and waterfalls to people and animals, including men and bears fishing, forever captured in subtle tones. “Painting brings inner peace to me. I can paint for hours, getting into the painting and not knowing what time it is or how long I’ve been at it,” she said, “I believe we all have a purpose on this Earth and I believe mine is to tell a story through my paintings.”

She paints on canvas, moose antlers, saw blades, slate, oyster shells and cream cans. “I laugh and say if it stands still, look out, I’ll paint on it.” Her style is realism, and her themes bring a viewer back to the days when nature hadn’t yet met the age of technology.

Always looking at the clouds to see how they are formed or the rocks, trees, animals and people, Foust-Harrell snaps photos to later paint, often combining images. “I enjoy taking pictures of people working or playing. Sometimes when someone is talking to me, I won’t hear what they are saying because I am busy studying their facial features, how the light shows on their face and makes shadows on the other side. I love the study of light and darks,” she explained.

Within a year, Foust-Harrell plans on applying to join the Oil Painters of America. It is really just the beginning of the next chapter of her life. “Now I am living my dream and loving it,” she said. “I’ve really just begun.”

 The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an  artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email at

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