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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Verve: Spokane Valley artist embraces natural gift

Pam Evenson, from the Indian tribes of Narragansett and Seneca, stands with some of her acrylic paintings in her Spokane Valley basement Feb. 26. (Jesse Tinsley)
Jennifer Larue

It took Pam Evenson more than 50 years to realize the gift that was given to her at birth.

“Painting is a gift to me entrusted by my ancestors,” she said. “I received this gift later in life after traveling down long roads of uncertainty.”

About six years ago, she stepped onto a new road, in the direction of creativity, and one that led her on a sort of spiritual quest.

“For me, my paintings are very spiritual and healing,” she said. “I paint mankind as seen through my visions of Native eyes.”

Her gift is a natural talent to paint what she feels. “When I sit and create a painting, it is filled with spirits of my ancestors breathing life into my every brush stroke.”

Evenson is from the tribes of the Narragansett in Rhode Island and the Seneca in Ontario, Canada.

She was born in England where her father was stationed in the Air Force. The family later moved to Canada where Evenson was raised on the Six Nations Indian Reservation. Another move brought the family to Fairchild Air Force Base. Evenson graduated from Cheney High School, where she took basic art classes but was not inspired by her lessons.

Evenson moved to Northern California and embraced the role of wife and mother. She lived in California for 30 years and made extra money as a commercial painter. In 2000, her husband died of a heart attack at the age of 50, and she took on extra jobs to keep busy. In 2006, something came over her and, with acrylic paint, she began painting an up-close view of the eyes of a wolf. That piece led to a series of animals’ eyes filled with a mix of stoicism and hope.

That series led to more animal paintings and then to human portraits. Eventually, she combined the two – eagles, wolves, bears, owls and cougars blend into the features of Native American men and women adorned with feathers, beads, leather and face paint. Her pieces evoke empathy and invite the viewer to perhaps reflect upon his or her own spirit and place in the natural world.

Now remarried, Evenson moved in 2007 to Spokane Valley, where she paints in a basement studio and signs her works with her Indian name, Lil Raindrop.

She is diving head-first into the spiritual roots of her heritage, allowing herself to go with the moment, finishing a piece only after it feels right. She’ll sketch something on a canvas and erase until it’s right and then she’ll apply paint and paint right over it if it doesn’t feel right.

The finished piece is always right in her heart. It is, after all, a gift from her ancestors and she wants to return the favor.

“As people view my art the ancestors will live on and that’s my greatest gift to them,” she said.