Traveling the world drives abstract artist

Arlene Wallace Towne’s work to be featured at City Gallery

Staff writerJune 25, 2014 

Colorful beach scenes are featured in a few of the 24 paintings on display at the City Gallery exhibit through Sept. 24.


Arlene Wallace Towne, an avid painter, gives some sage advice to beginning artists.

“Paint for yourself and not for someone else,” she said. “A lot of people paint for a show or they worry about what people think – is it good or bad. At my age, I don’t care.”

At 75, Towne still travels the globe — often taking pictures of different locales to bring home and paint from. Or, she said, she paints from memory.

Through Sept. 24, Towne’s 24 pieces of art that depict flowers, beach scenes and other impressionistic subjects, will be featured in the Puyallup City Hall City Gallery, located on the fifth floor.

“It is special to have a show in Puyallup,” she said. “I have a lot of friends in Puyallup, and those I worked with at the city.”

From 1989 until 1999, Towne worked for the city of Puyallup as a legal assistant.

When she retired, Towne started to take her art very seriously. She has taken many classes and workshops at community colleges. Traveling to other countries is all part of her art.

A more memorable trip was traveling with a group of artists from the Northwest to Italy.

“We stayed in an old chateau in Italy and had classes there, and during the daytime we put up easels,” Towne said. “It opened up my eyes to have people watch me as I painted on my easel in the Italian villages.”

Towne grew up in Puyallup until she was 4 years old.

“My great-grandfather was one of the founders of the Puyallup Fair,” Towne said. “My mom was raised on a berry farm on Meridian.”

Towne’s father was a Puyallup firefighter. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom.

“I always drew, even when I was in grade school,” Towne said. “Teachers in school pushed me to go into art.”

Towne said when it comes to painting she goes through phases.

“I like to paint with real bright colors,” she explained. “It’s more impressionistic. I like the colors and I’m into abstract right now. Non-objective pieces, which are colors and shapes. To me, it’s harder to do than flowers.”

Towne said there are three different sections of work covered in the City Gallery exhibit. There are the beach paintings she did from Florida, the palm trees and flowers of Maui, and also the women of Sedona in Arizona.

Towne’s previous Puyallup show was at the Premier Gallery in the Puyallup Activity Center.

A goal of Towne’s is to have her work shown in a big city gallery someday.

For the City Gallery show, Towne painted seven days straight. She spends her morning in her detached studio behind her house, which her husband built.

“It goes in spurts,” she said. “The more you paint, the better you get.”

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes Twitter: @herald_andrew

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