Artist Of The Month

Maxine Ranicke pauses with an in-progress work.

Maxine Ranicke pauses with an in-progress work.

Maxine Ranicke’s credo: “Never Stop Learning”

LaVerne Kyriss

Maxine Ranicke’s first art class was as a young girl. “We lived in Hawaii and my mother knew a poor artist. I think she paid him for classes for me as a way to help him out,” she recalled. “I studied art in college at the University of Washington and I’ve continued to take classes from a variety of teachers.”

“I think the best thing is to study under different teachers and to learn from all of them. Then you can pick and choose the approach that feels right to you,” she explained. “I plan to continue taking classes and exploring for my entire life. I hope I never stop learning. That’s the real reason I paint.”

“Painting is part of my family heritage,” she reflected. “My sister paints. My cousins paint. We had an uncle who was a Russian immigrant who was a professional artist. I even have a couple of his paintings.”

These days, Ranicke paints once or twice a week in the Topaz Room at SaddleBrooke Two’s Arts and Crafts Center. “Our Fine Art Guild has set up a series of open studio times for any resident to come and use the space. Since I don’t have studio space at home, this works great for me,” she explained.

“I love to be around others who are also working on their pieces. We draw encouragement from each other. It’s very helpful when you get stuck or just need another set of eyes on a problem you’re trying to solve. A fresh perspective can really make the difference,” she said.

Ranicke paints only in oils. “I decided early on that I was going to pick one medium and then do it right. I’ve explored lots of techniques and am still experimenting. I’m working to use bold brush strokes. I have to watch out so that I don’t get too tight,” she laughed. “It takes work to stay loose.”

Ranicke said her style has evolved over the years. “For a while, I only painted people. About 18 months ago, I decided to try landscapes. So now I’m experimenting and learning different skills to create depth and perspective. I’m comfortable tackling new things and enjoy the journey,” she smiled.

“I’ve found out that when I paint something I’m interested in, it usually turns out better and it takes less energy,” Ranicke noted. “With some paintings, you really have to work and then you still might not be totally happy with the end result.”

“Art is something you have to stick with. I don’t think it’s only based on talent or a gift,” she said. “You have to learn the steps and practice-—lots. Give it time. I look at a partially done work and reflect on it. I bring my work home from the Topaz Room and put it on an easel in my kitchen. I keep a note pad near it and write down ideas and suggestions for what to do the next time I pick up my brush.”

Note: Ranicke and fellow SaddleBrooke artist Barbara Leightenheimer will be the featured artists in a show at Saint Andrews Church in Oro Valley in early 2018.

Catherine Eighmy shows a few of her beautifully illustrated travel journals.

Catherine Eighmy shows a few of her beautifully illustrated travel journals.

Catherine Eighmy: Casual artist delights in creativity

LaVerne Kyriss

Since childhood, Catherine Eighmy (pronounced A-me) has enjoyed making art and being creative. “I was a shy, good student in elementary school. My friends encouraged me by requesting pictures of horses. I happily complied using lined notebook paper during class time,” she smiled. “My dad also encouraged me. He made me a large chalkboard for my bedroom wall. I used it for drawings and also conducted pretend classes for my neighborhood friends.”

Later on, Eighmy turned her interest in teaching into a career, teaching in all the elementary grades in Oklahoma, Colorado, Saudi Arabia and Australia; however, she didn’t spend a lot of time exploring her artistic side until she reached retirement. She began by taking watercolor classes and has never looked back.

“When my husband Jeff and I visited SaddleBrooke in 2004, one of the many amenities I found enticing was the Topaz Room, located in HOA2’s Arts and Crafts Center at MountainView. Imagine — a dedicated room for doing art in this community! I was hooked,” she said.

Eighmy describes herself as a casual artist. Watercolor and illustration are her preferred media she uses to create travel journals. She packs a blank journal, making notes in it, adding photos, maps, brochure extracts and sketches as she travels. Often, she adds quick watercolor illustrations as well.

“Most of a travel journal is done during the trip. I love to sit in a café and sketch a scene. A coffee or a glass of wine also helps bring out the creativity,” she smiled. “Each night I try to add a page that represents something from that day’s adventure.”

Eighmy has also used an illustrated journal to record her impressions of each book written by her favorite author, Louise Penny. “I worked on it for about a year. Late this summer, I took a Book Friends trip to Quebec, Canada to meet and celebrate a book launch by Penny. Not only was I able to share my journal with her, I was able to see many of the settings for many of her books — and add a few additional elements to my journal,” Eighmy said. “I saved a page for the new book that we got at the launch,” she noted.

Eighmy explained that SaddleBrooke’s Fine Arts Guild attracts not only professional-level artists, but casual artists like her. “The common thread is that we all delight in art. We have a broad range of interests. Some dabble in watercolor, pastels, collage or drawing or a mix of these. Others are experts in oils, acrylics or print-making. Some of our members are experimenting with inventive, impressionistic cards. Others are exploring how to artistically use technology,” the former Guild president explained.

“The Guild is trying something new this fall to spur creativity across media. I’m hoping it brings together creative, inquisitive people who love art,” Eighmy said.

Free, Open Studio Sharing sessions are set for November and December in the Topaz Room. Sessions are open to Guild members. Check the SBFAG website at for session details, dates and times.