Contributed by Charice Chambers
It is the time of year for extravagances; wonderful, nostalgic, special things that please and delight. This year, the Matsu Senior Services Gift Shop, at the Palmer Senior Center, has delivered all of the aforementioned characteristics, in the form of unique Christmas ornaments. Alaskan artist, Pat Bliss, has been commissioned to create one-of-a-kind Christmas tree ornaments, celebrating native flora and fauna for this very special season.
Bliss has spent nearly a quarter of a century savoring the scenes of our great state. Her works are filled with eagles, bears, sea otters, trumpeter swans, wolves and cardinals, all set in the wilds of Alaska. Using glass and resin ornaments in round, oval and bulb shapes, she has rendered our wilderness areas, to grace your Christmas tree. All ornaments are surrounded with detailed artwork in bright acrylic paints, for views from all sides. Each ornament is signed by the artist.
According to Bliss, becoming an artist was a forgone conclusion: “it’s in the blood.” Both her mother and grandfather were accomplished artists. Bliss initially dabbled in ceramic art, but soon discovered it lacked the possibility of detail. Sensing her frustration, her mother gave her a paint box filled with oil paints, supplies and added art lessons for her talented daughter. Eventually moving to Wrangell, Bliss felt the need to express herself in both watercolors and acrylics. The two media seemed the only way to capture the lush verdant surroundings. To this day, they remain the two media that allow her to capture the movement and flow of the colors with which she works.
Bliss believes all art is a growth experience. As such, she has attended many workshops and spent time studying with numerous Alaskan artists: Gail Moses, Bill Cross and Donald Kolstad, to name a few. Bliss had always dreamed of painting plein-air in Denali Park and was lucky enough to attend a workshop in the Park with artist David Mollett. Though she admits to being a studio artist, she says that there is so much to experience when one is out of doors that it is truly mind-boggling. Constantly changing sun and shadows force artists to capture main ideas and qualities quickly, making for more impactful art.
Whatever the media or style, Pat Bliss’ Christmas collection is a must see. Her ornaments are available exclusively at Matsu Senior Services Gift Shop. With extended holiday hours, the shop is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily, Monday through Friday. Although a bit tucked away, located in the Palmer Senior Center, across from and adjacent to Palmer Junior Middle School, it is worth the trip for that special Christmas gift.