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Seattle neighborhoods through art: Beth Goodman paints Magnolia

This local artist draws inspiration from Seattle’s largest park

Courtesy of Beth Goodman

Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood sits on a peninsula that juts into Puget Sound a few miles northwest of downtown, across the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks from Ballard. A longstanding million-dollar neighborhood, some slices of Magnolia—near the Boxcar Ale House on Gilman Avenue West and multifamily rentals thereabouts, for example—show that a more nuanced neighborhood still exists. Magnolia is home to secret parks, a levitating lighthouse, the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, and one of Seattle’s best off-leash dog parks, but it’s perhaps best-known for Discovery Park.

The 534-acre former military base turned Seattle’s largest public park is where Magnolia resident and local artist Beth Goodman draws inspiration to create, something that’s evident in her work.

“Magnolia—and Discovery Park specifically—is such an incredible place,” Goodman tells Curbed Seattle. “I’m constantly mesmerized by the beauty of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.”

In addition to painting scenes familiar (and dear) to many Seattleites, each brushstroke furthers Goodman’s connectedness to Magnolia and Seattle. Through her art, she becomes more rooted in the community she calls home.

“My work has definitely made me feel closer to the city. As someone who paints outside, I have to get out of the studio and into the environment,” she says. “There’s really nothing like painting what’s right in front of you.”

Goodman earned a degree in studio art from a small university in St. Paul, Minnesota and, afterward, worked for years in the graphic design industry. She and her husband moved from San Diego to Seattle in 2013. After having two children, Goodman became a stay-at-home mom, which is when she picked her paintbrush back up.

Goodman considers herself an emerging artist, someone who’s just getting their feet wet, and plein air painter, an artist who paints outdoors. She works in several mediums, including encaustics (or heated beeswax colored with pigments), acrylics, oils, watercolors, and pastels, and calls her artistic approach “abstract expressionistic.”

Much of what initially attracted Goodman to Magnolia in 2013—spectacular sunsets, expansive meadows, boats of all sizes, the Salish Sea and Olympic Mountains—are the same visual aspects of life in the neighborhood that she’s motivated to paint now.

“Many of my paintings of Discovery Park are part of a visual journal based on photos of moments in time—hikes with my kids and walks with my dog,” says Goodman. “I have so many fond memories associated with the park.”

One of those special moments is represented in a painting Goodman calls Sunset Sail. In it, a lone boat with large white sails moves south across Puget Sound’s deep, cerulean waters. The sun is low in the distance, but bright pinks, oranges, and yellows still stretch across the sky. The Olympic Mountains, covered in a shadowy darkness, have already been tucked in for the night.

Sunset Sail is based on a picture taken on Goodman’s first family hike at Discovery Park back in 2013. Still getting acclimated to life in a new to town, they hopped onto a section of the park’s 12 miles of trails just after dinner. They reached the water just as the sun was setting.

“I felt so grounded looking out across Puget Sound and to the mountains. I remember realizing that this is our new neighborhood and all of this beauty is right at our doorstep,” says Goodman.

Some of Goodman’s other Magnolia-centric paintings include rocky beaches, white-capped waves, and steep bluffs that lead down to the water’s edge—familiar scenes for current and former Seattle residents and anyone who has visited Discovery Park.

Discovery Park is picturesque, and Fort Lawton—closed in 2011—sits alongside its dense vegetation and evergreen trees. There’s an ongoing and deeply divided public conversation happening around proposed affordable housing at Fort Lawton, complete with supportive services for seniors, rentals for families, and affordable homeownership opportunities.

In the warmer months ahead, Goodman plans to do even more plein air painting at Discovery Park. She’s intimidated, she says, but ready for the challenges inherent in creating in a public space and in elements that can’t always be planned for.

“Plein air painting is less about creating a perfect and precise scene and more about telling a story,” she says. “It’s about using color and expressive strokes to describe the moment the artist is presently in.”

Goodman has co-owned Westerly Studio, also in the Magnolia neighborhood, for about a year, where she and her partners teach classes, camps, and workshops to artists of all ages and experience levels. Some of her works are presently on display at Scout and Molly’s Boutique in Ballard and will be at Caffe Vita in Greenwood in May 2018.

Fort Lawton

4570 Texas Way W, Seattle, WA 98199

Discovery Park

3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199 (206) 386-4236 Visit Website

Discovery Park

3801 Discovery Park Boulevard, , WA 98199 Visit Website