Nina Vichayapai, who is taking part in the Washington State Parks Artist in Residence program at Deception Pass State Park, creates watercolor paintings of sea life Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.
Nina Vichayapai creates watercolor paintings of sea life Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.
In this double exposure image, Nina Vichayapai, the first artist in residence for a Washington state park, poses for a portrait Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island. Vichayapai, who grew up in Kirkland, works primarily with textiles to create fabric sculptures.
Nina Vichayapai poses for a portrait Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.

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Nina Vichayapai, who is taking part in the Washington State Parks Artist in Residence program at Deception Pass State Park, creates watercolor paintings of sea life Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.
Nina Vichayapai creates watercolor paintings of sea life Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.
In this double exposure image, Nina Vichayapai, the first artist in residence for a Washington state park, poses for a portrait Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island. Vichayapai, who grew up in Kirkland, works primarily with textiles to create fabric sculptures.
Nina Vichayapai poses for a portrait Tuesday at Rosario Beach on south Fidalgo Island.
DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK — Nina Vichayapai has spent the past five weeks in Washington’s most visited state park.
The 29-year-old is the first artist to be selected for the Washington State Parks Artist in Residence program.
Her six-week visit to Deception Pass State Park runs through Wednesday.
Vichayapai’s medium of choice is definitely not the norm.
However, using a combination of paint and fabric may have set her apart from other applicants for the program.
On Tuesday, Vichayapai and an AmeriCorps interpretive naturalist will lead a watercolor workshop at the Rosario Beach tide pools from 8 to 10:30 a.m.
Though the event is free, space is limited and preregistration is required. To register and for more information, go to fb.me/e/2VmDv4zOu
Vichayapai’s artistic process begins with her producing a painting, usually with watercolors. She then uses the painting as a guide, where she painstakingly pieces together swaths of colored fabric to create a sculpture appearing nearly 3-D.
She describes her technique as “using different colored fabrics as paint.”
“I do a lot of sculptures out of fabric and a lot of hand sewing,” Vichayapai said. “When I first came here, I planned on doing some fabric stuff, but it has been challenging.
“So I have been doing a lot of painting with watercolors of things I have seen in the park. I also want to capture the people, those visiting as well as those who make it such an amazing place, like the rangers.”
Vichayapai favors quilt-type fabric, saying she likes those types of patterns.
Originally from Kirkland, Vichayapai graduated from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2017.
She arrived at Deception Pass State Park from Portland, and while at the park has been rediscovering her Northwest roots.
Vichayapai has been staying in the Ben Ure Cabin on Ben Ure Island in Cornet Bay.
It has afforded her plenty of inspiration, including the swirling waters of Deception Pass as well as views of the Salish Sea and Mount Baker.
“It is a very unique residency, and that is what drew me to apply for it, and not just apply for it, but really, really, want it,” Vichayapai said. “Just the fact it is on an island in the park, makes it very interesting.
“It definitely took some adapting to and getting used to and thinking about doing my art in a situation like this. It’s a good challenge.”
There is no Wi-Fi on the island, and cellphone service is sketchy at best. So Vichayapai has been able to immerse herself in art.
“I’ve been able to strike a good balance of being out in the park and being visible and chatting with people, then coming back to the cabin and the solitude,” she said.
Though the island is near the mainland, Vichayapai has been responsible for getting to and from the island.
“It said in the application that you must provide your own self-powered vessel,” she said. “It has been very regenerative in regards to my art.”
Vichayapai bought a kayak just for this opportunity.
“I have been kayaking before, but this was the perfect opportunity for me to get my own kayak,” she said. “I do not go anywhere near the pass, it’s way too scary. But the island is thankfully in a nice bay and it’s very safe. This was a good entry level into sea kayaking.”
The park provided Vichayapai with 15 gallons of potable water for the duration of her residency. Any more than that was her responsibility, as were all meals and their preparation.
“I am so enjoying this opportunity,” she said. “It’s really great. I would describe it as incomparable.”
— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter:@goskagit, Facebook.com/VinceReports/
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