Sammamish artists work on display at Governor’s Mansion

Sammamish painter Jim Lamb wasn’t expecting the reaction he got from Gov. Jay Inslee a few weeks ago in Olympia.

Sammamish painter Jim Lamb wasn’t expecting the reaction he got from Gov. Jay Inslee a few weeks ago in Olympia.

Selected as the featured artist in the Governor’s Mansion gallery for the next year, Lamb and his wife were invited to meet Gov. Inslee and discuss his featured works.

“It was interesting because I expected a handshake and that would be it, but he was really curious about the technical aspects,” Lamb said. “He’d go to different paintings and he’d say, ‘How’d you get that color?’ Those kind of questions you don’t normally get from most folks.”

Excited to have an artist under his roof, the governor invited Lamb into his private living space to show off some of his own work.

“He showed me this pastel painting that he did of Mt. Rainier, which was pretty good,” Lamb said. “Then he had these two little children’s books that he had done and self published and done some art. He does a good job.”

Lamb, a plein air (outdoor) painter, specializes in oil landscapes. Eleven of his works  — six of which he painted specifically for his “Impressions of Washington” exhibit  — will be featured in the Governor’s Mansion from now until May 15, 2014. Each year one artist from around the state is invited to display works in the Governor’s Mansion

“It was a very nice honor,” said Lamb, who was asked to participate after a student from one of his workshops recommended him.

The pieces on display range from views of the coast, to the mountains, to the farmlands of eastern Washington. All of the oil paintings are all rural landscapes  — something Lamb has specialized in since 1991.

“I was just drawn to the big landscape paintings, even when I was 9 or 10,” said Lamb, who grew up in South Seattle. “I always, in the back of my mind, thought it would be fun to do that, but I didn’t know how to make a living off of that.”

To make a living Lamb worked through most of ‘70s and ‘80s as a freelance illustrator in southern California. He did work for the National Football League, designed a popular line of puppy images and even had several of his works converted into U.S. Postal stamps.

Over the years, different pieces of Lamb’s art become part of the permanent collections of the NFL, the Smithsonian Institution, the Pentagon, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wisconsin and the Montana Historical Society.

All provided great memories, but Lamb admits he’s happy to be working on what he really loves and teaching others from his peaceful Pine Lake studio.

“It’s a blessing really, because not everybody gets that,” he said.

Lamb isn’t the only one in the family with an artistic eye. Wife, Cathy, is an accomplished still-life painter; daughter, Kristi, is a dancer and dabbles in design and son, Tim, is an art director for Dreamworks  — designing characters on such films as “The Croods” and “Megamind.”

“Everybody has a little touch of it somehow,” Jim said.

Jim Lamb discusses one of his paintings, ‘September Sky’ with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Contributed photo


Check it out for yourself

Around 15,000 guests tour the Governor’s Mansion every year. Anyone can call to set up a tour and also view the paintings in the gallery.

Contact Frances Munez Carter, the executive residence administrator, at 360-725-3911 or To learn more about Jim Lamb and his Sammamish studio, go to his website.