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From dot to dot

St. Helens stipple artist Alan Coppock uses a series of dots to give depth and dimension to his diverse works that showcase the local area
by: Gini Bramlett, One of Alan Coppock's more recent untitled works of the boardwalk area of Astoria. His work is displayed at the Lofted Lair Gallery in First Street in St. Helens.

You'd never know by looking at Alan Coppock that he was a talented stipple artist whose detailed drawings of the natural world, sailboats, trains and local buildings rivaled the best of the best. In his turquoise-and-black jacket, blue jeans, fleece-lined midcalf boots and baseball cap, the St. Helens grandfather looks more like one of the guys who stand around drinking coffee with his buddies on break at the mill.

I met with Coppock on one of his routine visits to the Lofted Lair Gallery in Olde Towne St. Helens where some of his most recent works are displayed. The word 'recent' being a relative term, considering Coppock has been drawing as far back as he can remember. 'I was real good at doing posters in grade school,' said Coppock, who has lived in St. Helens most of his 60-plus years. 'One poster was for a friend that was running for class president.'

He continued honing his craft after being sent to Vietnam in 1969, drawing on his fellow servicemen's helmets, jackets and anything else he could get his hands on. Even artillery carried his colorful detailed designs. 'Artwork has always been a release for me to relax,' said Coppock.

Over the years, Coppock has used a mixture of media sources in his works, including oils, pen and ink, pastels, watercolor, acrylic, air brushing, tempera and pencil. He has used the stippling technique in all of his work. 'I pretty much incorporated stippling in everything I did,' said Coppock. 'As I get older I get more and more into it.'

Stippling is the technique of using dots to simulate varying degrees of solidity or shading. Coppock usually starts with a pencil illustration and uses stippling to shade, add color and various dimensions. The result is works that pop and draw the eye in. Coppock is a master of depth perception, and his drawings of covered bridges, trains and railroad yards, and especially works of downtown St. Helens and Astoria take the art of depth perception to a new high. 'There isn't a lot out there with the approach Alan has,' said Anne Parrott, manager of Lofted Lair Gallery where Coppock displays and sells some of his work.

Coppock says he starts with a pencil drawing and moves on to add watercolor. From there he changes to three-pigment pens and felt pens which darken his works. He finishes with gel pens to add light. His style is unique. 'What I do now gives me all sorts of options,' said Coppock. 'A card I did in black and white awhile ago -- I'm now adding color to it.' His work is reprinted on both black and white and in color on blank greeting cards available at the gallery.

Coppock works as a security guard at Armstrong in St. Helens and is looking forward to the day he can retire and devote more time to his art. 'It's a dream,' said Coppock. At the present time, Coppock produces six to eight pieces a year. 'It's important to me not to go too fast,' said Coppock, 'There's a lot of thought involved. I don't just crank them out.' Often people ask him how much time he takes on each piece and his answer is always the same. 'I don't keep track of that stuff. Whatever it takes is what it takes.'

Many of his works are of recognizable locations such as McCormick Park, Yankton School, the Olde Towne Cafe and the surrounding area. He spends several mornings a week at the gallery exchanging ideas with other artists and working on new pieces. He says he enjoys the peaceful relaxing environment. 'The gallery has opened up a whole new world to meet other artists,' said Coppock.

Some of his recent work includes commissioned illustrations of the Nob Hill Bed and Breakfast in St. Helens and the home of the gallery's owners, Bonnie Shoop and Steve Gibons.

To contact Coppock, call 503-366-1627. To see his work, stop by Lofted Lair Gallery on First Street in Olde Towne St. Helens.