Wednesday, April 27, 2016


                                                        Shinrin-yoku oil on canvas 40x40

 Japanese for forest bathing. The idea that trees and nature can predictably refresh and restore us. It`s a nice concept and a better habit. In my experience, I need to be there awhile, an hour or so. It takes a bath, not a shower, to get really clean.

                                                                   Iris I-pad drawing

 Well I finally took my I-pad outdoors to see if its fancy app and pressure sensitive stylus would be the revolution in plein air painting I hoped for. Yes and no. It requires shade and isn`t real easy to see even then. In sunlight I think it would be impossible much like taking a digital photo in full sun. Why can`t they get this solved, it`s so annoying!
 At dusk I took a folding chair out in the backyard and sat in front of some gorgeous irises and drew. It certainly is fast, my eyes did adjust to so much light on the screen and I once again experienced true pleasure while drawing! This is rare for me, I`m not a patient person. Being able to shade and fill it large areas with color quickly is wonderful. I`m going to take it into a forest soon.

                                                          April Stream oil on canvas 30x40

 An April painting from ten years ago. This is Johnson Creek as it borders the Eastmoreland golf course. Eastmoreland and nearby Reed Canyon were an oasis to me when I lived in a treeless neighborhood of southeast Portland.

Ive been asked to teach a second workshop on Monday July 11 at the Coos Art Museum. I think there are three openings left.

                                                                   Willem de Kooning

Because de Kooning is such a hero of mine, I thought I knew his body of work. But not this one from the 80`s. This is before his paintings became much more minimal as his Alzheimer`s advanced. No surprise his landscape inspired canvases are my favorite. The period bridging the late 50`s-early 60`s is his pinnacle of bold abstract landscape painting. The Whitney museum`s 'Door to the River' is especially breathtaking! There weren`t a lot of them but almost every one is a home run!

                                                      A Tree in Naples by Willem de Kooning

Here he is in his studio;

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                                                                   by David Shrigley

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Camassia - paintings of Spring

                                                           Camassia oil on canvas 56x44

 This new painting comes from the little jewel of a preserve in West Linn OR called Camassia. It`s a Nature Conservancy property and sits on a bluff above the frenzy of Interstate 205. It`s not big but it has a lot of variety and it`s always empty. Its namesake, the beautiful blue Camas flower, is in bloom now.

 I`ve admired this magnificent oak for years. On a night not comparatively wet or windy, it lost its grip and toppled. This tragedy was cleaned up quickly by the parks department. They cut it up into perfect fireplace lengths and the healthy trunk was sliced into table size rounds. An earnest young man was assessing the situation when I first encountered the scene. I thought he was trying to figure out a way to get such incredible firewood home. The next time I was in the park I saw this;

 He made a fort! Bravo! We need more of these!

 Here are some larger versions [24x24] of a series I did ten years ago of the Eola Hills wine country near Salem;

 In the spirit of 'you only live once', we are going to spend a bunch of savings to go see Iceland up close. The idea occurred to me in Yellowstone as we were astounded by all its geothermal beauty in 2012. 
Iceland has become quite popular since then. So I asked a native, tour designer to send us to places that were remote and gorgeous. That was the expensive part, but I did not want to visit waterfalls with 20 tour buses parked along side it.
The country is one of only two places in the world where the tectonic plates are visible, rising out of the ocean. And they are pulling apart too causing lots of volcanic activity! Could that be more exciting?! Pictures of that barren countryside remind me of the Southwest with its immense sight lines. Except cold. What fun!

 Be sure to register to vote! Voting in the Oregon primary means you must register by mail by April 26!

In case any of you need to know more about me, Kelly Powers at Creative Catalyst reprinted an interview with me she did several years ago. CC makes educational painting videos and I wanted them to make one of me. They said no but Kelly said she would do an interview.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Slow Summer Water - video - Nozkowski

                                               Slow Summer Water oil on canvas 56x44

This is new but comes from some studies of Tryon Creek painted in 2011. Heat, coolness and the smell of watery green things was what I was after.

                                                              Over the Sea I-pad 2016

 My friend, the photographer Eddie Greenly, has begun a project of interviewing artists in their studios while making a video. I was his first and it`s on YouTube. I think because it seemed like an experiment, I was relaxed. After initial mortification, I was surprised how coherent I was and by the skill in Eddie`s technique. It has one blooper. The editor must have taken some images off of Google and he included two of my buddy Jo`s. She did them in a workshop I gave and then blogged about and now we are forever linked. I`ll gladly accept the credit.

 Somehow earlier in the week I got into a Thomas Nozkowski obsession. He is revered as an abstractionist of great invention and integrity. The work is so utterly original and odd I am often flummoxed.  Yet I want to keep looking. See what you think;

Interesting guy too. He studied with abstract expressionists who rigorously believed that one just begins painting. No preconceptions allowed!
Nozkowski holds to that too. I would love to be the fly on his studio wall and watch him. Here and here are a couple of terrific interviews.

The legendary singer Nina Simone is being remembered because of a new movie and a controversy regarding the casting. Ta-Nehisi Coates explains exactly why this matters in the Atlantic.
Listen to her commanding performance of "Don`t Let Me Be Misunderstood".

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Circle of Cypress

                                                   Circle of Cypress oil on canvas 40x56

 My stint of art school took place in Mendocino Calif. in the fall of 1972. The small village sits on the south side of a huge sloping headland jutting out into the ocean. A meadow covers the rest with spectacular views of the sea in three directions. It is now a protected state park.
 Near the bathrooms and picnic area was a grove of Monterey Cypress. One group of trees formed a circle with the trunks like pillars framing the scene. I loved to go there and sit at a table and watch the ocean beyond the cliffs. Lots of activity, loud and salty, but the trees made a peaceful sanctuary. Another group of these magnificent trees was planted in a double row as a windbreak for the high school football field. Walking between them was a spiritual experience! At one end I had a favorite to climb and often took a sketchbook up with me. I was like a refugee, I had escaped the horrible heat and pollution of inland south Calif. I was 18 and so ripe for a different life!
 The last time I was there was in 1986 when I drew these cypress for a future painting;

 That painting was a large watercolor I did in the early 90`s;

                                                  Circle of Cypress watermedia on paper 36x56

 Though I liked it well enough, the place never left my imagination which is why I just tried again. Closer! The trees formed a cozy little room and I think it`s the contrast of their serenity with the raging ocean outside it that I found so compelling.

 God love the internet! Because I`m easy to google, I hear from my past quite often. Usually it`s from someone who purchased a painting long ago and they want me to know they still love it. How kind an impulse is that?! A photo of the piece is often included. Usually I cringe to see what my younger self did, but not this time. Here is one from the 70`s, a creek study from the palm canyons of the Coachella Valley;

 My workshop in Coos Bay in July is full, I`m sorry if anyone was left out!

Who knows what this bird is? The photo was the best my I-phone could do. I was in the living room and it was on the fence outside. Tiny thing with a pale peach colored head and longer tail feathers than one would expect. New to my yard! In this warmer climate now, it could be from Mexico!


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Monday, March 21, 2016

untitled autumn slough

                                                               oil on canvas 50x40

 From a study done in 2011, both are improvisations based on memories of Minto Brown Island. This progressed quickly and I was feeling brilliant. Then came two weeks of tweaks as I tried to reconcile a simple but looming shape with the delicate intricacy of the vegetation. A 'stillness' was what I was after.

At the Clackamas Art Extravaganza I bought another inexpensive new paper made from rocks called Mineral Paper by Yasutomo. I was assured it was tougher than Terraskin but it isn`t. My problem involves the multimedia I usually end up using in a work on paper. Acrylic binds the paper along the edge to my drawing board and when I very carefully try to lift it free, it tears! When that began happening to the painting below, I stopped and got a box cutter and cut the painting out leaving the edge. This is not acceptable but I did like the painting even if it was a little smaller than I intended;

                                Over the Sea 31 11.75x 8.75 watermedia on Mineral Paper

 Loving pure color, pattern and complexity, I was smitten immediately when I discovered the work of the Lebanese painter Huguette Caland. Take a look at the magic she weaves;

                                                                 Huguette Caland

                                                               Huguette Caland

                                                   It`s fun being Huguette Caland!

 No new I pad paintings from me this week but scroll down here and check out Cynthia Wick`s vibrant slideshow.

                                                Father and Son by Cynthia Wick

In case you missed it in the 1970s, here is the incredible chocolate chip recipe from the Diet for a Small Planet Cookbook. One and a half grams of complete protein in each cookie! And they`re delicious!
[notes to the right are for a double batch]

[WW=whole wheat]

My workshop in Coos Bay July 10;

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bryant Woods Spring

                                          Bryant Woods Spring oil on canvas 40x40

 From my unexpectedly beautiful walk in the rain last week in Bryant Woods.
I guess as the new normal, this Spring too is a month early. It`s beginning to feel like Northern California!
Lots of small experiments in this one. I wanted the forest to be in shadow but with a lot of color variety and texture. As usual this involves placing paint down in a given area then moving it around with squeegees and spatulas, cutting through it with rubber scrappers, wiping it with rags and drawing into the wet with q-tips. Section by section. Nearly every successful idea requires adjustments elsewhere. Eventually it coheres or doesn`t, more luck is involved than skill. But I don`t give up easily. The foreground was to be the brightest element just as the meadow was the day of my visit.

 The magnolias are out and as splendid as always! What an extravagant tree, it`s nearly embarrassing! These 8x8 studies on wood were created in 2008 for an arts benefit sale.

 In 1983 my brother Gary clipped a article out of the Oregonian newspaper and sent it to me in Santa Fe. It was a review of the poet Lewis Hyde`s book 'The Gift'. It had the provocative subtitle of 'Imagination and the erotic life of property'. [Since changed] Well that was too intriguing and I bought it immediately. Right from the start this guy started explaining the way art comes into being and why I found the life of an artist so confusing. I have never been quite as educated and consoled by a single book. I reread it every few years and always find new insights. The introduction is beautifully written and seductive. You can read it here and this includes a link to a pdf file you can download of the whole introduction. If you`re not moved, do stop, it`s not for everybody.

 The deadline to apply for a residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the gorgeous Oregon coast is fast approaching! April 18!
I`ve stayed twice and each time was exceptional. This is the perfect opportunity to really concentrate on a project, I highly recommend it.

                                                  Autumn Slough I-pad painting

 A study for a large painting I just completed and will post soon. Procreate is perfect for composing as it is easy to change things quickly.

My favorite Frida Kahlo;

                                     What the Water Gave Me by Frida Kahlo

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Boundary Marsh - big ceramics!

                                                      Boundary Marsh oil on canvas 50x36

 I asked Matt McCalmont to make me some large canvases for my show this summer. In non standard dimensions. This is the first one I`ve painted on and it was a pleasure. More wetlands though the whole region, including my yard,  would qualify as one. In 24 years of being in the Northwest, this is the only winter I can remember where I was so stymied in my walks. Huge pools of standing water right over the paths, fallen trees, mud of every description and downpours that no one would venture out into. Two days ago I desperately wanted out of my studio to stretch my legs somewhere beautiful. It was raining and I almost didn`t go but we`re into a Spring pattern already and I knew there was a good chance it would stop in awhile. It did not but I was so glad I went! Bryant Woods is my go to forest for quick refreshment and it`s stunning right now;

 And last week we got away for an overnighter in Oceanside;

 Absolutely my favorite place on the coast! Sort of tricky to get to sometimes. This recent trip required a pilot car to lead drivers over a washed out road on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The only other road was closed because of a culvert collapsing. Nonetheless, so gorgeous once we were there! Just a couple of restaurants and motels, no shops but a spectacular setting at the base of a huge bluff. The sunset was foggy and opalescent and when I got home I did an I pad painting of it;

                                                                  Oceanside I pad Tipton

                                                             Jeff Blandford with one of his pots


Here he is throwing 300 lbs.
I love ceramics and once made a couple of pots myself, it is not easy. I`m especially impressed with giant pots. In the photo just above, he has weights in that backpack to help give him leverage. Take a look at his work.

                                                              Tollef Runquist

 Another young artist I`ve been watching is Tollef Runquist who lives on the coast of Maine. This guy is a natural. His work looks so effortless yet it is intelligently composed with great wit and skill!

Evil dies too, goodbye Justice Scalia. You could never mention homosexuality without disgust and contempt. Your denial of racism in our society was as racist as could be. You did not recognize the sanctity of a woman`s right to choose what is best for herself and her body. You will not be missed.

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