Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer Work

                                               In the Canyon oil on canvas 30x30 [76x76 cm]

 This came together in a 12 hour day, it`s been a long time since I`ve done that. I didn`t intend to and as the day progressed, I started letting go of my other plans. This is an imaginary composition of the Oneanta Gorge in the larger Columbia River Gorge, and I had done a study years ago. Can something be a study when there was only memory to guide it? It felt great to paint in the 'zone' again but when I took it outdoors to photograph, the greens screamed at me. So then I spent several days adjusting them and in the end there is peace.

 It can`t possibly last but Oregon is having a mild summer. Like they used to be and I am beyond grateful. In this new age of global warming, the sweetness of a day feels to me extravagant. I want to honor it. To that end, I`ve been painting outside some. The results aren`t too successful yet but these two cheered me on;

                                 From Luscher Farm watercolor on Yupo 14x11 [35.5x28 cm]

                                     Untitled Forest watercolor on Yupo 12x9 [30.5x23 cm]

 Lots of unfinished oil paintings about but they are slowly coalescing. Very slowly. I`m close.

                                            watermedia on Terraskin 12x12 [30.5x30.5 cm]

 As I plot my strategy for re-engaging with the oil paintings, I paint watercolors. Even a decent abstract one!

 Everybody has seen the photos, most are appalled, but unless the courts order more humane treatment, these concentration camps at the border will persist. This is what the president wants and his party is mostly silent. Deterrence to immigration through cruelty. I am so ashamed of my country right now.

 Illegal immigration is a persistent problem but these Central Americans are fleeing lawless countries menaced by drug criminals. They struggle to come here for the mere chance their children will be safe.
In my opinion, we broke those countries and we own them now. Where to start? We overthrew democratic governments to make banana agriculture profitable for American business interests. That`s where 'Banana Republics' come from. We supported dictators who enabled businesses to exploit those countries for any resource that was marketable. Our disastrous war on drugs caused these societies to degrade into vicious feudal territories ruled by drug gangs. We used those countries in a petty proxy war with Russia, ignoring the needs of the citizens but keeping their governments placated with foreign aid. So now a lot of those people want the hell out of there just to survive. It will never happen, but I think we need a separate immigration policy with those Central American countries. And major investment in their local enterprises. Throw in sensible drug laws since this is a fantasy.

 And since this is a serious tone, here is an article by Bill McKibben on our new climate.

For now, the fate of our country resides in the Republican Party. Will any patriots besides Justin Amash emerge? Sure looks doubtful as that institution slides into fascist policies without a hiccup. The voter suppression alone is an outrage.
 We all can see it. That damn red hat is a swastika. American style.

 OK then.

 Look at these beautiful paintings by Jordan Ellingston.
A year ago he wrote me and invited me to come paint with him in Kauai. I could stay in the room he rented, he would sleep in a tent. Now that touched me, I`m a virtual stranger. He saw something in my work that had a commonality with his vision. I agree. There is an obsessive focus on the sweeping crystalline space of the North Shore that sure got to me when there in 2013.
Have you ever seen any paintings of Hawaii this soulful?

More research on the incredible power of drawing! This article caused me to examine my own resistance. As I`ve mentioned many times, I think drawing is a pain in the ass. But why? Well for me it might be because I try to make it utilitarian. I see it as preparations for painting. So when I can`t indicate mass without a bunch of tedious cross hatching I get frustrated. Maybe if I just let lines be lines. I`m not sure if I can. For many years I only worked from drawings so it is baked in. That practice made me draw a lot and I truly think it`s the foundation of what I`m doing. I advocate for it all the time yet feel so little joy.

work for sale in my studio [updated]

prints from Fine Art America

Saturday, June 15, 2019


 I`ve been thinking about this for days, it`s our 50 year anniversary! Collectively, we began to demand our full humanity be recognized. I was 15 and can`t truthfully say I remember the event, I suspect it wasn`t national news. But by the time I graduated high school, I was acutely aware of what it meant for me. On a bus returning from Disneyland on grad night, I came out to myself. I felt terror and relief simultaneously. It was a couple more years before I let those I love know but I understood, a life of integrity was the only one I wanted to live.
No life is simple and everybody struggles. Yet having a massive prejudice to push against gave my life some early purpose. I`ve never assumed bigotry and spoke of my reality openly. Without negative reaction for the most part. I`m certain the love of my parents was the foundation for that confidence. I would meet many others not so lucky.
True pride was still in the future, I was doing what I could with my circumstance. Being an artist who worked in restaurants was an easier passage than most. I have been comfortable on the margins with little expectation for money. My personal 'pride' came with my husband John. It took many years and a lot of therapy before he was possible. And he stayed. When I became grateful for my sexuality, that was the attitude that mattered.
Despite the ridicule and bias, it`s good to be gay.

                                                              2014 post-wedding party

                                                                oil on canvas 12x9

                                                 Winter Meadow oil on panel 20x20

 A couple of recent paintings I can live with. There have been several others I can`t. I never get used to this dilemma; I yearn for that great painting that paints itself, but they`re very rare. My process involves lots of experimentation trying to find something workable within my intention. It can be so frustrating. Yet if it were easy, I`d make it complicated. Boredom is less acceptable than stress by far. The unrest I feel in my recent sessions must be a message, but what? I keep going back and forth between mediums, trying out new substrates, different scales and nothing is taking root yet in a sustainable joy. I get good paintings here and there but it`s a groove I`m after. The sense of mission.

The whining of artists who are living the dream, it`s the worst!

 You are looking at the next president of the United States. The one on the right, the other is his husband. I`m serious. This is how; Barack Obama`s presidency was made possible by the sheer incompetence of George W Bush, with his debacle of the war in Iraq. The country, in enough numbers, overcame an embedded racism and elected someone smart, charismatic and black. Eight years later, a complete charlatan barely wins because of the despair in parts of the country that never recovered from the Great Recession. What have we got to lose? The economy improves though the chaos, deceit and corruption of the President`s administration turns off so many, the country chooses a brilliant small town mayor for his replacement. Who happens to be very young and gay. It could happen! If Pete Buttigieg is humbly articulate and a visionary, he could capture the imagination of the country. If the president attacked his sexuality, I don`t think people would stand for it. I`m very curious to see the first debates. If he can win over people of color, and if his intelligence doesn`t become a liability, hard to relate to, I think the man above might have what it takes. After all, anyone can be president.

                                                                    by Doron Langberg

 The young Israeli artist, Doron Langberg, is gay and using his social circle as the subject of his work. His technique is sensual and painterly with vivid color. Bonnard is a direct influence both for his bold color and the domesticity he portrayed so lovingly. The work is intimate and often erotic. In an interview he explains how his generation came of age when HIV was treatable and it does not dominate the queer culture like it did. Yet he wants the work to read as unequivocally gay. Interesting.

                                                                   by Doron Langberg

                                                                     by Doron Langberg

                                                               by Doron Langberg

 I find his work to be utterly beautiful.

 Yo painters, listen up! I want to debunk a belief that is giving you false comfort. If you let your paint dry on a brush, you cannot bring it back to life with Murphy`s Oil Soap. This does NOT work! Mind your brushes when you quit for the day.

 My cats. Lyndon asleep, Carter on his waterbed. I`m just a piece of furniture to him.

                                                             Waterfall oil on panel 6x6

work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Travel, Tests and Abortion

                                              [restoration marsh] watercolor on yupo 12x9

 It`s been a tentative start to the plein air season, Spring came late,  but my new set up is simple, functional and compact. I wish I had abandoned my deliberate low tech lawn chair rig years ago. I stand to paint in my studio, it makes sense I`d want to outdoors as well.
 I don`t make a lot of plans, I like life to be as slow as possible with as much time to paint as I want. My focus is on art whether or not I`m doing it very well at the moment. I`m often not and that is when I welcome any interruption whatsoever. Finding a balance between stimulation and solitude isn`t easy.
 One way to appreciate and utilize the quiet life is to go to New York City!
My husband John had been wanting a full scale total immersion NYC experience and he got one. An old friend lives in a close by suburb, so we stayed with her but took the train into the city every day. It was her suggestion and a good one. She lives in an old converted barn in the middle of a huge garden.

 A great place to decompress.
My pal and I had lived on a post-communal farm together when we were both very young. I`ve often  marveled my parents trusted me with this adventure at 19 and far from home, but it was all they really could do. They loved me. It was a pivotal experience, everything is pivotal at that age!
We became fast friends and stayed so even with a whole country between us. Being with her again in this late part of our lives was profoundly satisfying. Because our visit was a full week, John slipped into her pocket as well. He personally understands now.

                                                      The September 11 Memorial

 I had been to NY several times since the attack but had never seen the site. This was a high priority this time. Photos are vastly inadequate to convey the scene. The memorial uses the actual footprint of the two towers in creating a waterfall that flows from the edges of the open void into a pool before falling again into an unseen space. I think for many, the image of the towers melting in place was the most horrifying. The falling water suggests this. Reminds us in a way both powerful and subtle as the names of the dead can be felt by our fingers. It is a masterpiece.
The jury had this to say about the winning design;

Of all the designs submitted, we have found that "Reflecting Absence" by Michael Arad, in concert with landscape architect Peter Walker, fulfills most eloquently the daunting but absolutely necessary demands of this memorial. In its powerful, yet simple articulation of the footprints of the Twin Towers, "Reflecting Absence" has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss. By allowing absence to speak for itself, the designers have made the power of these empty footprints the memorial. At its core, this memorial is anchored deeply in the actual events it commemorates – connecting us to the towers' destruction, and more important, to all the lives lost on that day… 

While the footprints remain empty, however, the surrounding plaza's design has evolved to include beautiful groves of trees, traditional affirmations of life and rebirth. These trees, like memory itself, demand the care and nurturing of those who visit and tend them. They remember life with living forms, and serve as living representations of the destruction and renewal of life in their own annual cycles. The result is a memorial that expresses both the incalculable loss of life and its consoling regeneration. 

 We saw the acclaimed play The Ferryman and a dance performance by the Mark Morris Group loosely based on the Beatle`s Sargent Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was colorful and joyous with extra music by Ethan Iverson.

 Two botanical gardens, bonsai and alone time with John Twachtman`s "Arques la Bataille" at the Metropolitan Museum. The first time I saw it in 1983 I gasped. I had never even seen a reproduction and it`s quite different from his other work. I still love it but was shocked to see the color was completely other than I remembered.
The best paintings I saw were in a show of Joan Miro`s work inspired by poetry at MOMA.


 Thomas Nozkowski died last week. Even in the title of his obituary, the size of his paintings is mentioned. His opinions about scale were reassuring to me and the idiosyncratic work he produced delighted me. He was an outspoken original. Though our work is nothing alike, I felt close to him. Read his own words.

 I`m about to begin a new period of oil painting now that I`ll have all summer to concentrate. Prior to this effort, I`ve been testing watercolor papers and trying to get my fill of watermedia. As I`ve written before, I paint with oils as a concession to successful career practices. The techniques are nearly identical but there is much more of a market for oil paintings. I live with this compromise comfortably. However there is a psychological freedom in working on paper that is unique and pleasurable. It`s less precious. Though when it comes to presenting a good one, framing costs are considerable.
So in an un-Nozkowski spirit, I`ve been painting familiar motifs on these sample papers and also trying mightily to get a good watercolor before I resume the oils;

                                                               oil on Yupo 20x16

                                                             watercolor 6x6

                                                                  watermedia 6x6

                                                                    watermedia 12x9

                                                               watermedia 6x6

                                                                    watermedia 12x9

And this last one below is painted from seeing a friends Instagram documentation of her hiking trip in Jordan [!] Something about the hills in the far distance seduced me. The outcrops were bleached to transparency much like distant views in New Mexico. Georgia O`Keefe famously called the phenomena 'the faraway nearby'.

                                                   Wadi Rum watercolor on Terraskin 12x12

 Everyone by now knows of the states trying to outlaw abortion in an effort to get a case before the Supreme Court. That a bunch of men think they can legislate what a woman can do with her body makes me crazy. I suspect most readers of this blog about painting would know how I feel and agree.
Fundamentalism, in any religion, is about control, not faith.
Here is one ministers take on the matter;

Everyone should bear in mind that outlawing it will only make abortion dangerous. That is obviously no problem for politicians who come up with laws that would prosecute a female for an abortion more severely than the man who raped her. This is the modern Republican Party.

Read Ursula le Guin`s personal remarks

Harold Ho is a hero.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, April 29, 2019

Estuary Overlook

                                                   Estuary Overlook oil on canvas 40x30

 This is my contribution to the upcoming exhibit "Ode to Tides"

 In too many places worldwide, wetlands have been thought worthless. They were drained then turned into pasture, farms, industrial sites or communities. In hindsight we know now how foolish that was. Beyond being rich incubators of diverse forms of life, they also can cushion inhabited areas from the worst effects of storm surges.
 So "Ode to Tides" aims to educate the public while preserving and celebrating Oregons 22 estuaries, including its tide pools and shorelines. This is a project of the Wetlands Conservancy and will travel throughout Oregon in the next year. The opening reception is May 2 at the Giustina Gallery at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
 I wanted to participate because these landscapes are important to me. For reasons personal and civic. No matter how huge and refreshing the ocean is, any time I visit the coast, my back is to the sea in short order while I explore the tideline, rivulets, dunes, marshes, rocks and tide pools, all part of the intertidal web of marine relationships. Their conservation is a just cause. In Oregon, the entire coastline belongs to the people. We are so fortunate to have access to the water and all of the ecologies at its edge.


 See that orange stuff, those are California poppies! I took this photo from the airplane as I was leaving. I knew from my visit to the soggy Coachella desert last February, things were not as they usually are. And press about the states superbloom has been everywhere. Still, as a native and veteran of droughts my whole life, it was extraordinary to see the state so vibrant. Everyone said it was over too when I arrived in early April. Yet what I saw was the California of dreams.
 I was visiting friends and family with challenges that I wanted to see for myself. Everyone was doing the best they could and I got to see grace and courage up close. Witnessing good attitudes under pressure is instructive.  I was happy I came.

 Two pictures from a moving train on a gorgeous ride from San Luis Obispo to Irvine.

 A eucalyptus forest I walked in and got a tick!

 The shade of a Live Oak, some of the best climbing trees in the world!

                                                  Pugs on the Beach by Trajan Lunde

Another artist in my family, Tra is my great-nephew. His grandparents knew good work when they saw it and framed it.

                                                                  by Jason Mayer

 Jason Mayer was my capable instructor when I did monoprints last month. He is giving a three day workshop in his studio in Portland coning up soon. It will be fun, plus this guy has a real feel for open space and lonely landscapes. He is a visual poet.

Ghostprint Studio
Monotype Workshop, May-14-16, $210

Join artist Jason Mayer for a three day workshop on the art of monotypes. Monotype is the most free and painterly style of printing. In this workshop you will learn to layer images to create depth and beauty. Mayer will walk you through the process of reductive and additive techniques that create a unique image with each pressing

10am-4pm Tuesday, Wed, Thurs. Hour lunch break, 12-1.

To register email Class size is limited. A $75 fee is required to hold your spot. Accept PayPal via All materials provided. Ghostprintstudio is located in downtown Portland and easily accessible by the Max line, Trimet, and Ctran.

  •  My first plein air effort of 2019. I just bought the only portable watercolor outdoor easel Cheap Joe sells and I wanted to try it out. I like it. For one thing I`ll be standing which is what I do in the studio. Everything had its place but I discovered I`m still going to have to lug my lawn chair with me. I need to sit occasionally. 
  •  Here is Eva Bartel`s rig;


  •  She wants to be comfortable and has figured out a way to transport everything via a golf caddy cart. Her beautiful work can be precise and that takes stable conditions while working. Here`s what she paints;

  •                                                                                          Eva Bartell

  •                                                                                               Eva Bartell

  •                                                                                            Eva Bartel

  •  I`m in awe of her ability to create these thoughtful paintings while being tormented by mosquitos, getting sunburnt, coping with the wind and glare and even with her efficient system, it can`t be easy to get to these places. She`s a hero.

  •                                                                                  photo by Joe Freeman

  •  Here are some troubling yet compelling landscapes. The area is visible at times, in the distance from the interstate. Joe Freeman doubled back and went to check it out. It`s an interesting if disturbing story and his photos elevate the scene into something powerfully eloquent and foreboding. I live in a house made from old growth timber, the stretchers supporting my paintings are pine, wood is good!  yet I have trouble imaging someone taking a saw to one of these monolithic ancient trees. 

                                                                            by shitty watercolor

                                                      Creek Alcove oil on canvas 48x48