Sunday, May 28, 2017

Forests

                                        Above the Canal 2 watercolor on yupo 14x11


 A couple of friends and a Facebook algorithm have contacted me to see if I`m OK. They noticed I haven`t posted in a while. More often than not, when I sit down to write and show my new work, I really don`t know what to say. That doesn`t usually stop me. But I`m sick of my knees, sick about our country and until recently, didn`t have much painting to show either. But I began working outdoors in the warm light with my pals and it has helped me a lot. I painted the piece above last Friday on the bank above the canal. It began with lots of random brushstrokes and a poured on wash for a background. It didn`t take long for it to develop into an image of what I was feeling that morning, sitting in that rainforest above the water with my buddies.
We had two guest artists [anyone is welcome] along and the setting was lovely. Our long wet difficult winter has produced an even more extravagant spring than usual. Everything is huge and healthy.


                                                          watermedia on paper 24x18


 This is a rare commission. My cousin wanted something like the post card sized painting I had given her two years ago. I thought, 'I can do that'. The whole task of painting by request is tricky business, too much most of the time. The client has legitimate desires, the artist has a personal vision. Getting these in agreement is not something I`m good at. Yet I paint forests all the time so I thought it a small risk. She`s on vacation so I don`t know what her reaction will be but if it isn`t what she hoped for, I`m fine with that. It will find a home in due time.


                                                           watermedia on Terraskin 8x7


A practice exercise before hand.



                                                  Along the Canal watercolor on Yupo 12x9


 My plein air effort from a week ago.



                                                             watermedia on Yupo 26x20


 The demonstration painting I did in my studio on May 20th. I will revisit this I imagine. It doesn`t live up to its potential.



                                                        Cypress egg tempura 12x9 1972


 My first and only egg tempura, painted when I was nineteen. It`s a view from a tree I used to sit in, I was a devoted tree climber. I remember sometime in my 50`s realizing with sadness I wouldn`t be doing that ever again.


                                               Phantom Bluff 1 watermedia on Yupo 12x9


                                                    Phantom Bluff 2 watermedia on Yupo 12x9


 The two above were rescues of plein air attempts I made in a boat last year. They were awful and now are better but still fall short of doing that bluff justice. It`s an heroic mass of basalt rising out of the lake with all manner of colorful and decorative vegetation spilling from it. It reminds me of a Christmas tree.


 After the election, in my despair I wanted badly to be of use to someone. Use my white maleness to protect something. The fear of what had just been unloosed was palpable.
 Last Friday three men on a train in Portland were attacked for doing just that, shielding someone vulnerable, a muslim young woman and her friend. The men were stabbed in the throat and two of them died. Everyone is aware of the story.
That this unspeakable horror happened in daylight, on a commuter train in ultra liberal Portland has the community in shock. I`ve asked of myself since, would I have done anything? Would I be brave enough to confront a raving racist man? Would I remember and honor my instinct to protect?



                                                 The Deep Blue Sea by Fran Coca



work for sale in my studio



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Inside Passage - Iron Mt. Spring

                                             Inside Passage watermedia on Terraskin 9.5x13.5


                                             Iron Mt. Spring watermedia on Terraskin 11x8.5


 Still aimless and liking it. Professionally, I should be working on larger oil paintings but that doesn`t seem appropriate at the moment. Lots of stuff percolating in my mind and for once I can pay attention. Being so unsure of the how and when of my recovery, I cleared most everything from my calendar. Doing so has left me with the time to think. In the end, it would be great if I could use the experience to become a better painter.


  If the state of our country is a relentless worry, finding a way to make a difference and stay sane is a worthy ambition. Not surprisingly, psychotherapists have their hands full right now. On Facebook I read an essay from Robin Chancer, a therapist, on finding this balance. It was super helpful to me and I think others would similarly benefit.
Optimism can be a way of avoiding responsibility.
I think I`ve been guilty of that.


                                                              by Georgia O`Keefe


 A couple of years ago I began a search to find out what the paper was that Georgia O`Keefe used for her modernist watercolors from the early years of her career. These paintings are extremely sensitive yet simple. Betsy Chang had been curious too and sent me a huge pdf file she had obtained from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It contained detailed information about the materials the artist used. The watercolors were painted on 'cartridge paper', basically cheap and non-archival. I expected so as she was teaching school and probably didn`t have much money.
Anyhow, Betsy and I became friends. Here is one of her glorious watercolors;



                                                                by Betsy Chang


 A few days ago I was avoiding work and decided to google myself. There I ran into a very flattering blog post Betsy wrote about me a year ago. Immodestly, I present you the link.  Thanks Betsy!


Studio demo next Saturday [May 20] at 10 am. Let me know if you`d like to watch.
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR 97035


work for sale in the studio



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cascade Head Spring

                                    Cascade Head Spring watermedia on Yupo 12x42


 This is from my residency at the Sitka Center in 2014. I was so intent on painting a 'narrative' abstraction, this was underway within an hour of my arrival. I think it`s a good example of how rich, color appears on the plastic paper Yupo.
My most recent efforts have lacked merit to put it kindly. I`m still a bit disconcerted by what happened to me this winter. But not too concerned. A conversation, a new series, a hike, a brush, Pinterest inspiration...something will spark my enthusiasm and help me settle into a productive practice again.
 I did paint on location this morning and enjoyed it completely. My pals Mitch and Burt were there and the weather was perfect. It was sublime sitting there enjoying the views and warm breezes above the banks of the Willamette.


                                                            photo by Burt Jarvis


 It`s our plan to do this on Fridays throughout the summer. If anyone would like to join us, speak up!




 This is my new foot massager. I`m getting it ten years after my retirement from the restaurant industry but better late than never! I`ve wanted one ever since slipping into a sales model at the Brookstone in the airport many years ago. It is awesome, let me assure you!



                                                  Vladamir Putin by George W Bush


 Yes that George W Bush. Who would have ever guessed? I think of him as a war criminal but I have to say, the guy has talent. There is a new book out of his portraits of military service people and many of them are worthy of Alice Neel. In this link you can see more of them. I am no fan of our 43rd president but I do find it heartening that even someone with so much blood on his hands also has enough sensitivity to paint a psychologically penetrating portrait.
Human beings will always have both destructive and creative impulses at play in the confusion of our minds.


                                            Magnolia Open to the Sky watercolor 22x30


Open Studio Demonstration Sat. May 20, 10 am. Room for ten, please let me know if you`d like to come.  randalldavidt@gmail.com
5373 Lakeview Blvd.
Lake Oswego OR
97035


work for sale in my studio

Friday, April 21, 2017

Plein Air Spring

                                                              watercolor on yupo 12x9


 Who knows when we`d see the sun again? Every able bodied person went outside today if only for a moment. Sidewalks and parks got some use again. Knowing the forecast days ago, I arranged to paint outdoors with my pal Mitch.
We set up at Steven`s Meadow and took in the views. This lovely city park is just a vast field of grass open to the sky. We sat at the edge in the shadows and began painting the hedgerow in the distance. As popular as plein air painting has become, for me it is always awkward. It aways seems like a bad idea until I get enough paint on the surface of my paper. But the conversation is stimulating and without much conscious intent, something begins to form.
It was an afternoon well spent.


                                                           watermedia on paper 22x15


 This is from the mid-nineties soon after moving here. It was another sparkling April day in Washington Park.


 In the winter of 2015, once a month I did a demonstration painting in my studio on a Saturday morning. Anyone could come. I think I did six of them and then it began to feel like a complete ego trip. The master and his acolytes. However, I met some very nice people. Some of them went out of their way to help me in my recent ordeal. So I`m going to do it again on Saturday May 20, at 10am. If you think you`d like to come, please let me know. It seems 10 is about the most that can fit around my table and see. It`s a standing room situation and the floor is concrete. Not especially comfortable but the questions and conversation are always interesting. Lots of parking nearby and in my driveway.

5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR 97035


 The Wonder Street Blog has a handy description of the major brands of oil paints being made. Give it a look if you`re considering oils. They sure are easier than watercolors but you need good ventilation.



                                                         mounting Yupo


I haven`t tried this technique of mounting Yupo yet but I`m going to. I`ve succeeded with small dimensions using a different method but failed spectacularly when I tried it with larger pieces. Air bubbles are the problem. An unglazed unframed watercolor that is 'stable' is a holy grail of the medium. Framing is expensive and laborious. Imagine finishing your masterpiece and just hanging it on the wall! [I would recommend a spray coat of UV protection acrylic varnish first however].
Here`s the dilemma with me; if I go to the trouble of mounting a fresh unpainted sheet of yupo, it then becomes too 'precious' to paint on. I think I`d choke up. But if I took a good completed painting and mounted it and it developed bubbles, I`d be really upset.
Is it just me or are most painters this neurotic?




                                           A beautiful painting by Bernd Haussmann.


                                                           photographer unknown

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Watermedia and regained mobility!

                                                      Red Landscape wm on paper 9x12


 This was truly a doodle. I found a failed figure drawing, turned it on its side and made her a landscape. Just a goof and sure enough without the pressure to be 'good', something interesting took hold. True red, ink black and cerulean blue, together, are an emotional combination of strength and delicacy.


                                                       Streamside Spring wm on Yupo 14x11


 This had only slightly more intention to it. Since returning to my studio, I`m mostly puttering trying to be being patient with my limited stamina.
Because Cascade Head is protected, the streams that flow off it are pristine and lush. By late Spring the vegetation is wild and vigorous. It`s a party and everyone is drunk on sunshine.



                                                          Endless Winter wm on Yupo 10x8


 A representation of the season which will not depart in the NW. Only last Friday did we have a 'once in every 100 years windstorm'. There was also one last Oct.
This is our weather now, completely unpredictable. The Republican Party owns the country since the election and they don`t believe the atmosphere is heating up. Ignoring it is good for profits.
I wouldn`t say this to a young person but I`m losing confidence in my species. It`s becoming clear human beings could lose their purchase upon the earth. We are stupid enough, just think who the most powerful man in the world is.


 As per my Californian birthright, I am driving again!
Even though I love to walk, I do not feel whole and viable without my wheels.
When I was 15 and a half on May 6 exactly, I got my 6 month learning permit. On my birthday November 6 it would expire. If I failed my driving test that day, I would have to start over. Of course I passed! Then promptly got 3 tickets within the first few months. No matter, I was a teenager in Southern California, I took my place on the freeway.
While my legs have been distressed, John has been driving as well as doing Everything else. It has been difficult being so dependent. So when I hobbled into the grocery store with my cane, alone last week, I was triumphant!


                                                              by Howard Hodgkin


 The legendary British painter Howard Hodgkin died last month. By all accounts he was cranky with a conflicted relationship with painting. His passionate paintings often took years to complete but seem executed in minutes. It is a paradox in painting that an appearance of freshness and spontaneity can be so laborious to achieve.
Here is an excellent video of the artist.


It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

Mary Oliver, from an essay in Vox Populi, 'The Artist`s Task'





Monday, April 3, 2017

Hanging Glacier

                                                   Hanging Glacier watercolor on yupo 12x9


 As I ease back into painting, I don`t have an agenda like I usually do. I`ve cancelled everything because my legs are not reliable yet. So floating images from the past are fair game for painting until I`m hiking again and finding new subjects.
 I was in Alaska 17 years ago and saw this glacier high up the mountain where it had seemingly stopped moving. With a southern exposure it was melting fast and throwing off a beautiful waterfall. Later I was in a boat on a lake beneath it, and there were mini-icebergs everywhere. We were told when glaciers calve into fresh water the chunks of ice are called 'growlers'.
 Definitely memorable which is why I`m still painting it.
 I coated the Yupo with a tinted acrylic matte medium first to give the surface just a bit of texture. Something for the watercolor to hold onto and easier to control. Now thats it`s finished I`ll seal it with a spray UV protection acrylic varnish.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Delayed Pollination

                                         Delayed Pollination watermedia on Terraskin 9.5x13.5


 When I came into the studio yesterday for the first time since January, I knew I wanted to paint something yellow, with small, short marks. I was thinking hieroglyphics in orderly rows.
Well nothing is tidy in my world so soon enough the characters started to move. A random dance, like the flight of bees. Something entomological  was going on.
Even though I`ve been indoors for weeks and love the rains of winter, something deep within me was craving light and warmth. To everything there is a season.
It`s been a long difficult winter in the Northwest and people seem tense. For the good of the community, I`m praying for some sunshine.
And hoping beyond hope that I really am on the mend this time. No more surprises!



                                                     Night Pollinators watermedia on paper 8x8


 This drawing from a couple of years ago has the same bumbling, drifting intention.



                                                          watermdeia on paper 12x9


 Another yellow painting, this one from the late 90`s. The work I was doing then attempted to fuse some representational imagery with an abstract sense of space. There were few successes unfortunately.