Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Today is important, we will know what kind of country we really are.
Hillary Clinton is nowhere in sight to justify a return to a meaner and certainly less just America. I`m not even nervous this time. Reality never quite reassembles after being shattered. I know now much better what my responsibilities are and what I can do, either way.
I also turned 65 around 2:30 am last night. So many of my birthdays have been steeped in idealism and hope and also in crushing disappointment. Depending on the election. I feel prepared as best as I can be.
This morning I was reminded that gratitude is where happiness can be found. I know this but it takes a willful concentration. Not like a child`s fast prayer at bedtime. If I unravel the threads and look closely, I can see my inherent advantage and also mountains of pain and trouble that never darkened my way. And the good stuff benefits by counting. If I can stay with it, the word becomes the feeling which becomes the realization of extraordinary grace. The bus missed me, my parents loved me, I`ve never been hungry, I lived when my peers died of AIDS, I can paint! ....Lucky from the get go!
This is what has darkened my way! This is a section of the Tualatin River that I`ve painted many times, on site and in my studio. On an afternoon visit in late summer, the water was almost inky, the shadows of the cliff deep and yet the luxurious grasses and bushes on the far shore were ablaze;
Yet I can`t seem to get anything convincing. Beware the painting that is inspired and promising in the beginning! I was, maybe still am, intent on getting this right but I`m not sure of what to do next. If I use my hard earned maturity, I`ll set it aside and do something else. I`ll ignore its calls for rescue.
Thank you to those who visited my open studio last month! My work was competing with spectacular, dazzling sunlight yet you ventured down into my basement. I appreciate it.
Though I think he could eviscerate him with a swipe, Lyndon continues to mentor our new family member with patience.
This was painted exactly two years ago. Another stretch of the Tualatin River, purchased by an artist who lives very close to that spot. That was a nice validation.
Abstraction from Nature workshop
Feb. 2 and 3
Seattle Artists League
work for sale in my studio
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
The second weekend of the Portland Open Studios is coming three days. The collages above were done during the first. Part of the 'mission' of the P.O.S. is educational, we are encouraged to show how we work. In previous years I painted and sometimes became so engrossed in what I was doing I ignored my guests. John would hiss at me that I was being rude. So collage seemed like a casual form of creativity that I could set aside easily. Some of the visitors joined me in my creating as if it were a big jigsaw puzzle.
If you`re local, go out and talk to some artists this weekend. The weather will be gorgeous and we want some feedback! I`m at 5373 Lakeview Blvd, Lake Oswego OR, 97035. 10am to 5pm.
Also, another talented landscape painter, Lisa Wiser, is just down the street from me.
I am asked periodically if I teach and the answer is usually no. However, I have been asked by the Seattle Art League to teach a workshop in February and I agreed. "Abstraction from Nature". Colleagues of mine insist I have much to say about painting and I know I certainly have opinions. Now I`ll have a chance to organize my thoughts, examine and express my motives and methods. I do believe I have a visceral knowledge of painting. I`ll do my best to convey why and how I respond to the landscape. Feb. 2 and 3, 2019.
It seems our hot smoky summer came with a consolation prize. October has been crystalline, warm and seductive. Day after day. The chilly night gives way to a cool morning that blooms into a clear, balmy, breezy afternoon. This sort of day will make you love your life. This is when life truly does feel like the gift that it is. Honestly, everyone acts blessed.
Now throw in a kitten!!
Oh my god, does it get any better??
No it doesn`t!
This is my second kitten in two years! Such a privilege!
The beginning and end of my political career.
Someone from my high school put this up on Facebook. I just read the text now and it didn`t mention my most controversial proposal. I wanted to transfer funds from the athletic budget to arts programs. PE coaches were campaigning against me! I was serious and definitely delusional. The vote was close but I lost. Now it is hard to believe I did such a thing.
The marvelous painter Betsy Chang is also taking part in the Portland Open Studios, #85. Go see her luminous work!
work for sale in my studio
Monday, October 8, 2018
Third attempt and this one I`ll keep. The subject is so simple, it had to be isolated at an exact moment of floral explosion. Two previous efforts were just banal. I walk by these trees every spring with morning light streaming behind them. In early March, one day it`s winter and the next, the season has turned.
This is also new and the place is another landmark on a different walk. I lap Cook`s Butte for a cardio workout circling up and down. It the late summer, it`s dry and dusty in the sunny areas, then cool and green in the forest. I first painted this rock as a demo in a class I taught.
And this got a makeover. I thought it was finished in the spring of 2016 but later knew it could be stronger. It`s a view from a picnic area on a bluff just north of the town of Mendocino Calif. My semester of 'art school' was here. I was 18 when I arrived, and so ready for beauty. I had escaped the smog, the heat and the car culture of inland Southern California. It is so much nicer now and a shining example of what can be when government is progressive.
Maya Angelou said people always remember how you made them feel.
I remember exactly every bully that attacked me, where I was and how I reacted.
So did Christine Blasely Ford. But the trauma and objections of women don`t mater and another sexual predator now sits on the Supreme Court. His opinions about women and their rights are the ones that will prevail. For now.
What an unhappy, unaware small man the new justice showed himself to be in the hearing. Our country deserves better.
This article from Howard Zinn written in 2005 gave me some perspective.
I`ve been so immersed in preparations for the 2018 Portland Open Studios Tour, it`s hard to imagine anyone who hasn`t heard. But if your are, 100 artists in the Portland Metro area will open their studios to the public for two weekends; Oct. 13 and 14, then Oct. 20 and 21. The hours are 10am to 5pm. The website has addresses and maps. There is a Portland Open Studio insert in the Oct. issue of Portland Monthly, and you can purchase an app with all the information for $5. I haven`t been involved with it since 2015 so I have lots of work that is new. Work on paper as well as oil paintings. It`s a fun time and a total ego trip for me. Everyone who comes through the door has seen some of my work online and they`ve made a deliberate effort to visit. I live in an old suburb of Portland a bit out of the way. Come say hello!
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR
503 380 4731
In other news... I have a new kitten!! Even though Lyndon is my dream cat, we could tell he was bored and sometimes even a little depressed. Well, no one can be down with a kitten about! Sure enough Lyndon is ecstatic and surprisingly nurturing. We don`t have a name yet. Maybe it`s time to end the presidential series and go with a regular name. Or does he look like a Kennedy?
Here is a sweet essay on Five Things Artists Really Believe In. My favorite is "no one is coming to save you". I had that delusion when I was young.
Have you heard of Allison Stewart? I`ve been loving her botanical, organic, ethereal abstractions for a couple of years. I think we speak alike but different. She is in New Orleans, close to the bayous with all that richness of life to inspire her. She is rarely literal but always lyrical.
work for sale in my studio [updated]
Friday, September 14, 2018
I was delivering a painting to Hillsboro for transport to the International Society of Experimental Artists annual show, this year in Newport Oregon. And the wildlife refuge, Jackson Bottom, was nearby. I love these places. There is hardly anyone ever there and those that are, are birders! Such lovely people! Because it was late August, the refuge was dry as a bone. The pond I painted [above] was dry and had only a living green rim that suggested moisture. Still, on a summer day made bearable by passing clouds, it was magnificent;
The show in Newport had an interesting angle. Applicants were asked to explain how their piece was experimental. This text would be posted next to the accepted entries. Mine was a watercolor painted as if I were the painter Bjornar Aaslund of Norway. I was trying to figure out his fusion of abstract expressionism and landscape painting. Oddly, it sort of worked. Just changing my palette alone provided some insight. You can see the entire exhibit here.
H2O has opened at Ferris State University of Michigan in Big Rapids. The brave curator saw my work online, could see the importance of water in much of my work and included me.
The smoke had finally cleared out and the summer everyone yearns for was back, but only for a few days. The transition is often abrupt and this year especially. It was still August! The population has experienced true grief. Some hold out hope for that 'Indian Summer' but the sunlight is too angled now, the days too short. Our great fear is that every summer now will be one of massive forest fires. To those climate change deniers, you will breathe the same smoke as I do. My rage and disgust with the Republican Party make me choke for words, but listen to Harrison Ford. At least an actor can hold it together to speak the truth.
From my great train ride to Seattle last month.
Mitch painting en plein air
To anyone reading who is not an artist, I suspect you too know of this rapidly expanding phenomena called Plein Air painting. Doing it outside. Rain or shine for some. Here are some profile essays on the joys and frustrations. Made me want to do more again next year.
Speaking of on-site painting, Eric Merell, a painter I`ve admired a long time, does so in a most original way. Here is a wonderful little video of an artist in residency he did in the desert. This guy owns Joshua Tree.
Still another nine days to see the show of early work by the revered artist Richard Diebenkorn at the Portland Art Museum. I wasn`t going to see it but my brother Mike thought differently. I`m so glad I went! It isn`t my favorite body of his work but with the scholarship in the accompanying texts, I learned a whole lot. As is true for most artists, his early career was not easy and with WW2 in process, he had some tough choices. To see the work on paper he did during this difficult time was so sweet. He was a kid!
Only two days left to see the collection of astounding, one of kind automobiles also at the museum;
For a long time it wasn`t appealing to paint with oils, I naturally gravitated to water media. Yet I can do the same things in oils, I paint thin and flat. Plus what one puts down in oil paint stays that way by and large. With watermedia there is always an accounting for things drying lighter in value. Basically oil is far easier and the paintings find homes much quicker. Economically, I needed to figure out my reluctance. Then I saw it;
No wonder! Yikes! The last time I gave it a good cleaning I ended up in the clinic getting stitches in my finger. So I decided to get a new one;
Big difference! And I`ve promised myself to observe how it gets out of control. That took about a day. I paint until I`m tired and then do a half assed cleaning. Well, not the new Randall. Keeping the scraping razor pristine is key. It`s been three weeks and it still looks new. Wish me diligence.
Here is a disturbing photo;
Chinese students taking an exam for art school
my nephew`s new puppy securely fastened
work for sale in my studio
Portland Open Studio Tour mid-Oct.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
When it`s hot out and the air is filled with smoke, it`s best to take cover. Avoid vistas and concentrate on the close at hand. This is when I particularly appreciate my basement studio, it`s always nice down here. In summer I like to paint water naturally enough. The edges of creeks, ponds and sloughs are always intriguing and are often suggestive of a healthier climate. So I go to the shadows for ideas and for comfort.
This is Tryon Creek. It slows in August but never dries up. The muddy/grassy smell of it is cheering on a walk in the heat. The way sunlight interacts with the murky water in dreamy milky colors is a subject I sometimes take on in summer.
I`m not sure yet if this one will live or die. Another I did several years ago was more convincing. I`m after an ambiguity between the water, plants and reflections. A confusion of elements that is accepted.
A soggy landscape from last April, is now finished. The combination of red and green excites me every time. The pale versions are symbolic to me of the Northwest Spring. Nothing else looks so fresh. Here`s another from 2015:
In a short email Marcia Burtt said 'by the way, your hero will have his work at the Seattle Art Fair. Are you going?'
I knew who she meant, Tom Uttech.
His work and intentions are so different from mine, but I greatly admire his mythical landscapes of the upper Great Lakes. They are so rich in emotion. Each one is like a patient lesson in how the world actually works. They stun you with beauty and keep your attention with a narrative that is complex and elusive. I had never seen one in person.
by Tom Uttech
But I`m an introvert, I don`t just go to Seattle! I had to consider; did my legs have the stamina yet? Was it affordable? Could I take the train? Should I go alone? Up and back in the same day?? And what about the residents and their strange Seattle ways? So I decided I would go IF it was easy. Got my reasonably priced Amtrak ticket instantly even with only four days notice. Bought the Fair admittance online. Decided what I`d eat for breakfast that morning and what I`d wear and tried to reimagine myself as an urbane man of the arts.
One thing I could count on, a spectacular ride along the Columbia River and Puget Sound. I used to do this often in the 90`s. I`ve never been able to figure it out; the train and Interstate 5 are parallel and often in view of each other the whole way yet the rail way could honestly be termed magical and the highway, sheer drudgery. Here are some cropped photos I took from the moving train as it slid through the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge;
The venue was an easy walk from the station. Once through the doors, it was all I could do to keep my bearings. It was huge and filled with a super high caliber of work! Here are some of the paintings I knew would be there and others I was so happy to see.
This is the Tom Uttech that launched this adventure.
A Diebenkorn I have never seen reproduced. Looks like someone`s backyard.
Karl Klingbiel. This guy is the best. My second reason for going to the fair.
Tomory Dodge. I`ve admired him a long time. He`s had much critical success with this kind of work. I was really pleased to see him move on and grow into a new 'look'.
Alexander Kroll. I`ve written a bit about him. He was painting in a garage. I`ve done that too.
The late Robert Natkin. Oh my, this was my first encounter. You can hardly see anything in photos of his work. They`re deep.
The always fearless Eric Fischl.
Bo Bartlett. This was the show stopper for me. It was immense and what are they doing? I didn`t crawl through the crowd to see the title.
I just noticed something. Every photo of a painting that I took was a painting from a male artist!?
Visitors to this blog may recall I`ve talked about and shown examples of many female artists. WTF?
My own latent misogyny or was there a lack of representation? Once again? Hmmm.
OK, you see what they are sitting on? THAT was the seating for this enormous event. A few of these, all right in the middle of the walkways. They may have well just thrown some pillows on the floor. At a minimum, they could have a least positioned these against a wall for some momentary back relief. But no. Believe me, I wailed about it in the visitor survey.
I was there about three hours. For most of it I knew what I was doing but then I became helplessly disoriented. Shortly after that, some inner Randall absolutely refused to look at anything else. It demanded we leave, so I did. I think I saw everything but I`m not at all sure.
Somehow I came upon Gabor Mate, the Canadian family practice doctor. He has special interest and insights into childhood development and trauma. He is an expert on addictions, something I`m familiar with. His ideas are startling and then obvious.
“I’m not going to ask you what you were addicted to,” I often say to people, “not when, nor for how long. Only, whatever your addictive focus, what did it offer you? What did you like about it? What, in the short term, did it give you that you craved or liked so much?” And universally, the answers are: “It helped me escape emotional pain… helped me deal with stress… gave me peace of mind… a sense of connection with others… a sense of control.”
Such answers illuminate that the addiction is neither a choice nor a disease, but originates in a human being’s desperate attempt to solve a problem: the problem of emotional pain, of overwhelming stress, of lost connection, of loss of control, of a deep discomfort with the self. In short, it is a forlorn attempt to solve the problem of human pain. Hence my mantra: “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.”Here is what he says about our president;
“What we perceive as the adult personality often reflects compensations a helpless child unwittingly adopted in order to survive. Such adaptations can become wired into the brain, persisting into adulthood. Underneath all psychiatric categories, Trump manifests childhood trauma…. Narcissistic obsession with the self then compensates for a lack of nurturing care. Grandiosity covers a deeply negative sense of self-worth. Bullying hides an unconscious conviction of weakness. Lying becomes a mode of survival in a harsh environment. Misogyny is a son’s outwardly projected revenge on a mother who was unable to protect him.”
No wonder the refugee children are still separated from their parents. Adults who fled the violence in their countries on the chance they could give their kids some hope. They endured horrors we can`t imagine in the effort to get to the border.
Like livestock they were separated and spread across the country to detention centers. We`ve all seen the photos. The agencies were so reckless in their regard for these lives, DNA sampling is required to match them up again. Some never will.
The assault on decency advances every day. The Republican Party harbors and protects the basest of human instincts. If our country is to be a democracy, they must be expelled in the upcoming election.
For the first time I am making political contributions instead of only supporting our local food bank. Not because I trust it will be effective but because I have to do something.
work for sale in my studio