Monday, November 13, 2017

Before the Snow

                                                   Before the Snow oil on canvas 24x20


 It wasn`t my intention to create a tonalist painting, but it was as if Emil Carlson was whispering in my ear to slow down and use smaller brushes. Coax the image into life. This was another failed painting that I knew I would fool around with again some day. Saturday was the day. I had squeezed random blobs of color, white and clear thick painting medium on the piece. Then I squeegeed them all over the canvas mixing them up in the process. What I had then was an amorphous misty void. Here and there I saw elements of its former life and began to emphasize areas using transparent color. It was more assembled than painted and the palette had to be cold. Maybe because it`s November. It is based on the soggy marsh forests on Minto-Brown Island.


                                                Rainforest Autumn 4 oil on canvas 20x16


 This also became tonalist in my effort to tweak it toward vitality.



                                              Cascade Head Spring watermedia on Yupo 12x39


 There it was, impossible to ignore! An announcement that the Saavy Painter Podcast was having a competition and online exhibition. Reasonable entry fee, and no shipping or framing issues due to it`s digital nature. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to enter a couple of oddly shaped paintings. Cascade Head Spring won third place! Yay me! Nice prizes and a mini interview for the podcast. That`s perfect with my fear of public speaking. The exposure for my work will be considerable too.
You can see the show here.

I was feeling very lucky at the end of Oct. and also applied to be the first artist in residence at Hakeakala National Park on Maui. One month inside the crater! My only competition is the rest of the whole world. Open to all disciplines and nationalities.  I slaved over my proposal letter.

And I submitted for an award from the Santos Foundation for artists of merit. I thought why not? can`t win unless you enter! I also saw that they had extended the deadline. That means they were short of applicants.

 I learned a long time ago to give efforts like these my whole attention during the application process and then forget about it. Usually works unless I want something badly.
I need to be in that crater.







Within all of the reports surrounding this necessary purge in sexual harassment claims and denials, I found this quote to live by "if a woman wants to see your penis, she will ask".
As for gay predators, shame on you! You are not excused because you`ve been denied full acceptance. Your homosexuality is not a shield for you to hide behind.
When power is used to sexually coerce it`s just wrong, we all know it.



                                                                    MatthewDibble


 Matthew Dibble is an artist I`ve admired a long time. He shows with Saatchi Online as I do and I`ve watched his career expand with interest. He works hard and every painting I`ve ever seen has something exciting about it.

Too much thinking can be an obstacle for me when painting; the ‘judge’ always seems to get in the way. My connection can only be found in the moment, and I often come back to a sense of my feet on the floor while painting. During these moments some real work is possible…. As artists, we do much better trying to keep things simple. We do better to compare ourselves solely to ourselves. Self-inventory is useful, while self-condemnation is not. Without calling our whole identity into question, there are inquiries that we can fruitfully ask. How am I developing as an artist? Am I doing the work necessary for me to mature? Did I work today? Yes? Well, that’s good. Working today is what gives us currency and self-respect. There is dignity in work. —Matthew Dibble



                                                              painting by Matthew Dibble



                                                           painting by Matthew Dibble



                                                             painting by Matthew Dibble

 He`s terrific, yes?



                                           Fanno Creek Fall watermedia on paper 16x12


 This seemed like a dud a couple of years ago, now I like its wistfulness.



work for sale in my studio



Monday, November 6, 2017

Bryant Woods April

                                                Bryant Woods April watermedia on Yupo 26x40


 Well I was aiming for a Joan Nelson, but I got another Randall David Tipton.   
    Sigh..    , what can you do? When an artist finds their 'voice' it`s as particular and unique as handwriting. It`s too late to imitate. Yet if one is developing, there might be the opportunity.
The issue is interesting. The student wants that signature style as soon as possible. An early 'mistake' is seizing upon a stylization in which to become identifiable. I think it`s unfortunate because it can short circuit genuine exploration. I did it myself;


                                                         Telluride Canyon watermedia on paper 30x20


 In this piece from the early 80`s I made the massive mountain on the left almost a symbol with those strong diagonals. I simplified the scene probably because I didn`t yet have the skills or patience to make a thoughtful representation. It`s not terrible but it has kind of a 'cheap' look. Or, maybe it`s just the difference between a young man`s expression in contrast to the depth of someone older.
Another stylized landscape from the 80`s;


                                            October Aspen watermedia on paper 48x36



                                                       Marc Chagall and daughter Ida, 1945 (Lotte Jacobi)

 What a good Dad!


work for sale in my studio

Monday, October 23, 2017

New Watermedia

                                                  Rain in the Forest watermedia on Yupo 20x26


 Although not a proper word, watermedia is the term I use for any combination of watercolors, acrylics, inks and water soluble dry mediums. In the throes of painting, anything I can reach may be of use. It is a major advantage of having two painting areas on my studio so that I don`t mix up oils and watercolors by accident.
I will apply oil paint on top of a watermedia piece, but only if there is a barrier layer of acrylic. Anyway, underneath the painting above is a weak attempt to show what an autumn rain is like here. A year later, I got much closer.


                                                     Ice Fog watermedia on Yupo 20x20


 Here is another effort to rescue a failure.
The experience of walking through the field with tiny ice particles stinging my face was so unique, I haven`t been able to abandon this painting. Even now I`m trying to talk myself into believing this is subtle and delicate when it is probably just boring. My tenacity is a positive most of the time but it can entrap me.


                                                      Dry Rivulet watercolor on Yupo 26x20


 Pure watercolor! I rejected the restrictive rules about traditional technique decades ago, yet when I can pull it off, I`m happy! I have my cake, now I`ll eat it!
I get annoyed by the acceptance of received 'wisdom', unexamined theory, and historical instructions. It`s a hair trigger response to authority. Wherever it comes from. I was not a good student as I got older.


                                                        Cobalt Forest watercolor on Yupo 12x9


 In trying out some small scale pours of liquid paint, another forest came into view in front of me. Imagine that. Formulaic painting is deadly, I may need to leave the trees for a while.


                                                                photo by Mitch Burrell


 Summer is undeniably over. The last plein air outing was miserable perched above the creek in tiny Oswego canyon. The cold air hovered at ground level and my watercolors would not dry.
We`re talking now about some indoor, winter equivalents, maybe still life or portraits.
Las LOPAS will never die!
Here is the one I was working on when the photo above was taken;


                                                  Late Summer Grove watermedia on Yupo 14x11




                                                                 Lyndon


 He`s all grown up now.
Because of his thick coat and hairy toes, we thought he may be part Maine Coon cat, but they grow to be much bigger.
I recently ran across an article on cat breeds best suited for families. One was called a Rag Doll, which I had never heard of. They have the name because they go limp in your arms when you carry them. They are very affectionate and want to be involved in everything. The oddest thing about them is they don`t meow. When I come up from the studio, Lyndon meets me in the kitchen talking non stop. His mouth is moving but there is no sound. It`s adorable.

However, when he gets on the stairs and looks down on us with that psychotic gaze, you can see he has one thing on his mind, and one thing only...  murder.



In the latest scandal involving the president I hadn`t paid too much attention until I read a blistering defense of Myeshia Johnson and Congresswoman Wilson by the poet Lesle Honore this morning. The president tried to do the right thing in calling the widow to offer condolences. Being inexperienced in kindness, he flubbed it, then of course made it all worse since.
In the poem she addresses General Kelly after his remarks defending Trump;

Fredericka Wilson is far from empty
Do you understand the boldness it takes
to aspire to what you have never seen
to walk through life
Being told you are nothing
and still rise
From Teacher
To Principal
To Mentor
To Congresswoman

You said there was a time
when things were
Sacred
When women were sacred
When have Black Women
ever been
Sacred here ?

We have only been Sacred
to each other

     by Lesle Honore


just three stanza, out of order, yet the question of when black women have ever been sacred here, in our country, points a bright penetrating light on the truth.






 The Sitka Art Invitational is only two weeks away! Mark it on your calendar!
 It is the best venue for seeing lots of excellent landscapes and nature themed art works.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matters of Scale

                                                       River Shore watermedia on Yupo 6x20


 Could you imagine this watercolor 10 feet long? Would that be interesting or too loud? The issue of how large my paintings should be has plagued me since I was young. I`ve tried hard to have a career with integrity yet this one issue has compromised my practice since early on. Practical concerns have mostly won out. Like many young people I moved more often than was desirable and the transportation and storage of big paintings was always a problem. I wanted to work large but they didn`t sell very well. The impulse to do them wasn`t pure either. Was I just clamoring for attention with their scale? Was that OK? There are so many logistical matters to think about in the life of a painter! Do they give the students any help with this in art school? Because I didn`t go, I`ve had to figure out most everything myself. In several periods of my career I just said to hell with it, I`m going to go big. Some of those 30 year old paintings are stacked fifteen feet away from where I`m sitting now writing this. The inability to find homes for the large canvases would then cause an over-correction. Nothing that isn`t comfortable to carry. Or later, nothing that won`t fit in my car. Then the pressure builds again and I have a new brood of bigguns. Now I have a bigger car too! One might think the answer is within me but it`s not! Not yet anyway. This isn`t a fatal dilemma, I`m not tortured by it. The primary thing is I`ve painted consistently for forty years.
Though my studio is large, the ceiling is low. There is a real limit to what I can get past my stairwell. And as I`ve gotten older, it`s certainly easier to manage the moderately scaled pieces. Sometimes I think I could be happy painting tiny botanical studies at a desk and at other times I want to do 20 foot long watercolor scrolls. So on it goes, round and round.
Maybe it`s mature to be practical, I greatly admire Thomas Nozkowski, and all of his stuff would fit on my back seat.

The painting above comes from a small patch of grasses and trees along the Tualatin River backed by a steep hill. It`s in a park in West Linn, close to the baseball diamond and is just spectacular to me. Somehow the light on this spot is always dramatic. The paintings below all derive from this same magical corner on the river;


                                                               Riverlight Study wm 12x9


                                                           Riverbank Study 2 wm 14x11


                                                                 Riverlight 1 oil 20x20


                                                                  Riverlight 2 oil 20x20


                                                             Riverbank Study wm 14x11




Hugh Hefner


 Allow me some words of gratitude for the life of Hugh Hefner.
I`m a feminist, I understand the arguments and controversies his life and business provoked. And I`ve always found him creepy. But he did the world a great favor in his effort to legitimize sexual desire. The Playboy 'sex friendly' attitude helped liberate a lot of compressed and suppressed feelings about sex. In doing this, I believe he helped women have more understanding and control of their choices and roles in life. He and the advice columnist Ann Landers were also among the first public figures to say the obvious; homosexuals people are born and part of nature. I appreciate that.





 Now for some pure bragging. Watch my tremendously gifted cousin, Anya Cloud, in some contact improvisation here, with the great dancer Matan Levkowich. Exquisitely beautiful.


                                                                       Prince Harry


 I used to rail against the idea of monarchy. The notion of superiority by birthright was deeply offensive, undemocratic and racist! 
I hadn`t done my research. 
When I read of Queen Elizabeth`s active role in WW2, my beliefs began to shift. Now I understand the British monarchy at least, to be an example of moral courage, a model of service to the common good and boosters of the best Britain has to offer the world. Look through these pictures of Prince Harry at the Invictus Games. What a lovely humane young man! 
We used to have such a leader too.


 OK, my big Pinterest discovery is Heli Huotala, a Finn of great sensitivity to nature and of the properties of paint. I could live in one of her paintings.


                                                                  Heli Huotala


                                                                    Heli Huotala


                                                                  Heli Huotala


She is doing everything I hope to do.



                                                                High Summer-Sauvie Island


 My watercolor demo from two weeks ago on the coast turned into an oil painting. Things change!



 Last week to see my show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach OR!



Monday, September 25, 2017

Travlin Randy

                                     High Summer/Sauvie Island watercolor on Yupo 20x20


 I`ve been to East, I`ve been to the West.
John and I finally made our trip to the Painted Hills, a unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I have wanted to see this marvel for many of the 25 years I`ve been here. Maybe having come from New Mexico, I had had enough of an arid geology. I was more than ready now and they were worth waiting for. Eastern Oregon is remote, expansive, extremely beautiful and mostly unsung. We stayed at the Painted Hills Vacation Rentals which was an Oasis hanging on the side of a canyon above the town of Mitchell.





 There are three cottages one of them quite large. They hosted 42 astronomers during the total eclipse of the sun last month and it was quite a party. The complex itself is a work of art. Bright cheerful colors everywhere in the jungle of trees and flowers.







Mitchell itself looks like an old west mining town whose glory has passed. But rebuilding is in process and the town has three restaurants!












 The last smoke from Oregon`s terrible forest fires still hung in the air when we saw the Hills. Still awesome but subdued in the haze. We knew that rain was coming and the next day we woke to dazzling weather.










The Sheep Rock Unit 40 miles away was our next destination. The colors and formations were impressive and even the dried grasses and weeds had a pristine beauty. Pinkish grass against turquoise cliffs was a color combo I had never seen before. The sweet John Day River was a bonus.
Such an utter opposite to the rainforests where I live and only 4 hours from Portland!
Yes I painted;


                                                             watercolor on Yupo 12x9


                                                              watercolor on paper 8x8


                                                               watermedia on Yupo 8x8


 I went to the coast next to do a demonstration at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach where my show is in process;







Nice low key event, and I wasn`t nervous at all this time. The painting at the top of the post is the demo and it was created from a 20 year old drawing.
We stayed in an old three bedroom house near the estuary and very close to downtown for only $100 a night! [Seasense-503 781 8886]







 The next morning we spent at Hug Point. It was low tide and the caves were accessible.











 Two great weekends in Oregon. Didn`t break the bank and they left me feeling lucky.