Saturday, June 25, 2016

Plein Air Black and White and other landscapes

                                             Beside Oswego Creek watercolor on Yupo 12x12

 To avoid the nightmare of parking for the Lake Oswego Arts Festival, I pulled off the road and parked illegally above the creek and walked in. This bright idea left me wet with sweat looking for a cool corner to compose myself once I arrived. Soon I was dry enough for polite society and saw the shows. When I returned to my car, I retrieved my outdoor painting gear determined to do something on location. It`s a paradox that a process that is such a hassle ever produces anything of merit. I walked and slipped down the embankment to a sweet little spot near the falls. Once in position with a board across my lap, brushes,watercolors, kleenex, sponge, q-tips and water all within reach, I think my focus sharpened. I wanted to make this count. Using a severely limited palette freed me up to pursue the mood of the place.
 Productive week! It`s truly amazing all that can be accomplished while procrastinating something really important. I also did these and two mediocre abstractions;

                                                            Creek Pool watercolor on Yupo 10x8

 From a walk in Tryon Creek Park the other day. The water is already slow and dreamy.

                                                        Sea Slot watercolor on Yupo 12x9

 A view in Oceanside I`ve tried to paint several times to no avail. This one I`ll keep.

                                                             Na Pali Stream watermedia on Yupo 10x8

 It`s been three years since I was in Hawaii so this one was a struggle. At one point I was even scrubbing it with sandpaper!

                                                       Iron Mt. Group watercolor on Yupo 5x5

 Such a beautiful clump of trees jutting from the overgrown side of the mountain.

 Portland has a new art supplier and it meets my approval! No more stupid Dick Blick. I`ve been to the Artists and Craftsman Supply off SE Powell twice now and it`s wonderful. Knowledgeable staff, good prices and a huge selection!

work for sale in my studio

"New Landscapes" Coos Art Museum July 9 - Oct.1

Columbia Gorge Getaways [excellent for residents and visitors]

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Day on the Coast - How are we now?

                                             A Day on the Coast watermedia on Yupo 26x20

 I`m having a fine time playing with abstraction and bold color and trying to determine if I can work this way with any dedication. Over time, to create a different body of work than the landscapes. Though some think I`m already an abstract painter, I find a non-objective intention quite uncomfortable. Here and there I can hit it by luck but in the past, I`ve eventually been drawn back to the natural world where I find the most meaning. As I paint and look for an opening, the work of my heroes encourages me. Emulating is a way to learn. I keep thinking of Anne Lamott`s advice to new writers, "write the books you want to read". Paint what I want to see. That`s enough to go on!
With a big show complete and ready for delivery, this is the right time for questions.

                                                Alders through a Clearing oil on canvas 12x9

 I came across this the other day from 2010. Since the studio flood and my decision to move in the fall, the disorder has become permanent until I have a new space. I`m never sure what I`ll find when I move a stack of paintings. This piece has always been a favorite for an odd redemptive quality I find in it.

 So it`s been almost a week. I`m sorry to say my initial reaction was just a grim disgust and acceptance. If the murder of 20 elementary school kids didn`t galvanize our country to change, why would this? When I woke Sunday morning and read the headline on my phone, Donald Trump was already screaming about Muslims and terrorism. Without knowing any details I went back to sleep sure that this wasn`t a terrorist attack. Later in the week I`d rethink that. It was terrorism for sure but not toward our country, it was for homosexuals.
I think it`s time to resurrect that word, put the sex back into view. Unapologetically. Because that`s what this barbarism was about.
I`ll let John Sundholm and the Redneck Liberal express the rage that rose up in me. Having grown up in the church, I have a trigger reflex for fury at the historic and continuing Christian persecution of my kind. But I want to talk about sex.
 For far too long, religions all over the world have shown a profound disrespect for the power and importance of sex. In and of itself! Desire is the engine of evolution, the spark that eventually made an ape, human. The impulse is strongest in the young by biological imperative, yet they face ridiculous impediments in communities of faith. Unemployed young Arab men with zero prospects for arranged marriage [the only possibility for sexual expression] join Isis or fly planes into buildings. Teenagers leave Bible study early in a desperate attempt to find privacy and intimacy, and often produce a hope destroying pregnancy. Catholic men enter the celibate priesthood to bury their shameful urges and some become warped by the experience and do terrible psychosexual damage to children. Unstable young men inhibited by their culture`s ancient biases furtively explore their same sex attraction but enter into unhappy marriages then massacre dozens in their frustration. In 1994 the nominee for Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders, was forced to withdraw simply because she said masturbation was healthy and normal and an excellent way to avoid risky sex. Let me tell you, that crazy prohibition is many a teenager`s first egregious encounter with the hypocrisy of their church and it often facilitates the slow dawning of reason.
 Now a nightclub is not a temple but it can be a sacred space nonetheless. Even in this era of gay marriage and surprising acceptance, the club is still an important part of queer culture. More for celebration now than for meeting places as it once was. To finally be surrounded by those just like you is a joyous experience. Kids, on their own at last, will dance and flirt and party and hookup. This is good! Learning about your young body and its desires is critical to mental health. Safe, consensual, respectful sexual relations when we are young can prevent a whole lot of unhappiness later when we are ready to settle. And in the past, the gay bar was often the only safe place in a homosexual`s life. That  aura of sanctuary remains and its violation early last Sunday morning [for hours] is most upsetting to me. This is the heart of terrorism.
 What can we do? We can explore and accept the scientific facts being discovered about human sexuality. We can take a long hard look at the taboos and fears surrounding sex and ask who do these serve? If we have them in our lives, we can insist the religious institutions talk about sexuality with humility and openness and toss out the horrific interpretations of scripture that vilify people because of their sexual identities. Or find new sources of spiritual communion. My Mom was a lifelong Southern Baptist but in her early 80`s she finally had enough. She left the church after defending me, my homosexuality, from cruel remarks she encountered in Bible study. Be like my Mom, confront homophobia wherever you find it. That act of courage does enormous good.
 Shared suffering is important in a society. My blogger friend Elizabeth Corsa has a son, a resident doctor who was on duty in the ER last Saturday. His were the bloody shoes in the photo that went viral this week. Listen to him now. It`s heartbreaking watching his face remember.
It was important to me to read all the names and look into the eyes of the murdered. Such a small thing helped me feel the loss, it was the least I could do.
The apology and expression of love from the white, Mormon, Republican Lt. Gov. of Utah made me weep. This is what gay people crave, an apology.
The orthodox Jews that went to the African American gay bar last Monday night to mourn and pray moved me as well. When all the passengers on a Jet Blue flight to Orlando paid their respect to the lone grandmother flying in for her grandson`s funeral, I felt hope. All week these symbolic gestures kept coming and they were healing indeed. Being gay it`s hard to tell, but I think I felt the country shift. There will finally be votes on modest gun reforms in the Senate on Monday. Lets encourage them to do the right thing.
Thank you for listening.

      There`s real courage for you, circa 1940. From the Bob Bragman collection

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Winter Bog and more watercolors!

                                                        Winter Bog watercolor on Yupo 12x12

 This is often the case, I have a subject in mind and I begin painting. The mental image is how I orient the process but something usually goes wrong right away. I`ll labor to fix it which usually doesn`t work out either. This makes me irritated and willing to abandon my 'vision'. So on the painting above, when I reached that point, I poured a thin wash of color to the top and tilted the paper so it flowed down. Then I spritzed it with water and let that drip down too. The trees had now melted into a murk and mostly disappeared. The fractured shapes on the right emerged. I dried it and the thing was finally looking interesting! Now when I repainted the trees, the grasses and water it was into a field suggestive of the mood I was after initially. In due time, it began to feel exactly like the swampy pool I love in Bryant Woods. Doesn`t look too accurate but I pinned down the soggy decay which inspired my original impulse.

                                               Metolius Riverbank 2 watermedia on Yupo 12x12

 Because I had been enjoying the bright clear colors in the abstractions I`ve been doing, my aim here was to take a composition I already knew and paint it in the wildly inventive colors Bonnard would use. That didn`t go far! Maybe my familiarity with this subject was too imprinted. Or maybe they`re not in me? After all, I live by choice in the Pacific Northwest and not in the south of France. Every time I try to be a carefree Mediterranean, my cold Anglo Saxon heart says not so fast buddy.

                                                       Over the Sea 32 watercolor on Yupo 6x11

 Muted, quiet, neurotic and introverted....but not always!;

                                                               Carnival! watercolor on Yupo 8x24

Finally, after four years of intermittent work, I finished my large Yellowstone hot spring;

                                                     Yellowstone Geothermal oil on canvas 30x48

 A young man from Oregon fell into one of these last weekend. Only a few personal items were found, there was no body to recover. This danger, which is everywhere in the park, is thrilling. You walk on a trail and see lots of bear poop and realize the Grizzlies use these same paths! The jewel like pools beg for your touch but are more rapacious than a school of piranha! The whole place sits inside a churning caldera of a volcano. Smell the sulfur, feel the heat through your sneakers! It is a fierce and awesome place.

Heard Redneck Liberal yet? Listen to his thoughts about the Republican nominee for president.

                                                             John Beerman

Here`s a sweet little video of the British artist John Beerman painting on location in New Mexico. No dialog, just some music. Watch to the end and see the unique and lonely end of day in the desert. Just beautiful.

 And should you be feeling sad, go here for comfort. It always works for me.

work for sale in my studio [updated]

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


                                                      Toro watermedia on Yupo 12x12

 I needed to goof off, I`ve been working on large Important paintings for months. Ideally art making is always play. Ideally. I`ve known for years some of my best ideas come from puttering with paint. No serious intentions just whims. Among my urges this week was to explore pure abstraction some;

                                                                    Lift watercolor 10x8

                                                    May Abstraction watercolor 9x12

Also did a couple of landscapes from memory;

                                                    Marine Air watercolor on mineral paper 10x8

                                                             Colony acrylic on Yupo 14x11

 And I even got out into the landscape with my pal Mitch for some plein air work!

                                                            Luscher Field watercolor on paper 12x9

                                            Luscher View watercolor on mineral paper 11x7.5

 We were at the city owned beehive of activity known as Luscher Farm. This place is fascinating! It contains sprawling community gardens, barns and outbuildings, some with classes in progress, chicken coops, birthday parties, curious tourists wandering around, a humongous farm house and acres and acres of fields with sweeping views. Everyone is completely focused on their tasks and assumes you are too. I could jump up on a tractor and take it for a spin and I don`t think anyone would notice.
 When the humidity is low in western Oregon, it feels like a personal gift. Painting up on a hill, in shade, with this desert breeze traveling through was like a dream. We`ve already had a couple of periods of high heat, but if it`s dry, who cares? Every time it happens I`m transported back to New Mexico. It can even smell like the Southwest and that, of course, brings back the memories. I try to enjoy them realistically, I don`t trust nostalgia.

 Laura Foster`s comprehensive guide to the Columbia Gorge is here at last!
As with her other books, this is packed with helpful maps, drive times, insider tips on food and lodging, historical photos, anecdotes, hiking suggestions, fishing advice, water sports information, tons of cool little things to do you would never know about, lots of history and a cultural perspective on the native residents and through it all, Laura`s intelligence and humor make it a super fun read! Twelve weekend getaways are featured to give you delightful experiences without much decision. I`m all for that!

She will give a presentation in downtown Lake Oswego at the museum 510 in the evening of June 18. Contact to reserve a seat.

Take a look at this short video on addiction, it`s quite provocative. I`m not sure what to think but it`s an issue I`m more than familiar with. Everyone finally is in agreement that the war on drugs was a disaster. Especially for African Americans.
Now there is widespread opioid addiction and skyrocketing deaths from overdose. This is a field ripe for some innovation.

work for sale in my studio

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Camassia Forest - Winter Lagoon

                                                    Camassia Forest oil on canvas 30x30

                                                        Winter Lagoon oil on canvas 30x30

 These may be the last two paintings I finish for my show in July at the Coos Art Museum. Now comes the tedious task of painting the edges of all these paintings, attaching hardware and then wrapping them in plastic for transport. That shouldn`t take a whole month so I will probably be painting again by mid June. I`m nearly certain these will be my last oil paintings. I need a faster drying time! What`s my hurry? Well, the paintings evolve through trial and error and I think that process could be expedited with acrylics. I`m not a patient guy. The texture is so different however, I`m sure I`ll have to learn some new techniques. I already use acrylics in combination with watercolor but those paintings are on paper and larger canvases and panels are what I have in mind. Golden is the brand I`ve been using because it`s American made but I`m open to suggestion. I would love to find an extremely dense white. On the order of Gamblin`s Radiant White oil paint. My new grail.

                                                                 Nicholas Wilton

 Nicholas Wilton writes an extremely pertinent blog on painting and careers. He is honest, humble and generous with his insights. In a recent video on 'style' and how to develop one, he offers a new way to think of it. When I`ve talked about making one`s work more personal I`ve approached it through subject matter. I think he has a better way, one that comes from the process itself. His writing and videos are almost a public service, they`re concise and deal with many of the struggles painters face daily.

My latest I pad painting 'Undergrowth'.

                                                  The Earth of Demeter by Chi Young Sung

 I discovered this extravagant botanical painting the other day on Pinterest. The artist is Korean and she works with mythical themes in vibrant, symbolic color. This painting has the kinetic energy and high spirits I love seeing in landscapes.

work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Autumn River - Anish Kapoor - Interview

                                                        Autumn River oil on canvas 58x44

 Another in an unorganized series of paintings focused on the Tualatin River in Fall. The water is high, a murky green and a perfect foil for the fiery colors of the season. Here are a couple of others;

                                                        December Runoff oil on panel 6x6

                                                      Tualatin Overflow oil on canvas 30x24

 So I was resting my feet and perusing Pinterest the other day and I get a notification of some activity. This happens all the time and I usually look but not always. I click the red icon and it says Anish Kapoor is following you. I kind of reeled and thought what the hell?? To put this in laymen`s terms, it`s as if Angelina Jolie asked to be your Facebook friend. Mr. Kapoor is a sculptor of such huge international importance, I`m sure it was a staff member. I`ve wanted to write about him for awhile but have been too daunted by his work. He`s one of a handful of artists whose work ignores convention and excites the imagination of almost everyone. Ai Weiwei and Ann Hamilton are another two.
 This is Kapoor`s most famous work;

                                                        Cloud Gate Anish Kapoor

Nicknamed the Bean, the real name is lyrical and suggestive.

                                                              Leviathan Anish Kapoor

 An enormous sculpture viewed from the inside too!

                                                           Ascension Anish Kapoor

 A sculpture made of smoke!

                                                    untitled sculpture Anish Kapoor

Extruded concrete

                                                              Orbit Anish Kapoor

Monumental sculpture for the London Olympics

 Addie Hirschten interviewed me on Skype in March for her podcast Alchemy of Art.  It`s a sweet, friendly conversation and I turn the tables on Addie and interview her a bit! Why is it we can`t stand our own recorded voices?! I had to steel myself to listen but after a bit I realized it was OK!

                                                    Forest - I pad

 Finally took my I-pad into the woods! I need more practice.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Oneanta [again!]

                                                               Oneanta Gorge oil on canvas 40x40

 This is a place I keep painting though I`ve only been in it a couple of times. A massive logjam guards the entrance and getting over this difficulty keeps the place relatively elder-free. No matter, I remember enough. What makes the narrow canyon so enthralling is a sense of being inside something womb like. The trail is the stream and it`s deep in places. Wading through the cold water toward a destination you can hear before seeing, creates an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation. Then the walk concludes at a pool with a gushing waterfall. It seems like the Source, the spigot of life. Such beauty!
Here is another;

                                                       Winter Oneanta oil on Yupo 12x9

 Quesadillas have become my Kummerspeck, my grief bacon, the last few days. Last Saturday we had to suddenly euthanize my cat Lincoln. He was ancient, in decline and probably diabetic. We`ve expected this but not so abruptly. But he was in obvious distress and we didn`t want him to suffer.
For the first time in 30 years I am petless and it is an awful, empty sensation. Oddly it`s not so sad, it is depressing. We`ve all experienced this. It is unacceptable.
Death and life, always mutually entwined, no exceptions. Mentally, I get it. I do my best to incorporate this reality into my heart. But the loss hurts like a personal amputation. Some of me is buried in the backyard too.
I need an animal to sleep on my lap. That makes me feel worthy, makes me a better person.

                                                            Lincoln upon Randall two weeks ago

 I`m listening to the sprawling novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on my I-phone. It is rich with history, Greek culture and gender identity matters. The narrator is a hermaphrodite, raised as a girl but male as an adult. I`m getting an education in these timely issues. Not too long ago I mentioned to my mother that gender wasn`t determined at conception, that it happens as the embryo develops while bathed in hormones and enzymes. She was flabbergasted and I wondered if this wasn`t common knowledge? Maybe it isn`t with all of the intolerance toward transgendered people. Even at birth, it`s sometimes unclear and the doctor makes a choice. Often the wrong one. It`s certainly a complex subject but the vitriol the Christian Right is expressing on which bathroom they can use is so discouraging. Who would make such a wrenching decision as gender reassignment if it wasn`t of critical importance? Those religious zealots are so mean spirited! Not happy unless someone is being persecuted! I remember what Salman Rushdie said "Fundamentalism in any religion is always about power, not faith".

 We were sitting by a pond in Stanley Park a few years ago and John remarked he preferred swans to ducks. "They`re more professional".

work for sale in my studio