Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fanno Creek Fog - marriage equality in every state!

                                                             oil on canvas 36x36

It is a familiar motif and I know the area well, but this did not come easy and I think I know why. Since I`ve been involved with plein air painting recently, I`ve been surprised how most oil painters keep their paint opaque out in the field. Even for water! They will render the underwater rocks in exactly the color they appear using buttery thick paint. And  they look realistic, like they are beneath the surface! I think because I`m a watercolorist at heart, I`m always using thin paint and thinking transparency. I try to make an equivalent of water or atmosphere or foliage out of the paint itself. Instead of painting what is there. This is fine but can lead to the dark and murky if it isn`t right early on. In oils, the paint dries darker if it`s thinned whereas in watercolor, a fading of intensity occurs as it dries. So in the grappling way I work, I`m often drowning in gooey runny paint that will solidify into sludge.
Maybe the progression below will make this clearer. The photos aren`t great but show how I got to this. The earliest is at the bottom.











Here is another recent piece that I also had to repaint entirely three times because it would lose the glow through overworking;


                                                 Winter River 2 oil on canvas 20x20


 My dynamic young cousin Anya Cloud is coming to town to dance. She will perform as part of the Conduit Dance Festival July 8 through the 11th at Reed College. We were talking at a family gathering recently about survival, jobs and money, what else? This is what artists are concerned about, how to keep going. Her piece was mentioned in the New York Times when she performed there a couple of months ago, so I`m pleased this is an advance in a meaningful career.You can be sure if someone is devoted to modern dance, they are true believers in the power of art. I`m curious to see what she has created!


Seeing all the tears of joy yesterday was certainly moving yet I felt like I was missing something. When the Supremes overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and agreed Proposition 8 was unconstitutional two years ago, it was like an Emancipation Proclamation! That sweeping and profound. The analysts speculated that the decisions were 'narrow' so the country could get used to this new idea. Everyone knew this would be revisited for a final judgement. Having read Anthony Kennedy`s opinion back then, I had no fear at all he would reverse himself. This is why the jubilation surprised me. It seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Hey, joy is joy! The massive shift in our culture is just stunning!
Marriage equality is so important, such a litmus test because gay people know we`re exactly as we should be. There is nothing wrong with us. Let this comfort and assure the odd child, the sensitive and the different, that this is for them. To be who you are.
As I`ve said, going from reviled to celebrated is confusing, the ground does not feel steady yet!
When the open hearted people of Washington State voted in marriage equality in 2012,  John and I started talking about a wedding. Soon we realized we were way too introverted for involving others. Yet Washington required two witnesses, so 'eloping' was not going to work. The timing turned on practicality; tax advantages and open enrollment with John`s health care benefit. Without any ideas of our own  whatsoever, we hired the minister who solicited us by mail, and asked my mother and John`s sister to be our witnesses. We had written no vows, sent no announcements, had no celebrations planned and we did not have permission to use the Fort Vancouver gazebo. Luckily my sisters in law Mary and Norma crashed the event and a young mother with a stroller stood on the sidewalk and watched as well. They made it more real. What is a gay wedding anyway? We had no idea. Because we did not write original vows, the minister used the traditional ones, the ones we all know...to have and to hold, in sickness and in health...
Oh my God, the minute he began speaking, the magnitude of what was happening rained down on me in a torrent. Each word he said seared me. This was serious business. The concepts in those words, as cliche as they might be, are vivid and comprehensive. I listened very carefully through my tears and felt transformed at the conclusion. As I should have. That is the point! The sublimation of two wills to create one new, better entity; a family! It is ennobling and dignifying just as Justice Kennedy said. Why would anyone want to deny this to us?
Well, for the religious opponents from any faith, the elephant in the room is the sanctity and veracity of scripture. On this subject, they all got it wrong. The Bible, Koran, Buddhist texts, the Torah, all of them.
If a believer accepts homosexuality as a normal part of nature, what else in the teachings are false? What to make of the evidence supporting evolution? The stakes are high, faith can fall like a house of cards.
I`m not too sympathetic.
I had to work through this at 14. Alone. To have any kind of health and happiness, I had to accept myself. I had to find my own way of believing. It can be done.


                                   me and my husband on a beautiful Oregon evening


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Friday, June 19, 2015

Oswego Creek[s]

                                            Shade and Sunlight oil on canvas 20x20

 It had been months since I had entered the small dense canyon Oswego Creek flows through. When I was plein air painting there a couple of weeks ago I remembered seeing it for the first time about 6 years earlier. Back then on the weekends, we would explore parks and preserves all over the Metro area. Our neighborhood in SE Portland was devoid of trees and beauty and we needed to be in something a little bit natural. One of the destinations was George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego where through a minor detour we discovered this wildly beautiful little groove in the earth with a highway and a city above it. After moving here it became the subject of many paintings. Here are some others;


                                              Oswego Spring oil on canvas 24x30


                                     Oswego Spring Study watermedia and oil on Yupo 12x9


                                      The Cliff Joins the Water oil on canvas 48x60


                                                 Oswego Creek Study oil on paper 10x10


                                                 Oswego Creek oil on canvas 36x60

 Everyone should see this place! Park at George Rogers and set out along the walking path south of the lot. Instead of following the river, turn right just past the footbridge. Keep going forward under the highway bridge until you get to the pool close to the dam. It`s worth a trip to see and it was a wonderful experience to paint there.


                                                                     Amen!
                                    [6-21-15, I`ve been told the text above is by Andrea Balt]


Faith + Doubt  =  Sanity
_Barbara Kruger


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Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Apex of Spring - more plein air - -Rothko

                                               The Apex of Spring 1 oil on canvas 20x16


 A couple of weeks ago I walked the completed Burnt Bridge Creek Trail in Vancouver WA. Much of it was open to the sky but on this overcast day it was cool. The new growth of the season was peaking, the grasses forming seed heads but nothing yet fading to yellow. This moment in the Northwest is truly extravagant, everything exudes health and vitality. Then it ends suddenly as summer advances and the rain stops until autumn.
I painted two views of the creek.



                                                The Apex of Spring 2 oil on canvas 20x16


 And the antidote for green is Red of course. I need it more than ever in summer.


                                                      watermedia on Yupo 12x9


In a 'first' for me, I did some plein air painting the other day in a friend`s boat on Lake Oswego. Although we were anchored somewhat, the boat drifted in a slow circle while we painted Phantom Bluff. The steep basalt cliff has an almost decorated look with colorful lichens, mosses and ferns cascading down it. Best of all was just feeling the water under the boat. Just a little motion which along with the sweet breeze made for an 'I can die now' sensation. The painting was shiny and wet and I thought 'Damn  Randy, you good!' Then I went home and saw it dry. What was I thinking? My bold adventure in color looked garish and cartoony;



                                           Phantom Bluff watercolor on Yupo 10x8


 It was still a lot of fun!
I did do a remarkable rescue however. When I got rained out painting with my friends beside Tryon Creek during the Paint Out, I figured my watercolor had been ruined. This is what it looked like when I pulled it from the plastic bag meant to protect it;



But because the experience was so recent and my impression of the dark creek still clear, I was able to find my way back in;


                                         Muddy Creek Study watercolor on Yupo 12x9


 When the great painter Mark Rothko committed suicide in 1970, I was 16. This was obviously a tragedy for the world but also a devastating personal blow. I was beginning to imagine about my future life as a painter and he mattered to me because of his persistence through ridicule and poverty. And he had become celebrated at last!
“The only thing I care about is the expression of man's basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny”
His shimmering giant paintings had opened up the concept of abstraction for me. He was the guide who showed me exactly how less is more;








 Chronically depressed, acclaim and success could not sustain him.
Through Pinterest, I`ve run into some early watercolors he did as he was becoming influenced by the surrealist ideas about the unconscious;




 So when I saw these, I was initially shocked. The disrespect shown to this grave, tortured artist was an outrage.
But also hilarious!








This is good too;




 The extraordinary painter [and pal] Don Gray is having a show at the RiverSea Gallery in Astoria June 13 through July 7. Included are some truly poetic seascapes like this one on the invitation;



 Check out Astoria while you`re there. Our local public radio was touting it as a new hipster outpost. It couldn`t be more beautiful and it`s affordable! It`s like a tiny San Francisco!






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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Moonlight - plein air - Bartow

                                         Moonlight on Oxbow Slough oil 20x16

This is a redo. I thought it was finished but it couldn`t stand the test of time. I didn`t want to look at it after only a month. Not good. When I like something, I linger over it, look at it in different lights, sometimes take a picture on my phone so I can see it in bed in the morning, there`s  a minor obsession involved. So I had to try again and this time I got it.

The plein air festival in Lake Oswego ended last week, I painted four of the seven days. I really enjoyed it too thanks to engaging friends, sublime weather and Oregon`s embarrassment of riches, its natural beauty.
Here I am with Ruth Armitage submerged in the tall grasses and trying to paint the creek just a few feet away;



Burt Jarvis took the photo and that`s his set up in the foreground. Although we were trespassing, his family had once owned this property at the mouth of Tryon Creek and he had great stories of his young life, right there!
I was painting with watercolors when it began to rain. That`s not a happy combination and it`s disastrous if working on Yupo. My piece was ruined but the experience was fun.
A couple of days earlier I did this painting of Oswego Creek;


                                       Oswego Creek Pool watercolor on Yupo 12x9


 A long time hero, Rick Bartow, has been given a retrospective at the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. I don`t get out much but I wasn`t going to miss this. I asked Eugene friend Carol Marine to join me;





 The show was huge and emotional. This artist is such an interesting man, he gives it all to the project he`s working on. Having spent much of my life in New Mexico among lots of sentimental 'Native American' art that seemed made for tourists, Rick`s work is refreshingly dark. It`s in his sculptures that his inventive mind really shines;









And he`s a fine painter as well. I saw florals I wasn`t aware of;




and the more familiar animal/human metamorphosis;




Then Carol and I did some painting on location at the Clearwater Park in Springfield. Not in love with my effort though I did seem to suggest sunlight and shade;


                                          Springfield Plein Air watercolor 14x11


Here`s a better plein air painting from a couple of years ago;


                                             Minto Brown March watermedia 12x9


Wayne Thiebaud is probably the most beloved of living American painters. For good reason too, his paintings are imbued with joy;




Here is a wonderful, in depth profile.

In conclusion, I have a product endorsement.
If you`re a sweathog like me, or married to sweathog, take note of this sunscreen which [so far] does not melt and leak into one`s eyes! Stinging blindness while out in the summer bliss is the leading cause of sunscreen non-compliance. This stuff stays put! The texture is sort of challenging, it`s super sticky and you need soap to get it off your hands.  Available at Costco;





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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Plein Air Lake Oswego

                                                 Along the Canal watercolor on Yupo 12x12


This was today`s effort for the Lake Oswego Paint Out. Although I`ve done lots of location work over the years, this is the first competition I`ve entered. Some of the rules seem odd but I`m compliant. The canal feeding Lake Oswego runs along the east side of Bryant Woods, a favorite city park of mine. I was up on the embankment above the water and painted in almost complete privacy. I prefer to talk when painting outdoors but it was nice being in the jungle alone. Everything is at the peak of the season`s growth cycle and soon will begin to dry out. It`s an extravagant moment and I was happy to be sitting in the middle of it. This is my set up;




 I set the board with paper on my lap.
Now yesterday at the astonishingly complex and active Luscher Farm, I had the ultimate plein air experience. The weather was sublime, sunny with a gentle breeze, and I sat in the shade of enormous old trees and had lively conversations with the public, friends and other painters. Exactly why I`m participating. To me, painting on location is social.
Daniele took our picture, I`m painting with Burt Jarvis;




This is what I painted;


                                        In the Stafford Valley watercolor on Yupo 12x9


I thought this valley was named after  William Stafford, Oregon`s most eloquent voice and a Lake Oswego resident but it wasn`t, it was named after another community in Ohio.
Nonetheless, he and his work are always worth celebrating! Here is one of his poems I pulled from Pinterest;



 Speaking of plein air, this is what I arrived at with the painting of the old oak tree I did in Calif. with Marcia Burtt;


                                            March Forest Spring oil on panel 21x20


A whole different state and climate! I wish I had let it be! This is what it was in California;




Oh well. I could fill a gallery with work I`ve destroyed and wish I hadn`t. And a larger one with work I sold but wish now I had destroyed.


 There is a bumper sticker you see around town that says 'Keep Portland Weird'. I don`t think its personality is too threatened yet. This equine traveler was in the baggage area at the airport last week;





 Four days left in the Paint Out!
Tomorrow, Monday June 1st., I`ll be painting at the beginning of Oswego Creek, by the rocky pools below the dam. Ordinarily  I would access this magical area by walking upstream from George Rogers Park. But I`ll have my painting gear so I`m going to park near the apartments off SW Maple around 1. Someone please come talk to me!


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

I-Pad Paintings - the East - Mother Ireland!

                                                                        Volcano!


                                                                 Botanical Garden


 I did these on the plane last night, I think I`m making progress!

We stormed the East!
Beginning in Boston, we celebrated my talented niece Mackenzie`s graduation from BU. With her mother, her sisters, their significant others, John and me all in one beautiful historic Air BNB. That was fun! Any time with the nieces is predictably joyful! Here is the graduate with her extraordinary sisters Elizabeth and Stephanie;




 Next we took NYC by bus! Bolt Bus! Who knew buses could be pleasant?
My old pals John and Sandra showed us hidden corners of Queens where they live, and escorted us to the High Line and then the Tenement Museum for a humbling lesson in perseverance. But we mostly talked while I admired their children. The babies I used to hold are now kind, competent adults. I had to withhold myself so they wouldn`t feel interviewed.

 New Rochelle was our final destination.
In 1973 when I was just 19, a dropout from college and art school, I found my way to a communal farm on the North California coast. There I met Lake, a single Mom of a two year old girl. She was 28. Other than my parents, she has been the most influential person in my life. A New Yorker for years now, she is a maniacal gardener,  a lover chickens and all other birds, an amazing cook and a friend extraordinaire. Isn`t she lovely?



John took this picture of me painting from the second story of her home, a rehabilitated barn;



This is what I painted;

                                                 Sky over New Rochelle watercolor 12x9


She paints too;


                                                 Home by Lake Charles watercolor


 We went to the incomparable New York Botanical Garden to see a rare and interesting show by  Frida Kahlo.








On my last visit to New York in 2007, Lake introduced me to the dynamic artist Debra Coulter. She knew my work from the web and was full of praise. Though I don`t remember hearing about this, she used some of my paintings to teach her young students about landscape painting. I saw her again a couple of nights ago and she gave me a flash drive of their work. I have to say, these strong paintings challenge the delicacy common to my stuff. Take a look, first the student`s, then mine.


                                                                 Aidan 2014





                                                                      Devin 2013





                                                                    Gillian 2011





                                                                    Matthew 2011




What an ego trip! Thanks Debra!

Now I want to thank Ireland. Nearly as monumental to me as the Supreme Court reversing DOMA and Prop 8 two years ago, the Irish vote for marriage equality last Friday was stunning in its overwhelming numbers, its insistence that all love is worthy. The huge expatriate vote brought me to tears. The fair, open hearted Irish should understand that they released scores of children from bullying and torment. This is the gay agenda! Make our god given natures so ordinary it`s unremarkable. The Irish should also know this gives courage and hope to those persecuted in Cairo, Moscow, Kingston and Kampala.
Beautiful Ireland!




Lake Oswego Plein Air Paint Out is next week, I hope I bump into some of you!

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