Sunday, September 18, 2016

Broken Spruce

                                                          Broken Spruce watercolor on Yupo 12x9

 Another on the theme of distance juxtaposed with decay, the mortal and the eternal. Georgia O`Keefe mined this vein thoroughly with her vistas and bones though the oceans in her work were vestigial. The Southwest was once submerged under the sea for millions of years.
The impulse for this came from walking around Cape Arago after teaching last July. The winter storms wreak havoc on the front line of the forest and it often looks like a battle scene. I visited the coast a few years ago after a severe storm and saw a whole hillside of young alders snapped off at the same place.

                                                      Harry`s Sunset oil on canvas 16x20

 The remarkable painter Harry Stooshinoff posted a similar piece on Facebook recently. I told him in a comment I was going to steal it. He didn`t warn me away and I did. Scale is an element he skillfully plays with.

                                                                Three Iris watermedia on Terraskin 13x9

 It was a week of tinkering and repairing as I thought about a big new painting to be. My favorite sort of studio time. Small projects, rescued paintings and ambitious ideas. Please return to my last post with an Icelandic waterfall in Gjain. It finally is right! Here are a couple of other improved older works;

                                                        Riverbank Study 14x11 watermedia on Yupo

                                                         Fiscalini Surf watermedia on paper 20x16

 The great jazz musician Toots Thielemans died in August at 94. His instrument was the harmonica and he could make it say anything! My Dad played harps as well and idolized this artist. He might be best known to the general public for performing the theme to Midnight Cowboy written by the phenomenal film composer John Barry. The melody is plaintive with just a bit of hope. Dad learned to play it for me because I thought it was so moving.
With the passing of Toots last month, many memories of my father and his musical life rose to the surface.
In the late 70`s I was living out in the country in northern New Mexico working at a restaurant that has become quite well known, Rancho de Chimayo. My parents were visiting from California and I took them to the restaurant for lunch. Tiptons are always running late so as we finished eating on the patio, most of the other guests had left. We had that well fed glow. All of the sudden Dad pulls a harmonica out of his pocket, puts it to his mouth and belts out a passionate rendition of Release Me! I remember feeling intense horror, pride and embarrassment all at once! Like a third grader, I wondered what everyone including my boss would think. We are a family of introverts. Friendly, but we look forward to retreating to our rooms. I sat there and wondered who he really was. If a person, even a father, is comfortable enough to be spontaneous with me, I take it as a compliment.

                                                 painting by Miguel Acevedo

Isn`t that a terrific painting! The placement of the clouds seems to compress the focus into a single moment in time!
I love good seascapes!! This seems to be a 'golden age' in this genre. Ran Ortner,  Dion Salvador Lloyd, Zaria Forman, Kurt Jackson,  Hanna Woodman, Ruo Li and many others are doing innovative outstanding work.


For the Lake Oswego Plein Air Festival, I intend to take into the forest a 26x40 sheet of yupo and paint in black and white watercolor. I have never painted anything close to this big on location and I`m excited to try. This will be on Friday the 23rd near the Red Fox Hills entrance to Tryon Creek State Park. I think I have the logistics figured out and will begin around noon. If you`re looking for me, send me a text; 503 380 4731

available work for sale in my studio

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016


                                                               Gjain oil on canvas 30x24

 Impossibly beautiful Gjain. It took us four hours to find and it was hard to believe what we were seeing once there. Every fantasy about purity, a nurturing mother nature, or heavenly paradise is embodied here in this small oasis in the badlands of Iceland.
 Waterfalls are so numerous here I`d be surprised if they`re named. Most are rivulets vaulting off the green mountains and visible for miles. But then there are the serious ones like Haifoss, Gullfoss and Skogarfoss. They drop precipitously from an austere rocky landscape completely devoid of trees. Straight off the cliffs naked and exposed with an unusual regal authority.  Oregon is waterfall central casting, but these were unlike anything I`ve ever seen. They were somber, autonomous and powerful.
 This painting took way too long however! A promising start with the far distance and sky and then trapped with the falls and cliff for days! If I didn`t get that  alien Icelandic mood I wasn`t going to be happy. I think it`s the far northern light that gives the pristine landscape such an otherworldly sense.

                                                                 Gjain Creekbank watercolor 6x12

 This too is Gjain. Something about black and white with a bit of color is so suited to landscape. Especially working on location. The Lake Oswego Plein Air Festival is in a couple of weeks and I will be participating again. So much fun and September weather is usually heartbreakingly gorgeous.

 I got what I asked for, God help me.
May I introduce Lyndon!


 He`s only 3 months old but already he`s huge! And with a distinctive sense of himself. He has ideas and values and knows where he`s going in life. I ask you now, what could be better than having a gigantic loving cat on your lap someday?

                                                                     this is what I needed

 My pal Dana Roberts has a show opening at the Waterworks Gallery in Friday Harbor WA on Sept. 17. This is an event, trust me. She doesn`t exhibit all too often. I was an ardent admirer well before I met her and when we were suddenly showing in the same gallery together, I couldn`t believe my good fortune! She is an important painter. If you click her name above and see the photos, read the artist`s statement too. You`ll understand why I love her.

                                                                     Dana Roberts

                                                                  Dana Roberts

 I wouldn`t even try to change anyone`s mind about Hillary Clinton. She is savaged by the left and the right. But read this little vignette in Humans of New York. It returns some of her humanity.

 Speaking of waterfalls, gaze at this one by the Icelandic/Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

Such a visionary! Look through his website and marvel at his inventiveness. My tubes of paint and brushes are prehistoric in comparison.

 September is a pensive month. The fading light and cooling temperatures are the backdrop to many poignant memories. Beginning with Labor Day, I always think of my Dad who was a Teamster for decades. In his long career of manual labor, the union was critical in giving his family a decent, modestly secure life. I even have straight teeth because of a benefit won by his union. We were always taught to never, EVER cross a picket line and why. What the sacrifice meant and its larger significance politically. The labor movement has suffered terribly in modern times, a victim of relentless conservative demagoguing and of mechanization. Once it was an active element in the country`s political  struggle and evolution. To a lesser degree it still has a role, but as the influence of the   movement has waned, income inequality has reached a shameful level.
Remember what it has achieved;

work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Near and Far - Cape Arago

                                                  Near and Far - Cape Arago oil on canvas 30x22

 Georgia O`Keefe famously titled a painting " From the Faraway Nearby". With great poetry she contrasted the temporal with the eternal. It`s an existential image of yearning. I`ve experienced that in looking at the stars or out to sea. It`s been a wake up call to make everything count. When I saw this young spruce and the exposed roots of a fallen tree beside it, silhouetted against the ocean, I had that bittersweet sensation again. As I worked on this, I thought a lot about color temperature and its conveyance of emotion. This was a view in summer so I wanted a benign mood lightening the sober and stark.

 We secured the financing and I had a check for earnest money. So when the prospect of owning the blue house I posted last week fell through, I thought 'I can`t do this!'. Which of course means 'I don`t want to do this!'. It was suddenly very clear I didn`t want this giant upheaval after all. When my Mom died and I made the decision to move, it seemed absolutely correct to be closer to my family but I couldn`t do it then because of commitments. My resolve must have faded and I was in denial. I feel stupid and sorry.
My family is 30 miles away which isn`t far, it`s just the traffic in between. I will work it just like I did when Mom was alive.

How about some schadenfreude? That will cheer us all up!
Both of these may have gone viral, I have no idea, but they are hilarious! Be sure to have the sound on!

Neither the Brazilian government nor any US court of law could punish the Olympian Ryan Lochte more thoroughly than these two TV anchors.

I never condone violence but listen to this account from an observer of a traffic accident.

Check out Joel Janowitz. Because of his first name, I figured he was a recent MFA prodigy but no, this guy is venerable!

                                                                      Joel Janovitz

                                                                      Joel Janowitz

Great painter! I approve!

And here is one of the late masterpieces of Franz Kline;

                                                              Scudera by Franz Kline

And an I-pad thing of mine;

                                                         Randall David Tipton I-pad

Not as charming as I thought coming after a mighty Kline!

I`m ready to love again, we are looking for a kitten! Is it wrong to want an orange one?

work for sale in my studio

"New Landscapes" Coos Art Museum until Oct. 1.  [Southern Oregon Coast]

"On Paper" Marcia Burtt Gallery, Santa Barbara Aug.26 - Oct.2

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cape Arago Forest - Oregon

                                                      watercolor on Yupo 13.5x40

 Iceland had some trees but nothing like the rainforests of the Oregon coast.
In black and white, I began on the right and worked to the left completing each section as I moved. The larger trees and the dark shapes I had photographed and could refer to. But I never paint this way. Generally the whole thing is in motion for quite some time. This felt like a narrative of just visual elements and I felt more like a scribe than an artist. Walk in the woods enough and these 'facts' become part of the painter.


 Let me tell you, a happy bride getting down on the dance floor in her puffy dress is a beautiful sight!
Luckily they didn`t ask but if they had, I would have said keep it simple, elope, save some money! No, Liz and Eric had a vision and they saw it through! And I am grateful as it was pure joy! The ceremony was at 5:30 in full sun and 99 degrees. It didn`t matter. In fact I think it enhanced it. After the short vows we raced to the dim air conditioned ballroom for the reception. It was lovely, like a cool cave! When the dancing began the wedding party and friends went tribal moving in a pulsating circle. The event was the best three days I`ve had in a long time!

 We are looking at houses with potential studio space in Camas or Washougal WA. Not easy. This has to be my last move and I know it will nearly kill me. So the new home must feel right. It is hard to leave this;

But maybe this one if I can figure out where to paint;

Words elude me right now so here are some flowers, past and present.

                                                         John and Randall Iceland selfie

work for sale in my studio

"On Paper" [group] Marcia Burtt Studio Gallery, Santa Barbara CA Aug.26-Oct.2
"New Landscapes" Coos Art Museum July 9 - Oct. 1

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fjaorgliufur ! [Icelandic Canyon]

                                                       watercolor on Yupo 12x12

 Just like painting the geothermal pools in Yellowstone, this canyon in South Iceland was so ornate and unbelievable there wasn`t a credible visual 'center' to work from. When the facts are so odd and unfamiliar, questions about realism are irrelevant. Any rendering will be as strange as the site itself. So after traveling so far and at considerable expense to see this wonder, I`m sort of paralyzed as to how to proceed with painting it. I was there for a couple of hours but there was a lifetime of material.

                                                            Fjaorgliufur photo

 For the ten days since our return my head has been spinning with confusion about whether to even try to paint what I saw. I`ll probably do some watercolors and feel it out, over time.
Before leaving, I had been in Coos Bay and exploring the preserves and parks in that part of the southern Oregon coast. No problems with that landscape.

 My brilliant niece Elizabeth is getting married the day after tomorrow. To a fine young man and an original thinker. Lots of relatives about and joy in the air. My brother Gary would have been so proud of this moment, he loved her exuberant spirit. She truly is unique and it`s been fascinating watching her grow up.
So, with all the commotion I`ve had to clean my house! Big project!
Interesting thing, as soon as I start, I`m suddenly filled with artistic inspiration. Dying to get into the studio after doing nothing for a week.
In his illuminating book "The Erotic Mind", Jack Morin explains the one thing that will intensify desire is an obstacle. Too busy scrubbing the stove, well of course my authentic destiny as a painter will beckon!
The opposite can be true as well. Clear the decks of any and all intrusions into quality painting time and you may enter the studio empty of ideas. It`s maddening and perverse and all too human.

                                                    Gjian panorama by John Sanders

 The utopian, impossible paradise set in the badlands of interior Iceland.


 My new favorite brush; sharp point, heavy load, cheap and imitation squirrel!


 Most of the watermedia supplies I use. The Holbein watercolors are key.

From the files;

                                                      Snowfield Auke Bay oil on canvas 40x30

Painted from a drawing done on a ferry in Alaska.

work for sale in my studio

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Siuslaw Study - Iceland

                                                              Siuslaw Study watermedia on Yupo 12x9

 Driving home from Coos Bay a couple of weeks ago, we stopped along a road in Appleton to get a good look at the Siuslaw River. It was flowing quietly in the evening light and the riverbank was in full summer flush.

 Iceland delivered! The beauty was everywhere, ridiculously casual! The most astounding sights breezed past our moving car. We took many photos while in motion because there were very few places where the road was wide enough to pull over. This was one of those;

 Just a farm with a waterfall and canyon in the backyard.

Many places were quite similar to New Mexico but with even less people. The place was immaculate too. No litter, billboards, crappy tourist attractions, or distractions of any kind other than the extraordinary landscape. The smallest waterways were lush with healthy vegetation;

 Art Travel booked us into a remarkable place called Solheimar, the oldest intentional community on earth. It was our base as we explored the South.
Word to the wise, get Icelandic made GPS if at all possible. We had two that often proved worthless. The small, tasteful roadsigns were barely legible so maps became much more necessary. Although  everyone graciously speaks English, the language is still ball busting. With seven extra letters, the pronunciation of anything is an embarrassing guess. John was making some headway, he loves languages, but Icelandic is a tough nut. Place names are naturally in the mother tongue, and that makes talking about them very difficult. But with lots of stops to confer with the locals, we found our destinations. Gjian was one of them. In dusty terrain that could have been Utah, one tiny sign directed us to this extravagant oasis;

 So over the top magical, it reminded me of a hippie, back to the earth poster from the sixties. BTW, you pronounce it gal-win. It wasn`t easy to find and    Fjaorgliufur wasn`t either;

 Even though I was there less than a week ago, it`s hard to believe something so completely fantastical exists. Look at those curves!
We also saw some of the more famous sites too, such as Gullfoss;

 Although geothermal activity was visible with steaming fumaroles throughout the landscape, there were also concentrations of features like at Yellowstone.

Now being so far north, the day stretched on endlessly. As a night owl who wishes he could be a morning person, the vast daylight was a total luxury. One can go visit Geysir at 11 pm! or 2 am! Plenty of light in July and no tour busses then! Sunset at midnight is a beautiful thing!

 Not much artwork was made except for I-pad doodles drawn on the plane or in downtime;