Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bryant Woods - Oswego Lagoon - NFL -Tom Uttech

                                           Within Bryant Woods oil on panel 12x12

 This little painting began as a short demo for a curious visiting painter. These woods are my 'go to' place for beauty, I can walk there.

                                             Oswego Lagoon Study oil on Yupo 14x11

 A study for an oil painting I`m working on now. The lagoon is formed when the tiny Oswego Creek joins the Willamette River. Somehow a large protected pool was formed at this confluence. A footbridge crosses it with a view upstream that is ghostly and serene in winter. Here is an earlier version from 2011;

                                                    Winter Creek oil on canvas 20x16

  This blog is called Painter`s Process because I mostly talk about the creation of art. The psychological struggles, aesthetic concerns, technical questions and career realities. Sometimes natural history and science too. But my other two loves are politics and food. I have passionate opinions with both, the former I share here rarely but the other I`m going to more often.

 As a young teenager thinking my way through the Christian orthodoxy I was raised with but still a believer in its compassionate and generous values, I took to politics as a real world expression of these beliefs. I remember staying up watching the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago late into the night. MLK and Robert Kennedy had been killed just months before. I was frightened and only 13 but I knew that this mattered. I knew that those student protesters threatened the order families depend on, but I also could tell they were right, that the war was tragically wrong. Though I`ve never been an activist I`ve always believed politics to be a critically important and moral part of citizenship.

 Mitch Burrell has been a regular attendee at my monthly demonstration. For the last one, he appeared carrying a disc wrapped in foil. I thought he said 'fritatta' so as I set it on a table I announced it to everyone and maybe they thought like me, a quiche-like thing, now cold. No one even peeked. This became my great good fortune! When I went up to the kitchen after everyone had left, I opened the parcel up to find a thin cake dusted with powdered sugar. I cut some wedges and took a bite. It was intensely almond then came a nice note of anise. It was perfect and simple. John and I tried to think of something, anything that would enhance it. We couldn`t, no fruit or sauce or even whipped cream. Great Italian food is often like that. So uncomplicated it`s hard to believe yet change one ingredient or ratio in the recipe and it will fail. Mitch sent it to me saying it was from a cookbook called 'Tuscany the Beautiful'. Here it is;
1 cup of ground almonds, 1 of flour, 1of sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 TBS. of fennel seeds. Mix, Add 1 cup of milk. Bake 1 hour at 350 in a tart pan. [M. says it needs to be a spring form pan. There goes the Tuscan simplicity!] Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

 My niece Elizabeth posted this 'selfie' clip on Facebook of a Seattle Seahawks fan at the NFL playoff the other night. It`s mostly just his face but you can literally read what is happening in his expressions. I`m not a sports fan but I`m moved by human emotion and this young man`s joy is a sight to behold!

                                                        Tom Uttech 1983

 E M Corsa told me my work reminded her of Tom Uttech`s. She couldn`t have praised me more as Tom has long been a hero of mine. I see actual similarities in the older piece of his I`ve posted above but his current work is different. No particular stories are being told in his paintings yet they read to me like spiritual narratives, the Big Story found in the details. I`ve never seen one in person so I was surprised in this video to learn how important biological accuracy is to him. His landscapes of the upper Great Lakes are rich and intimate views of another kind of reality.

My website is updated and now includes work from 2014. Thanks Jeremy and Anneliese!

 I will be demonstrating my watermedia technique near the close of my show 'Environments' with Tom Cramer, at the site, Museum 510 on First St. downtown Lake Oswego, Thurs. March 26 at 11 am. All are welcome. Tom and I will also be giving a gallery talk Thurs. March 19 at 6:30 pm.

[updated] work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter Morning-Fanno Creek Wetlands + other marshes

                                        watercolor and oil on yupo 26x20

 This was my demonstration painting from last Saturday. The day before I had walked around the Fanno Creek wetlands in Cook`s Park taking mental notes. So as I began the demo with watercolors, I was confident about my intention. The subject was the dormant grasses in the foreground water with bleak bare trees and brambles behind. Illuminating it all was to be a cloudy sky in Easter egg colors. Things went south quickly as my sky refused to take shape and I re-emulsified it repeatedly. With 20 eyes watching me, I just wanted to set the mood in the hour and a half I had with them. Nope, even alone that night not much went right. Getting desperate, I went nuclear. I sealed it all up with a spray acrylic and took it to the oil painting side of my studio. I`m always telling frustrated watercolorists to work in oils. Much easier to control! Usually so. This was a defeat and I`m posting it because I told my guests I would. We all want to see how the story ends.
Below are some earlier, more successful marshes.

                                                  oil on paper 12x9

                                                 oil on canvas 10x30

                                         watermedia on Yupo 12x12

 When I posted a Mary Oliver poem recently, others wrote me who loved her work as well. I`ve never heard or read any dismissive comment about her from anyone. I tried to think of other artists so unanimously admired. My list was short. One was Johnny Cash. Has there ever been a more convincing voice of moral authority? Another was Andy Goldsworthy, that magician who uses the earth itself for his art. I actually have an little issue with him though he is innocent. All of the projects, stunts and happenings that exist only to be photographed or videoed, then posted on the internet, I think derive from his marvelous, temporary works of art. I had had enough when I saw a clip of balls rolling down through a forest hitting bamboo planks with the sound recreating a Bach concerto. Why?
 Here`s an interesting video of the man himself talking about what he does. Here is one of his simple elegant works;

 Now for a recipe, yes, a recipe. This is good, easy and my own little accidental invention.
 one package of Trader Joe`s Belgian Endive [3 small heads]
 one ripe avocado
 one large red grapefruit
  Slice the endive into 1/4 rounds and place in a large bowl. Dice the avocado and add. Peel the grapefruit by scoring it into quarters first, then use a paring knife to remove any pith. Slice into small pieces like in the photo below. Be careful to remove any seeds. Sprinkle with good salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Toss.

See this cat? See that rug?

 That`s Jackson, my cat with 'issues'.
In a classic example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, we found him a companion, a playmate 13 years ago. He does indeed play with Lincoln yet also nurses a bitter resentment. The new member of our household has never been welcome by Jackson and he reminds us by vomiting. Oh the remedies, foods, medications, and therapies we`ve tried!
 We`ve sorely needed new furniture for a long time now but have held off as we`ve searched for the holy grail that would solve this matter. After finally casting out a particularly hideous coffee table that I literally found on the side of the road, we were left with a giant void of a bare floor. Now, we really needed at least a rug. So off I went to IKEA with a mission. This floor covering had to be densely woven, with a complicated pattern, short easy to clean fibers and Big. I had budgeted a whopping $700, this was how urgent our situation was!
But this marvelous rug was only $65! Thank you IKEA!!
 'Problem' pets can teach us how to do the impossible, love unconditionally. That`s no small thing.

work for sale in my studio

next open demonstration, Sat. Feb. 14, 10 am

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tualatin Overflow 2 - sketches - foggy walking

                                        oil on canvas 18x36

  That`s all I could do for a week, not much!
I`m sometimes asked what I`ve been doing and I`m flummoxed how to answer. Everyone knows I paint as often as possible but what is hard to get across is how much minutia a painting career entails. Much of it is so tedious and boring, not good conversation at all! Mentioning any of it just sounds like whining. After all, being able to devote myself to painting is something of a privilege. I don`t take it for granted either and I`m especially grateful that I`ve never struggled with identity. I`ve seen that issue consume people.
  This week has been dominated by necessary tasks. I`ve spent a whole lot of time on photography preparing for my website update, assembling publicity materials for my show here in LO in March, rearranging my studio for teaching this weekend, framing and packing work for delivery to my new representative in Bend Oregon, the Paul Scott Gallery and to refresh myself I`ve taken some breathtaking walks in the cold wet fog, most recently along Oswego Creek and the Willamette River. The color has been outstanding!

work for sale in my studio 

watermedia demonstration Sat. Jan.10, 10 am-11:30


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lacamas New Season - Papers - Perseverance

                                      oil on canvas 30x24

  I was trying to suggest the tipping point where winter begins to move toward Spring. Here, that`s usually late January.
  I hike frequently in the hills above Lacamas Creek WA with my sister in law Mary. I always think it`s visually interesting though I remember taking some friends from Nebraska there during a bitterly cold moment a few years ago. They were not impressed with the wilted frozen ferns, the biting wind and treacherous footing. Normally it`s just wet, usually green with moss and there are stands of dramatically gnarled oak trees. Walking uphill among the rocky outcroppings you can see the branches rising behind the boulders. I love this and have painted it several times.

                                     oil on canvas 24x24

                                watermedia on yupo 12x12

                                     oil on canvas 20x20

  In the Spring of 2010 I had the most unusual visitor. She had decided  she deserved good art to live with even though she was near the end of her life. I can`t remember the wording of her google search but somehow she found my work and asked if she could come visit my studio. So between kidney dialysis appointments, this elderly woman drove non-stop from Boise Idaho to Portland, checked into a motel then called and came over. She bought three of my best paintings and returned home the next day.
  I have never felt so flattered and validated  in all my life.
  Yesterday one of her sons called to say she had passed and would I like to buy the paintings back? I have never been asked this question. These are the paintings;

                          Reed Canyon Spring oil on canvas 48x36

                             Mt. Talbert Fog oil on canvas 30x24

                          Stones by the Trail oil on canvas 18x24

  When I posted a few watercolors of Georgia O`Keefe`s recently I learned I wasn`t the only one curious about the paper she used. Betsy Chang had written a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York inquiring as well. She received a pdf file with several O`Keefe reproductions and an exhaustive analysis of her materials and methods. I thought it was fascinating but suspect only artists would care. If anyone would like to see it, I`ll be happy to forward it.
  The answer I was looking for is this - watercolor cartridge paper!
  Now, if someone would please tell me what that is?
  I have to be careful, I can get really obsessed with papers. Any paper and way past rational. What I would kill for is some of the exact paper our money is printed on. I know it has a high linen content and is obviously tough as hell. I bet watercolor would be sensational on it!

  For those older artists I mentioned in my last post, those returning to their creative natures again, here is a video by Ira Glass, the man behind the wonderful radio show 'This American Life'. He has some comforting words about the disconnect between taste and execution. He is talking about writing but it could just as well be painting.

Happy New Year!

Work for sale in my studio

watercolor on Yupo demonstration in my studio Sat. Jan 10, 10-11:30 am. Guests brought stools with them the last time and used them.
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR

Friday, December 26, 2014

Watercolors - Joseph Stella - Late Starts

                          Oregon Refuge 5 watercolor on paper 13x11

                          Over the Sea 28 watercolor on paper 5x7

                      Light in the Forest watermedia on Yupo 6x6

                  Winter Rainforest Study watermedia on paper 12x9

  Two new clouds, two older forests.
Unlike many artists, I don`t identify myself as an 'oil' painter or as a 'watercolorist'. I`ll paint with anything however watercolor was my first love. Maybe everyone`s, toddlers aren`t usually given oil paints and solvents.

  Because research is now instant rather than having to take a trip to the library or make phone calls, our curiosity has met its match in the internet.
Just this morning in bed, on my cell phone, I began some research into the under celebrated painter Joesph Stella. He`s long been a favorite but I remember being frustrated by a lack of information about him. Not any more. The Italian immigrant isn`t better known because he doggedly followed his muse into some very strange places. He`s best known for his early work as a Futurist and is justly famous for his magnificent paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge;

   Then he abandons the avant garde to delve inward and construct deeply personal and often complex images based on folk art from his homeland, his travels in the tropics, his interest in surrealism and experiments with collage. Most completely defy categorization;

Here is his masterpiece, 'The Tree of my Life';

  I could look at this indefinitely! I have such regard for the artist who wanders away from their fame to do something else. Something important.
This is in the National Gallery and is one more reason to visit D.C. There will be a tipping point!

  Since moving to Lake Oswego and beginning to teach, I`ve met many older adults who`ve taken up painting again after long hiatuses away. More often than not to have a family, or a more practical career. Sometimes there is a rueful quality in this decision as well as  a lack of confidence. Nearly all think the big issue is technique and the hours required to become skillful. It`s not. A long searching look within is required to figure out what you love visually. What fires you up with painting and why? This takes separating what we appreciate from what animates us emotionally. If we know what language to speak, that`s a huge advantage. Finding what we want to say will follow. If the technical ambitions correspond to the aesthetic goals, the process will have direction and focus.
  Those that persist through their feelings of foolishness and inadequacy deserve respect. They are honoring their younger selves and the ideals they`ve carried quietly with them ever since. There is a parallel in psychotherapy where the adult patient learns to recognize, then comfort and protect the child they once were. I sense with many of the adult painters I meet a yearning to retrieve something of great value. While they still can.
This is noble.

  Here is an article on some late starting artists.

 Artist Beatrice Wood. What an inspiration ! Her most productive years were from age 80 to 105. "I owe it all to art books, chocolate and young men."  


work for sale in my studio

watermedia demonstration in the studio Jan.10, 10 am

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tualatin Overflow'-O`Keefe Watercolors-the Longest Night

                                       oil on canvas 30x24

  This new painting comes from a walk last week along the Tualatin River. I live close to its destination, the Willamette River. Here it`s at its widest and at this time of year flows with purpose. Yet even swollen with rain and silt, it`s maternal and graceful.

                                        oil on panel 12x12

 Another untitled abstraction, this makes five of these 12 inch squares. I think it`s out of my system now.

  A quest I`ve been on for decades is finding out what kind of paper Georgia O`Keefe used for her watercolors of the 19teens and then getting some for myself. This was in the beginning of her career and I don`t think she could afford hand made imports from Europe. The works are remarkable in their simplicity and eloquence. The colors sit on the surface and sometimes flow into each other. With extreme yet painterly minimalism she suggests vast spaces;

                                 Light Coming on the Plains

                                  Pink and  Green Mountains

                                          Starlight Night

  She`s best known for her giant flowers and New Mexico landscapes but it`s these modest watercolors that get to me. Here she is in a short video.
  I was in I`ve Been Framed recently and thought I might have hit pay dirt. Amid the reams of odd, sometimes unidentified, discontinued and surplus papers I found a legal size document paper that was 100% cotton. Nice texture to it and at 5 cents a sheet, a steal. I bought 20 and tried it as soon as I got home;

                                       Sky and Sea [Tipton]

  Not bad but not as hard a paper as I had hoped for. This took lots of pigment and the washes were absorbed in a less than sparkling manner. The search continues...

                The Longest Night watermedia on paper 12x9

  A few years ago when she was still driving, during a bright and rainless December, my Mom asked me why the sun was always in her eyes. It might have just been conversation, maybe a senior moment, but I didn`t know where to begin with an answer. I thought it was common knowledge how the seasons happen, the tilt of the earth etc. but maybe it isn`t?
  I`m not a pagan or Wicca or anything New Age, nonetheless I think the winter solstice is truly significant. The early Christian Church agreed and placed the birthday of Christ right at this juncture. In the northern hemisphere it meant the return of a growing season, warmth and the chance of continuing survival. Life and Death. The progressive return of the sun, our first god, represented hope itself.
This is the season for light, these are the longest nights.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, December 15, 2014

November Rain 3

                                      oil on canvas 24x24

  This was my oil painting demonstration from last Saturday. I wanted to show how similar the technique was to how I paint with watermedia. They are often mistaken for each other.  Nearly always, I paint flat on the table using Gamsol mineral spirits instead of water and Liquin instead of acrylic medium. I pour washes made by combining the Gamsol and Liquin with color. Often I`ll use gravity to spread the paint by tilting the canvas. The first of these misty forests was watercolor.
  The artist and gallerist Roxanne Clingman came to the demo bearing a gift, a Princeton 'Catalyst' polytip Angle Bright Brush! I will paint with anything but this particular brush is a favorite of mine. How did she know? I didn`t even know the name of it but recognized it at once.
  It took me a while to figure out why, but because I participated in the Portland Open Studios, Gamblin Paints [based here in Portland] gave me a gift certificate for $50! That was nice! Other painters didn`t get one so I was confused at first. Then I remembered I had listed oils as my primary medium on the P.O.S. application. They make excellent oil paints and I`ve come to depend on their unusual, densely opaque colors called 'Radiants'. With my certificate I asked for a tube of Cadmium Red Medium and Cadmium Yellow Light. They were $25 apiece. The red [medium] is so utterly sensual just moving it around the palette is a hypnotic pleasure. It`s perfectly red too, not leaning to Rose like the new synthetic ones such as Pyrol And it has no warm undertone, one can make beautiful purples with it. If I ever give up landscape painting it will be because of red, and Gamblin`s Cad. Red Med. is the best.

Next demo will be watercolor, Jan. 10, 2015.

available work for sale in my studio