Tuesday, August 25, 2015

November Dusk and New Mexico watercolors

                                                     November Dusk oil on canvas 20x20

 This finally came from a post-Thanksgiving visit to Minto Brown Island six years ago.  The wistful beauty of autumn always claims my attention, whenever it is painted.
  Summer is the time I can create paintings I`ve intended to for a long time. There isn`t the distraction of fresh inspiration. In winter, a simple walk out to the mailbox might offer something visually arresting. This time of year it`s mostly just green out there and in late August, a little frayed. These delayed paintings feel a little disembodied in the execution as there isn`t the recent experience of being there. It takes something like meditation to recall that time.

Below are some watercolors I did in New Mexico around 25 years ago;

                                                       Broken Cliff watercolor on paper 10x8

                                                     Far Utah watermedia on paper 22x14

                                                  Santa Cruz Lake watermedia on paper 32x21

                                                 Badlands watercolor on paper 16x10

                                                      Taos watercolor on paper 9x12

 NPR did a story on the wet summer New Mexico is having. The drought there has been even worse than in California. As the landscape comes to life again, it must be bringing immeasurable joy. This is good news indeed, I wish I could go see it.

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Portland Open Studios Oct. 10,11,17, and 18

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

High Tide Below

                                                      High Tide Below oil on canvas 20x20

 This is a composite derived from peering over cliffs in California and British Columbia.

 The Northwest is burning. Hot smoky summers are expected annually. Unless the judiciary gets involved, it`s nearly impossible to imagine the political will to act on global warming. It will take a catastrophe. Winston Churchill said America will always do the right thing, but only after it`s tried everything else.

                                            Fire in the Forest watermedia on paper 12x9

 Summer is slowly closing down, the angle of the light is taking on a hint of autumn.
Here is a watercolor of the season done by the late genius David Levine. Better known for his caricatures of the famous, he was also a fabulous painter. Somehow I became aware of his work early in my life and I learned a lot about the medium by studying reproductions of his. Coney Island was his muse. I`ve never been there but know exactly what it is like.

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Portland Open Studios coming in mid Oct.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hiver Marais and other watercolors

                                                 Hiver Marais 1 watercolor on yupo 12x9

                                                     Hiver Marais 2 watermedia on yupo 12x9

                                             Hiver Marais 3 watermedia on yupo 8x8

 There really are just a few ways to say 'winter wetlands' in English and I`ve used them all to the point of confusion. So I`ve turned to French for help, just don`t ask me to pronounce it.
Places can be muses as much as people. O`Keefe had the Pedernal, that iconic flat topped mesa you see in many of her paintings. Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Vitoire repeatedly and what would Diebenkorn have done without the salt air to inspire his Ocean Parks?
My obsession is Minto Brown Island and in particular, its sloughs and wetlands. Because it`s 40 miles away, it`s always a special occasion when I visit. The only season I haven`t seen there is summer,  I`m sure it is an emerald paradise. Some day... But it is in winter that it is so thrilling, full of color yet solemn, often flooded with the sky in motion reflected everywhere, and the atmosphere soft and quiet. As much as I`ve painted it, I feel I`ve only succeeded in rendering its damp essence a few times. I never tire of trying.

                                            Bluff above the Lake watercolor on yupo 12x9

 Another stab at the monolithic bluff rising above Lake Oswego. Still inadequate. There is so much ornate vegetation spilling down the side it looks sort of festive. Like a wedding cake.

                                                   Contreforts Study watermedia on paper 8x6

More French, this time for foothills.

Here, in my opinion, is a perfect painting;

                                                           We Walk to Tivoli by James O`Shea

 I am anything but acquisitive but I covet this painting. O`Shea is a New York artist with a deep understanding of the landscape.

                  Vine snake, creating an unrealistic body image for all the other snakes

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Portland Open Studios [mid Oct.]

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Year Oaks - new and old abstraction

                                                    New Year Oaks oil on canvas 20x20

 Lacamas Park in Camas WA abounds with old heroic oaks flanking its peaks. Walking uphill you can see sections cropped by a rocky foreground or masses of dark green firs. In the winter fog, the bare trees seem especially noble.

 My friend Don Gray was in the studio recently and said something to the effect of 'I don`t see why abstraction seems so hard for you, you do it well'. When he speaks I listen. I have always done some as a respite from representation but when I `ve tried to really focus on it, I hit a wall in short order. It feels like I lack the maturity. Nonetheless, again I`m contemplating a commitment of several months to see what happens this time. I could just be restless because it`s summer. Often I feel trapped indoors because of the heat and intense sunshine so I`m not getting out into nature as much as I`d like. Consequently I have few fresh ideas for new work. It`s August, the cool and color of autumn aren`t far off.

                                          Scent in the Morning watermedia on paper 12x9

 Here is a new one [above]. Below are some I did 27-30 years ago.

                                                            oil on canvas 40x30

                                                                    oil on canvas 46x46

                                                          watermedia on paper 9x12

                                                            oil on canvas 48x36

 A couple of years ago an old friend from New Mexico was visiting and we painted together in the studio as it rained a deluge outside. I mentioned Charles Burchfield and I was surprised she didn`t know of him. I wonder if he`s being forgotten? He could never be categorized as his work is truly visionary and it always seemed to me well before its time. Take a look at these, they pulsate!;

                                                             Charles Burchfield

                                                              Charles Burchfield

 Almost incredibly, he was very successful even though he was most active in the first half of the twentieth century. I find his uniquely personal response to the landscape awe inspiring.

                                                          Love Nympth by Anders Zorn

This painting by Anders Zorn is so cheesy it transcends itself into greatness! Look at that skin! The color is so remarkable! The bottom 2/3rds is almost monochromatic broken only by the red foliage. The upper third is animated by a luxurious palm with much more vitality than the nympth. I have stared at this for long periods of time. A guilty pleasure.

 Being a dropout, I`m always late to the party. Only now have I finally experienced The Great Gatsby. I listened to the Audible.com version masterfully read by Jake Gyllenhaal. I was flabbergasted by such beautiful writing! Within a few paragraphs, I was taken. The visual images were so atmospheric and the story just ached. My goodness. At the moment I`m listening to Annie Proulx`s That Old Ace in the Hole. She`s a genius and I `m loving it but I`m going to listen again to Gatsby when I`m finished.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Riverlight[s] - Reflections

                                                           Riverlight 1 oil on canvas 20x20

                                                           Riverlight 2 oil on canvas 20x20

 These are new paintings of the Tualatin River near where it joins the Willamette southwest of West Linn. The bluff shades the river much of the time with bits of the shore in sunlight.

My show at the White Bird Gallery continues, please take a look if you`re on the north coast.
And opening next Saturday, Aug. 1 is a group show of work with the theme of 'Oregon City' at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art. I was asked if I`d like to participate and agreed as a prompt to finally paint a view of the falls and the mills that I`ve had in mind for years. Definitely out of my comfort zone with all the straight lines and perspective;

                                                       Oregon City January 30x48 oil on canvas

 After seeing how Astoria has reinvented itself two weeks ago, I`m confident Oregon City has a similar future. The Willamette Falls Legacy Project is going to turn that town into something radiant. Investors take note!

Yesterday I moved some of my late brother Gary`s paintings to my studio for storage or possibly resale. He would have been 68 two days ago and started buying my work when he was in his twenties and I was still a teen. The quality of his collection is therefore quite mixed. Now seven years since his death, his wife Mary has decided to sell the house and move into something smaller and more practical with all the girls adult and on their own. It`s a poignant moment. Having these pieces around me has sure made me miss him. There was nothing equivocal about him and his instincts were good. Though not his taste. He also collected those porcelain plates with fairy tale illustrations on them and glass crystal balls which were everywhere in his bachelor condominium. His wife was first his employee at Hewlett Packard and she tells a funny story about a meeting his staff had in his home. Being completely unhomophobic, he had watercolors of naked men I had done on the walls, about a dozen of the obnoxious plates on the mantel and at least one colored crystal ball on every level surface. Everyone  respectfully kept on topic with nervous glances shooting all around the living room. He was so funny and such a leader, smart supervisors just let him be himself.
This was before Carly Fiorina trashed the company. Now she wants to be President!?
Here is one of the paintings;

                                                       watermedia on paper 48x36

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Watercolors

                                                 Creeklight 2015 watercolor on paper 8x6

 My second show of the year with Tom Cramer opened last night at the White Bird Gallery. With that project complete, we took a trip to Astoria this week for a little vacation. It had been nine years since we spent much time there. I read it had become a 'hipster' outpost and if that means young men with tattoos, yep, it`s been colonized. The economic health of the city has improved tremendously! Not surprisingly, artists found it and some of the old canneries are now studios. New restaurants, brewpubs and coffee houses abound. We stayed at the Franklin Station Bed and Breakfast in their top floor room. Moderately priced with sweeping views of the Columbia and operated by the most charming, informed host I can imagine. I could have talked to her all day.
 Apparently there are enough painters to support a wonderful, independent art supply store with the unfortunate name of Dots and Doodles. This place is professional and had everything I use along with extremely knowledgeable owners. It was such a pleasure to shop there! The huge corporate suppliers can`t compare to a locally owned intelligent shop.
 Finally, after 23 years in Oregon, I visited Fort Stevens. I didn`t even really know what it was. Beyond its important military history, it`s a nature paradise!

                                      Ft. Stevens Stream watermedia on Terraskin 13.5x9.5

 At last I got my hands on some TerraSkin! I had used it only once before and had loved its Yupo-like surface and eco-friendly composition. It`s made from calcium carbonate. Though more delicate than Yupo, it`s easier to work with due to a slight tooth. Here`s another;

                                         January Slough watermedia on Terraskin 10x8

                                             Breaking Sky Study watercolor on paper 8x6

 This is on 100% cotton paper made by Fluid. After all that searching and research into various watercolor papers earlier in the year, I think this is my answer. Not tough enough for a lot of reworking but sturdy enough for direct hit or miss experiments.

                                            The Rocky Shore watercolor and ink 7x7

 This is on the five cents a sheet 100% cotton typing paper I found at I`ve Been Framed. Any locals who have not visited this iconic bargain hunters shop are missing out. Super nice staff, close out deals, obscure papers, affordable framing and cheap brushes! Allot enough time to explore.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Metolius - Oneanta - Multnomah !

                                                     Metolius Riverbank oil on canvas 20x20

 I`m finishing up a show for the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach, opening July 18 and continuing through August 25. Another pairing with my friend Tom Cramer and also the potters Dave and Bonnie Deal. Stop by if you`re on the north coast!
This painting is of a small fragment of the Metolius River, that marvel that gushes from a spring high in the mountains fully formed. I finally saw it last September and it was quite unusual.
The edges of things and transitional zones fascinate me. Like the wetlands which seem to be earth, water and sky all at once. Or the high tide line as the ocean retreats leaving its treasures. The banks of the creeks and rivers around me are often heaped with decaying trees and vegetation with healthy new grasses, ferns, saplings and mosses growing among and upon them. Life and death, side by side.

                                                          Oneanta oil on panel 10x8

 I love my country but not its birthday. I join the dogs hiding in the bathtub. Too much testosterone, booze, heat and noise! A few years ago I had the brilliant idea of going to a late movie and avoiding the mayhem. We saw the charming Moonrise Kingdom. But even in the dark pit of a theater with its encompassing surround sound, the fireworks outside sounded like a bombing raid.
Last night was different. We were invited to a family gathering at the home of Laura Foster. Two years ago she bought this painting as an engagement gift for her daughter.
But Anna was not engaged.
Now living in Minnesota, she still correctly believes Oneanta Gorge to be the most special place on earth. Last Friday on a hike there, her beloved Luke asked her to marry him. The painting was presented to the couple as we ate on the lawn and watched the sun set.
Much better than holing up in my bunker with NPR too loud.

                                              Multnomah Morning oil on canvas 12x12

I`m not often up for the sunrise but if I were and if I was on a houseboat in the Multnomah Channel, I think it might look like this.
It`s on the shores of our big waterways that the sky opens up for our viewing pleasure. The trees are behind us, the breeze smells of mud and sometimes the ocean, and the water becomes an enormous mirror reflecting the movements of the clouds. It can feel perfect.

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