Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fanno Creek February

                                               Fanno Creek February oil on canvas 30x24

 My first painting of Feb., from the acre or so of wetlands where Fanno Creek joins the Tualatin River. [Easy to get to from Durham Park] Certain little places in the landscape grab and hold me, this is one.

We`re planning to move to Camas WA in the Fall to be nearer to my family. The hospice experience with my Mom made me realize I wanted to be closer to my brother and sisters in law. We worked so well together in caring for her.
But I will miss the special places in and around Lake Oswego I`ve become attached to.

 And speaking of Mom, she left her sons a little money! It is a bittersweet gift because she worried she`d outlive her funds but she didn`t.
Now I`m spending it and this would please her.
We`ve ordered a new sofa which is being made in a neighboring community.
I bought a painting! This is something I rarely do because I already have a couple  thousand paintings of my own. Look at this gem!;

                                                                 Melody Cleary

 There is no way I can look at this and not feel better. Thank you Melody!

In December I was in the home of Ruth Armitage and she showed me her new Ipad Pro as well as her snazzy new drawing stylus which she used with the drawing app called Procreate. I have used Art Rage and Brushes and found them complicated and frustrating while using my finger as the 'pencil'. But David Hockney, who is older than me, had mastered them so I kept trying. Ruth said Procreate was easy and she handed it to me. Within seconds I could tell this was altogether different. The great innovation was the pressure sensitive stylus. This allows for all the nuance in human emotion that comes through the hand. And it`s fast! So I just bought one too and I`m very excited. It will be terrific to take out on location with my plein air friends. These are my first attempts;

 Separated by an ocean and a continent, I have finally found my soulmate in painting. She lives in London but loves what I love. Elizabeth McGill paints the ambiance of forests and parks through painterly, expressive means;

                                                                 Elizabeth Mcgill

 Nice little reception last night at the Johnstone Financial Advisors. Turns out deep blue is the optimal color to display my work against!  The building is a wonderful example of optimistic, flamboyant 1970`s architecture. Take a look, get some advice!

work for sale in my studio

Sunday, January 31, 2016


                                                             Understory oil on canvas 36x60

 I`ve been locked in mortal combat with this painting the last 10 days. This is the second painting on this canvas and the process made me wonder if it ever got easier? Doesn`t experience count? I`m so sick of it, it will just have to be 'good enough' for now. Elizabeth Gilbert makes the point that perfectionism will make us crazy and that sometimes it`s best just to accept the work when it isn`t our best. Move on to the next good idea. All I wanted was to create an intimate sense of summer. Maybe I did...       No more green for a while!

Unknown works of Richard Diebenkorn have come into view at the Van Doren Waxler Gallery in New York! Look at this beauty;

                                                             Richard Diebenkorn work on paper

 And his sketchbooks were donated by his wife to Cantor Arts Center at Stanford and every single page is online! There is no better way to know what an artist thinks than by perusing their sketchbooks. They are the thing I grab when the house catches fire.

 Good news, bad news. Your spouses were right. There is enough research now to confirm that creative individuals have very high levels of psychopathology. But they also test extremely high for psychological health. It seems that contradiction and paradox are the norm. As if we need to be told! The coexistence of opposites is the engine of creativity.

                                                          Silver Sand oil on canvas 5x5

The Johnstone Financial Advisors give great advice, like good art, drink nice wine, and serve delicious hors d`oeuvres. Come meet them and me this Friday evening Feb. 5, 5-7 pm. The location is on 3rd St. just a block south of A [toward the lake] in downtown Lake Oswego.

work for sale in my studio

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coastal Creek - winter wetlands

                                                        Coastal Creek oil on canvas 48x36

 Finally something new and big! I wanted a larger version of this. After complaining so much about summer and the overwhelming green, I do this in the dead of winter! I really don`t like being so perverse but there you go.
Those streams pouring off Cascade Head are so pure and undisturbed, I hoped to get a sense of the lush vitality of those summer forests.

 Here are some winter paintings. These 12x9 studies were painted ten years ago and the subject is the dormant wetlands of the Crystal Springs right in the middle of the Reed College campus. The beautiful little canyon thrives due to volunteers and careful stewardship. I spent a lot of time in its cool shade while living in the treeless Brentwood Darlington neighborhood in Portland. Angelita Surmon has also painted a body of work based on the canyon.

 I had never seen the name and I still don`t know how to pronounce it. Whether Diarmuid Kelly was male or female was also a mystery. Then I stumbled on this video.
 A dude, and he can paint like a master!
 I saw the piece below years ago and thought it oddly enigmatic. The figure's hands have a gesture of blessing or surrender and he seems to be lying in a livestock water troff in a convalescence of some sort. What`s going on?

                                                              Diarmuid Kelly

 Here is one of his gorgeous still lives. He even got the fuzz!!

                                                          Diarmuid Kelly-peaches

 In a collaboration with the Lake Oswego Arts Council, the Johnstone Financial Advisors are displaying a dozen of my paintings, the majority of them large. They look better than I`ve ever seen on the deep blue walls. Visit during normal business hours or come say hello at the reception Friday, February 5th.

I just finished`s incredible reading of Wallace Stegner`s Angle of Repose. This historical novel of the American West is a rich and thorough examination of a marriage. The narrator, Mark Bramhall, is such a gifted actor, every character is vibrantly believable. It`s a long book that I savored and it helped keep me afloat during the dark December.

work for sale in my studio

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fen Forest

                                                              Fen Forest oil on canvas 20x16

 Finally a new oil painting! A fen is a wetland and this one is Oxbow Slough on Minto Brown Island. At the water`s edge, the bare lichen covered trees are a chaotic tangle of brittle branches. I was there last weekend with my camera and in my painting clothes knowing it would be muddy. Maybe I looked like a groundskeeper because two foreign families stopped me for information. I had to tell them I was a tourist too. That island makes me wish I lived in Salem!

 It`s been beautiful out there! We are in our tiny brief winter and I`m trying to get out in nature as often as possible. The stark clean landscapes will soon be budding for the annual onslaught of green. Now is the time to see the rich colors of winter.

                                                                Oswego Creek

                                                                Oswego Lagoon

                                                               Durham Park

                                                                   Minto Brown Copse

 I was so proud of our president`s executive action on background checks for gun sales and even prouder to see his tears of grief for those children just mowed down at Sandy Hook elementary school. It takes a brave man to show his emotions in public. Gun violence is a national disgrace we must confront with stubborn common sense and rigorous new laws. I`m all for the second amendment as it is written, and for sportsmen and honest self defense. But no one goes deer hunting with a machine gun.
 Then in the State of the Union address, he used the phrase 'unconditional love', that ultimate Christian challenge and dilemma. How do we love our enemy? Do you think any Republican presidential candidate ever considers that question?

President Obama`s many accomplishments are explored in this article from Politico.

                                                          Winter Still Life by Fred Cumming

 Fred Cumming is known best for his moody evocative seascapes of the English coast. Yet this still life is one of my favorites. The contrast between the bleak slushy field outside the window and the humble warmth within is so touching. Sort of like a microcosm of civilization valiant before the brute forces of nature. The guy is a visual poet! His website has a new video of him painting and here is an older one of him working on location.

                                                Chimayo Spring watermedia on paper 36x20 1988

 Those of you in truly cold places may be dreaming of Spring already. Be patient and try to find pleasure in the winter too. I tell myself this every summer when the heat is oppressive and the air is dirty. I want to enjoy my life in every season.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, January 4, 2016

Random Paintings

                                                         Columbia watermedia on paper 22x14

 Not much of anything good is happening in the studio so I thought I`d post some things that never appeared before or a long time ago.
 My brother Mike said he felt adrift and that word applies to me too. Mom was such an intense concern the last few years, now that she`s gone there is aimless quality to my day. Which of course I try to fill with worthy painting but it`s not working out so well yet. Next Saturday we`re going to Minto Brown Island on the way to visit John`s parents. That always gets me thinking!

                                                    Pears 3 watermedia on paper 12x9

                                                  The Lifting Fog watermedia on paper 16x12

                                                      Chimayo Badlands watermedia on paper 22x14

                                                              Iris watermedia on paper 12x9

                                                   Saplings near the Water oil on canvas 24x24

                                                            Falls acrylic on canvas 24x20 1976

This is another of my Mom`s paintings. Would it be unethical to fix it?

                                              Up from the Creek oil on canvas 16x7

My website has undergone its annual update!

Work for Sale in my Studio

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Year End Still Life

                                                 Rose Hip watermedia on Terraskin 13.5x9.5

                                                        Cliff Vines watermedia on paper 12x9

 These drawings are probably the last two pieces I will do this year. I`m back in my basement studio but organizing it in light of the flooding is taking more time than I would like. Usually December passes much too quickly, it`s my favorite time of all, but I`m ready for a whole new year.
Thanks to all of you who expressed condolence for my loss, it`s odd how helpful those little gestures are.
At a family gathering on Christmas, we played a cassette tape I found packing up my mother`s belongings. It was from the mid 90`s and was mostly my Dad practicing a presentation he and my Mom would be giving to their prayer group. It was anecdotal about his spiritual evolution and his voice was strong and sincere. I had forgotten what a born storyteller he was, it was riveting. The tape also included my very young niece Mackenzie singing Christmas songs with Mom joining in the background. She hasn`t been gone three weeks but to hear her 20 years younger in such a happy moment was grace itself. As we left my sister in law`s home on a hill in Camas, the steam from the paper mill billowed straight up into the night sky and glowed by the light of the full moon.

Ellsworth Kelly died today. The pioneering abstractionist was 92. The obituary in the New York Times is well worth reading. Though I never had any interest in minimal art, I sure liked his drawings;

                                                Drawings by Ellsworth Kelly

                                                Mendocino Meadow acrylic on canvas 15x32

This is a painting I gave my parents in 1975. After all these years it`s mine again. The subject is the enormous meadow that fronts the sea in Mendocino CA. I spent a lot of time there thinking as a young man.

                                                                 John Steinbeck

“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.” ~ John Steinbeck

Friday, December 18, 2015

Over the Sea 30 and other new watercolors

                                                  Over the Sea 30 watercolor on paper 12x9

                                            Trinity Mountain Study watermedia on paper 9x12

                                        Tryon Creek Summer Study watermedia on paper 8x6

 As I waited for the second flood to recede, I set up a little studio in our workout room upstairs;

 I really needed to paint, but I was so agitated I had no idea what. My momentum had been knocked off kilter weeks ago so I painted new pieces in themes I was familiar with. They were something. My studio is much more than a workplace, it`s a sanctuary where I regroup, do research, watch videos, nap, listen to music, write and imagine. My inner life comes alive down there. So being without it has been very alienating. It stayed dry through this last big storm so tomorrow I`m going to recolonize my oil painting area and begin work again.

This graphic comic by the Oatmeal about the tortured relationship between exercise and eating rang so true for me. I was a dedicated runner for decades and its positive contribution to my sanity cannot be exaggerated. Give this a read, it`s funny!

Have safe loving holidays. Give your mothers some extra affection.

Two more days to see my show at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art in Oregon City!

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