Thursday, May 26, 2016

Camassia Forest - Winter Lagoon

                                                    Camassia Forest oil on canvas 30x30


                                                        Winter Lagoon oil on canvas 30x30


 These may be the last two paintings I finish for my show in July at the Coos Art Museum. Now comes the tedious task of painting the edges of all these paintings, attaching hardware and then wrapping them in plastic for transport. That shouldn`t take a whole month so I will probably be painting again by mid June. I`m nearly certain these will be my last oil paintings. I need a faster drying time! What`s my hurry? Well, the paintings evolve through trial and error and I think that process could be expedited with acrylics. I`m not a patient guy. The texture is so different however, I`m sure I`ll have to learn some new techniques. I already use acrylics in combination with watercolor but those paintings are on paper and larger canvases and panels are what I have in mind. Golden is the brand I`ve been using because it`s American made but I`m open to suggestion. I would love to find an extremely dense white. On the order of Gamblin`s Radiant White oil paint. My new grail.


                                                                 Nicholas Wilton


 Nicholas Wilton writes an extremely pertinent blog on painting and careers. He is honest, humble and generous with his insights. In a recent video on 'style' and how to develop one, he offers a new way to think of it. When I`ve talked about making one`s work more personal I`ve approached it through subject matter. I think he has a better way, one that comes from the process itself. His writing and videos are almost a public service, they`re concise and deal with many of the struggles painters face daily.



My latest I pad painting 'Undergrowth'.


                                                  The Earth of Demeter by Chi Young Sung


 I discovered this extravagant botanical painting the other day on Pinterest. The artist is Korean and she works with mythical themes in vibrant, symbolic color. This painting has the kinetic energy and high spirits I love seeing in landscapes.


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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Autumn River - Anish Kapoor - Interview

                                                        Autumn River oil on canvas 58x44


 Another in an unorganized series of paintings focused on the Tualatin River in Fall. The water is high, a murky green and a perfect foil for the fiery colors of the season. Here are a couple of others;


                                                        December Runoff oil on panel 6x6


                                                      Tualatin Overflow oil on canvas 30x24


 So I was resting my feet and perusing Pinterest the other day and I get a notification of some activity. This happens all the time and I usually look but not always. I click the red icon and it says Anish Kapoor is following you. I kind of reeled and thought what the hell?? To put this in laymen`s terms, it`s as if Angelina Jolie asked to be your Facebook friend. Mr. Kapoor is a sculptor of such huge international importance, I`m sure it was a staff member. I`ve wanted to write about him for awhile but have been too daunted by his work. He`s one of a handful of artists whose work ignores convention and excites the imagination of almost everyone. Ai Weiwei and Ann Hamilton are another two.
 This is Kapoor`s most famous work;

                                                        Cloud Gate Anish Kapoor

Nicknamed the Bean, the real name is lyrical and suggestive.


                                                              Leviathan Anish Kapoor

 An enormous sculpture viewed from the inside too!


                                                           Ascension Anish Kapoor

 A sculpture made of smoke!


                                                    untitled sculpture Anish Kapoor

Extruded concrete


                                                              Orbit Anish Kapoor

Monumental sculpture for the London Olympics


 Addie Hirschten interviewed me on Skype in March for her podcast Alchemy of Art.  It`s a sweet, friendly conversation and I turn the tables on Addie and interview her a bit! Why is it we can`t stand our own recorded voices?! I had to steel myself to listen but after a bit I realized it was OK!


                                                    Forest - I pad

 Finally took my I-pad into the woods! I need more practice.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Oneanta [again!]

                                                               Oneanta Gorge oil on canvas 40x40


 This is a place I keep painting though I`ve only been in it a couple of times. A massive logjam guards the entrance and getting over this difficulty keeps the place relatively elder-free. No matter, I remember enough. What makes the narrow canyon so enthralling is a sense of being inside something womb like. The trail is the stream and it`s deep in places. Wading through the cold water toward a destination you can hear before seeing, creates an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation. Then the walk concludes at a pool with a gushing waterfall. It seems like the Source, the spigot of life. Such beauty!
Here is another;


                                                       Winter Oneanta oil on Yupo 12x9


 Quesadillas have become my Kummerspeck, my grief bacon, the last few days. Last Saturday we had to suddenly euthanize my cat Lincoln. He was ancient, in decline and probably diabetic. We`ve expected this but not so abruptly. But he was in obvious distress and we didn`t want him to suffer.
For the first time in 30 years I am petless and it is an awful, empty sensation. Oddly it`s not so sad, it is depressing. We`ve all experienced this. It is unacceptable.
Death and life, always mutually entwined, no exceptions. Mentally, I get it. I do my best to incorporate this reality into my heart. But the loss hurts like a personal amputation. Some of me is buried in the backyard too.
I need an animal to sleep on my lap. That makes me feel worthy, makes me a better person.


                                                       
                                                            Lincoln upon Randall two weeks ago


 I`m listening to the sprawling novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on my I-phone. It is rich with history, Greek culture and gender identity matters. The narrator is a hermaphrodite, raised as a girl but male as an adult. I`m getting an education in these timely issues. Not too long ago I mentioned to my mother that gender wasn`t determined at conception, that it happens as the embryo develops while bathed in hormones and enzymes. She was flabbergasted and I wondered if this wasn`t common knowledge? Maybe it isn`t with all of the intolerance toward transgendered people. Even at birth, it`s sometimes unclear and the doctor makes a choice. Often the wrong one. It`s certainly a complex subject but the vitriol the Christian Right is expressing on which bathroom they can use is so discouraging. Who would make such a wrenching decision as gender reassignment if it wasn`t of critical importance? Those religious zealots are so mean spirited! Not happy unless someone is being persecuted! I remember what Salman Rushdie said "Fundamentalism in any religion is always about power, not faith".




 We were sitting by a pond in Stanley Park a few years ago and John remarked he preferred swans to ducks. "They`re more professional".


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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Logjam

                                                            Logjam oil on canvas 56x40


 This is the second  image of this logjam  I`ve painted. Both come from the fleeting glimpse I had of this chasm as I was driving down Mt. Rainier a couple of years ago. There was such a brute wildness to the scene, it made a deep impression. Painting from memory has a unique freedom to it. Rock, trees, clouds and water are quite forgiving, I just keep moving the paint around until it looks 'right'. Years of observation and drawing get me close enough to allow improvisation once I begin.


                                                                   Magnolia I-pad drawing





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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shinrin-yoku

                                                        Shinrin-yoku oil on canvas 40x40


 Japanese for forest bathing. The idea that trees and nature can predictably refresh and restore us. It`s a nice concept and a better habit. In my experience, I need to be there awhile, an hour or so. It takes a bath, not a shower, to get really clean.


                                                                   Iris I-pad drawing


 Well I finally took my I-pad outdoors to see if its fancy app and pressure sensitive stylus would be the revolution in plein air painting I hoped for. Yes and no. It requires shade and isn`t real easy to see even then. In sunlight I think it would be impossible much like taking a digital photo in full sun. Why can`t they get this solved, it`s so annoying!
 At dusk I took a folding chair out in the backyard and sat in front of some gorgeous irises and drew. It certainly is fast, my eyes did adjust to so much light on the screen and I once again experienced true pleasure while drawing! This is rare for me, I`m not a patient person. Being able to shade and fill it large areas with color quickly is wonderful. I`m going to take it into a forest soon.


                                                          April Stream oil on canvas 30x40


 An April painting from ten years ago. This is Johnson Creek as it borders the Eastmoreland golf course. Eastmoreland and nearby Reed Canyon were an oasis to me when I lived in a treeless neighborhood of southeast Portland.



Ive been asked to teach a second workshop on Monday July 11 at the Coos Art Museum. I think there are three openings left.


                                                                   Willem de Kooning


Because de Kooning is such a hero of mine, I thought I knew his body of work. But not this one from the 80`s. This is before his paintings became much more minimal as his Alzheimer`s advanced. No surprise his landscape inspired canvases are my favorite. The period bridging the late 50`s-early 60`s is his pinnacle of bold abstract landscape painting. The Whitney museum`s 'Door to the River' is especially breathtaking! There weren`t a lot of them but almost every one is a home run!


                                                      A Tree in Naples by Willem de Kooning

Here he is in his studio;





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                                                                          Soon!


                                                                   by David Shrigley

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Camassia - paintings of Spring

                                                           Camassia oil on canvas 56x44


 This new painting comes from the little jewel of a preserve in West Linn OR called Camassia. It`s a Nature Conservancy property and sits on a bluff above the frenzy of Interstate 205. It`s not big but it has a lot of variety and it`s always empty. Its namesake, the beautiful blue Camas flower, is in bloom now.



 I`ve admired this magnificent oak for years. On a night not comparatively wet or windy, it lost its grip and toppled. This tragedy was cleaned up quickly by the parks department. They cut it up into perfect fireplace lengths and the healthy trunk was sliced into table size rounds. An earnest young man was assessing the situation when I first encountered the scene. I thought he was trying to figure out a way to get such incredible firewood home. The next time I was in the park I saw this;





 He made a fort! Bravo! We need more of these!

 Here are some larger versions [24x24] of a series I did ten years ago of the Eola Hills wine country near Salem;













 In the spirit of 'you only live once', we are going to spend a bunch of savings to go see Iceland up close. The idea occurred to me in Yellowstone as we were astounded by all its geothermal beauty in 2012. 
Iceland has become quite popular since then. So I asked a native, tour designer to send us to places that were remote and gorgeous. That was the expensive part, but I did not want to visit waterfalls with 20 tour buses parked along side it.
The country is one of only two places in the world where the tectonic plates are visible, rising out of the ocean. And they are pulling apart too causing lots of volcanic activity! Could that be more exciting?! Pictures of that barren countryside remind me of the Southwest with its immense sight lines. Except cold. What fun!




 Be sure to register to vote! Voting in the Oregon primary means you must register by mail by April 26!


In case any of you need to know more about me, Kelly Powers at Creative Catalyst reprinted an interview with me she did several years ago. CC makes educational painting videos and I wanted them to make one of me. They said no but Kelly said she would do an interview.




Friday, April 8, 2016

Slow Summer Water - video - Nozkowski

                                               Slow Summer Water oil on canvas 56x44

This is new but comes from some studies of Tryon Creek painted in 2011. Heat, coolness and the smell of watery green things was what I was after.




                                                              Over the Sea I-pad 2016






 My friend, the photographer Eddie Greenly, has begun a project of interviewing artists in their studios while making a video. I was his first and it`s on YouTube. I think because it seemed like an experiment, I was relaxed. After initial mortification, I was surprised how coherent I was and by the skill in Eddie`s technique. It has one blooper. The editor must have taken some images off of Google and he included two of my buddy Jo`s. She did them in a workshop I gave and then blogged about and now we are forever linked. I`ll gladly accept the credit.


 Somehow earlier in the week I got into a Thomas Nozkowski obsession. He is revered as an abstractionist of great invention and integrity. The work is so utterly original and odd I am often flummoxed.  Yet I want to keep looking. See what you think;











Interesting guy too. He studied with abstract expressionists who rigorously believed that one just begins painting. No preconceptions allowed!
Nozkowski holds to that too. I would love to be the fly on his studio wall and watch him. Here and here are a couple of terrific interviews.


The legendary singer Nina Simone is being remembered because of a new movie and a controversy regarding the casting. Ta-Nehisi Coates explains exactly why this matters in the Atlantic.
Listen to her commanding performance of "Don`t Let Me Be Misunderstood".


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