Sunday, July 16, 2017
Mine because I go there, the wetlands of Bryant Woods. I get in with the mud to see what`s happening. Last January I was able to walk into places I hadn`t seen because the ground was frozen. The previous summer`s vegetation was dead and new grasses and cattails were sprouting. The Northwest winter often looks festive in its decay and regeneration.
Las LOPAS convened at the beautiful Bishop`s Close last week to paint the gardens from life. A fine time it was! We have decided to return this coming Friday but with an earlier start. Please join us if you can. No one chased us off the lawn.
Every so often I like to create an 'all over' painting. The subject is usually a dense winter forest with the incredible complexity of the bare trees. With hints of foreground and back to anchor the frenzy of marks. The coastal stands of alders with their luminescent branches always excite me.
More exciting branches, OK?
Sometimes if I`m lost in my studio I`ll paint again a favorite from the past. Not exactly the Warrior Way but I just want to be working, to have a brush in my hand should the spirit arrive.
As my legs slowly heal, I`ve questioned the career aspects of being an artist, wondering how to proceed? What do I really want from my efforts? The answer is always good paintings but not how to disperse them into the world.
Six years ago I was going broke eating so many Honeycrisp apples. They are not cheap! I thought, how hard could it be to grow them? This is Oregon after all. So we planted a dwarf variety along with a small Japanese Akane to pollinate them and boom!, the first year the tree nearly broke from the weight of the fruit!
I wasn`t able to prune it this winter and with all the rain, this crop will be huge. That bucket is filled with at least a hundred apples I thinned from the tree the other day. Here`s the problem though, bugs also like them. Do any of you know of any remedies that aren`t pure poison? My neighbor suggested copper sulfate. Any other ideas? Thanks.
I`ve loved the work of Lynn Boggess for years and he just gets better. Though not a fan of thick impasto paint, when he uses the technique, it`s poetry. Take a look;
He goes out into the local forests where he lives in West Virginia, chooses a humble scene then brings it glory. In this video you`ll see his astonishing set up as he paints a canvas 68x80 on location!
Oh my, Las LOPAS has a lot to learn! He looks like the guy in the hardware store but this man speaks to God!
I will be having a show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach OR Sept.1 through Oct.16. I`ve shown with this gallery for 32 years! First with the founder Evelyn Georges, now with the new owner Allyn Cantor.
I won`t be at the opening but I`ll be giving a demonstration of watermedia on Yupo Sept. 23rd. 2pm. Stop by if you`re on the coast.
some available work in my studio
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Nine years ago today I began this blog. What it means for me has changed over time. Its promotional aspect is still my priority but now I also think of it as a journal of sorts. This may be why I`m so surprised when I hear someone reads it. Thank you for doing so! I never thought what I said would be of interest particularly when my passion was painting. A blog visitor told me she reads it to her husband at dinner! Now that is gratifying.
I`ve thought if my eyes failed I would take up writing seriously. Try to study with somebody I admire. But for now, I`ll focus on painting. It`s been going well, it feels natural again.
Nine years ago, I had no idea my world would be forever sadder. I did not know on July 1, my comic and dear brother Gary would be given the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in three weeks, then die two months later. This is when I finally grew up. This is when I understood at last how fragile reality is.
Pancreatic cancer is very fast once it is obvious. There is no 'pap smear' test to alert us but there are some warnings. Please look these over.
This was in my show at the Coos Art Museum last summer. Before I sent the paintings off I carefully reviewed each one for glitches. I had time for corrections, then away they went. When I retrieved them in the fall, several seemed to have glaring problems. They didn`t change, it was me. So I`ve reworked some of them including the one above. It`s better now.
Below are my last two small plein air efforts. The weather has been sublime and I`ve been much more inclined to relax and soak in summer once we`re set up, than paint. With all the walking I do [or did], I rarely just sit outside and do nothing. It`s nice. Smells good.
Here is a thoughtful set of remarks by professionals in the art market. The demise of smaller, less well heeled galleries has been accelerating. The usual culprit, the internet, is to blame. Collectors are buying from the artists directly, from the comfort of their homes. Like everything else.
I got involved in this when my Portland gallery closed just before the Big Recession.The galleries that still did represent me were not close and I felt I had to try something to earn some income. This blog was part of that effort and it was the best business decision I ever made. It definitely begat sales and even better, led to friendships. Strangers wrote to me, bought paintings and some became companions.
The downside to all this oncoming digital commerce is that real places to see art are intimate, offering a richer experience. Local venues will take chances on unknown artists too. My first show in New Mexico  was at the Los Alamos public library. Because a gallery owner saw it, I was offered representation in Santa Fe. Good things happen when our communities have the opportunity to experiment. The pop-up shows of recent years are a great example. Portlander Chris Haberman came up with the idea for a huge show of affordable work created by 500 different artists at Christmas time. Brilliant! It earns the artists some cash and exposure and benefits the worthy Oregon Food Bank.
I hope there will always be art galleries.
It`s shocking, but listen to the new advertisement from the NRA if you haven`t seen it. It`s important to know what the opposition thinks although this is obviously inflammatory.
We really have so much more in common than our differences.
We are always better together.
Finally the glorious, intelligent paintings of Su Sheedy! Damn, I can look at one of her paintings for hours! They are so generous, teaming with squirming, pulsating color! Mesmerizing! So skillful in balancing such strong color with patterns and neutrals. Her work makes me glad to be alive.
This is as good a definition as I`ve ever heard;
work for sale, mostly in my studio
Thursday, June 15, 2017
From two weeks ago, a beautiful morning in the meadow at Bryant Woods.
A week later we began to paint under an overcast sky and we were deluged within a half hour. I was a deer in the headlights but the intrepid founder of Las LOPAS*, Mitch Burrell, came prepared with a canopy! We struggled in the downpour, but up it went and I began my second painting. The first had literally melted off the Yupo [plastic paper] in the rain. Then the wind started gusting and the storm turned sideways. We were beat.
This outdoor work has been extremely therapeutic after being inside all winter.
A couple of days later, John and I went to southern California to visit my brother Tom and my extended family there. The weather was perfect and his community quite interesting. Irvine consists of mostly planned neighborhoods which are thoughtful and new. As I was growing up, the area was all orange groves. Its schools have an excellent reputation which have attracted an international population. Nearly everyone on their block was from another country. Walking the artfully designed streets, we saw a racial blend that was amazing. I love California for this. It is what can be.
Like all my brothers, Tom has a big collection of my work, many from 2004. At that time, I was living in deep southeast Portland. The subject of my work was the nearby Johnson Creek Nature Park;
He also has a giant seascape I did in 1974;
The Futurists were my inspiration then, with their interest in depicting motion.
There were other paintings that tortured me during the visit. Many painters suffer when they return to their families and temporarily live again with work decades old. Unfortunately, these have become 'treasures' and the suggestion to throw them out is not taken kindly.
Last week, Nicole Serratore wrote a fascinating op-ed for the New York Times entitled "James Comey and the Predator in Chief". She drew parallels with the president`s interactions with the FBI director and the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. There seems to be a pattern in such behavior that I had never realized. I thought these incidents were mostly spontaneous, not the sickening calculated moves of men in authority. Well worth reading.
I`ve written about her before but praising Elizabeth Cummings is always deserved. Now in her 80s, she continues to produce paintings of great complexity and power. Though I`ll probably never visit Australia, if I did, I would recognize it because of her. The work can be completely abstract yet the scorching light and gritty texture of the continent`s interior is foundational. You can feel the heat, the paintings make you thirsty. And she is generous in her compositions, there is much to explore.
June of course, is Pride month. All over the world!
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou
* Lake Oswego Plein Air Society
work for sale, mostly in my studio
Sunday, May 28, 2017
A couple of friends and a Facebook algorithm have contacted me to see if I`m OK. They noticed I haven`t posted in a while. More often than not, when I sit down to write and show my new work, I really don`t know what to say. That doesn`t usually stop me. But I`m sick of my knees, sick about our country and until recently, didn`t have much painting to show either. But I began working outdoors in the warm light with my pals and it has helped me a lot. I painted the piece above last Friday on the bank above the canal. It began with lots of random brushstrokes and a poured on wash for a background. It didn`t take long for it to develop into an image of what I was feeling that morning, sitting in that rainforest above the water with my buddies.
We had two guest artists [anyone is welcome] along and the setting was lovely. Our long wet difficult winter has produced an even more extravagant spring than usual. Everything is huge and healthy.
This is a rare commission. My cousin wanted something like the post card sized painting I had given her two years ago. I thought, 'I can do that'. The whole task of painting by request is tricky business, too much most of the time. The client has legitimate desires, the artist has a personal vision. Getting these in agreement is not something I`m good at. Yet I paint forests all the time so I thought it a small risk. She`s on vacation so I don`t know what her reaction will be but if it isn`t what she hoped for, I`m fine with that. It will find a home in due time.
A practice exercise before hand.
My plein air effort from a week ago.
The demonstration painting I did in my studio on May 20th. I will revisit this I imagine. It doesn`t live up to its potential.
My first and only egg tempura, painted when I was nineteen. It`s a view from a tree I used to sit in, I was a devoted tree climber. I remember sometime in my 50`s realizing with sadness I wouldn`t be doing that ever again.
The two above were rescues of plein air attempts I made in a boat last year. They were awful and now are better but still fall short of doing that bluff justice. It`s an heroic mass of basalt rising out of the lake with all manner of colorful and decorative vegetation spilling from it. It reminds me of a Christmas tree.
After the election, in my despair I wanted badly to be of use to someone. Use my white maleness to protect something. The fear of what had just been unloosed was palpable.
Last Friday three men on a train in Portland were attacked for doing just that, shielding someone vulnerable, a muslim young woman and her friend. The men were stabbed in the throat and two of them died. Everyone is aware of the story.
That this unspeakable horror happened in daylight, on a commuter train in ultra liberal Portland has the community in shock. I`ve asked of myself since, would I have done anything? Would I be brave enough to confront a raving racist man? Would I remember and honor my instinct to protect?
work for sale in my studio
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Still aimless and liking it. Professionally, I should be working on larger oil paintings but that doesn`t seem appropriate at the moment. Lots of stuff percolating in my mind and for once I can pay attention. Being so unsure of the how and when of my recovery, I cleared most everything from my calendar. Doing so has left me with the time to think. In the end, it would be great if I could use the experience to become a better painter.
If the state of our country is a relentless worry, finding a way to make a difference and stay sane is a worthy ambition. Not surprisingly, psychotherapists have their hands full right now. On Facebook I read an essay from Robin Chancer, a therapist, on finding this balance. It was super helpful to me and I think others would similarly benefit.
Optimism can be a way of avoiding responsibility.
I think I`ve been guilty of that.
A couple of years ago I began a search to find out what the paper was that Georgia O`Keefe used for her modernist watercolors from the early years of her career. These paintings are extremely sensitive yet simple. Betsy Chang had been curious too and sent me a huge pdf file she had obtained from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It contained detailed information about the materials the artist used. The watercolors were painted on 'cartridge paper', basically cheap and non-archival. I expected so as she was teaching school and probably didn`t have much money.
Anyhow, Betsy and I became friends. Here is one of her glorious watercolors;
A few days ago I was avoiding work and decided to google myself. There I ran into a very flattering blog post Betsy wrote about me a year ago. Immodestly, I present you the link. Thanks Betsy!
Studio demo next Saturday [May 20] at 10 am. Let me know if you`d like to watch.
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR 97035
work for sale in the studio
Thursday, May 4, 2017
This is from my residency at the Sitka Center in 2014. I was so intent on painting a 'narrative' abstraction, this was underway within an hour of my arrival. I think it`s a good example of how rich, color appears on the plastic paper Yupo.
My most recent efforts have lacked merit to put it kindly. I`m still a bit disconcerted by what happened to me this winter. But not too concerned. A conversation, a new series, a hike, a brush, Pinterest inspiration...something will spark my enthusiasm and help me settle into a productive practice again.
I did paint on location this morning and enjoyed it completely. My pals Mitch and Burt were there and the weather was perfect. It was sublime sitting there enjoying the views and warm breezes above the banks of the Willamette.
It`s our plan to do this on Fridays throughout the summer. If anyone would like to join us, speak up!
This is my new foot massager. I`m getting it ten years after my retirement from the restaurant industry but better late than never! I`ve wanted one ever since slipping into a sales model at the Brookstone in the airport many years ago. It is awesome, let me assure you!
Yes that George W Bush. Who would have ever guessed? I think of him as a war criminal but I have to say, the guy has talent. There is a new book out of his portraits of military service people and many of them are worthy of Alice Neel. In this link you can see more of them. I am no fan of our 43rd president but I do find it heartening that even someone with so much blood on his hands also has enough sensitivity to paint a psychologically penetrating portrait.
Human beings will always have both destructive and creative impulses at play in the confusion of our minds.
Open Studio Demonstration Sat. May 20, 10 am. Room for ten, please let me know if you`d like to come. firstname.lastname@example.org
5373 Lakeview Blvd.
Lake Oswego OR
work for sale in my studio
Friday, April 21, 2017
Who knows when we`d see the sun again? Every able bodied person went outside today if only for a moment. Sidewalks and parks got some use again. Knowing the forecast days ago, I arranged to paint outdoors with my pal Mitch.
We set up at Steven`s Meadow and took in the views. This lovely city park is just a vast field of grass open to the sky. We sat at the edge in the shadows and began painting the hedgerow in the distance. As popular as plein air painting has become, for me it is always awkward. It aways seems like a bad idea until I get enough paint on the surface of my paper. But the conversation is stimulating and without much conscious intent, something begins to form.
It was an afternoon well spent.
This is from the mid-nineties soon after moving here. It was another sparkling April day in Washington Park.
In the winter of 2015, once a month I did a demonstration painting in my studio on a Saturday morning. Anyone could come. I think I did six of them and then it began to feel like a complete ego trip. The master and his acolytes. However, I met some very nice people. Some of them went out of their way to help me in my recent ordeal. So I`m going to do it again on Saturday May 20, at 10am. If you think you`d like to come, please let me know. It seems 10 is about the most that can fit around my table and see. It`s a standing room situation and the floor is concrete. Not especially comfortable but the questions and conversation are always interesting. Lots of parking nearby and in my driveway.
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR 97035
The Wonder Street Blog has a handy description of the major brands of oil paints being made. Give it a look if you`re considering oils. They sure are easier than watercolors but you need good ventilation.
I haven`t tried this technique of mounting Yupo yet but I`m going to. I`ve succeeded with small dimensions using a different method but failed spectacularly when I tried it with larger pieces. Air bubbles are the problem. An unglazed unframed watercolor that is 'stable' is a holy grail of the medium. Framing is expensive and laborious. Imagine finishing your masterpiece and just hanging it on the wall! [I would recommend a spray coat of UV protection acrylic varnish first however].
Here`s the dilemma with me; if I go to the trouble of mounting a fresh unpainted sheet of yupo, it then becomes too 'precious' to paint on. I think I`d choke up. But if I took a good completed painting and mounted it and it developed bubbles, I`d be really upset.
Is it just me or are most painters this neurotic?
A beautiful painting by Bernd Haussmann.