Sunday, April 26, 2015

Canyon Pool and other New Watermedia

                                                    Canyon Pool watercolor 14x11

                                                End of Winter Study watermedia 8x8

                                                  Feuchtwinterwald watermedia 15x9

Soon I`ll be an oil painter again but I spent another week with watermedia. It always seems like a 'lighter' cleaner process appropriate for Spring.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Watercolors-Spillovers-Cooper Mt.

                                                   Tualatin Flood Study 6x6

                                                         Blue Tree 7x5

                                           Stream to the Sea Study 5x5

 Lots of paintings have left my studio bound for galleries and the summer season. There`s a bit more to do but for the first time in quite a while, I`m not busy! This is what I strive for, a slow simple life. What a luxury not having a pressing daily agenda! I love it and this ease is conducive to painting. My best days have a puttering quality as I work on several things throughout the day.
 Just for the change,  I did a couple of watercolors after concentrating on oil painting for months.

 Browsing my archives, I found these 12x9 watermedia  'Spillover' studies of Sauvie Island as the winter floods were receding;

These were mostly more successful than the larger oil paintings they were preparations for, though #4 translated well;

                                                      oil on canvas 36x36

 An exhibition of Rick Bartow`s work opened last Friday at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon through Aug. 9.
 This terrific painter is Native American though I rarely think of it. His work is teeming with totemic animals but somehow it`s just the animal personalities that come through, not human involvement with them. He is very adept with color and is inventive in his painting methods. I can`t wait to see it. Look at this;

                                                           Rick Bartow

 Are you sad? Emotionally conflicted? Worried about our world? Listen to 'Lacrimosa' by film composer Zbigniew Preisner. It is a section of his 'Requiem for my Friend'. This piece was featured in Terrence Malick`s visually stunning but odd 'The Tree of Life' during the birth of the cosmos sequence. This is sung by Elzbieta Towarnicka and she`ll break your heart open if you give her some volume.

                                   After the Wet-Echo Island by Elizabeth Cummings

 Isn`t this a wonderful painting? She conveys the vast spaces, heat and aridity of her native Australia through dense, monochromatic, agitated marks. I couldn't find the dimensions but because it`s a diptych, I imagine it`s huge and easy to wander through. In nearly all her work she uses a very warm palette that seems inspired by India.

 Locals will remember the levy we passed a couple of years ago authorizing Metro to purchase open space for it`s preservation and our recreation. We visited a new one yesterday, Cooper Mountain Nature Park. Unlike other preserves, this one wasn't mostly forested but had lots of meadows, gravel [dry] trails, enough shade to survive the return uphill, and beautiful views. We thought with its southern exposure, this would be a great destination in winter. When a big blast of light would be especially welcome.

 The park is in southwest Beaverton and knowing that mysterious city is known for its great ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants, we went looking for one. Yelp showed us a five out of five stars Mexican-Italian place near my art supply store so off we went. We had maps and GPS and circled the suburban parking lot over and over without any luck. Then I seemed to see signs indicating a mall behind Powell`s Books. We set off on foot and found a completely hidden, tiny mall with Paradiso Encantador in the food court. Its name is more than ironic as it looks exactly like a fast food joint. It wasn`t quick but smelled so good it was an exciting wait. Now I`m always really relieved when I see an actual Hispanic person in the kitchen. If it`s a woman, even better. God knows this isn`t fool proof but seeing people who look like me making my tacos is very discouraging. As a native of California, I am bestowed with ultimate authority on the quality of Mexican food in Oregon. Need I recount the years of disappointment? This was fresh, delicious and served with kindness and charm. Also inexpensive. We had to have dessert! Switching countries, we ordered the Tiramisu and it was outrageous with a coffee intensity I`ve never experienced in other versions. We were so happy when we finished! Why oh why can`t Lake Oswego attract this kind of talent?

work for sale in my studio

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Demo-Sauvie Island + sketches + affordable frames

                                          Sauvie Island watermedia 18x18

 The last studio demonstration for a while was yesterday. I had floundered so at the last one, I needed to succeed. So I chose a 15 year old sketch to work from. It was so safe, my demo was about to conclude after just a half hour. And it was boring, which is unacceptable. Only when I was ready to fail did anything interesting happen.
 Chris and Tim Lally were there and she documented the process and my messy studio in a sweet tribute.
 I once was adamantly opposed to using photography in my process. I thought it was obvious when someone did. Young people can be so principled! I think it may be part of identity building. We often know who we`re not before we know who we are.
 When digital cameras became the norm, I learned a bit about Photoshop and saw that I could manipulate a photo any number of ways, including illuminating the shadows! The ease of cropping an image led me to slowly adopt this into my practice. Eventually, I realized this was a much more productive use of my time than sitting in a lawn chair sketching. Like many people, I don`t particularly like to draw even though I think it`s critically important. Working from a live model is the most fun I`ve had drawing and that may be because I had no agenda for those drawings. Or it may be because I was drawing naked people. With the tiny landscape sketches, they were for basic compositional purposes. I needed them! Now I`ve come to believe that drawing and memory are closely linked though I don`t have any data to support that. I think all the drawing I`ve done allows me to paint now with minimal references.
 Here are some of the minuscule landscape drawings that became the source of much larger paintings. The first was the one I used yesterday in my demo;

Marine Air oil on canvas 18x18

  This is a painting from that time [2000ish]

Jackie McIntyre told me about them a few years ago and she was right, they are affordable! The Canvas Place makes very attractive floater frames at a great price. There is one catch whether you want canvases or frames, they come in multiples. I recently bought some 12x12 black frames and they were a bundle of six for $62. I think if I had taken a painting that size into some of the frame shops around me, it would have cost a magnitude more than $10.50. I guess there are actually two caveats, the other being the buyer must attach the frame themselves. That meant a learning curve for me but I suspect most people could figure it out quickly. This company has even developed a floater frame for panels 1/4 inch or less. This was a response to the daily painter movement and the demand for something suitable for all those 6x6 squares! Great company, I`m even buying canvases from them now. Check it out.

Have you ever seen anything this beautiful? This marvel of geology is recent, accidental, growing rapidly and is on private property in a remote part of Nevada. It`s a 'fly geyser'. More pictures and the story here. Go to the end to see an astonishing aerial video.

 Robert Gamblin has been making high quality oil paints in Portland for years now. He is a gentleman. When their line of 'radiant' colors came out, I assumed [wrongly] they were like interference colors or opalescents. A gimmick in other words. Since they weren't too expensive I bought a tube of radiant turquoise. It was so opaque it radically altered anything I mixed it with. Even though transparency is a hallmark of my work, I`ve come to depend on it. I use it in small amounts and especially like to have it on my brush with some other color. The stroke is then two toned. The white is just dazzling and I use it whenever the brightest value is called for. I find it indispensable. 

Two days left to apply! $10! Going to be fun!

Four days left to apply for this opportunity of a lifetime!

no more studio demos for a while, I`ve revealed everything!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MB Spring Tangle - Sitka Center - a daughter`s memories

                                                       oil on canvas 20x16

 When derailed, I find it helpful to paint a successful painting again. To feel competent and on track. It`s best to keep working and this ends the anxiety. I want a brush in my hand when the 'spirit' moves through.
 A painter needs to be in motion for anything worthy to arrive.

 We spent the weekend near or on Sauvie Island. Since moving south to Clackamas County, I don`t visit very often. First we had a houseboat experience that was a little underwhelming. It was almost perfectly stable and I expected/wanted much more movement. The home and the location was beautiful and cozy however. The next day we walked toward Warrior Point and after, paid a visit to Howell Territorial Park and the historic Bybee House. Years ago, I spent many sweet summer days here painting with friends. Always exactly how the season should be; warm with cool breezes, thick deep grasses, far away views, clean and healthy smelling with a sense of timelessness and plenty. Although Saturday was only April 4, it was all there in the orchard;

Here is a study of this orchard from 2001;

A larger [24x18] watercolor of the back of the orchard;

and a small watercolor study of the nearby Kruger Farm;

 The deadline to apply for an artist in residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon coast is fast approaching! [April 17] Apply for god sakes! This place is heaven! Big airy studios, a comfortable apartment, the most pristine piece of coastal real estate imaginable and the priceless gift of time! You deserve it, you know you do!

 At first I thought it was ridiculously indulgent but John didn`t ask for my approval. Paying to have someone read stories to you?! He said try one! I did and it was a revelation. It was not like how I would read to a child, stumbling over words and yawning. The books were read by the most gifted, sensitive, inventive actors I`ve ever heard! Paul Hecht reading Annie Proulx`s 'The Shipping News', was truly astonishing. Every character had it`s own voice and none of them seemed forced or off. What a rich experience! Cleaning the bathroom? Invite Bernadette Dunne to join you as she reads 'Wild'. You will feel lucky to be scrubbing the bathtub instead of lugging a giant backpack over the mountains! I guess I never fully understood the art of acting. These amazing voices bring the books to life. I am a complete convert and feel justified because we are supporting the literary arts!
 But, 'Moby Dick' is also unlistenable.
Many are available through libraries or at Audible.

 Once again, my champion Maureen Doallas, takes to cyberspace words of praise for my work in her 'New Artist Watch' feature at Escape Into Life.
Also, scroll through her blog and read her powerful poems. Many of them just make me stop.

And here is a charming account of growing up as Richard Diebenkorn`s daughter. The video is an hour long and well worth it if his work moves you. I feel he is as influential a painter as any. The raw honesty behind the color and searching brushwork is humbling. Gretchen Grant shows the master to be human.

work for sale in my studio

And the last demo in my studio for a while is this coming Saturday at 10 am.
5373 Lakeview Blvd. Lake Oswego OR 97035

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oxbow Slough 2 - magnolia demo - elderly artists

                                                         oil on canvas 20x16

 This was many paintings before Oxbow Slough 2. Sometimes I forget how to paint. I suspect the reason is too much 'life' not enough solitude.

                                             Magnolia 2015 oil on canvas 12x12

I had painted this earlier in the week so I figured I`d use this motif during my demonstration at my show in the Museum 510. But instead of predictable oil paints, I would use transparent watercolor on the slippery plastic paper 'Yupo'. Feeling confident, I thought I`d add about a hundred more blossoms. Thank god I wore a short sleeve shirt as the eastern sun shining through the huge windows was creating greenhouse heat. I wasn`t 20 minutes into the painting before realizing I was in way over my head. With maybe 34 eye balls watching my every move, I valiantly tried to find a composition. Someone asked if I used color or tonal studies. No I explained, I just wing it. I truly believe improvisation makes for more personal work and exciting exploration.
 Or terror. T S Eliot said anxiety was the handmaiden of creativity.
 Ultimately, improv might be best for the privacy of my studio but I walked my talk that morning.
 This is what it looked like when I brought it home;

 Once I was safe and alone, I labored to create the buoyancy that attracted me to this subject. First I shaped it up with acrylics but it still wasn`t sparking so I took it to the oil painting area. Because Yupo is plastic and the earlier layers were sealed with spray acrylic, I went in with oils. I surrendered at this point;

                                     Magnolia and Sky watermedia and oil 20x20

 A photo of the demo;

 The Colorado artist, Ken Elliott, wrote a blog post in 2013 about elderly artists with links to an article from Time. There were many photos of some older painters including the wonderful Wayne Thiebaud;

This is of interest to me because it will be me soon enough.
It`s encouraging to know that most painters continue on even when the body is failing. Wolf Kahn says he is doing some of his best work ever, despite macular degeneration. Matisse created his radical paper cut outs while confined to a wheelchair.
I will be one of those obsessed, rickety artists if I`m lucky.

 Snack tip. I recently bought a package of fresh Shishito chile peppers at Trader Joes. They looked sort of like the Padron peppers I had found at the farmers market so I prepared them the same way. I seared them in a very hot skillet with a little olive oil shaking it constantly after they began to sizzle. When browned a bit I removed them from the heat and sprinkled with salt. They are not too spicy hot and I think they would be great with an icy cold gin martini.

 Finally a woodcut from the German immigrant Gustave Baumann. He settled in New Mexico and his landscape prints are some of the most evocative images of that beautiful state. Produced in multiple, they were once inexpensive. When I lived there, an elderly cousin told me they had been popular as wedding presents. He had three of them.

work for sale in my studio

the next demonstration in my studio, April 11, 10 am, will be the last one for a while. 5373 Lakeview Blvd, Lake oswego OR 97035

Monday, March 23, 2015

Early Spring Rainforest +Etsy

                                                     oil on canvas 20x20

 More of the alders and maples on the north side of Cook`s Butte. Such a beautiful little forest though none of the trees are large. It has been logged at least twice but in Oregon you can`t keep anything from growing.

 During the Q&A part of the gallery talk Tom Cramer and I gave the other night, the topic turned to livelihood. The audience was mostly painters and this issue always comes up. It always has. Everyone has to find their own way, mine was by way of a part time restaurant career that spanned 30 years.
 With the domination of the internet into nearly everyone`s life, new opportunities for commerce abound. Even for artists. Etsy has become a phenomenon showcasing all manner of hand made arts and crafts. With it`s own complex culture, I`ve never quite figured it out but I know it is earning a living for many artists. Such as the two fine painters, Harry Stooshinoff and Jeremy Miranda. Both work with the landscape. Harry explores his corner of Ontario with obsessive attention. His paintings always reveal something new in his familiar subjects, his dedication to the local environment is always evident. This commitment no doubt shows us his character.
 Jeremy, a former Portland resident, is juxtaposing man made structures within wild and moody landscapes. At a glance one might think surrealism but to me they explore the ideas of shelter and safety and our place in Nature. In my view, no one has painted the Oregon coast so truthfully.
 Both these guys have Etsy shops, both have well over a thousand sales apiece and over 500 positive reviews. What they have in common is affordable prices. This is their brilliant populist tactic. It`s a radical idea.
 I`m not sure at all how a mid career artist like me backpedals to such a stance, not yet anyway.
 I admire so much their independence and entrepreneurship! And with no loss of quality or integrity!

                                                          Barbara Demott

 Back in January, a new friend in British Columbia persuaded me to work with her over a weekend. Teaching causes me so much anxiety, I try not to do it. But Barbara was sure I had something to give her. Because I work so thin, I showed her how I use gravity by tilting the surface. Once home she took that idea and ran! Isn`t that the most gorgeous, emotionally accurate rainforest ever painted?!

 When I moved to Portland the first time in 1985, the Portland Building was new and extremely controversial. Nearly everybody was a vocal hater. Having just arrived I didn`t know any of the back story and just delighted in how quirky it was. It was like a child had made it out of Legos! When the architect Michael Graves died recently, I thanked him mentally for his service. Almost alone at first, he restored a humanity to modern architecture. Despite the ridicule.

                                              The Denver Public Library

 Then it became his mission to bring good design to the masses. He partnered with Target to produce many 'happy' household items such as his famous tea kettle;

I own one and love to water plants with it.
I recently bought a new cat carrier from Target Online that is absolutely elegant. I wanted a top loader, I hate mooshing a terrified cat into a long rectangular tube! This one works beautifully and I wonder if it too is a Michael Graves design?

 This is the last week for my show at the Museum 510 in Lake Oswego. The hours are 11-4 Tues. -Fri. Or call me, I have access after hours, including the weekend. 503 380 4731

I`ll demonstrate my watermedia technique there at 11 am this Thurs. the 26th.

work for sale in my studio

The Affordable Care Act is five years old!

Thank you President Obama!