Friday, December 30, 2011


I was working on a companion piece to this, using a technique she pioneered, when I heard that Helen Frankenthaler had died. It was a tough week for heroes, John Chamberlain also left us. Is it just me or does anyone else think so many great human beings seem to die at the end of the year? Yaclav Havel!

oil on panel 6"x6"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Night Marsh Studies / abandoned forest

Before Christmas I had become stuck in a large forest painting. It was hard to concentrate and nothing made it spark. So I set it aside and did small things. When I had completed the first study here, I realized that forest was a lost cause but it would be great as an under painting for a large wetland at night. I turned it upside down and began. I`m happy with it`s progress.
The second study was done this afternoon when I returned from the art supply store. The national retailer Dick Blick bought our long time local supplier last Sept. but I hadn`t been in yet. Because I spent so much money at the former business I was recognized as a 'preferred' customer. They gave me a tote bag full of art gifts! Free stuff gets me excited so I had to try some of it out.
The bottom image is the forest I painted over.

oil on panel 6"x6"
oil and oil pastel on canvas paper 8"x8"
oil on canvas 40"x40"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Oak in Winter

Huge oak trees border Bryant Woods on the west and a meadow to the east, all beautiful and protected for wildlife. I used to drive there until I figured out short cuts from home. Now I can run there and in a fairly small area, see wetlands, a river, the canal that feeds Lake Oswego, a fir forest and the tall grassy field. Lots to work with!

mixed watermedia on Yupo 12"x9"

Christmas Ornament 1992

For an AIDS benefit auction. It was fun to make.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

untitled forest

I was playing around hoping to make another transparent watercolor, but it was not to be. The painting comes first, not the technique. I`ve been looking at traditionally painted watercolors lately and when they`re good, fresh looking, they are a joy.
I`ve set aside my big oil painting for a while, I`m not in the mood for battle.

mixed watermedia on Aquaboard 6"x6"

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I`m closing in on my big forest painting.
Meanwhile, this large piece is about six years old. It`s based on a tiny sketch of the Gorge I did on top of those bluffs 25 years ago. Old sketchbooks can be a source of new ideas.

oil on canvas 60"x48" framed

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Over the Sea 18

I came to think of this series of sea/skyscapes as a tribute to my late brother Gary, yet they also have been my 'go to' motif when I need to paint but I`m empty. Like tonight. When I returned home from taking Mom to the mall, I couldn`t begin to get involved with the big oil painting in process of Bryant Woods, but I wanted a brush in my hand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Toward Bryant Woods

In my oil painting technique, I use a white and a medium which contain an alkyd which speeds the drying process. Yet because there is usually so much revision, I still find myself waiting for the paint to dry. I truly don`t know how traditional oil painters have the patience.
This down time is when I do small stuff like this one.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wetlands Somewhere

This began as my demonstration painting for the last class I did at the Lakewood Center. I wanted to show how the sky and clouds in particular could be used 'architecturally' to emphasize the subject in one`s painting. The Swiss painter,Ferdinand Hodler, did this routinely to the heighten the emotional impact of his landscapes. It`s a simple thing and is almost always credible.
So in short order I had this handsome cloud and then made some thick random swipes of paint at the bottom which I moved around with a squeegee. When the sky itself is the subject, it just needs to be anchored.
When I brought the painting home, I was in love with my cloud. Since I have been painting the autumn wetlands of late, I thought I could incorporate that subject with this sky. That proved tricky. My live-in meteorologist/art critic said 'those kind of clouds are really rare in [western] Oregon, especially in the fall'. This added to the confusion as I tried to meld the busy chaos of a marsh with a soaring cumulus cloud. This may not survive, it`s against all the rules of painting to 'save' things, the whole should always be in play. It usually is for me but this time I 'defended' a cloud.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Refuge Autumn Study 4

I`m including photos of Minto Brown Island to show how it could leave such vivid memories.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pasture/Slough Study

The day after Thanksgiving was dry and sunny. In the Northwest we don`t take that for granted, we go outside. I don`t know if this is actually true, but I`ve heard that in Juneau AK elementary schools, they call a recess if there is a sun break. So we had to go somewhere and revel, and I didn`t want to get back into a car for long, having traveled for the holiday to Vancouver [WA]. The new Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge was nearby and as is common, these wet places are usually bordered by farmland.

Ruth Armitage, the host for my workshop in January, asked me to write something about the class and myself. This is what I sent her;

In this workshop I`ll focus on the versatility of combined watermedia, how to push the image much further than commonly thought possible. Through the use of various acrylic mediums, transparent watercolor can be extended and enhanced by the body and texture of these materials. The vibrant plastic paper Yupo will be the primary support I demonstrate on, traditional watercolor papers are also responsive.
Our individual motives and ideals about painting will be explored as we choose our subjects. As a landscape painter, I believe it is critical to analyze and understand my emotional reaction to what I`m seeing before I begin. These 'feelings' become memory and guide me throughout the many small experiments which build the painting. I refer to photos and drawings to structure a simple mental composition, then I proceed by intuition, chance and remembrance. Usually there are elements of abstraction which emphasize the aspects in the landscape that move me. The altering of 'natural' color, the simplification of forms, distorting the perspective, adding pattern to convey depth, and using gestural brush work are strategies I use to get close to the essence of my subject. Visual accuracy is not too important, what I`m after is a unique and personal vision.
For many reasons, I chose to forgo a conventional education though I read extensively, visited many museums and galleries and figured out the technical requirements of painting. Through luck, I was able to work briefly with a hero to legions of painters, Richard Diebenkorn. It was a month long workshop, he didn`t say much but did seem to approve of what I was doing. That was enough. That 'blessing' caused a leap in my ambition and eventually led to much stronger work.
I think I have something different to contribute in this workshop; some innovative methods and techniques as well as fresh ideas about where you might want to take your painting.

There is one opening left.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Refuge Autumn Study 3

Again, from memory.
I was explaining to a painter friend exactly how this works; because I know the wetlands well, I can begin a random improvisation. At the waters edge, there are usually grasses. Behind them are shrubs that have lost most of their leaves this time of year, leaving the colorful branches exposed. On dryer ground, larger trees have a foothold. As I work, my memory of the atmosphere guides my choices. I exaggerate the color, warp the perspective and organize the forms into something that works aesthetically but also retains a sense of the place. What appeals to me most about these marshes is their chaotic diversity of color and texture. They seem wildly alive, even when becoming dormant.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Refuge Autumn Study 2

Another from memory.
I`ve photographed the Minto Brown Island wetlands thoroughly and never saw a view like this, but this is an accurate impression.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creek Shadow Autumn

This was my demonstration painting for the watermedia class I`m teaching this month. The bottom photo was where it stood after one session. The second, was what it became in the next. I then finished it in my studio. I had been preaching the importance of painting from memory. The evening before the class, I was hiking around Mt. Talbert at dusk. It was too dark for photos so I was just enjoying the fading light with the maples blazing orange all around me. So when I began the demonstration, I had strong impressions from my walk. As I worked I really thought I was in trouble, it was very black. But, because I was using Yupo, its brilliant white surface shown through each dark layer and gave it the murky glow I had remembered.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Refuge Autumn Study

Painted from memory last night. I`ve wandered around Minto Brown Island enough to recall the mood this time of year. More often than not, it`s helpful to begin on a tinted ground. Values fall into place.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The inspiration for this painting was in Northern California but it soon became New Mexico. I ran in the dry river beds of Santa Fe County for so many years, they have stayed vivid in my memory.
The geometric image is a section of my beautiful new quilt made by the talented Jo Reimer. Not only is it gorgeous but it`s also the perfect weight; not too warm but heavy enough so that when making the bed, it floats back down nicely into place. She doesn`t make these anymore and I feel quite lucky to own it. I love functional art that is well designed, it truly improves the quality of my life.
The Brush Creek Ranch near Saratoga Wyoming,has invited me to be an artist in residence this spring! It`s a new program at an established resort. It will be great to spend time in the Rockies again.
Four openings remain for the workshop I`ll teach in Oregon City at the end of January. I`ll be talking about and working with mixed watermedia, using experimental techniques with an emphasis on the landscape. Please write me if you have any questions.
Also, a show of my largest work will be on exhibit at the Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland Oregon next summer, opening July 6.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Down into the Water

I`m trying in my new work, to focus on smaller parts of the landscape, almost like still life. This, from a few years ago, is almost there. The varying degree of abstraction I use is always determined by the subject. What do I emphasize, distort or distill to get to the essence of this landscape? With a closer view, I`m finding more precision is called for yet I don`t want to illustrate it. This is a challenge.

Monday, November 7, 2011

At the Edge of the Field

Also from my visit to Minto Brown Island last week.
The color is peaking, the rain is intermittent and I`m trying to be outside as much as possible. It is exciting!
Ruth Armitage has offered her studio for me to teach a watermedia workshop Jan. 28th and 29th, with the next weekend, Feb. 4th and 5th reserved in case there is bad weather. There is room for eight and the cost is $175. Please contact Ruth if you`re interested;

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winter Slough

In this month of November, I`m teaching a watermedia class on Saturdays. This was the demonstration painting I did yesterday. I asked everyone to try and paint something from memory, the idea being they would remember what most impressed them. Because I had been to Minto Brown Island just days before, I had the sloughs and trees in mind. I also wanted to show how something full of detail, such as a tangle of bare branches, could be suggested through pure 'painterly' means. Individual trees could be ignored to emphasize the atmosphere of the whole.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Slough at Dusk Study

Any plein air artists who are local and happen to read this, should know about Minto Brown Island. It`s along the Willamette on the west side of Salem, not far from the city center. Like Sauvie Island, it`s a wildlife preserve, with some agriculture as well. It`s wetlands are the most colorful I`ve ever seen and they peak in November. I was there last Sunday and it`s getting good. Soon it will be spectacular!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rocks Near the Water Study

Since it`s raining again, the rocky cliff behind Oswego Creek has resuscitated. It`s nice to have it a thriving green once more.
The big Sitka Art Invitational is this weekend! It`s a unique opportunity to see a lot of good work at one time. $5 admission.

Friday, October 28, 2011

untitled Landscape

I was riding around the valley the other day admiring the fall color, the rolling sky, the fertility of the land, and when I got home, I wanted to get something down while it was fresh. Well instead of peaceful vineyards and meadows, this apocalyptic landscape was what evolved.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October Marsh

This is the painting that`s confounded me, I hope it`s finished but I`m not sure. Finding the right balance between atmosphere and detail is the issue.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Across the Field[s]

From 2002.

I`m working on a watery landscape full of autumn color that won`t quite come together yet, but I`m hopeful.

Monday, October 10, 2011


It`s tiny but it`s new.
Last night I finally got restless and started messing around on a small panel. Something like roses began to appear and I went with it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pinot Noir

From exactly five years ago, just before the harvest.
We were set to visit Eastern Oregon this week when John caught a bad cold, then me. It`s been sort of dream like drifting from a book, to the TV, a nap, the computer, eat something, nap... I think tomorrow I`ll be able to paint.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Refuge Slough

Deep fall color is still a few weeks away in Western Oregon. It`s always surprising after months of green.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Alders in Spring

This was uncertain for days, then Jo Reimer gave me a tube of cadmium green and it was rescued.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Inner Landscape of Beauty / Palm Canyon

A show of Molly Reeves paintings with mine, opens this Saturday at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Wilsonville. The theme is oriented around the late John O`Donahue`s ideas about landscape, our inner worlds and the impulse toward beauty. He was a remarkable poet who had a deep relationship with the Connemara countryside where he lived.

An old friend just sent me this photo of a landscape I did in the 70`s. The subject is a canyon outside of Palm Springs where we used to hike. There are several of these, the most famous being Tahquitz Canyon, where a scene from the movie 'Lost Horizon' was filmed.
Her parents bought it and I never took a photo of it. My memory of it was completely off, no surprise there.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oneanta Gorge 2011

I always love painting this place. The last two Cliff Studies came from sitting at the mouth of this gorge with a long lost friend. We sat on a rock, looked up and took it all in.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cliff Study 1

A daily painting.
Chunks of basalt fall from the cliffs in the Columbia River Gorge. They quickly accumulate soils and decomposing plant life and are soon colonized by all manner of new vegetation.