Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lichen Light + Maynard Dixon

                                                               oil on Yupo 20x16

 Like islands, the Portland area has small volcanic hills all over. Some of them near the rivers, have gnarled oak forests on top. By their look, you`d think they braved howling winds and sub-zero temperatures. They are stunted like bonsai. In  winter, minus their leaves, you can see the smaller branches which are cloaked in feathery lichens which glow in the reflected light.
 I think I was following links for the great painter of the Southwest, Maynard Dixon, when I stumbled on the blog California Desert Art. Here was writing dedicated to many famous and some forgotten painters who lived and worked in the Coachella Valley and Mojave Desert. Often they were associated with the California Impressionists but some were idiosyncratic painters. Maybe because I lived there,  I`m fascinated with the culture and times of these artists. Ann Japenga, the author of this unusual blog, just wrote a little account of my recent trip there. Last year when I was trying to sell my mother`s big San Andreas Canyon painting, I asked Ann to put out the word, thinking someone in her local audience might be interested. I had painted it there in 1979 but now, it was too big for Mom`s new, assisted living apartment. For any readers unfamiliar with Maynard Dixon, he is well worth discovering. This is what the wonderful writer Thomas McGuane says about him; To me, no painter has ever quite understood the light, the distances, the aboriginal ghostliness of the American West as well as Maynard Dixon. The great mood of his work is solitude, the effect of land and space on people. While his work stands perfectly well on its claims to beauty, it offers a spiritual view of the West indispensable to anyone who would understand it. Here is a documentary on his life and work.
 In 10 days I`m returning to the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon coast to paint during the month of March. I`ll focus on the alder groves and plan to explore the wetlands of the Salmon River Estuary and Nestucca Bay.

available work in the studio


Maureen said...

I know you'll have a productive time at Sitka. Will look forward to the inspirations that issue there.

Libby Fife said...

Well, that was a gem of a documentary! I wasn't that familiar with Dixon's work-the breadth of it is fantastic. And I love all of the surrounding history of that time period which informs a lot of his work. Watching the video was a real treat-thank you for providing that link and the one to Ann's blog as well.

I am looking forward to your work from your trip in March:) Thanks again for the information.