Monday, March 16, 2020

Hang on!

                                    Oneanta 2020 oil on canvas 50x40 inches, 127x101.5 cm

 Somehow I had enough concentration to paint this. Last week was tense but the foreboding arrived on the weekend. Every time our president was on camera it was clear we could not look to the federal government for guidance, assurance or even honesty. It`s becoming evident that the criminal lack of testing capability wasn`t bad luck but remained inadequate for weeks because the president didn`t want to see the higher number of infections. Saw the looming crisis only in terms of his re-election prospects. Many people will die because we lost the chance to track the spread of the virus. Like China finally did, or Singapore or Hong Kong. Even today, March 16, the administration is not making the processing of tests any more efficient by relaxing rules on which labs are licensed to run them. This is criminal negligence. Senate Republicans are objecting to the paid sick leave provisions in the emergency legislation passed by the House on Saturday, Fox news continues to downplay our urgent situation.
 A corrective is coming. The utter mendacity of Trump and his Republican enablers will be visible to everyone at last. Even to the cult of his supporters. We will all know some of the dead. We will all be much poorer. The election is won, the Democrats will have to clean up the disaster again.
 Within this sad and terrifying scenario, collectively we must reimagine our country. The catastrophe will make crystal clear how unjust and unfair our society is. Low unemployment and a booming stock market will no longer conceal the cruelty. Because of the profound lack of leadership now, the reassembling of our lives will take considerable time. We will have the chance to  fix it. Create the more perfect union. Address the fearsome change in the climate, outrageous income inequality, racial disparity everywhere, and finally get some common sense gun laws. Let the mass killings end.
 On our way to this better reality, I hope as individuals we can be actively kind and generous. An ocean of need will surround us. As one of my heroes Marshall McLuan said "every breakdown is a breakthrough". A crisis is too good to waste.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020


                                  Untitled watermedia on panel 12x12 inches, 30.5x30.5 cm

 About a month ago my husband, who is a nurse, told me a doctor had said he was scared to death of the coronavirus. Ever since I`ve followed this closely. Everybody is, right? With China locking down millions of its citizens to contain the disease, and the stock market in free fall, it is reasonable to think this is a big deal. Not the press and democrats out to get Trump.
 Last night the first case of an Oregonian with the virus was announced after the state`s lab confirmed it. She first showed symptoms on the 19th. She is also an employee at a school in my community, luckily without much contact with students. It is unknown how she acquired the virus. This suggests it is spreading somehow undetected. But maybe slowly, with luck.
 I feel like I`m an unwilling participant of someone`s science project. Waiting to be observed. My guess is this sensation is common to everyone right now. We are waiting for a potential catastrophe. Hmmm, I`ve never been a patient person and the suspense scares me more than the illness. The imagination can be so dangerous. I can`t stand horror movies and I`m incredulous of those that do.
 So if that unfortunate and local woman appears to be just the first in a circle, will my city be quarantined? If we can contain it here, that would be amazing. I probably have two weeks of food on hand. But if it becomes a pandemic with lots of sick people, what do we do? How do we help?
 As of tonight, there are 70 confirmed cases in the US, 44 came off the cruise ship. It seems given the incubation time, we will know a whole lot more a week from now

                     The Season is Over oil and acrylic on canvas 20x20 inches, 51x51 cm

 I always photograph what I`ve done before going upstairs to sleep. With my phone, just to figure out what I`m doing. A while back I did this;

as an underpainting for something that then failed, but I didn`t delete the photo. Something about the palette I thought was worth returning to sometime.  It is the basis of 'The Season is Over'.
I`ve several ideas that would be best explored in oil paint but I have the usual odd reluctance. When I stopped last August, I wondered if it was for good. I keep trying to find equivalent techniques with acrylics, but unless I use them transparently, I`m disappointed. Oil paint is the only kind that doesn`t talk back. What I paint stays like I painted it. No surprises when it dries, predictable opacity, a pleasure to move around with a brush and the color is superior. When I return to it, I`m usually exhausted by watermedia with its quirks and want some control again.

                                 Night Cloud watermedia on paper 12x9 inches, 30.5x23 cm

 As I wait for Covid-19 to change everything, I`m in full scale procrastination avoiding learning web design and launching my new website. Before taxes, I promise myself.

                                         Incoming watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

 More tinkering. I`m concluding lots of work that got abandoned too. I can spend a whole day trying to rescue something once again and in the end, I get out my giant scissors and cut it up. I tried.
Yesterday I did an experimental plein air session to find out if the temperature was tolerable yet. Nope my hands were freezing. Soon though I think.

                                                             by Fred Cumming

 Fred Cumming turned 90 last week! Someone posted this masterpiece on Instagram in celebration. I hope he`s recognized as a British national treasure in his homeland.

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Darkness and Light

                          Rainforest Equinox 2 watermedia on Yupo 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

 Ok then, the Senate has spoken. I feel better now. The citizens of this country were either paying attention or they weren`t. If extorting a country at war on behalf of your own reelection isn`t impeachable, what is? The view of a political party utterly exposed in its cowardice and corruption was breathtaking. Now we know beyond any doubt, Trump is not the cause of this collapse, he is the result. Everyone can see it. Are there enough people who care? Time will tell.
A new political scientist has a theory of modern elections that makes sense. Turnout is everything and what drives turnout is fear and loathing. Democrats could not be more motivated to get Trump out, and thus will prevail. She was one of the few who predicted correctly the huge gains in the 2018 midterms.

 The light is stronger and the day lengthens with each new sunrise. I`m finally feeling like myself.
 The impeachment gave me clarity and closure oddly enough. And for what it`s worth, this democratic socialist believes what Amy Klobuchar says. She can beat him.

                                                        cartoon by Kevin Siers

I`ve been painting but not so sure of the quality. Nonetheless I know from experience, that nothing good or bad will happen without a brush in my hand. Working heals. To make things is to be sane.

                      At the Edge of the Meadow watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

                                La Serenisima watermedia on paper 12x9 inches, 30.5x23 cm

 The always graceful Tualatin River beneath those trees.

                               Christmas Morning watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

                                                             by Peter Archer

                                                              by Peter Archer

                                                                   by Peter Archer

 I`ve been enjoying Peter Archer`s bleak vision lately. Like a sad love song, it hurts in the best way. Austere and brooding though they are, a small hopeful quality is also present. Beauty can survive the darkest situation.

                                                                 Where`s Carter?

                                                                    Fred Stonehouse

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Happy New Year?

                                     Outback watermedia on yupo 26x40 inches 66x101 cm

 It was a sad beginning of the new year and it started before Christmas. The impeachment debate in Congress was so utterly discouraging. A whole political party stonewalling the constitution, undermining our democracy and pretending that the President`s behavior was normal. The holiday arrives and I`m blindsided by grief once again, missing the half of my original family that`s gone. The fires in Australia just get worse and worse, people are camped on the beach or in boats trying to escape,  while millions upon millions of innocent animals perish. On the West Coast of the US we have seen voracious fire storms in recent years so it is extremely imaginable. The terror and loss of life and habitat are overwhelming. Then our commander in chief takes out an important, if evil, Iranian general to prove something that is never clear. For several days it seems we are on the brink of war!
Not the calm beginning I wanted. January is best when it`s quiet and productive but 2020 has been anxious and dispiriting.
 At least, finally!, an Evangelical Christian leader spoke truth to power and said what most people think. He is morally unfit for office and should be removed.
 I hope the Iranians really have concluded their almost symbolic retaliation. I hope Australia cools down in a widespread rain. I hope against hope the Republican party will put their country first.
 The painting above was not an intentional response to the fires in Australia. But as with any deliberately abstract painting I do, I`m lost at the outset. When I began this all I knew was I wanted a golden warm palette. Here was my opening move. Acrylic medium with purple quickly brushed on followed by an orange soup.

Big mess on the floor as the paint flowed down and off creating a veil.

Making a donation to the International Fund for Animal Welfare was definitely helpful to my mental health.
Here is a very interesting article on 'cultural burning', an Aboriginal technique of a slow circular intentional burn around structures enabling them to withstand wildfire.

                     Trees in the Autumn Marsh watermedia on paper 19x14 inches 48x36 cm

This is my most recent painting. The wetlands of Fanno Creek become colorful after the leaves fall. The marsh shrubs are densely entwined and at a distance look almost cloudy. I did a study soon after my walk through the area a couple of years ago;

                                                                     oil on Yupo

                               Rainforest Canal watermedia on paper 19 x14 inches 48x36 cm

An improvisation from memory of the lush canal that feeds Lake Oswego.

                                                          by Eva Lundsager

                                                            by Eva Lundsager

                                                                  by Eva Lundsager

 Eva Lundsager has been a favorite since I stumbled upon her in 2012. She paints in oils too but I always think of her as a watercolorist. She loves transparency and also the landscape. The work seems in motion. Using saturated color her work is celebratory but never shallow.

                                              View from Muley Point by Thayer Carter

                                                        Gates Pass by Thayer Carter

                                                   Vermillion Cliffs by Thayer Carter

 Thayer Carter is a friend from my time in New Mexico. He`s also the grandson of Rockwell Kent.

                                                                  by Rockwell Kent

 He`s told me he doesn`t even try anymore to paint deliberately different from his grandfather, he has the same vision: a reduction of the landscape into simpler solid forms with radiant light. I think it`s the same phenomena as my father and me having similar handwriting. It fascinates me that mark making could be genetic.
 Thayer`s work is carefully composed to give his subject an unequivocally dramatic presentation.
 Nearly two years ago he was invited to spend time in the former Rockwell Kent home in Newfoundland as an artist in residence. Granddad was controversial in the community but they welcomed his progeny.


He was great, just not the servant I expected. Most parents are heroes. I wanted this badly and there he was on Christmas morning.

                                                            by David Fullarton

grateful to be a painter!

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