Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Travel, Tests and Abortion

                                              [restoration marsh] watercolor on yupo 12x9

 It`s been a tentative start to the plein air season, Spring came late,  but my new set up is simple, functional and compact. I wish I had abandoned my deliberate low tech lawn chair rig years ago. I stand to paint in my studio, it makes sense I`d want to outdoors as well.
 I don`t make a lot of plans, I like life to be as slow as possible with as much time to paint as I want. My focus is on art whether or not I`m doing it very well at the moment. I`m often not and that is when I welcome any interruption whatsoever. Finding a balance between stimulation and solitude isn`t easy.
 One way to appreciate and utilize the quiet life is to go to New York City!
My husband John had been wanting a full scale total immersion NYC experience and he got one. An old friend lives in a close by suburb, so we stayed with her but took the train into the city every day. It was her suggestion and a good one. She lives in an old converted barn in the middle of a huge garden.

 A great place to decompress.
My pal and I had lived on a post-communal farm together when we were both very young. I`ve often  marveled my parents trusted me with this adventure at 19 and far from home, but it was all they really could do. They loved me. It was a pivotal experience, everything is pivotal at that age!
We became fast friends and stayed so even with a whole country between us. Being with her again in this late part of our lives was profoundly satisfying. Because our visit was a full week, John slipped into her pocket as well. He personally understands now.

                                                      The September 11 Memorial

 I had been to NY several times since the attack but had never seen the site. This was a high priority this time. Photos are vastly inadequate to convey the scene. The memorial uses the actual footprint of the two towers in creating a waterfall that flows from the edges of the open void into a pool before falling again into an unseen space. I think for many, the image of the towers melting in place was the most horrifying. The falling water suggests this. Reminds us in a way both powerful and subtle as the names of the dead can be felt by our fingers. It is a masterpiece.
The jury had this to say about the winning design;

Of all the designs submitted, we have found that "Reflecting Absence" by Michael Arad, in concert with landscape architect Peter Walker, fulfills most eloquently the daunting but absolutely necessary demands of this memorial. In its powerful, yet simple articulation of the footprints of the Twin Towers, "Reflecting Absence" has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss. By allowing absence to speak for itself, the designers have made the power of these empty footprints the memorial. At its core, this memorial is anchored deeply in the actual events it commemorates – connecting us to the towers' destruction, and more important, to all the lives lost on that day… 

While the footprints remain empty, however, the surrounding plaza's design has evolved to include beautiful groves of trees, traditional affirmations of life and rebirth. These trees, like memory itself, demand the care and nurturing of those who visit and tend them. They remember life with living forms, and serve as living representations of the destruction and renewal of life in their own annual cycles. The result is a memorial that expresses both the incalculable loss of life and its consoling regeneration. 

 We saw the acclaimed play The Ferryman and a dance performance by the Mark Morris Group loosely based on the Beatle`s Sargent Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was colorful and joyous with extra music by Ethan Iverson.

 Two botanical gardens, bonsai and alone time with John Twachtman`s "Arques la Bataille" at the Metropolitan Museum. The first time I saw it in 1983 I gasped. I had never even seen a reproduction and it`s quite different from his other work. I still love it but was shocked to see the color was completely other than I remembered.
The best paintings I saw were in a show of Joan Miro`s work inspired by poetry at MOMA.


 Thomas Nozkowski died last week. Even in the title of his obituary, the size of his paintings is mentioned. His opinions about scale were reassuring to me and the idiosyncratic work he produced delighted me. He was an outspoken original. Though our work is nothing alike, I felt close to him. Read his own words.

 I`m about to begin a new period of oil painting now that I`ll have all summer to concentrate. Prior to this effort, I`ve been testing watercolor papers and trying to get my fill of watermedia. As I`ve written before, I paint with oils as a concession to successful career practices. The techniques are nearly identical but there is much more of a market for oil paintings. I live with this compromise comfortably. However there is a psychological freedom in working on paper that is unique and pleasurable. It`s less precious. Though when it comes to presenting a good one, framing costs are considerable.
So in an un-Nozkowski spirit, I`ve been painting familiar motifs on these sample papers and also trying mightily to get a good watercolor before I resume the oils;

                                                               watercolor 20x16

                                                             watercolor 6x6

                                                                  watermedia 6x6

                                                                    watermedia 12x9

                                                               watermedia 6x6

                                                                    watercolor 12x9

And this last one below is painted from seeing a friends Instagram documentation of her hiking trip in Jordan [!] Something about the hills in the far distance seduced me. The outcrops were bleached to transparency much like distant views in New Mexico. Georgia O`Keefe famously called the phenomena 'the faraway nearby'.

                                                   Wadi Rum watercolor on Terraskin 12x12

 Everyone by now knows of the states trying to outlaw abortion in an effort to get a case before the Supreme Court. That a bunch of men think they can legislate what a woman can do with her body makes me crazy. I suspect most readers of this blog about painting would know how I feel and agree.
Fundamentalism, in any religion, is about control, not faith.
Here is one ministers take on the matter;

Everyone should bear in mind that outlawing it will only make abortion dangerous. That is obviously no problem for politicians who come up with laws that would prosecute a female for an abortion more severely than the man who raped her. This is the modern Republican Party.

Read Ursula le Guin`s personal remarks

Harold Ho is a hero.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, April 29, 2019

Estuary Overlook

                                                   Estuary Overlook oil on canvas 40x30

 This is my contribution to the upcoming exhibit "Ode to Tides"

 In too many places worldwide, wetlands have been thought worthless. They were drained then turned into pasture, farms, industrial sites or communities. In hindsight we know now how foolish that was. Beyond being rich incubators of diverse forms of life, they also can cushion inhabited areas from the worst effects of storm surges.
 So "Ode to Tides" aims to educate the public while preserving and celebrating Oregons 22 estuaries, including its tide pools and shorelines. This is a project of the Wetlands Conservancy and will travel throughout Oregon in the next year. The opening reception is May 2 at the Giustina Gallery at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
 I wanted to participate because these landscapes are important to me. For reasons personal and civic. No matter how huge and refreshing the ocean is, any time I visit the coast, my back is to the sea in short order while I explore the tideline, rivulets, dunes, marshes, rocks and tide pools, all part of the intertidal web of marine relationships. Their conservation is a just cause. In Oregon, the entire coastline belongs to the people. We are so fortunate to have access to the water and all of the ecologies at its edge.


 See that orange stuff, those are California poppies! I took this photo from the airplane as I was leaving. I knew from my visit to the soggy Coachella desert last February, things were not as they usually are. And press about the states superbloom has been everywhere. Still, as a native and veteran of droughts my whole life, it was extraordinary to see the state so vibrant. Everyone said it was over too when I arrived in early April. Yet what I saw was the California of dreams.
 I was visiting friends and family with challenges that I wanted to see for myself. Everyone was doing the best they could and I got to see grace and courage up close. Witnessing good attitudes under pressure is instructive.  I was happy I came.

 Two pictures from a moving train on a gorgeous ride from San Luis Obispo to Irvine.

 A eucalyptus forest I walked in and got a tick!

 The shade of a Live Oak, some of the best climbing trees in the world!

                                                  Pugs on the Beach by Trajan Lunde

Another artist in my family, Tra is my great-nephew. His grandparents knew good work when they saw it and framed it.

                                                                  by Jason Mayer

 Jason Mayer was my capable instructor when I did monoprints last month. He is giving a three day workshop in his studio in Portland coning up soon. It will be fun, plus this guy has a real feel for open space and lonely landscapes. He is a visual poet.

Ghostprint Studio
Monotype Workshop, May-14-16, $210

Join artist Jason Mayer for a three day workshop on the art of monotypes. Monotype is the most free and painterly style of printing. In this workshop you will learn to layer images to create depth and beauty. Mayer will walk you through the process of reductive and additive techniques that create a unique image with each pressing

10am-4pm Tuesday, Wed, Thurs. Hour lunch break, 12-1.

To register email Class size is limited. A $75 fee is required to hold your spot. Accept PayPal via All materials provided. Ghostprintstudio is located in downtown Portland and easily accessible by the Max line, Trimet, and Ctran.

  •  My first plein air effort of 2019. I just bought the only portable watercolor outdoor easel Cheap Joe sells and I wanted to try it out. I like it. For one thing I`ll be standing which is what I do in the studio. Everything had its place but I discovered I`m still going to have to lug my lawn chair with me. I need to sit occasionally. 
  •  Here is Eva Bartel`s rig;


  •  She wants to be comfortable and has figured out a way to transport everything via a golf caddy cart. Her beautiful work can be precise and that takes stable conditions while working. Here`s what she paints;

  •                                                                                          Eva Bartell

  •                                                                                               Eva Bartell

  •                                                                                            Eva Bartel

  •  I`m in awe of her ability to create these thoughtful paintings while being tormented by mosquitos, getting sunburnt, coping with the wind and glare and even with her efficient system, it can`t be easy to get to these places. She`s a hero.

  •                                                                                  photo by Joe Freeman

  •  Here are some troubling yet compelling landscapes. The area is visible at times, in the distance from the interstate. Joe Freeman doubled back and went to check it out. It`s an interesting if disturbing story and his photos elevate the scene into something powerfully eloquent and foreboding. I live in a house made from old growth timber, the stretchers supporting my paintings are pine, wood is good!  yet I have trouble imaging someone taking a saw to one of these monolithic ancient trees. 

                                                                            by shitty watercolor

                                                      Creek Alcove oil on canvas 48x48

Sunday, March 31, 2019






 To make a monotype, one essentially paints an image on sheet of plexiglass, a piece of paper is carefully placed on top and then this 'sandwich' is squeezed through a printing press. The painting transfers to the paper with surprising results. It`s an exercise in non-attachment as the painting will not look like the print, just 'related'. I tried this 30 years ago and wondered why I didn`t just eliminate the whole 'creating through pressure' step and just do a painting. The question remains though I know the answer;

                                                         monoprint by Jason Mayer

 Jason, who claims not to be a painter, dashed this off in moments. That`s why I try.

                                                         monoprint by Forrest Moses

 The idea is to make something spontaneous, send it through the press and see what you got. Hopefully something fresh and spirited like this one by the New Mexican artist Forrest Moses.

                                                         monoprint by Edgar Degas

 Degas did some too!
My friend, the formidable artist Don Gray, turned his studio into a laboratory and invited me, Ruth Armitage, Jim Young and Jason Mayer over to play with this process for a couple of days. Our leader and technical advisor was Jason. He was an extraordinarily patient and thorough instructor and he did not get much of his own work done. This party included a sleepover for Ruth and me and Don`s wife Brenda saw to our nutritional needs. What fun! The experience was carefree much like the plein air painting I do with friends. Such simple intimacy is too rare in my life.

                                                                monoprint by Don Gray

                                                                    Don and Ruth

                                                         Hog Island oil on canvas 20x16

 I did it! Finally a painting of Hog Island that feels like the place.

It`s those murky shadows under the trees that get me. In summer, with the oaks leafed out, it is just another green view. The mystery is a winter pleasure.

                                                            by Lorrie McClanahan

 I have a new friend in Texas!  Lorrie McClanahan appeared to me on Instagram and we had a mutual sympathy with each others work. She is fearless as she explores all manner of mediums and materials.

                                                               by Lorrie McClanahan

 Artist Books are an important part of her practice. Look at this clever way she displays them on an acrylic shelf together;

                                                           books by Lorrie McClanahan

Instagram, btw, is a direct and effective means of interacting with interesting people/painters. See something you like? Write the artist a thoughtful comment and you`ll most likely hear back from them.

 My buddy Ruth Armitage is going to France and will be exploring color in the landscape with a handful of fortunate painters. She told me the other day that there were two spots open. She`s rented a chateau and has experienced, fun guides to whisk everyone from painting locations to villages to wineries to restaurants for seven days. Sounds amazing to me!

                                                La Sagrada Familia when finished in 2050

 This thing is nearly finished! I remember reading about it in an encyclopedia when I was a kid. I couldn`t imagine something taking over a hundred years to build. Guess it could. Probably won`t be open for worship in my lifetime but it`s getting close!

 In this photo you can see the final central towers emerging. How incredibly exciting!

 The architect, Antoni Gaudi, is a universally beloved artist. His designs are so rich in imagination, they delight the child and stun the adult.

                                                   The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology

April 16 is the deadline for applications for an artist in residency at the phenomenally nurturing Sitka Center. Trust me I`ve been one, this place is magic! The campus sits upon Cascade Head, a geological marvel that juts out into the Pacific. It is so pristine and healthy, it is a protected UNESCO site. Safe for introverts too, no communal anything!
Here are some photos I took in 2014;

                                                          The Marcia Burtt Gallery

 The wonderful Marcia Burtt Gallery in Santa Barbara California is featuring an online exhibition of my work on paper. Please check it out!

                                                     Gerard Depardieu enjoying his life

work for sale in my studio

Prints from Fine Art America