Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Goodbye Summer

                                                The End of August oil on canvas 30x24 inches

 It can end overnight in the Pacific Northwest, It recently did with another week of August still to come. Everywhere now, summer arrives with anxiety if not dread and the traditional hope of good times too of course.  We were blessed again with livable temperatures and relatively moderate fires. When we had a good rain two weeks ago, I began to feel safe. The fires of 2020 scarred us all. Though we were deep into the pandemic then, that local fire dwarfed any threat of contagion. Evacuees slept side by side each other in school gyms across the county. 

The carefree idea of summer is a thing of the past maybe but I hope it endures for kids. Adults have a trickier dilemma. How to relax into the season without bringing pessimism alongside every cookout,  hike, ballgame or outdoor conversation? How do we love our lives honestly with the world becoming  hotter than anytime in human history? I`ve given this some thought. My simple imagination can only think of one hopeful counter measure which is to plant trees. Or plant some vegetables, or hang out with children, or foster puppies or kittens, or create something completely unexpected. The antidote to grief is to focus on the young and new. The grief is worldwide and acute and shared. Maybe we can do something with it.

                                                 Lake Oswego Open Studios artists

 A bunch of local artists were in my studio a couple of weeks ago. As a board member of the brand new non profit organization, I set up my studio like I would during the real event. In case some of the artists weren`t quite sure how to do so. We spend so many solitary hours in our spaces working, it`s shocking when it`s filled with strangers. That is the best reason to participate in something like this. It is really valuable to talk about our work with people we don`t know. They bring their own perspective and hearing it is often illuminating. And just being praised is nice too. If our efforts to get the word out about our event succeed and our community responds, it`s going to be a fun weekend. The president of the organization, Ha Austin, is the incredible engine behind it all. It is her vision and efforts that are making it happen, she is a force of nature! Any locals reading this, save the dates; October 14 and 15, 10-5 pm. Check out the website to view the art, read the bios of the artists, find the map to the studios, see the sponsors who chose to support this fledgling celebration and get a feel for the arts community here in Lake Oswego. This town is more than lawyers, doctors and financial planners. Come see.                                    lakeoswegoopenstudios.org 

                                                     Summer Canal oil on canvas 20x16

                                       End of the Island oil on canvas 20x16 inches [improved]

                                              Cook`s Butte Winter oil on canvas 40x30 inches

                                          Willamette River Morning oil on canvas 20x16 inches

 Some new work. I`ve sure been painting a lot but I sometimes lose my discernment. When that happens, I set the painting aside until some objectivity returns. Maturity at last!

 Below is the work of Frederic Fau, a French artist.  From the first image I saw of his I could tell we were in league. His mostly black and white pieces suggest a depth and atmosphere that is very evocative. He loves the forest. This video is a nice presentation of the artist and his work. It`s in French but enlightening nonetheless.

                                                                      Frederic Fau

                                                                       Frederic Fau

                                                                       Frederic Fau

                                                              Sauvie Island Study-RDT

                                                                 Willamette Falls

Willamette Falls is one of the coolest places in Oregon. Supposedly the the second largest waterfall in volume in the country. After Niagara. Visually, it`s not at that level at all but the history is fascinating. Only 20 miles from Portland in the eclectic town of Oregon City, the region`s first capital. It was a sacred fishing spot for Native Americans originally then the source of the first hydroelectric power in the West. Early Oregonians relied on the river to transport goods from the farms upstream. Locks were built to raise and lower boats at the falls. Paper mills were built at the site because of the abundant power. Those mills were still operational when I moved to the area in 2010. It was quite a scene visiting on a winters day with the falls raging with runoff and the mills engulfed in swirling steam. And it was loud, you could say operatic in a way. Just thrilling to watch from atop the bluff rising behind it. Here is a nice video on the efforts to open up the falls to visitors and transform the old paper mill into something contemporary and significant. This is an exciting project.

 click HERE for work in my studio for sale

Thursday, June 29, 2023

End of June

                                            The Last Oregon Refuge oil on canvas 56x44 inches

 On a sunny June day in 2012 I was walking around the Finley Wildlife Refuge for the first time. Up at the top of a meadowed hill stood a stand of oaks silhouetted against the some thunderheads. This simple composition became a subject for many small paintings and now this larger one. With only three sections I could play with my abstract expressionist impulses yet still have a credible landscape when I finished. I learned definitively, a couple of years ago with pandemic abstractions, having a recognizable subject gave me the most freedom. To see what I could make paint do.

 Now that I`m making progress separating the act of painting from the importance of presenting it, the promotional aspect of my blog is gone. I don`t want to stop it, I`ve heard many times that people want to read it. However, I forget about it. Sorry I`ve been away so long.

 I finally got the train trip to Calif in late April after it was cancelled by Amtrak in January due to atmospheric rivers. So worth the wait! I have never seen Calif. look so lush. Everywhere! There was evidence of flooding all around as well. I also saw near every single town and city, homeless encampments. Maybe hitching rides on freight trains is coming back? Or do train tracks inspire congregating somehow? I tell you one thing, it is not just Portland and San Francisco with this vexing issue. It`s coming for the rest of the country too. With low unemployment even, this population just keeps growing. It is clearly evident that the working poor cannot afford housing. How the United States tackles this matter will determine the kind of country we become. My political instincts tell me we all will pay more taxes to ease this catastrophe and hopefully we will make the rich pay proportionally more. That`s if we want humane solutions. We can look to India and Brazil and see what happens if we don`t.

                                                         Los Angeles during lockdown

 Growing up, I never thought I would fall in love with California. I couldn`t wait to get out. While I was away, the state got its act together. Because the state Republican Party came down hard on illegal immigration in a nakedly racist way, generations of Hispanic voters swept them out of power long ago. There is no utopia anywhere, much less Calif., but I have never seen such racial integration anywhere else. My brother is one of only two old white men on his Orange County street. I had low expectations for my trip because it had been delayed among other reasons and that is the exact condition necessary for the marvelous. No great events just beautiful food and the comfort of being loved. I even had one whole day with an old friend thinking I had covid. Yet we still had fun. She was certainly sick and testing positive with the home test. Then negative. I was trying to figure out what I should do with my vacation. Finally we realized we needed real information and went to a clinic. Negative for covid, strep throat, and RSV. Eventually she was treated for a respiratory infection and I was unscathed and went on to see my family further south. My homestate feels like it recovered from a terrible war and every time I visit I am amazed and grateful. Just walking through the neighborhoods I encountered smells that took me back in an instant to being a boy in the sunlight. 

more paintings;

                                                   Bog End oil on canvas 20x16 inches

 I was using a time limit with this one. I document what I`ve done each night as I leave the studio. With certain paintings, actually quite a few, I don`t seem to improve them much at all beyond the first few sessions. What does that mean?? I`m laboring for nothing? As I`ve said, I could fill a large gallery with work I destroyed [seemingly] prematurely. Or is this just some Randall-perverse nonsense? I do know if I`ve worked on something a lot, when I finally give up, I can`t stand the sight of it. I`m trying now to just set them aside out of view. If you`ve ever been trapped painting something for a long time without resolution, it is a truly defeated emotion.

                                                   In Champoeg oil on canvas 16x16

 For a recent birthday of Johns`, we went for a hike in Champoeg State Park. Oregon is well known for having a superb collection of state parks and this is one of the best. It is named after the son of Sacajawea, the baby she carried with Lewis and Clark and their Corp of Discovery. We walked along this stream after it had flooded scouring the banks and leaving heaps of branches and grasses along the way.  It looked both scrubbed and trashed. Mighty nature!

                                                  August Bog oil on canvas 16x16 inches

 The same swampy corner of Bryant Woods as 'Bog End' above. There is a old culvert there draining a wetland that was probably too wet for an orchard. This local nature park was once someones home.

                                                  Undergrove   oil on canvas 20x20 inches

 A small stand of trees on the other side of Bryant Woods. Here too, the ground is wet and the trees either have or adapted to have a larger foot at the base of the tree. Sort of like a hoof.

                                         End of the Island acrylic and oil on canvas 20x16 inches

                                                                          plein air

 I`m painting outdoors again though this year I`m using acrylics. I hoped for complete paintings from each session but that hasn`t happened. But I bring home something I can develop further in my studio. In oils which have the most versatility of all the different mediums. I think this two step method has promise.

                                               Riverside acrylic and oil on canvas 16x20 inches

                                                                            plein air

 Another begun with acrylics out in the field, then finished with oils in my studio.

                                          Cooks Butte Winter watercolor on Yupo 26x40 inches

 This big watercolor claimed way too much of my winter. I wanted a distinctly bleak landscape that was beat up looking and scrappy. Downed trees and brush now fully visible with the maples leafless in winter. Well I think I succeeded but I don`t want to look at it. That is my clear and simple test for quality. So I think I just decided a phase two. I will seal it with acrylic varnish and go back into it with oil paint. Yupo, being plastic, will not be damaged by the acidic oil paints.

When a close friend went off on the immediate threat of Artificial Intelligence, I was startled. Something this big and I hadn`t even noticed the approach? Well to be honest, it has never seemed like a plausible risk even though I have read a lot about it in science fiction. The 'problem' can certainly evolve but in my lifetime, I think I`m safe.
Then right on time, I run into this article about the good to come from AI. If the issue has your attention, read these optimistic view points. You`ll feel better.

 Not much to say. What is happening now is an obvious political ploy to make ignorant people outraged. Conservatives do this in their effort to stymie progress. It`s hurtful for sure. Portraying gay people as a threat to children is evil. They have always tried to tie pedophilia to homosexuality. Stir up disgust and anger. I have chosen to ignore this all my adult life. I like kids and I sure do empathize with their confusion. I have been a Big Brother, an arts mentor in Celebrate Youth and I was a reader with children in the local SMART program. I have nieces and nephews I enjoyed very much when they were young. I never tried to preemptively assure anyone that I could be trusted. I knew who I was and knew I had a lot to give in being with children. And a lot to learn since I would never have my own. 

 For the lovers of the masterpiece 'Dune', this was just too good. The original only, not the ridiculous sequels.

A new little piece done with my new graphite watercolors! Six shades of gray from Kuretake of Japan.

                                                                  Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Cummings is about my favorite living painter. She`s an elder and still one of the most inventive painters.

click HERE for available work in my studio


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Lake Oswego Open Studios coming in October

   For reasons unconscious and deliberate, I became involved with beginning an annual open studios weekend for my community, Lake Oswego, and also including West Linn next door. During last years Portland Open Studios, I asked all the local artists who wandered in if they thought our town was ready for its own. Yes it was. So six artists, me included, created a nonprofit organization and began organizing. During the meeting where officers were elected, there were four participants and each of us became an official. I am the treasurer. The president and undisputed motor behind the whole project is Ha Austin, a ceramic artist.

   In this first year we decided not to have a jurying process and to welcome as many dedicated artists who would want to be part of it. If anyone local is reading this and has not heard of this event in the making, please visit our website or write to lakeoswegoopenstudios@gmail.com for more details. We will need from you $100, three high quality photos of your work, and a short bio about your practice. All the artists will be featured on the website as well as any sponsors who contribute to our cause. This is going to be fun and I believe the community will be responsive. The pandemic allowed us to slow down and appreciate the local again. The time is right for LO artists to reveal themselves.

                                              Spring Willow watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches

  Unfinished paintings surround me in the studio but it is not bothering me. Usually I`m so obsessed I can lose weeks pursuing something that really deserved to die. My time is more chopped up than it`s been in years and I just keep moving until I need to sit down.
  I walk often in Bryant Woods, a nearby natural area that must have been homesteaded at one time. There are fruit trees in the forest and this old weeping willow in the marsh. It is slowly being reduced by windfalls and I wanted to paint it before it`s gone.   

                                               Midnight Cove oil on canvas 30x24 inches

I needed to paint a nocturne, something dark.

                                                  Portrait watermedia on paper 24x18 inches

  And this which is barely visible. 
Since 2017 I have tried to get the right face into that rectangle without success. When both of my new knee implants became infected early that year, I entered a new reality of being at the mercy and wisdom of the medical establishment. There were several more surgeries and boatloads of antibiotics. During that time I had a recurring dream. I was visiting some kind of religiously affiliated institution. Sometimes it was a school, other times a library or summer camp. I would have lunch in the cafeteria where I knew the women working there and then I would get permission to go to the cave adjacent to the buildings. I always insisted I had to see it. Actually it was a piece of art it contained. Sometimes it was carved into the stone at the mouth of the cave, other times it was a painting deep inside. Both were of an extremely dark portrait. Not menacing but really unpleasant. I was never hurt and I went alone. There was a great need to see this bitter face, though it was almost too dark to see. 
  I tried repeatedly to paint it but it was so vague in the dream, nothing looked right. Until this latest effort. I don`t recognize it as the same but it has the bleak stare I remember. 
It is really nice that I finished it at last.

                                                                Phyllida Barlow sculpture

  Phyllida Barlow died in March. I`m sorry to say I had not come across her. Probably because sculpture is rarely on my mind. Oh boy, she was so different. I was reading obituaries and sad that her commanding work had eluded me. To the credit of the UK, she seems to have been celebrated there. If you have the time, watch these two short videos. Her personality is as remarkable as the sculpture. I wish I could see some of them. They seem casually powerful with an odd intriguing presence. Her humility and focus are so moving.

                                                               by Genevieve Scholl

  My pal, the magnificent lover of wet forests,Genevieve Scholl nailed it here! Take a good look at what she does and read her thoughts on her Instagram posts

  Yes, let`s stay standing with Ukraine. This was in a neighbors yard with the big spider sculpture. It is so important that Ukraine exists. We can`t let Putin`s war crimes succeed. This I know yet the slaughter of unprepared, drafted against their will, young Russians sickens me too. I completely support the efforts of my government in assisting Ukraine. May this horror end soon.

                                                                          Gary Larson

click HERE for work for sale in my studio

Sunday, February 19, 2023

new works

                                           Rio Grande Gorge watermedia on Yupo 19x13 inches

 Finally painting with some regularity again. That was the longest break I`ve ever taken other than through illness. First time in my life I`ve questioned my identity as well. I know I`ll always make art but their afterlife isn`t certain and my intentions have shifted. Since my economic survival isn`t bound up with it now, I`m hoping the experience of painting opens up in a new way. I want to be a better artist and that may take being a more deliberate person.

Here are some new pieces;

                                     [untitled-Cook`s Butte] watercolor on paper 19x14 inches

                                           Algodones Study watercolor on Yupo 12x9 inches

                                                     Winter Alders watercolor 12x9 inches

                                               Silver Creek watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

                                                Cloud Forest acrylic on Yupo 10x30 inches

                                               Local Marsh watercolor on Yupo 19x14 inches

                                             Late Fall Canal watermedia on paper 19x14 inches

Public Service Announcement; Local artists take note, Lake Oswego will have its inaugural open studios tour next October 14 and 15. That is the first weekend of the Portland Open Studios as well. Since art lovers will be out and about our hope is that they will venture into our community too. I believe the city will support such an event and I know there are plenty of artists who live here. No doubt the first one will be sort of rough and homemade but no matter. It`s just fun when artists meet the public, we have such solitary lives. Save the dates!

Another Public Service Announcement; The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is accepting applications for their artist in residency program. This is a unique opportunity to get serious work done in a pristine and magnificent environment. Two weeks up to three months perched on the side of Cascade Head with views of the sea and the adjacent rainforest. It really is wonderful. If you need to concentrate on your book, or score, or series, this place will nurture you.

                                                                Wellness Check

                                                            In any given moment,

                                                             on any given day

                                                              I can measure

                                                             my wellness

                                                              by this question:

                                                                is my attention on loving,

                                                               or is my attention on

                                                                              who isn`t loving me?

                                                                  __Andrea Gibson

                                                                         Cuno Amiet

This handsome Swiss gentleman painted over 4000 paintings in his career and 1000 of them are self portraits! He always had a willing subject close at hand. He was new to me a few years ago and it took me a long time to warm to his post modernist paintings. Then I became obsessed with all things Cuno Amiet. From what I`ve read, most of his work is still in Switzerland. You have to visit the homeland to see this national treasure up close.

                                                                           Cuno Amiet

                                                                            Cuno Amiet

                                                                            Cuno Amiet

                                                                              Cuno Amiet



ckick HERE for paintings for sale