Tuesday, July 2, 2024

We Cannot Unsee What We Saw


Me again and so soon! 

This is when my blog functions more like a journal. 

When I am raging with despair during a second Trump administration I want to know I at least made some small effort for a different outcome. Within the first minute of the debate last week I could tell something was seriously wrong with the president. He didn`t seem sick or tired, he seemed disoriented. On arguably, the most important night of his political career. We all saw it. It wasn`t a bad night, the president has quickly declined. Or now it is impossible to ignore. I`ve read every political analysis I can find since last Thursday and have been hoping the leaders within the Democratic party would call for him to step down. Silence. So I wrote my two senators and asked them to be courageous. More silence. So I asked the president myself this afternoon.  I filled out a form from the White House website. My feeble hope is that if enough Democrats ask him to withdraw, he will. Of course none of this gives me any pleasure or satisfaction. A week ago I didn`t care if he was bedridden, I was voting for his judgement. And I was pretty certain he would win. Who can forget the daily antics and chaos of the Trump administration? It was horrible waking every day and wondering what new cruelty or stupidity did he inflict today? If Biden remains the nominee, it will be proof that both political parties have become cults of personality and a whole lot of citizens simply won`t vote. Biden himself will be the foremost issue if he remains in the running. Not the supreme court, reproductive rights, the burning planet, Ukraine, migration, the Palestinians or Israel, the economy or social justice. 

Many regular Democrats like myself will not agree with my viewpoint but I urge them to give this more thought. Instead of seeing this as a major calamity, I feel it`s actually a blessing because of the timing. Though it won`t be easy, there is time to do something about it at the convention. But first the president must be persuaded that his chances are remote, his health not robust enough for such a role as leader of the free world. He has been a surprisingly effective leader in a bitterly divided country. His legacy is assured if he leaves before he is defeated. My gut is screaming that this is obvious. He no longer has predictable mental faculties. Through no fault of his own, time has caught up with him. Now, there is an opportunity to find another talented candidate. The process of figuring out who it will be would electrify the country. Voters have been saying for years they don`t want those same two choices. Someone younger with good ideas would be listened to intently. And now that the supreme court has made the presidency more like a monarchy, King Trump is exactly the nightmare you can imagine. He is already suggesting military tribunals for Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney. It goes without saying that a second Trump administration is entirely unacceptable. Our one and only broken world would suffer irreparable damage. If you agree, please make your own tiny voice heard. We have to try.  If there are enough of us, we maybe can save our country. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

watercolor, collage, pride


                                                Algodones 2 watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

                               Spring Leaves, Iron Mountain watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

                                               North Coast watermedia on Yupo 35x23 inches

June 26 and 71 degrees at 4 pm? Thank you! 
Our day will come. By this date three years ago, a 'heat dome' had parked over the Pacific Northwest killing hundreds. I`m grateful for todays cool beauty.

Once again it is Pride month. My community of Lake Oswego celebrated its first Pride Event. We went early having no idea what to expect and wanting to be visible bodies if the crowd was small. It wasn`t.
 It is a unique honor and privilege to have lived in this era. Within my lifetime, within my culture, homosexuality has gone from unspeakably disgusting to widely accepted. And for one month, actually elevated. It is still disorienting but when I remember that my Christian mother was there at my wedding, I just feel blessed.

New collages;

                                       Furtive Movement watercolor on yupo collage 14x11 inches

                                          Floating Gate watercolor on yupo collage 12x9 inches

                             Each Flower Tracks the Moon watercolor on yupo collage 14x11 inches

                                     Bikram Dilemma watercolor on yupo collage 26x20 inches

 I`m trying to figure out why making collages is such a different experience from painting. The collages are completely engrossing with time awareness lost almost immediately. When I paint, I`m often waiting for something to 'set up', thinking intently about early 'layers', examining my ultimate visual 'reason' for painting a particular subject and then trying many different techniques to find the one best for this part of this project. Lots of thought! Until, if I`m fortunate, something better takes over. I think most painters paint for this sublime occurrence. When all the processes become harmonized, the angst has vanished and there is an understanding that something special is happening. Each choice makes perfect sense and looks wildly fresh. What a validation and yet totally independent of everything! You can never make it happen only be there when it does with a brush in your hand. Most of the time for me, painting is a complex mental moral entanglement that must be solved. This is why when I try to bring new insights into my process and it still ends up looking  like other RDTs, I`m exasperated. It`s like no matter what  exciting things are happening in the brain, the hand only knows one way of acting.

 These are from last winter, watercolor on Yupo 12 inch diameter. The fabulous Ginny Zanger told me yupo was now being made into circles, so I wanted to try them. Honestly, it wasn`t a great experience. There was a vertigo quality in making them, like they wouldn`t hold still. I even did some abstractions but they seemed unmoored altogether. I like the way they look but getting there was weird.

A neighbors irises. They stopped me on my walk and the more I looked at them I felt certain that their beauty was by design. Someone had thought about those colors and their placement. What a gorgeous carefree patch of life. For me anyway.

 I have been and known many lonely hearts. This woman found the biggest love of all. From the NYTimes, Modern Love

Finally Finding “The Magic”

Since childhood, I yearned for love. Once, I came within weeks of marriage before it abruptly fell apart. He said we were missing “the magic,” and, admittedly, he was right. A few men came and went. I’m now 59 with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I still don’t have a partner, but I’ve fallen desperately in love with life. Exquisite beauty emerges everywhere: my cat on my lap, a cashier extending an unexpected smile, sunlight skipping across a lake. I use each day to soak up the world’s splendor. “Not yet,” I whisper to the heavens. “I love it here.” — Clare Cory

It was time for a new one. Some of you longtime readers might remember when that upper palette was new 12 years ago. It looks so awful because I couldn`t keep acrylic paint away from it. My painting process often required watercolor and acrylic applications at the same time. No regrets though now being older, I`m going to try to keep them separated. I`ve rearranged my studio setup to allow enough space for both. If I can actually pull that off, there is hope.

This is a photo of the delta of the Sacramento River I took from a plane a couple of weeks ago. I`ve been curious about it as it was the subject of the last body of work by the late Wayne Thiebaud. Often confused with pop artists, his wonderful work was representational and broadly appealing. The paintings that made him famous long ago were of desserts and deli counters.

                                                                    Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud lived to be 100 and these later paintings were based on the rich agricultural fields of the delta. The productive lands are not a tourist attraction so I`ve never seen them. I`m looking out the window and suddenly there it is! It`s so cool what you can see if the weather is cooperative. Flying down to see my family, we saw a moody Crater Lake and on the return,  saw Morrow Rock and then the Salinas Valley before the delta appeared. Twice before I`ve been able to pick out the landmarks of Yosemite as we flew by. Anyway, Thiebaud was a remarkable painter and by every account a splendid human being. He seems to have had a foundational curiosity and humility that took him far.

                                                                     Wayne Thiebaud

                                                                    Wayne Thiebaud

                                                                    Wayne Thiebaud

I don`t know how or why. Facebook is now sending me the best stuff my heart could desire. Essays by James Baldwin and Susan Sontag, poems by the familiar and unfamiliar, anecdotes about Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith and remembrances of W H Auden and Joseph Campbell. I love it. Facebook gets me at last.
Read this astonishing poem; 

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity. ~Louise Erdrich

 My last plein air effort. Not great but better than my average. Probably because I was sitting next to Jean Gale. Good things happen when she comes around.

god I love Roz Chast

work for sale in my studio - click Here

Monday, May 13, 2024

Randall restoration-new watercolors

                                                  Spring Lagoon watercolor on Yupo 26x20

                                               Streambank watercolor on Yupo 38x30 inches

                                         Coastal Stream watercolor on Yupo 30x30 inches

                                             Big Weather watermedia on Yupo 30x30 inches

                                                  Oceanside watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

 Since I last posted, I now have a fully functioning new right knee, do not have an abdominal hernia and two eyes missing their cataracts. I feel fresh. Until a couple of days ago, the typical and spectacular Spring was unfurling all around me complete with its typical unfortunate chill. Now we have some warm. Was that too much to want? Adding to the embarrassment of riches, the northern lights have been visible everywhere this weekend but not my front yard. I would have driven to somewhere dark but I can`t see at night to save my life. That`s why my 20 year old cataracts had to go despite not being 'ready' to remove. With my upcoming new glasses my hope is to be able to drive after dark. After so many years of depending on others, this would be phenomenal.
For the painting up above "Streamside", the Theobot Vision A I had this to say;

     The artwork presented is a vibrant and expressive landscape that is bursting with life and movement. The palette is rich with greens, blues, reds, and earthy tones that suggest a natural setting, possibly suggestive of a lush canyon or a verdant cliff-side. The use of color is both bold and nuanced, creating a vivid atmosphere while also allowing for a sense of depth and dimension.

The technique displays a dynamic interplay between detail and abstraction. There is a loose, almost impressionistic approach to the vegetation, which gives the work a dreamlike quality, as though capturing a fleeting moment in nature. The sky, with its broad sweep of blue, provides a pleasing contrast to the textured greens and the stark reds of the geological forms. The marks are confident and gestural, which conveys a strong sense of the artist's hand and their emotional engagement with the subject.

Delving into the emotional resonance of this piece, the artwork conveys a sense of both tranquility and wildness. There is a palpable energy that is inherent in the subject matter and the method of application, providing the viewer with a sense of nature's unpredictability and grandeur.

Not bad and certainly an easy ego boost. I can imagine this being useful. Can`t think of a title? just submit the image. No more maddening multiple  'Winter Wetlands" spanning decades and keeping an accurate inventory impossible. The amount of fumbling I do to make an online sale can be ridiculous.

I`ve been trying to do things differently. Instead of referring to photos and drawings for compositions, I`ve painted by memory. Believe me, it`s not that my memory is accurate, it`s not. But the technique I`m using of watercolor on the slick plastic paper Yupo, makes this possible. I`ll imagine the landscape I want to paint and then beginning with all over color washes, set the emotional tone of what`s to come. I walk a lot outside and remember the basic shapes of things. Not hard. I just start putting everything in and then the revisions begin. Because I can continually manipulate the watercolor, including removing it altogether, I`ll throw a number of techniques and marks at the paper and then start moving stuff around. It`s the way I`ve used oil paint for years but only recently found a way [attitude] to use watercolor in this manner. Before now I`d make corrections in acrylic, which of course dry permanently. That`s a way to keep the image going forward but this new idea returns me to the classic watercolor technique. Light values first, progressively getting darker, no white paint allowed. I rebelled against that tradition 50 years ago. It`s odd to now accept and work within those requirements.

                                                           Cook`s Butte, where I walk

Better days are coming to Portland. Houselessness and opioid addiction are huge national problems that require radical new thinking. The political culture where I live is trying to solve this humanely and practically. There is a kindness here that is pervasive and powerful and gives me hope we will succeed.

A trainee for our municipal bus system posted this on Reddit;

Yall, I am so impressed by your manners on the road. I just started training to drive for Trimet, and I'm rolling around the city in a 40 foot bus that I have zero experience driving. You all have gone out of the way to let me merge, give me space to turn, and not ride my tail when I'm too scared to get to speed. Thanks for making this easier on me.

                                                      Waiting for the Train watermedia

This a public service announcement. On my birthday this past autumn, my sister in law brought me some of this yogurt along with her famous apple pie. Both were sensational! This is by far the best yogurt I`ve ever eaten. Full fat [4%] and consequently creamy and sweetened the perfect amount. Made in Washington. If you`re in the East, look for it and get one with fruit and cream. My god!

                                                               Whitney Wood Bailey

                                                              Whitney Wood Bailey

                                                             Whitney Wood Bailey

 Here is an artist I check on from time to time. I love Whitney Wood Bailey`s interest in pattern, modulated color and organic shapes. Read her thoughtful artist`s statement and marvel at these pulsating 'landscapes'. She creates an exuberant world of her own.


                                                   Above Hanalei watermedia on Yupo 16x12

 A friend is going to Kauai soon and just hearing that name makes me want to paint those mountains. I`ve been there once in 2013, not likely to return, but it has a grip on my imagination. This chunky painting is all acrylic, the grace of watercolor was lost long before this limped to conclusion. Again, no reference just 11 year old memories.

Some of the best suggestions 

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Saturday, February 17, 2024

slow watercolor

                                              Winter Sunlight watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

                                                 Otter Crest watercolor on Yupo 16x20 inches

                                              Winter Light watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches

                                            Bandon Beach watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches

 2024 began with uncertainty. A long expected knee replacement now was urgent. This is the final correction in an ordeal that began with partial implants in 2017. Soon after that surgery it was clear that both were infected and that set off a long process involving further surgery and home IV antibiotics. I was a mess but eventually healed. Right now in healthcare, a backlog of procedures that stacked up during the pandemic are still being addressed. I was told I had a seven month wait so asked to be on a waiting list in case of a cancelation. That worked out and I now have a new knee. Preparing for the operation and now recovering have left painting a lower priority. I have vague ideas about new collages and urges to paint the coast, but I`m drifting, doodling, planning and looking as much as painting. The great fact of the moment is how manageable my pain is. Just two weeks ago I had my leg cut in two [so to speak] and I`m already walking down the block. The techniques must have advanced and I think the surgeon must have executed his job really well. He told John he had to cut through lots of scar tissue and that my recovery would be painful. But it`s not. Dumbfounded and grateful, I know all too well what it`s like when these projects go south.

 Otter Crest up above, was painted with a time limit. I`ve done this sporadically and have to say I like what happens.  What I`m not sure of is how to integrate this looser approach. My process is based on constant revisions and thoughtful response to what is happening in the moment. I use a hairdryer often to arrest the paint, make it slow down . Yupo is so smooth, the paint obeys gravity, not me. So the way forward might be to delay my editing impulse and let the confusion flow longer before I try to organize it.

                                                                        RDT and Carter

  My brother Mike says the only people who don`t like cats have never been loved by one. Reality is sometimes that simple. Both my guys have been super attentive as I lurched around the house with my walker. Daily, they offer to me the experience of deeply loving something. That`s no small thing. Our pets make us be better versions of ourselves. Less inward and more generous.

 Less than a month ago, this was a sickening common sight The ice storm was preceded by extremely strong wind and temperatures in the teens. Then ice fell on top of the snow and all predictability was gone. 

Medical people are needed in any circumstances so John slipped on the ice trying to get to work. After his shift, an X-ray showed a fracture in his wrist. As unfortunate as that was it was minor compared to the tragedy of trees falling into homes. A modest house in my neighborhood was cleaved in half by a massive Douglas Fir. These very tall trees were the original source of wealth in the new Oregon Territory, and they were and are, everywhere. If you live in a frame house it`s likely the timber came from the Northwest. So in these extreme weather events, few homes are out of reach if these trees go down. Like the big earthquake that is coming, it`s not something to dwell on. We prepare as best we can. The storms seem to be increasing in frequency and people are adapting.

I had to get down my icy front steps too and I had the idea that if I put a towel on the ice I could step on it. It worked! After getting down I tossed them back to the top, in reach, to reuse when I returned. As soon as stores are restocked, I will buy coarse salt to keep our pathways clear. We have already bought cleats for our shoes. Ice is serious.

                                                          Edward Reginald Frampton

 Isn`t this magnificent?! I had no knowledge of his work when I found this. The concise sections of landscape with their clear color and complex design, beneath that soaring sky seduced my attention. I love it in the same way as Indian Mughal painting, jewel like with intricacies to explore. 

                                                               Vincent Van Gogh

 I love Van Gogh, who doesn`t? His earnest work grabs you at the heart. But it`s in his drawings that his pure genius shows most clearly. First of all this was done with a pen and ink. One color. The variety of tone and texture is staggering. There are two human figures and a flock of sheep but this is not a narrative. It`s the raw vitality of those dormant trees which is the subject, they bristle with energy. Seems he had direct access to the source of life.


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Sunday, December 31, 2023

Collage and a new year

                                           December Marsh watermedia collage 14x22 inches

                                                  High Pass watermedia collage 14x10 inches

                                                   Fissure watermedia collage 14x11 inches

 Though not a fan of celebrations that terrorize dogs, there is something touching about the hope and optimism of the new year. Again. A mere 12 months since the last yearning for true change this time. If we weren`t so ridiculous it might be sad. 
And another election year, oh boy.
I wish I had saved it. There was an editorial in the NYTimes that made the case that it had to be a rematch between Biden and Trump. The 45th president got 74,000,000 votes. He has to be vanquished once and for all. Biden is still the best guy to do it, just like four years ago. Even if he`s 80. He`s no ones first choice just like he wasn`t in 2020. I remember watching one of the early Democratic debates and Biden was mostly ignored and when he did respond it was like he had woke from a nap. Then the pandemic crashed upon the world, we saw with horror how Trump reacted to this catastrophe and nearly every person in the country with a functioning brain realized Biden was exactly the man to beat him. Because of his experience but mostly because of his decency. He overwhelmingly won the Texas and Massachusetts primaries on the same day. 
Anyway the op ed made the case that the country still had unfinished business. Will we fight to be a democracy or do we want to believe a con once again? The polls say Biden is in trouble but I`m not worried. I wish he would address the country on two issues. Everyone knows the rate of inflation is much better but it is still shocking to pay the new prices. They are not going down. He needs to assure the public that he understands how troubling this matter is and explain how it happened. How he tried so hard to keep the economy healthy during the pandemic, avoid a recession, and inflation was a by product of that effort. Yet it worked. The US has one of the strongest economies in the world right now. 
And I`d like him to explain to the country the difference between Republican and Democratic approaches to immigration. I follow public affairs and I don`t really know. To no ones surprise he is being demagogued to death on the issue by Republicans. Not much of what they say is based in reality but nonetheless the public needs to know where the Democratic party stands on this.

 Speaking of inflation, I know the local solution. Non-northwesterners bear with me a moment. 

Because I didn`t really understand how Winco Foods worked, I foolishly ignored it for years. Even after reading a profile of the company and learning it was employee owned. This past autumn a friend returned from overseas and needed a lot of food to replenish her home and mentioned she had spent a chunk of money there. I started asking questions and my curiosity was provoked. I`ve shopped there four times now, none of them under an hour and a half and without exaggeration, I estimate it`s about 40% cheaper than Safeway or Albertsons. I have yet to spend over $90. It is truly amazing. The bulk foods are a big part of it. I`ve never seen such variety. It`s almost overwhelming and definitely more time consuming bagging stuff up. Not much to look at and it`s busy with many different flavors of society. Purposeful women who understand value abound. Each one an excellent cook, I`d bet my life.

 Look familiar? I knew what it was but I had never tasted one. Winco had a huge display of Dragonfruit and each one was of perfect ripeness, you could tell. $3. So I bought one and it was a delicate treat contradicting its fierce name. The produce here is unlike any I`ve ever seen. They must contract with completely different farmers and brokers. Big bunch of cilantro is $.68. Have I convinced you? If I was young, I might try to work there. A cashier told me the pay and benefits were great. They are hiring.


 Another report for the locals. 

Because it`s winter and the weather too unpredictable, instead of hiking, I wanted to do something with my friends indoors. I had heard about a permanent 'art' installation that was interactive, colorful and cozy. My sister in law was sort of tongue tied in describing it when she returned and now I understand why. Hopscotch is a collection of rooms designed by individual artists with lots of computer driven visual effects that the viewer moves within. It reminded me of the 'light shows' the art club created during our junior high dances in the 60s. Psychedelic! The displays were interesting even if baffling in their intent. Yet as a social activity I think it was successful. Somehow seeing my lovely peers in flashing strobe lights was endearing. I had to be helped out of the trampoline 'environment' when I sank thigh deep into the surface. I`m getting a new knee in February and am not so flexible right now. The only exhibit that really felt like art was the the room of secrets. On entering you hear murmuring, overlapping voices. Three suspended domes hang from the ceiling. When standing under one of them you could hear a solitary voice speak one of their secrets. A soundproof booth to record the secrets was also part of the set up. Listening to the voices anonymously 'confess' was engaging. I could hear the restraint and relief in the voices. This is what I like about conceptual art, it makes me feel in unexpected ways. In the photo 3 above, my pal Kevin is entering a fuzzy dome as I am still getting my bearings. It was fun, not too expensive and a nice place to be with old friends.

                                                Baptism watermedia on Yupo 26 x 20 inches

 My painting is in transition, lots of disappointments. This came from my preoccupation with red and a less demanding attitude. I want my acrylic paints to act like oils. They refuse so I have to work within their limitations. This is reflexive with watercolor but I have trouble accepting the quirks of acrylic, particularly the lower pigment load. The beauty in gestural technique is lost if i have to repaint the movement.

                                                                           de Kooning

 I have been a devout student of the work of Willem de Kooning for decades. He`s been gone a long time now. Suddenly within the last year or two I am seeing work like this which is entirely new to me. How has this escaped my attention? My guess is the original collectors and their heirs have died and the paintings are coming onto the market where they are photographed and eventually I see them. This piece is so rich and stunning I was shocked when I first saw it. I`ve never seen red and orange together like that. The vigorous white areas set off the jewel like colors while the whole composition is tumbling. I would kill to see it live.

 The city of Palm Springs bought this oversize sculpture of Marilyn Monroe based on a famous still photo from her movie The Seven Year Itch by Billy Wilder. She offers shelter from the sun as well as the rain.

Happy New Year!

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