Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mendocino Coast 3

This was painted in 1980 from sketches I drew eight years earlier when I lived on the Mendocino Coast. When I did this, I was deep into land locked Northern New Mexico and certain I had found my true home at last.
Things change!
Tomorrow I leave for Sitka, and there is such a sense of returning. I am remembering so clearly how exhilarated I felt to be with the forests and ocean way back then. I was a refugee from the hot, smoggy 'Inland Empire'. My brother Mike will visit me and he mentioned too how similar it seemed to him. As if he were 17 again, coming to see me on the farm.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Arboretum Marsh

Last week I wanted to complete something big before leaving for my residency. Now as it is rapidly approaching, I`ve just wanted to keep working. Keep in shape so to speak. I feel like I`m training for something important, something ambitious.
We went to Seattle last weekend to retrieve a painting and had a chance to visit the University`s arboretum. It`s a beautiful collection. I was able to do this quick study from memory.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fog in the Forest

The purpose of my upcoming residency at Sitka is to work on some really long pieces. I wanted to do something sort of large before I go. This is based on the smaller 'Fog on the Mountain 3'.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Estuary Island

I thought this was finished last August and I hung it in my bedroom. Over the months I could tell something was off but I wasn`t sure what. As I painted it, I wanted the island compact and autonomous in an ocean of shifting fog. The right balance of calm areas to agitation was delicate. But it was too egg like so I developed the vegetation and intensified the color somewhat. It`s better now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

True North

My impulse was simple; bare trees against the sky. As the painting developed, my thoughts were about 'wildness' and why that idea comforts. It`s irrational. Nature has brute ways. Then it all became about Canada and the 'north', in the same psychological role the 'west' was for America. [painters have plenty of time to think!] That led to the Group of Seven and their effort to give form to this myth, painting the wild and lonely north. Anyway, this is to Canada and Canadians, god love them.
Check out Gregory Hardy, a contemporary landscape painter from Saskatchewan.

Friday, January 8, 2010

December Slough

Years ago when I was new to New Mexico, an older relative remarked she preferred the look of trees in the winter. I thought this was ridiculous, delusional and an effort to be positive. Now I understand. The bare tree shows it`s struggle and ambition. She was empathizing and excited by the sheer energy revealed. This is challenging to paint for sure, so much explosive detail! The way I work, my subject must be pursued through painterly means. I don`t want to paint a lot of individual branches and I don`t want to paint around a branch. An integrated figure/ground relationship to be technical. That`s the ideal anyway.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Camassia Study

The Nature Conservancy owns a small property on top of a hill overlooking the Willamette River. Though maybe 400 feet above sea level, the Camassia Nature Preserve seems alpine. Lots of different mosses and lichens, rocky meadows and stunted trees. A beautiful walk especially if you look down.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I began this months ago and couldn`t get it right. We were in Oceanside the other day and my ideas about the coast were refreshed. Maybe I`ve finished it. I`ve always loved painting seascapes but have only lived by the ocean once, briefly. I was nineteen but made the most of the opportunity painting some of the largest work I`ve ever done. When I`m settled in at Sitka in February, I will do it again.