Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lacamas New Season - Papers - Perseverance

                                      oil on canvas 30x24

  I was trying to suggest the tipping point where winter begins to move toward Spring. Here, that`s usually late January.
  I hike frequently in the hills above Lacamas Creek WA with my sister in law Mary. I always think it`s visually interesting though I remember taking some friends from Nebraska there during a bitterly cold moment a few years ago. They were not impressed with the wilted frozen ferns, the biting wind and treacherous footing. Normally it`s just wet, usually green with moss and there are stands of dramatically gnarled oak trees. Walking uphill among the rocky outcroppings you can see the branches rising behind the boulders. I love this and have painted it several times.

                                     oil on canvas 24x24

                                watermedia on yupo 12x12

                                     oil on canvas 20x20

  In the Spring of 2010 I had the most unusual visitor. She had decided  she deserved good art to live with even though she was near the end of her life. I can`t remember the wording of her google search but somehow she found my work and asked if she could come visit my studio. So between kidney dialysis appointments, this elderly woman drove non-stop from Boise Idaho to Portland, checked into a motel then called and came over. She bought three of my best paintings and returned home the next day.
  I have never felt so flattered and validated  in all my life.
  Yesterday one of her sons called to say she had passed and would I like to buy the paintings back? I have never been asked this question. These are the paintings;

                          Reed Canyon Spring oil on canvas 48x36

                             Mt. Talbert Fog oil on canvas 30x24

                          Stones by the Trail oil on canvas 18x24

  When I posted a few watercolors of Georgia O`Keefe`s recently I learned I wasn`t the only one curious about the paper she used. Betsy Chang had written a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York inquiring as well. She received a pdf file with several O`Keefe reproductions and an exhaustive analysis of her materials and methods. I thought it was fascinating but suspect only artists would care. If anyone would like to see it, I`ll be happy to forward it.
  The answer I was looking for is this - watercolor cartridge paper!
  Now, if someone would please tell me what that is?
  I have to be careful, I can get really obsessed with papers. Any paper and way past rational. What I would kill for is some of the exact paper our money is printed on. I know it has a high linen content and is obviously tough as hell. I bet watercolor would be sensational on it!

  For those older artists I mentioned in my last post, those returning to their creative natures again, here is a video by Ira Glass, the man behind the wonderful radio show 'This American Life'. He has some comforting words about the disconnect between taste and execution. He is talking about writing but it could just as well be painting.

Happy New Year!

Work for sale in my studio

watercolor on Yupo demonstration in my studio Sat. Jan 10, 10-11:30 am. Guests brought stools with them the last time and used them.
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR

Friday, December 26, 2014

Watercolors - Joseph Stella - Late Starts

                          Oregon Refuge 5 watercolor on paper 13x11

                          Over the Sea 28 watercolor on paper 5x7

                      Light in the Forest watermedia on Yupo 6x6

                  Winter Rainforest Study watermedia on paper 12x9

  Two new clouds, two older forests.
Unlike many artists, I don`t identify myself as an 'oil' painter or as a 'watercolorist'. I`ll paint with anything however watercolor was my first love. Maybe everyone`s, toddlers aren`t usually given oil paints and solvents.

  Because research is now instant rather than having to take a trip to the library or make phone calls, our curiosity has met its match in the internet.
Just this morning in bed, on my cell phone, I began some research into the under celebrated painter Joesph Stella. He`s long been a favorite but I remember being frustrated by a lack of information about him. Not any more. The Italian immigrant isn`t better known because he doggedly followed his muse into some very strange places. He`s best known for his early work as a Futurist and is justly famous for his magnificent paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge;

   Then he abandons the avant garde to delve inward and construct deeply personal and often complex images based on folk art from his homeland, his travels in the tropics, his interest in surrealism and experiments with collage. Most completely defy categorization;

Here is his masterpiece, 'The Tree of my Life';

  I could look at this indefinitely! I have such regard for the artist who wanders away from their fame to do something else. Something important.
This is in the National Gallery and is one more reason to visit D.C. There will be a tipping point!

  Since moving to Lake Oswego and beginning to teach, I`ve met many older adults who`ve taken up painting again after long hiatuses away. More often than not to have a family, or a more practical career. Sometimes there is a rueful quality in this decision as well as  a lack of confidence. Nearly all think the big issue is technique and the hours required to become skillful. It`s not. A long searching look within is required to figure out what you love visually. What fires you up with painting and why? This takes separating what we appreciate from what animates us emotionally. If we know what language to speak, that`s a huge advantage. Finding what we want to say will follow. If the technical ambitions correspond to the aesthetic goals, the process will have direction and focus.
  Those that persist through their feelings of foolishness and inadequacy deserve respect. They are honoring their younger selves and the ideals they`ve carried quietly with them ever since. There is a parallel in psychotherapy where the adult patient learns to recognize, then comfort and protect the child they once were. I sense with many of the adult painters I meet a yearning to retrieve something of great value. While they still can.
This is noble.

  Here is an article on some late starting artists.

 Artist Beatrice Wood. What an inspiration ! Her most productive years were from age 80 to 105. "I owe it all to art books, chocolate and young men."  


work for sale in my studio

watermedia demonstration in the studio Jan.10, 10 am

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tualatin Overflow'-O`Keefe Watercolors-the Longest Night

                                       oil on canvas 30x24

  This new painting comes from a walk last week along the Tualatin River. I live close to its destination, the Willamette River. Here it`s at its widest and at this time of year flows with purpose. Yet even swollen with rain and silt, it`s maternal and graceful.

                                        oil on panel 12x12

 Another untitled abstraction, this makes five of these 12 inch squares. I think it`s out of my system now.

  A quest I`ve been on for decades is finding out what kind of paper Georgia O`Keefe used for her watercolors of the 19teens and then getting some for myself. This was in the beginning of her career and I don`t think she could afford hand made imports from Europe. The works are remarkable in their simplicity and eloquence. The colors sit on the surface and sometimes flow into each other. With extreme yet painterly minimalism she suggests vast spaces;

                                 Light Coming on the Plains

                                  Pink and  Green Mountains

                                          Starlight Night

  She`s best known for her giant flowers and New Mexico landscapes but it`s these modest watercolors that get to me. Here she is in a short video.
  I was in I`ve Been Framed recently and thought I might have hit pay dirt. Amid the reams of odd, sometimes unidentified, discontinued and surplus papers I found a legal size document paper that was 100% cotton. Nice texture to it and at 5 cents a sheet, a steal. I bought 20 and tried it as soon as I got home;

                                       Sky and Sea [Tipton]

  Not bad but not as hard a paper as I had hoped for. This took lots of pigment and the washes were absorbed in a less than sparkling manner. The search continues...

                The Longest Night watermedia on paper 12x9

  A few years ago when she was still driving, during a bright and rainless December, my Mom asked me why the sun was always in her eyes. It might have just been conversation, maybe a senior moment, but I didn`t know where to begin with an answer. I thought it was common knowledge how the seasons happen, the tilt of the earth etc. but maybe it isn`t?
  I`m not a pagan or Wicca or anything New Age, nonetheless I think the winter solstice is truly significant. The early Christian Church agreed and placed the birthday of Christ right at this juncture. In the northern hemisphere it meant the return of a growing season, warmth and the chance of continuing survival. Life and Death. The progressive return of the sun, our first god, represented hope itself.
This is the season for light, these are the longest nights.

work for sale in my studio

Monday, December 15, 2014

November Rain 3

                                      oil on canvas 24x24

  This was my oil painting demonstration from last Saturday. I wanted to show how similar the technique was to how I paint with watermedia. They are often mistaken for each other.  Nearly always, I paint flat on the table using Gamsol mineral spirits instead of water and Liquin instead of acrylic medium. I pour washes made by combining the Gamsol and Liquin with color. Often I`ll use gravity to spread the paint by tilting the canvas. The first of these misty forests was watercolor.
  The artist and gallerist Roxanne Clingman came to the demo bearing a gift, a Princeton 'Catalyst' polytip Angle Bright Brush! I will paint with anything but this particular brush is a favorite of mine. How did she know? I didn`t even know the name of it but recognized it at once.
  It took me a while to figure out why, but because I participated in the Portland Open Studios, Gamblin Paints [based here in Portland] gave me a gift certificate for $50! That was nice! Other painters didn`t get one so I was confused at first. Then I remembered I had listed oils as my primary medium on the P.O.S. application. They make excellent oil paints and I`ve come to depend on their unusual, densely opaque colors called 'Radiants'. With my certificate I asked for a tube of Cadmium Red Medium and Cadmium Yellow Light. They were $25 apiece. The red [medium] is so utterly sensual just moving it around the palette is a hypnotic pleasure. It`s perfectly red too, not leaning to Rose like the new synthetic ones such as Pyrol And it has no warm undertone, one can make beautiful purples with it. If I ever give up landscape painting it will be because of red, and Gamblin`s Cad. Red Med. is the best.

Next demo will be watercolor, Jan. 10, 2015.

available work for sale in my studio

Friday, December 12, 2014

More Abstractions? + March show

  As yet untitled [Theodore, I need your help!], each 12x12,  oil on cradled panel. Randy was on a roll!
  It was a great week until the winds wreaked havoc last night! Yesterday`s wild weather pummeled the whole west coast. It was predicted but seemed impossible at noon. I went for a walk early to avoid it. We`ve had lots of rain and I knew the Tualatin River would be near flood stage.
  With the winter silt, the river turns a gorgeous murky greenish brown. That color is a splendid foil for any remaining fall color.

   I`ve wanted to work with this theme again since doing these small pieces a couple of years ago;

   During the drama last night, we like many others, lost power. As I laid on the bed reading my I-phone in the dark, a memory of a Mary Oliver poem featuring a wild night surfaced.  I found it today;

  She did it! My niece Mackenzie now owns a piece of my work on her skin! Design by RDT, execution by Ian of Hopeless Ink!

  Finally, I will be having a show with the renowned Tom Cramer in March, 2015! He is probably best known for his art cars;

  Since that notoriety, he`s gone on to create intricate and beautiful  bas-relief sculptures. Here is a current piece;

  Tom will also include some new paintings in this show.
  The exhibition is entitled 'Environments', and will be in the Museum 510, a space operated by the Arts Council of Lake Oswego.

 Tomorrow, Sat. Dec. 13, I`ll be demonstrating my oil painting technique in my studio 10-11:30 am. Come by if you`re curious!
5373 Lakeview Blvd.
Lake Oswego OR


work for sale in my studio

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Non Objectives-Coos Art Museum-Big Trees!

                                   oil on cradled panel 12x12

  Although American Abstract Expressionism was an early, exciting discovery, I`ve not done much truly 'non objective' work, painting that has no subject. Aside from portraiture, this is the most difficult painting of all. This may seem counter intuitive, without the constraints of a 'plan', what`s the big deal? sounds like freedom! Well I need some direction most of the time. This usually comes from my experiences outdoors. So my efforts in pure abstraction have been of short duration, but I try from time to time.
  The painting above had two previous incarnations you will see below. Neither were really bad but after a while I realized I didn`t want to look at them. This is my criteria about what can live or die  in my studio. As I get older, what I leave behind is becoming more of a concern. I want my heirs to receive things of beauty and sincerity. If they also have a market value, that would be terrific. So if I don`t want to see them again, it`s time for them to go.
  Many painters would agree there is something deeply satisfying in painting over a previous work. It feels like thrift, revenge and a clever head start. Often something good will happen.
  The untitled painting above captured my attention to the point I can`t stop looking at it. I emailed a photo of it to myself so I could look at it on my cellphone in the bathroom. Vain? of course but this is truly a measure of quality, at least personally.
  How simple, do I want to look at it?

  Here are some abstract painters I`ve discovered recently that I love: Wendy McWilliams who also has a way with words, her titles are inspired! Alexander Kroll is doing strong yet lyrical work and Jeri Ledbetter`s nervous marks on canvas have a raw emotionality I find moving. Check them out.

 I will be having a solo show at the Coos Art Museum July 9 - Sept. 24, 2016!

  Yesterday I was in my old neighborhood in Portland and went for a walk in Laurelhurst Park. This is a place I visited nearly every day for 11 years. It has a dozen or so enormous London Plane Trees I recognized as old friends.
'Trees' doesn`t do them justice, they`re more like 'beings', so magnificent and expressive!

  Baroque music seems especially suited to winter. Here is a piece from Bach`s Cantata #82 that will break your heart. I heard it on NPR a couple of years ago and it stopped me cold. It`s sung by countertenor Andreas Scholl, a dude with all parts intact. Bach`s love of God is absolutely palpable! This is evangelism at its best and most convincing. Scroll down within this link.

  "The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

updated work for sale in my studio 

studio oil painting demonstration Dec. 13, 10-11:30. Anyone is welcome!
5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Standing Water - Minto Brown Island Color

                                  oil on cradled panel 20x20

   This one was a struggle. I wish I had documented each fervid attempt to bring it together. Since it was only 20x20, it didn`t occur to me when I began that it would become such a complicated process. All I wanted was a still, late autumn pool. Yet as one week became two, I started to get worried it would go down in flames. With this painting, I had the stark atmosphere in mind but little in the way of a composition. Form, from just feeling is difficult, like painting blind.
  Which is not impossible. Watch Sargy Mann explain. It`s a beautiful thing that his 'standard' of measurement is derived from his wife`s body.

  Our Marion County excursion last weekend did include a lovely morning on Minto Brown Island. The color, both subtle and bright, was sensational!

   Other than when I went with friends to paint here, I`ve never seen another plein air painter. The place is active, I know the locals love it, but where are the painters?

   Autumn where I live, ended abruptly and rudely with freezing rain and howling winds. Some years it can linger into January as the warm rain falls. Now is the time for a different beauty, more graphic, brittle and linear. Throw in some snow and it`s a black and white world. Bring it on!

              Fallen Leaves-Mossy Rock oil on paper 10x8 2009

updated work for sale in my studio

oil painting demo in my studio, Dec. 13 10-11:30 am.
5373 Lakeview Blvd. Lake Oswego, 97035