Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Papers! Watercolors! Northwest Skies!

                                                            watercolor 17x14

 This is a plein air watercolor done on Second Beach on the Olympic Coast in 1986. I`m posting it because the paper was one I had used, literally for decades.
Meridian 100% Rag Drawing Paper by Pentalic was thin, tough, heavily sized and took watercolor beautifully. Until it didn`t. The formula was changed and it became more like blotting paper. This tragedy sent me on a long lonely search looking for something comparable. I discovered Yupo in my wanderings. Daniel Smith sent me lots of samples to try but none were right. I was like Odysseus just trying to get home.
 Last month I posted some of Georgia O`Keefe`s watercolors and mentioned my interest in the paper she used. Local artist Betsy Chang wrote to say she had been curious too and had asked the Museum of Modern Art for information. She got a boat load and passed it on the me. Mystery solved! It was cartridge paper, whatever that was?! Sarah Fincham of the UK stumbles on my blog, reads my question and writes to say;

 "Cartridge paper is what we use for drawing here in the UK, it comes in various weights and is usually sized for wet media, these days at least. And yes it does take watercolour pretty well, depending how heavy it is. You get a lot of granulation and it is good for wet in wet I find. Also good to draw on over the colour.

Often it is named for counties - for example I use Norfolk cartridge 210gsm - and it's named like this because originally it was used to wrap gunpowder for muskets, and would have presumably been made locally.

As for what it's made of - well these days I don't know if it can be made of linen fibres but I doubt it, it's usually made of rag and wood pulp, and is inexpensive for that reason.Texture wise it's almost the same as what is described as vellum in the USA."

Then she sends me some!! And a couple of others as well! What a love!
First I do a test;

 Seems very promising! Then I do a 'real' painting;

                                             watercolor 11x7.5 [Norfolk Cartridge Paper #3]

  I like this paper! Yet I can see it is not going to take a lot of reworking. Best used in simple compositions in a very straight forward manner. Like O`Keefe`s beautiful Evening Star series. Then I try Sarah`s other gifts;

                                                   watercolor 8x6 [Khachi Smooth Rag]

 This one is so sumptuous, I barely do anything and I`m seduced by color and watercolor magic and just stop. Going to get some more of this! 
Next I try a rough handmade little sheet;

                                       watercolor and oil pastel 8.5x6 [Hahnemuhle Bamboo]

 All these papers trigger my fetish so then I go online to see what I can find. A paper with the weight, durability and texture of American currency has been an obsession for quite some time. In the New York Central Art Supply paper pdf catalog I think I may have found it. Ruscombe Mills began in Britain 25 years ago and have since relocated to France. They specialize in handmade [and expensive] papers made from cotton and flax like those from earlier centuries. Creamy colored crisp sheets like Turner would have used.

          watercolor 7x5 [Ruscombe 'Machine Age' Compatible Cold Cream Wove]

 This little piece below, from last year, I include because it`s painted on a new American paper called 'Fluid'. It`s acid free and neutral ph but not rag. It`s cheap, loves watercolor but has a limit as to how long you can work it. Much like cartridge paper but USA made!

                                                                watercolor 6x6

This is blooming in my yard and it smells like heaven, anyone know what it is?



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bryant Woods - Oswego Lagoon - NFL -Tom Uttech

                                           Within Bryant Woods oil on panel 12x12

 This little painting began as a short demo for a curious visiting painter. These woods are my 'go to' place for beauty, I can walk there.

                                             Oswego Lagoon Study oil on Yupo 14x11

 A study for an oil painting I`m working on now. The lagoon is formed when the tiny Oswego Creek joins the Willamette River. Somehow a large protected pool was formed at this confluence. A footbridge crosses it with a view upstream that is ghostly and serene in winter. Here is an earlier version from 2011;

                                                    Winter Creek oil on canvas 20x16

  This blog is called Painter`s Process because I mostly talk about the creation of art. The psychological struggles, aesthetic concerns, technical questions and career realities. Sometimes natural history and science too. But my other two loves are politics and food. I have passionate opinions with both, the former I share here rarely but the other I`m going to more often.

 As a young teenager thinking my way through the Christian orthodoxy I was raised with but still a believer in its compassionate and generous values, I took to politics as a real world expression of these beliefs. I remember staying up watching the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago late into the night. MLK and Robert Kennedy had been killed just months before. I was frightened and only 13 but I knew that this mattered. I knew that those student protesters threatened the order families depend on, but I also could tell they were right, that the war was tragically wrong. Though I`ve never been an activist I`ve always believed politics to be a critically important and moral part of citizenship.

 Mitch Burrell has been a regular attendee at my monthly demonstration. For the last one, he appeared carrying a disc wrapped in foil. I thought he said 'fritatta' so as I set it on a table I announced it to everyone and maybe they thought like me, a quiche-like thing, now cold. No one even peeked. This became my great good fortune! When I went up to the kitchen after everyone had left, I opened the parcel up to find a thin cake dusted with powdered sugar. I cut some wedges and took a bite. It was intensely almond then came a nice note of anise. It was perfect and simple. John and I tried to think of something, anything that would enhance it. We couldn`t, no fruit or sauce or even whipped cream. Great Italian food is often like that. So uncomplicated it`s hard to believe yet change one ingredient or ratio in the recipe and it will fail. Mitch sent it to me saying it was from a cookbook called 'Tuscany the Beautiful'. Here it is;
1 cup of ground almonds, 1 of flour, 1of sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 TBS. of fennel seeds. Mix, Add 1 cup of milk. Bake 1 hour at 350 in a tart pan. [M. says it needs to be a spring form pan. There goes the Tuscan simplicity!] Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

 My niece Elizabeth posted this 'selfie' clip on Facebook of a Seattle Seahawks fan at the NFL playoff the other night. It`s mostly just his face but you can literally read what is happening in his expressions. I`m not a sports fan but I`m moved by human emotion and this young man`s joy is a sight to behold!

                                                        Tom Uttech 1983

 E M Corsa told me my work reminded her of Tom Uttech`s. She couldn`t have praised me more as Tom has long been a hero of mine. I see actual similarities in the older piece of his I`ve posted above but his current work is different. No particular stories are being told in his paintings yet they read to me like spiritual narratives, the Big Story found in the details. I`ve never seen one in person so I was surprised in this video to learn how important biological accuracy is to him. His landscapes of the upper Great Lakes are rich and intimate views of another kind of reality.

My website is updated and now includes work from 2014. Thanks Jeremy and Anneliese!

 I will be demonstrating my watermedia technique near the close of my show 'Environments' with Tom Cramer, at the site, Museum 510 on First St. downtown Lake Oswego, Thurs. March 26 at 11 am. All are welcome. Tom and I will also be giving a gallery talk Thurs. March 19 at 6:30 pm.

[updated] work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter Morning-Fanno Creek Wetlands + other marshes

                                        watercolor and oil on yupo 26x20

 This was my demonstration painting from last Saturday. The day before I had walked around the Fanno Creek wetlands in Cook`s Park taking mental notes. So as I began the demo with watercolors, I was confident about my intention. The subject was the dormant grasses in the foreground water with bleak bare trees and brambles behind. Illuminating it all was to be a cloudy sky in Easter egg colors. Things went south quickly as my sky refused to take shape and I re-emulsified it repeatedly. With 20 eyes watching me, I just wanted to set the mood in the hour and a half I had with them. Nope, even alone that night not much went right. Getting desperate, I went nuclear. I sealed it all up with a spray acrylic and took it to the oil painting side of my studio. I`m always telling frustrated watercolorists to work in oils. Much easier to control! Usually so. This was a defeat and I`m posting it because I told my guests I would. We all want to see how the story ends.
Below are some earlier, more successful marshes.

                                                  oil on paper 12x9

                                                 oil on canvas 10x30

                                         watermedia on Yupo 12x12

 When I posted a Mary Oliver poem recently, others wrote me who loved her work as well. I`ve never heard or read any dismissive comment about her from anyone. I tried to think of other artists so unanimously admired. My list was short. One was Johnny Cash. Has there ever been a more convincing voice of moral authority? Another was Andy Goldsworthy, that magician who uses the earth itself for his art. I actually have an little issue with him though he is innocent. All of the projects, stunts and happenings that exist only to be photographed or videoed, then posted on the internet, I think derive from his marvelous, temporary works of art. I had had enough when I saw a clip of balls rolling down through a forest hitting bamboo planks with the sound recreating a Bach concerto. Why?
 Here`s an interesting video of the man himself talking about what he does. Here is one of his simple elegant works;

 Now for a recipe, yes, a recipe. This is good, easy and my own little accidental invention.
 one package of Trader Joe`s Belgian Endive [3 small heads]
 one ripe avocado
 one large red grapefruit
  Slice the endive into 1/4 rounds and place in a large bowl. Dice the avocado and add. Peel the grapefruit by scoring it into quarters first, then use a paring knife to remove any pith. Slice into small pieces like in the photo below. Be careful to remove any seeds. Sprinkle with good salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Toss.

See this cat? See that rug?

 That`s Jackson, my cat with 'issues'.
In a classic example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, we found him a companion, a playmate 13 years ago. He does indeed play with Lincoln yet also nurses a bitter resentment. The new member of our household has never been welcome by Jackson and he reminds us by vomiting. Oh the remedies, foods, medications, and therapies we`ve tried!
 We`ve sorely needed new furniture for a long time now but have held off as we`ve searched for the holy grail that would solve this matter. After finally casting out a particularly hideous coffee table that I literally found on the side of the road, we were left with a giant void of a bare floor. Now, we really needed at least a rug. So off I went to IKEA with a mission. This floor covering had to be densely woven, with a complicated pattern, short easy to clean fibers and Big. I had budgeted a whopping $700, this was how urgent our situation was!
But this marvelous rug was only $65! Thank you IKEA!!
 'Problem' pets can teach us how to do the impossible, love unconditionally. That`s no small thing.

work for sale in my studio

next open demonstration, Sat. Feb. 14, 10 am

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tualatin Overflow 2 - sketches - foggy walking

                                        oil on canvas 18x36

  That`s all I could do for a week, not much!
I`m sometimes asked what I`ve been doing and I`m flummoxed how to answer. Everyone knows I paint as often as possible but what is hard to get across is how much minutia a painting career entails. Much of it is so tedious and boring, not good conversation at all! Mentioning any of it just sounds like whining. After all, being able to devote myself to painting is something of a privilege. I don`t take it for granted either and I`m especially grateful that I`ve never struggled with identity. I`ve seen that issue consume people.
  This week has been dominated by necessary tasks. I`ve spent a whole lot of time on photography preparing for my website update, assembling publicity materials for my show here in LO in March, rearranging my studio for teaching this weekend, framing and packing work for delivery to my new representative in Bend Oregon, the Paul Scott Gallery and to refresh myself I`ve taken some breathtaking walks in the cold wet fog, most recently along Oswego Creek and the Willamette River. The color has been outstanding!

work for sale in my studio 

watermedia demonstration Sat. Jan.10, 10 am-11:30