Sunday, May 31, 2015

Plein Air Lake Oswego

                                                 Along the Canal watercolor on Yupo 12x12

This was today`s effort for the Lake Oswego Paint Out. Although I`ve done lots of location work over the years, this is the first competition I`ve entered. Some of the rules seem odd but I`m compliant. The canal feeding Lake Oswego runs along the east side of Bryant Woods, a favorite city park of mine. I was up on the embankment above the water and painted in almost complete privacy. I prefer to talk when painting outdoors but it was nice being in the jungle alone. Everything is at the peak of the season`s growth cycle and soon will begin to dry out. It`s an extravagant moment and I was happy to be sitting in the middle of it. This is my set up;

 I set the board with paper on my lap.
Now yesterday at the astonishingly complex and active Luscher Farm, I had the ultimate plein air experience. The weather was sublime, sunny with a gentle breeze, and I sat in the shade of enormous old trees and had lively conversations with the public, friends and other painters. Exactly why I`m participating. To me, painting on location is social.
Daniele took our picture, I`m painting with Burt Jarvis;

This is what I painted;

                                        In the Stafford Valley watercolor on Yupo 12x9

I thought this valley was named after  William Stafford, Oregon`s most eloquent voice and a Lake Oswego resident but it wasn`t, it was named after another community in Ohio.
Nonetheless, he and his work are always worth celebrating! Here is one of his poems I pulled from Pinterest;

 Speaking of plein air, this is what I arrived at with the painting of the old oak tree I did in Calif. with Marcia Burtt;

                                            March Forest Spring oil on panel 21x20

A whole different state and climate! I wish I had let it be! This is what it was in California;

Oh well. I could fill a gallery with work I`ve destroyed and wish I hadn`t. And a larger one with work I sold but wish now I had destroyed.

 There is a bumper sticker you see around town that says 'Keep Portland Weird'. I don`t think its personality is too threatened yet. This equine traveler was in the baggage area at the airport last week;

 Four days left in the Paint Out!
Tomorrow, Monday June 1st., I`ll be painting at the beginning of Oswego Creek, by the rocky pools below the dam. Ordinarily  I would access this magical area by walking upstream from George Rogers Park. But I`ll have my painting gear so I`m going to park near the apartments off SW Maple around 1. Someone please come talk to me!

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

I-Pad Paintings - the East - Mother Ireland!


                                                                 Botanical Garden

 I did these on the plane last night, I think I`m making progress!

We stormed the East!
Beginning in Boston, we celebrated my talented niece Mackenzie`s graduation from BU. With her mother, her sisters, their significant others, John and me all in one beautiful historic Air BNB. That was fun! Any time with the nieces is predictably joyful! Here is the graduate with her extraordinary sisters Elizabeth and Stephanie;

 Next we took NYC by bus! Bolt Bus! Who knew buses could be pleasant?
My old pals John and Sandra showed us hidden corners of Queens where they live, and escorted us to the High Line and then the Tenement Museum for a humbling lesson in perseverance. But we mostly talked while I admired their children. The babies I used to hold are now kind, competent adults. I had to withhold myself so they wouldn`t feel interviewed.

 New Rochelle was our final destination.
In 1973 when I was just 19, a dropout from college and art school, I found my way to a communal farm on the North California coast. There I met Lake, a single Mom of a two year old girl. She was 28. Other than my parents, she has been the most influential person in my life. A New Yorker for years now, she is a maniacal gardener,  a lover chickens and all other birds, an amazing cook and a friend extraordinaire. Isn`t she lovely?

John took this picture of me painting from the second story of her home, a rehabilitated barn;

This is what I painted;

                                                 Sky over New Rochelle watercolor 12x9

She paints too;

                                                 Home by Lake Charles watercolor

 We went to the incomparable New York Botanical Garden to see a rare and interesting show by  Frida Kahlo.

On my last visit to New York in 2007, Lake introduced me to the dynamic artist Debra Coulter. She knew my work from the web and was full of praise. Though I don`t remember hearing about this, she used some of my paintings to teach her young students about landscape painting. I saw her again a couple of nights ago and she gave me a flash drive of their work. I have to say, these strong paintings challenge the delicacy common to my stuff. Take a look, first the student`s, then mine.

                                                                 Aidan 2014

                                                                      Devin 2013

                                                                    Gillian 2011

                                                                    Matthew 2011

What an ego trip! Thanks Debra!

Now I want to thank Ireland. Nearly as monumental to me as the Supreme Court reversing DOMA and Prop 8 two years ago, the Irish vote for marriage equality last Friday was stunning in its overwhelming numbers, its insistence that all love is worthy. The huge expatriate vote brought me to tears. The fair, open hearted Irish should understand that they released scores of children from bullying and torment. This is the gay agenda! Make our god given natures so ordinary it`s unremarkable. The Irish should also know this gives courage and hope to those persecuted in Cairo, Moscow, Kingston and Kampala.
Beautiful Ireland!

Lake Oswego Plein Air Paint Out is next week, I hope I bump into some of you!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Winter River Study + Michelle Obama

                                                             watercolor 12x12

 We are about to leave for Boston to attend my brilliant niece Mackenzie`s graduation from BU. She worked hard for this and I am proud of her achievement and her grit. I had one year of community college and remember thinking OMG! This is hard!
 Because I won`t be painting for awhile, that`s all I want to do instead of pack. So this watercolor, inspired by a January walk along the Tualatin River, came spilling out last night. Of course it is not what I wanted, those bare trees writhe with detail and the light was sparkling that day, but this is an accurate painting of my mood, which is reflective. Rites of passage, diapers to diplomas. I love being an uncle.

 Now I`m going to rant. Not politics, worse!, 'happy' rainbow paintings like this:

For some reason, seeing uniformly saturated colors of the rainbow enrages me! It really does. It`s such an assault I`m sure my blood pressure rises. It is so cheap to use such garish hues! I`m sure the artist is a very nice man but I want to slap him.
Here is a proper use of the rainbow;

 This is by Amie Legette. She and her partner Will Bruno shared a studio at Sitka when I was also a resident last year. The showed me what they were up to before I left. The studio was a laboratory of ideas and experiments! It was very stimulating to hear what motivated them and why they chose the motifs that they did.

Isn`t this wonderful? It`s by Eilif Peterssen, a Norwegian. That`s the kind of summer I want. Quiet with no sun crazed water skiers. As the weather heats up I keep thinking Alaska.

 Michelle Obama addressed the graduating class at the all black Tuskegee University last week. Her remarks were moving and personal and very timely.

                           A mother should never have to choose between a child and an education!

I`m excited about this! I`m going to be painting with new friends in beautiful locations. Should anyone want to watch, the public is invited. Should anyone want to watch me, give me a call 503 380 4731.

work for sale in my studio

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pantano de Invierno - collage - Black Lives Matter

                                                      oil on canvas 20x16

 A winter marsh in any language is going to be cold. This and another in process are purely imaginary. I may have been in these environments enough to remember how they felt. Many of the wetlands around me also include forests that can tolerate wet feet. If I will do the same and endure some mud, I can get into some special places and I will usually be the only one there. At a glance they  look bleak, but in early or late light, they are rich with somber color and visually dense with the bare vegetation. The mood can be remote and melancholy but still accepting if that makes sense. These sorts of places would not have appealed to a younger me but now they are desirable and even comfortable.

It was only the second time in my life I had done it and I now have serious regrets I haven`t done this earlier. A friend who lives on the lake took us out in kayaks the other day and though we only paddled along the shore, it was magical. Look at these cliffs!

 Since participating in the Portland Open Studios Tour and writing this blog for nearly seven years, I`ve met many older adults returning to their early interest in art. I`ve written about this brave impulse before. Attaining a fluency with the language of painting can take a frustratingly long time. In my opinion, these skills aren`t nearly as important as knowing what one wants to say. So this came to me as an epiphany; those individuals needing to work immediately with specific visual data might find satisfaction with collage. Rather than learning how to paint something to express your fascination, get out the scissors!  Seriously, there is a wealth of imagery to play with and this approach requires just your eyes. And the love and discernment you`ve harbored for years. Like sampling music to create new compositions. Why not? It doesn`t need a studio either, just a table.
Look what Romare Bearden was able to explore with just cut paper. He opened a window onto the kinetic, vibrant life of Harlem and also created extravagant tropical landscapes of the Caribbean.

 Since Joni Mitchell`s medical emergency, I`ve been very curious about her biography. Ordinarily an artist`s work is all I care about but her mysterious illness made me wonder about her life. I din`t find many interviews but in the few she had granted I learned she has been sick a very long time. She had Polio as a child and it reoccurred in her 40`s. She said she has tried hard not to die!
In my searching I came across a sweet tribute concert from 2001 with an amazing performance by Casandra Wilson and this smoky version of  the exuberant 'Carey' sung by Cyndi Lauper.

 The Marcia Burtt Studio Gallery in Santa Barbara Calif. is now showing some of my work on paper. It`s a trial run to determine if there is interest with her clientele.

My backyard on a glorious spring day. None of those big trees are mine, I just get to enjoy them.
 It has been a terrific year for the Wisteria. You could smell them just driving around town. Once I wanted one for my home but was warned to never let one near the house. This is why;

Those blossoms are about 40 feet up this Douglas Fir!

 When Martin Luther King went to Memphis in April 1968, he came in support of the sanitation workers who were on strike. Here is a photo of one of them;

 'I am a man', imagine that.
When the Justice Department recently released the report of its investigation of the police department of Ferguson MO, the systemic discrimination against the African American community that was revealed was utterly sickening. The city even targeted black drivers for minor traffic violations as a way to raise revenue. One town out of tens of thousands of others. Some surely much better, others worse. This is institutionalized racism plain and simple. Still.
I believe much of the virulent hatred of President Obama comes from a sense of betrayal. That his election did not remove the crippling stain of slavery from the national psyche. The passion of his detractors is so wildly irrational, some other deeper issue is at the core. I fear many do not really believe African Americans to be fully human. As a homosexual, I know what that feels like.
 Most people are aghast that one death of an unarmed black man follows another. Until Baltimore, no indictments! Every Grand Jury exonerates the police. Why? Why don`t those lives count as worth saving? If they had been white, they likely would be alive. This is shameful and it disgusts me but I`m at a loss as to how to help change this. I`ve given it a lot of thought. One thing I think would advance equal opportunity and justice is a new effort toward more integration. Just as MLK said. That would take more government and I say it`s time, once again. An economic realignment is called for and that will take a heroic effort.
 In 2015, that I can be married to another man while millions of black citizens still struggle for the things I have always taken for granted, is just offensive. What can I do as an individual? I want to know.

This commentary from NPR`s On the Media helped me understand why progress has stalled.

                              John, Randall, Norma, Mike and Gwen. Mother`s Day 2015

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Friday, May 1, 2015

New Oils - Friends - St. Basil`s

                                                  Bryant Marsh oil on canvas 20x20

 I`m having trouble moving on from winter, I always do. So I`ll paint it all through the warm months ahead. The big meadow in Bryant Woods is flanked by two wetlands that bristle with bare branch intensity. There is always something interesting to paint in winter.

                                                      Pismo Lagoon oil on canvas 20x16

 This was painted soon after my return from California last February. The monarch butterflies roost in this Eucalyptus Grove less than a mile away from the sea. This is one of the destinations of their long annual migration. If that weren`t enough, calm  beautiful sloughs of brackish water meander through the trees and nearby dunes a stones throw away from an RV park and a campground. The sublime and the utilitarian side by side. California style.

                                                           Morning Pond oil on Yupo 11x14

 Another wetland this time in early fall. I painted this over a failed watercolor and felt avenged.

                                     Pool in the Rocks oil on canvas 18x60 2011

 A quiet spot above Oswego Creek in early Spring.

 My buddy Jo Reimer has a show opening May 16 at the beautiful Hillsboro Public Library. It will be up all of May and June.
 Years ago we met through email when she wrote to ask for advice on what to see on her trip to northern New Mexico. A couple of years later she wanted to 'study' with me and I said come over and let`s talk first. She arrived with a pie, I`ve loved her ever since.
 She taught home economics once upon a time and has a deep understanding of all the domestic arts. After teaching she focused on textiles especially quilting and embroidery. She is a cunning shopper and began a business of escorting bargain hunters to East Asia. From that experience she began a new business of designing clothes for travelers. She can cook up a feast, her garden is gorgeous, she co-designed her house, she can make a dress in about five minutes and she`s generous with all that she knows. Once women like her were common, they had to be. Now in a world of specialists, mechanization and out sourcing, a single individual with so much talent, ability and knowledge is rare.
 She also made these visually rich collages which are among the works at the Library;

 If you`re off to the coast, make a brief detour in Hillsboro and see what she can do!

 Speaking of friends, look what Don Gray just painted;

                                      Expanse #2 oil on cradled panel 24x24 [Don Gray]

 This is a masterpiece!
A good seascape bears a complex emotional 'message'. We are reminded we are integral to something far larger and more marvelous than ourselves but also how we exist here for such a brief moment. 'Make the most of it, you will not pass this way again'. This painting aches.

 All of the sudden she collapses, is rushed to the hospital, then silence... Hey, what happened to Joni Mitchell? Then we are told she`s in a coma and a friend has been given power of attorney. An hour later, it`s no, she`s alert and expected to recover! BUT she won`t be well enough to appear in court for three to four months! Why does she have to go court anyway? Poor Joni. Has anyone ever been able to articulate elation and disillusion like her? Every sensitive soul of my generation venerates her. Justly. Listen;

A Case of You 1974

Just the coolest building in the whole world! I have been obsessed with this place since I was a boy. And it was begun in 1555! St. Basil`s Cathedral in Moscow might be the only reason I would visit Russia right now. The government`s new persecution of gay and transgendered people is inexcusable and must not be allowed to continue without protest from the rest of civilization. Wasn`t this a new liberal democracy just a while ago? Unbelievable!

 Could you imagine this man as president?;

 I could. A little 'socialism' is exactly what our country needs right now.

work for sale in my studio

I have a solo show at La Boca al Lupo Fine Art  Nov-Dec 2015
my monthly studio demonstration is suspended for now