Tuesday, August 25, 2015

November Dusk and New Mexico watercolors

                                                     November Dusk oil on canvas 20x20

 This finally came from a post-Thanksgiving visit to Minto Brown Island six years ago.  The wistful beauty of autumn always claims my attention, whenever it is painted.
  Summer is the time I can create paintings I`ve intended to for a long time. There isn`t the distraction of fresh inspiration. In winter, a simple walk out to the mailbox might offer something visually arresting. This time of year it`s mostly just green out there and in late August, a little frayed. These delayed paintings feel a little disembodied in the execution as there isn`t the recent experience of being there. It takes something like meditation to recall that time.

Below are some watercolors I did in New Mexico around 25 years ago;

                                                       Broken Cliff watercolor on paper 10x8

                                                     Far Utah watermedia on paper 22x14

                                                  Santa Cruz Lake watermedia on paper 32x21

                                                 Badlands watercolor on paper 16x10

                                                      Taos watercolor on paper 9x12

 NPR did a story on the wet summer New Mexico is having. The drought there has been even worse than in California. As the landscape comes to life again, it must be bringing immeasurable joy. This is good news indeed, I wish I could go see it.

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Portland Open Studios Oct. 10,11,17, and 18

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

High Tide Below

                                                      High Tide Below oil on canvas 20x20

 This is a composite derived from peering over cliffs in California and British Columbia.

 The Northwest is burning. Hot smoky summers are expected annually. Unless the judiciary gets involved, it`s nearly impossible to imagine the political will to act on global warming. It will take a catastrophe. Winston Churchill said America will always do the right thing, but only after it`s tried everything else.

                                            Fire in the Forest watermedia on paper 12x9

 Summer is slowly closing down, the angle of the light is taking on a hint of autumn.
Here is a watercolor of the season done by the late genius David Levine. Better known for his caricatures of the famous, he was also a fabulous painter. Somehow I became aware of his work early in my life and I learned a lot about the medium by studying reproductions of his. Coney Island was his muse. I`ve never been there but know exactly what it is like.

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Portland Open Studios coming in mid Oct.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hiver Marais and other watercolors

                                                 Hiver Marais 1 watercolor on yupo 12x9

                                                     Hiver Marais 2 watermedia on yupo 12x9

                                             Hiver Marais 3 watermedia on yupo 8x8

 There really are just a few ways to say 'winter wetlands' in English and I`ve used them all to the point of confusion. So I`ve turned to French for help, just don`t ask me to pronounce it.
Places can be muses as much as people. O`Keefe had the Pedernal, that iconic flat topped mesa you see in many of her paintings. Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Vitoire repeatedly and what would Diebenkorn have done without the salt air to inspire his Ocean Parks?
My obsession is Minto Brown Island and in particular, its sloughs and wetlands. Because it`s 40 miles away, it`s always a special occasion when I visit. The only season I haven`t seen there is summer,  I`m sure it is an emerald paradise. Some day... But it is in winter that it is so thrilling, full of color yet solemn, often flooded with the sky in motion reflected everywhere, and the atmosphere soft and quiet. As much as I`ve painted it, I feel I`ve only succeeded in rendering its damp essence a few times. I never tire of trying.

                                            Bluff above the Lake watercolor on yupo 12x9

 Another stab at the monolithic bluff rising above Lake Oswego. Still inadequate. There is so much ornate vegetation spilling down the side it looks sort of festive. Like a wedding cake.

                                                   Contreforts Study watermedia on paper 8x6

More French, this time for foothills.

Here, in my opinion, is a perfect painting;

                                                           We Walk to Tivoli by James O`Shea

 I am anything but acquisitive but I covet this painting. O`Shea is a New York artist with a deep understanding of the landscape.

                  Vine snake, creating an unrealistic body image for all the other snakes

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Portland Open Studios [mid Oct.]

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Year Oaks - new and old abstraction

                                                    New Year Oaks oil on canvas 20x20

 Lacamas Park in Camas WA abounds with old heroic oaks flanking its peaks. Walking uphill you can see sections cropped by a rocky foreground or masses of dark green firs. In the winter fog, the bare trees seem especially noble.

 My friend Don Gray was in the studio recently and said something to the effect of 'I don`t see why abstraction seems so hard for you, you do it well'. When he speaks I listen. I have always done some as a respite from representation but when I `ve tried to really focus on it, I hit a wall in short order. It feels like I lack the maturity. Nonetheless, again I`m contemplating a commitment of several months to see what happens this time. I could just be restless because it`s summer. Often I feel trapped indoors because of the heat and intense sunshine so I`m not getting out into nature as much as I`d like. Consequently I have few fresh ideas for new work. It`s August, the cool and color of autumn aren`t far off.

                                          Scent in the Morning watermedia on paper 12x9

 Here is a new one [above]. Below are some I did 27-30 years ago.

                                                            oil on canvas 40x30

                                                                    oil on canvas 46x46

                                                          watermedia on paper 9x12

                                                            oil on canvas 48x36

 A couple of years ago an old friend from New Mexico was visiting and we painted together in the studio as it rained a deluge outside. I mentioned Charles Burchfield and I was surprised she didn`t know of him. I wonder if he`s being forgotten? He could never be categorized as his work is truly visionary and it always seemed to me well before its time. Take a look at these, they pulsate!;

                                                             Charles Burchfield

                                                              Charles Burchfield

 Almost incredibly, he was very successful even though he was most active in the first half of the twentieth century. I find his uniquely personal response to the landscape awe inspiring.

                                                          Love Nympth by Anders Zorn

This painting by Anders Zorn is so cheesy it transcends itself into greatness! Look at that skin! The color is so remarkable! The bottom 2/3rds is almost monochromatic broken only by the red foliage. The upper third is animated by a luxurious palm with much more vitality than the nympth. I have stared at this for long periods of time. A guilty pleasure.

 Being a dropout, I`m always late to the party. Only now have I finally experienced The Great Gatsby. I listened to the Audible.com version masterfully read by Jake Gyllenhaal. I was flabbergasted by such beautiful writing! Within a few paragraphs, I was taken. The visual images were so atmospheric and the story just ached. My goodness. At the moment I`m listening to Annie Proulx`s That Old Ace in the Hole. She`s a genius and I `m loving it but I`m going to listen again to Gatsby when I`m finished.

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