Wednesday, September 30, 2015

'Metolius Morning - PDXOS - 'Between the World and Me'

                                           Metolius Morning oil on canvas 30x48

 I fought for this. What could be so hard, a bunch of grass? Even with lots of reference photos, memory was the truest guide. That river and its lush vegetation are so pastoral and serene, color was the only vehicle that could convey it. Which colors and their intensity would work? It took lots of trial and error. Things were repositioned several times, accomplished by scraping, pouring and then going into the tacky surface with loaded brushes. The endgame began when I added the black shadows. The depth they suggested created the vitality I was after.

 The Portland Open Studio Tour is just  a week away! Take a look at the website and select some artists you`d like to visit. An app is now available to guide you! This year I will be demonstrating with oil paints around noon each day.
5373 Lakeview Blvd., Lake Oswego OR 97035

 A couple of weeks later, my solo show at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art in Oregon City opens. Roxanne Colyer Clingman is a visionary gallerist committed to showing honest emotive work. I`m happy for the opportunity to show in her gallery and so pleased it will be in our state`s first city. I will be demonstrating in mixed watermedia Sat. Nov.14, 11 am at the gallery.

 Last weekend I took a class from Sarah Moon celled 'Beyond Etsy; Selling your Work Online'. I`ve been doing just that since the Great Recession began but I knew there was much more to learn. Social media have baffled me yet I keep hearing they are effective in reaching new audiences. Her explanation of Instagram`s potential was the real revelation. It can be used to document an artist`s process and inspiration. This can create a kind of intimacy with the artist that many enjoy. Selling paintings is quite possible from these relationships. I know when I discover a  painter new to me, I`m very curious about their motivations and technique.

                                   Gerald in the Orchard watermedia on paper 12x9 [1996]

 I want to know more. After so many killings of unarmed young black men by the police, my ignorance was unacceptable. What was going on? What did young black men think was going on? As a start, I listened to Ta'Nehisi Coate read his sobering memoir 'Between the World and Me'. It is in the form of a letter to his young son. Among the many sickening insights in the book, I now understand that law enforcement is viewed as menacing, not at all protective of African Americans. It`s always been this way. Slaves were forced into bondage for their labor, for what their bodies could do. Since the body was utilitarian, its life was not important. Beasts of burden, not quite human. This legacy remains. The dead body of Michael Brown lays on the pavement for four hours. Mr. Coates says that this status quo will endure until those that call themselves white, wake up. See that the American Dream never included black people, in fact originated by their exploitation.
 On Monday Ta' Nehisi Coates was awarded a McArthur 'genius' grant.

 Now listen to the incomparable Casandra Wilson sing a meandering lovely rendition of 'Time after Time'. There is an exquisite harmonica solo.              

 Tomorrow, Oct. 1, an essay I wrote will be published in the online magazine Artists on Art. It is entitled 'Content and the Tools of Modernism'. A ramble on the incredible opportunity representational artists have in applying the advances of a century of radical experimentation and insights. This segues into a description of some techniques I use as well as a bit of biography. I accepted their invitation to write it in expectation of getting out of my comfort zone. Sure worked! It`s an interesting magazine as there are no filters, just artists using their own uneasy words.

work for sale in my studio

Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Works + Wisdom!

                                                      Summer Creek oil on canvas 20x20

 One of hundreds of coastal creeks in Oregon.
The point of this painting was to suggest that sublime sensation of being cool in the shade while the sun filters through enlivening everything. I began with stains scraped across the canvas, then washes that flowed downward followed by carving through the wet paint and blotting for texture. The darkest values came last.

                                              Low Clouds over Yellowstone oil on canvas 12x12

 It was in Spring of 2012 that I visited Yellowstone National Park and it is still vivid in my memory. Especially the area around Mammoth Hot Springs.

 I`m taking this class on Saturday and I understand there are still a couple of openings. You can read about it here.

Listen to the master talk about his process in this video. Phillip Guston was a painter`s painter.

The soulful musician Leonard Cohen discusses the craft of writing lyrics in this inspirational little interview. I was a teenager when I first heard him. His moody and adult songs were thrilling in their erotic mystery and visual metaphor. Here`s one of my favorites, The Stranger Song, which was used to devastating effect in Robert Altman`s film McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

 It`s not just me. Andrew Marr explains the importance and value in drawing in this compelling little video.

                 William Baziotes, one of the most underrated American abstractionists

 Went to an art destruction party last weekend. I wish I had taken more work, it really was cathartic;

                                                       photo by Sarah Peroutka

work for sale in my studio

Portland Open Studios-Oct. 10,11,17 and 18
I`m at 5373 Lakeview Blvd.
Lake Oswego OR 97035

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rainforest Autumn

                                                 Rainforest Autumn 2 oil on canvas 20x16

                                                   Rainforest Autumn 1 oil on canvas 20x16

 Autumn won`t really arrive here for another 6 weeks but the record breaking heat ended abruptly. This is a golden moment in the Northwest. Desperately needed rain has returned, the fires are contained, and most days are clear and mild. Happy to be alive weather.
 The top painting is of a section of Bryant Woods no more than an acre in total. Yet it`s so dense, I always get completely turned around even though I can hear the road 25 feet away. Must be a vortex. For five years I`ve marched into it determined to complete the trail loop and end up walking out the place I entered!
 I began both paintings by staining the canvas with thin layers of paint. At least two so that when heavier paint was applied, I could scratch through and blot for texture. The primary trees were placed last.
 Below is another of Bryant Woods from a couple of years ago;

                                                        Northwest November oil on panel 20x20

 I ran across the work of Scotty Mitchell this week and thought she was doing something quite original with the Southwestern landscape. That arid region has been set upon by earnest painters by the score for over a hundred years. Here`s a sweet essay about her work by Ann Weiler Walka. Below is one of her beautiful paintings;

                                                                Scotty Mitchell

 Among the many offensive things said at the Republican debate the other night, was Carly Fiorina`s indignant claim to have seen a film of a kicking fetus being kept alive so that its brain could be harvested. This isn`t true. Listen to Elizabeth Warren`s impassioned defense of Planned Parenthood and then consider the government is about to be shut down again by radical Republicans aiming to destroy that honorable institution.

work for sale in my studio

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Oregon Refuge [s]

                                                    Oregon Refuge 6 oil on canvas 20x16

 On a hill in the Finley Wildlife Refuge is an enormous oak with a platform built around it for a comfortable view across a sweeping meadow with distant trees rising from a ridge beyond. It is a rare scene of how Oregon looked before the settlers arrived and it is sublime. Though I like to work in series, I don`t want to continue without sufficient interest. Though I`ve only seen it twice, both times in Spring, this view seems iconic in its hopeful beauty. Here are the other five;

                                                          1. oil on canvas 14x11

                                                          2. watermedia on Yupo 12x12

                                                          3. watermedia on Yupo 20x20

                                                          4. watermedia on Yupo 20x20

                                                         5. watercolor on paper 13x11

 When he was alive, Francis Bacon was extremely controversial in the art world. For good reason I thought. In my opinion the quality of his work declined drastically after 1960 or so. Became formulaic. Earlier in his career he did surprising images of people and animals in motion, businessmen trapped in deep blue voids, the famous screaming popes and a poignant series of portraits of Van Gogh. Both horrific and tender, he paints the genius artist as he wanders the fields of Arles.

                                                                 Francis Bacon

                                                             from my sketchbook

work for sale in my studio

Portland Open Studios coming soon in mid-Oct.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Early Spring Slough

                                                  Early Spring Slough oil on canvas 20x20

 This is new but comes from a field trip I organized for my painting group in March 2013. Some thought Minto Brown was bleak that day but I continue to do work derived from that moody outing.

                                            Near the Confluence watermedia on Yupo 40x26

 A Sauvie Island painting from nearly ten years ago.

                                                     Near Acoma watercolor 22x15 [1982]

 Here`s another older watercolor from New Mexico. Don`t ask me what that pile is hovering above the mesa, I don`t know. But I liked it and did several paintings where this 'sky' floated above a landscape. For those who aren`t aware of it, Acoma Pueblo is one of the most magical places on earth. A Native American settlement is built on the top of a mesa much like this one. But this is Enchanted Mesa which rises directly across the plain from Acoma. I first visited in 1976 and was allowed to walk around the village freely. The views were spectacular as is the history of this place. An hour from Albuquerque but centuries away. It is the longest continually inhabited place in America.

                                                             Acoma, Sky City

 I`ve written about Romare Bearden a couple of times, I think he was a genius. I found a charming little video of him while looking through the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art online archive.

Here is my last attempt at collage;

                                                               Night Pond 12x12

 The dumbfounding self portrait below is by the late Kent Bellows;

                                                              Kent Bellows

He was truly a visionary, this is not photo-realism. No grids were used. Imagine drawing with such precision and patience for untold hours! This kind of obsession has my deepest respect, I am in awe!

work for sale in my studio

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