Sunday, December 18, 2016

Wet Snow on the Marsh

                                             Wet Snow on the Marsh oil on panel 26x24

Our annual two inches of snow fell this week and Portland was predictably paralyzed. It`s not a metropolis of bad drivers, it`s just that the roads were built for a much smaller population and our snow is so wet. The temperature fluctuates several degrees around freezing and this means constant thawing and refreezing which makes for icy streets. It`s a mess. So bad last week in fact, the bright green state of Oregon is going to allow limited salting of the roads. This has been anathema because the runoff is so toxic. But kids stuck on school buses in traffic jams well into nightfall is not acceptable.
 Meanwhile this lucky guy was able to walk around the woods and admire it. What always impresses me is how sound is muffled and color is drained from the landscape. A tiny amount of snow can transform the world for a while.

                                                         Nov. 10 oil on panel 26x24

 This comes from a walk taken two days after the election. I was desperately trying to imagine a way forward. The country had done what I believed was impossible. The horror is a little bit more familiar now but it`s reinforced daily by the insulting appointments the president elect is making. He finds a rich unqualified individual for each department whose personal philosophy is antithetical to the mission of that agency.
The apprehension mounts each day.
When the electoral college meets tomorrow, they will rubber stamp their states often narrow margins of victory and award the presidency to someone who has never held office and who lost by over 2.5 million votes. Even if they managed the ultimate courage and denied Trump his 270, when it then went to the House of Representatives for resolution, that snake-in-the-grass Paul Ryan would insure his win there. We are doomed.
For the time being anyway. I think we will see 1960`s style activism return and a much greater involvement in political matters by ordinary citizens. Democrats did not go to the polls in numbers like Obama received. Hillary was said to have a 90% chance of winning and I think those polls played a major part in her defeat. We thought she had it.
 The great writer Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a beautiful piece on the Obama presidency and it`s aftermath in the Atlantic. It is well worth reading.

 Trae Crowder, the Liberal Redneck, has had provocative and wise comments on the election. I hope the Democratic Party listens carefully. The affection he has for his granddads in this Thanksgiving clip is the way forward.

                                                      Light in the Forest oil on canvas 20x16

                                                                Lacamas Meadows

This is now a jigsaw puzzle.
I can`t imagine anyone actually putting it together, but then again I have never been someone for games. Of any sort. My whole family was like that, you had to tell us the rules over and over.

                                                               Mary Tonkin

Mary Tonkin is my new landscape love, look at that command of color and value!
Here is a video where she describes her process. Most of her work is done on location with drawing being a key component.

                                                              Damp Lyndon

 Ok, for you kitten owners trying to get some sleep, here is my new trick.
As I`m getting ready for bed, my huge kitten Lyndon comes alive and wants to play. Every night. If I let him into the bedroom he will root around looking for nonexistent prey for 15-20 minutes keeping me awake. I tried to tire him out with fetching the mouse first but he is still fresh when I want to go to bed. We like him to sleep with us, it feels like the family is complete, so I needed to find a way to calm him...Distraction!
I get my hands wet and rough up his fur. Not enough to annoy him really but he HAS to attend to it. When he`s groomed enough he lays down to sleep.
You`re welcome.

                                                                    dry Lyndon

It`s not Christmas music but it is Baroque. The handsome countertenor Andreas Scholl sings Ombra mai fu, the gorgeous opening aria from Handel`s opera Xeres.

                            "Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no-one was listening, everything must be said again." - André Gide

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016


                                                   Winter Marsh Forest oil on panel 20x18

 Here are some things I`ve been working on but never posted.
 Three or four years ago I was on Minto Brown Island in February and at first everything looked brittle and dead. But as I walked either the light changed or I did because it became much more interesting. I took some photos of a swamped forest that appealed to me because of its frenzy of vegetation and its utter inhospitality. I`ve painted it many times but only in this one did I get the mood right.

                                                          Sea Slot watercolor on Yupo 12x9

 In Oceanside, my favorite coastal getaway, there is a place at the base of the headland where the ocean is forced through a narrow passage between a massive boulder that looks like a hat box, and the cliff. As the sea surges in, there are all these sections in the water at different heights and planes that change  and shift in an instant as it pushes forward. It`s fascinating and somewhat hypnotic. Again, I had tried multiple times to get this procession right, but to no avail. Until now.

                                             Foothills Storm Study watermedia on Yupo 12x9

 This is an older piece I could never quite let go of, the inspiring experience was too memorable. I was driving to Ashland one Spring and the hills along I-5 north of Eugene grabbed my attention as usual. Storms were rolling off the Cascades behind them almost giving them the appearance of islands in a mist.

                                                           River Study acrylic on Yupo 24x18

 Another go at the copse of trees that borders the Tualatin River in a place where I walk. I get obsessed with certain views and try repeatedly to get their character.

                                                          Rainforest Autumn 4 oil on canvas 20x16

 Cold and muddy, late autumn at Tryon Creek.

 My only hope was that he wasn`t really a Republican. I mean would a true conservative politician hang out with Howard Stern? Well I guess they do. As the president elect announced his cabinet, it was quite clear he was going to surround himself with minds as small and mean as his own.
This is going to be awful yet I do think our country and it`s democratic institutions are up to the daunting challenges ahead. This essay from the New Yorker articulately spells it out.
I`ve joined the ACLU and intend to make my voice heard. I wrote the president and the Justice Department about the Standing Rock confrontation and it looks like the good guys won!
I`m going to change my party affiliation to Independent with the idea that I may be taken more seriously if my vote is perceived as winnable.
With the Black Lives Matter movement we have begun to tentatively talk about race in an uncomfortable but honest way. This is no time to turn away from that discussion and oddly, the rise of hate crimes may propel this forward even more. I hope so.
I was doing errands last week and heard the poet Clint Smith on Here and Now. A transcript is here and there are links to two TED performances where he eloquently describes in poetry exactly what it`s like to be black. At least as it interfaces with authority. It is just heartbreaking.
I want a world where young black men fear for their insurance rates at traffic stops just like I do. Not their lives.

I first saw his work 30 years ago in Portland and immediately thought we were on a similar 'quest'. Now we`re both showing at the Marcia Burtt Gallery in Santa Barbara Calif., and he feels like a friend. Though he lives in Tacoma we`ve not met but I think we will. Take a look at the landscapes of Michael Ferguson.

                                                              by Michael Ferguson

                                                                by Michael Ferguson

                                                               by Michael Ferguson

 Finally "Tet" by Morris Louis. [Nine by Thirteen feet]

                                                                Tet by Morris Louis

 He wasn`t the first to pour paint, that was Helen Frankenthaler, but he invented new techniques that expressed the deepest of human emotion.
Look at his 'veils'.
For me, art doesn`t go any higher than this. In his 50 years on earth he produced a profoundly moving body of work.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

River Thoughts

                                                     River Thought 2 oil on panel 26x24

                                                     River Thought 1 oil on panel 26x24

  In the days after the election, the best thing I did for myself was to paint on the bank of the Tualatin River with a friend. Only then did I begin to imagine a way forward.
 I have ten new 24x26 panels from Art Substrates and think I might concentrate on the river with these. In winter it sure fascinates me as it surges down from the coast range. Our most serious storms happen in November and December swelling this lazy water into a muddy juggernaut.
 Long before moving here I read the Barry Lopez prose poem River Notes. It was a seductive introduction to a deeper understanding of the Northwest. So the  tentative title of these paintings 'River Thoughts' is a reference and tribute to this sublime author.

WE were made for these Times

Thank you Clarissa, that was most helpful.

                                                             Julie Oppermann

 Isn`t this ravishing? I want to eat it, roll in it, wear it and never stop looking at it.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Blue Skies to Mayhem

                                              On the North Shore watermedia on Yupo 14x11

 November is particularly colorful in the Northwest and this one began with a brilliant clear sky. My mood was celebratory as we got closer to the election and I painted this breaking storm over the mountains of Hanalei on Kauai. Friends were visiting the islands and their reports on Facebook prompted my memories. It was so exciting to be on the cusp of electing our first female president, plus,  team blue would win back the Senate!
 Not. So. Fast. Randy.
It seemed worse than 9/11 because it was self inflicted and as a close observer of politics I was as blindsided as anyone. In the emotional rubble, I knew then this runaway train had been visible for miles. But I would not believe the country that chose Barack Obama twice would then select Donald Trump. It could never happen...
I wasn `t about to make half the country my enemy so I began to research. I soon heard a historian say that Trump was not possible without Obama. Then I read blogs from Democrats in red states and began to understand this was a pipe bomb thrown into the middle of our democracy. Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone set into slow motion this national suicide? How could anyone be so reckless?
I know something about self destruction and know at its heart is hopelessness. If someone lived in the country or in a small town and saw their community decimated by job losses, the adult children having to move elsewhere to survive, an ongoing rampant opioid epidemic, a loss of pride and true poverty, they might feel there was nothing left to lose. You might throw a grenade to get some attention. Every single voter knew the disgusting character of Donald Trump. This was not ignorance or just racism or only deep seated misogyny. I`ve come to think this was a call for help. In part at least, god knows it also unleashed the worst elements in the human psyche. The president-elect must answer for that eventually.
In my prosperous blue corner of the country, there has been a call to arms and people are responding. Our egregious loss in the electoral college AGAIN demands personal action. This will be the most scrutinized and confronted administration in history. But let`s breathe deep and choose carefully what to fight. Such as this;
Today there was serious talk of a registry of Muslims!
That is not going to fly, we will not make that mistake again! This is a matter for uprising, freedom of religion is front and center in the constitution.
Exhausting ourselves over the appointment of Steve Bannon is not. Arguably, a president deserves his choice of whoever he wants for an advisor even if it`s a  white supremacist prick.
There will be many just causes but as a Democrat and a patriot, I want my party to rethink its identity, find fresh articulate leaders, return to its roots in the labor movement and someday lead the country out of the abyss we are likely to fall into. Trump doesn`t care about rural America, he just used them. Let`s gather them back into the party with a bold plan worthy of FDR.

                                                  November Mayhem oil on yupo 14x11

 The visual cacophony of autumn is thrilling but I prefer it when it doesn`t match my mood. What a tough week!!
I hate the idea of already vulnerable people in a new state of fear. Although I`ll be vigilant about policy, it`s individuals I care most about. I want to protect someone or something. Use this unasked for white advantage for good.
To females, consider advanced self defense. This trailer for Beauty Bites Beast is an inspiration. Patriarchy will not go down without a fight.
For those of you inundated by petitions, read this.
To understand better what the malady even is, try this.
Many, including me, are psychologically fragile right now. Let`s be gentle and kind and as deserving of that better world as possible.

                                                      Wonderful Joan Eardley 1921-1963

                                                                 Angel Falls

Think our country has problems? Venezuela has problems!

                                                       Exactly what John thought too

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Shinrin-yoku for real

                                                         Shinrin-yoku 2 oil on canvas 20x20

 One of my pieces in this weekend`s Sitka Invitational at the Forestry Center in Portland. The show is a benefit for the one of the coolest institutions I know of, The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis OR. Unusual provocative classes in summer, long generous residencies for artists and scholars in winter. Forty years ago, Frank and Jane Boyden had a great idea and they made it a reality. Not many do that, especially in their 20s.
This is a worthy exhibition full of landscapes and nature themed art of an unusually high quality. Give it a look and then take a walk through the arboretum while you`re up there, it`s spectacular right now!

 When I got up at 5 to go to the bathroom, I could see out my window the street lamp was a hazy glowing ball. Fog!! At last!
Just last night I was looking at my photos from autumn 2015 and remembered I wasn`t out and about too much then. This year is different. I set out early for the Tualatin-Durham-Cook`s Park trinity of autumn wonder. Once there I had a long soaking Shrinrin-yoku, a forest bath, and it did me good.
Cold wet fog always reminds me of being a kid, camping with my family on the coast of Northern California or Oregon. We fled the heat of the Inland Empire in summer and drove north. In those foggy state parks we were cool.
Look what I saw this morning;

 Now is a time for faith. Vote, then trust our great country to do the right thing. Breathe deep.

Now we know

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

October watercolors - O J Bundy - Dakota

                                                     Storm Break watermedia on Yupo 16x16

 My demonstration painting done at the Portland Dick Blick last Sunday to promote the Sitka Invitational. A small but intent group kept me company as I found my way to this. My source material was a tiny sketch I did in Oaks Bottom ten years ago. It was fun showing them how I do it.

                                                Theater of Trees Study watercolor on Yupo 14x11

 This is an ambitious doodle trying to imagine in paint the beautiful sight I witnessed at Minto Brown a couple of weeks ago. Cloudy day and a gloomy forest, with a delicate sapling illuminated within the shadows.

                                                        Bandon Cave Study watercolor on Yupo 12x9

 From my visit to Bandon earlier in the month to retrieve my show from the Coos Art Museum. The southern Oregon coast is quite different from the north, less volcanic and 'softer'. More playground less existential seascape. Closer to California!

 Nearly everyone I know is outraged by the acquittal of the armed invaders of the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge last winter. The righteous entitlement of this group was utterly discouraging to hear. For 41 days the occupation was front and center in the news of Oregon and all of their time there was televised, tweeted, Facebooked or broadcast. That all were found 'not guilty' of every charge had the bitter sting of injustice. I immediately remembered the verdict of OJ Simpson and the breathtaking horror of him set free. It seems this just invites more right wing religious fanatics to claim what is 'theirs'.
Talk about White Privilege, this is classic.
 It was so baffling and upsetting I figured there was more to the story. Indeed. Prosecutorial over reach. They had to prove a conspiracy and they couldn`t. Lesser charges probably would have produced convictions.

 That the verdict of the Bundy group came as the peaceful protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline were being forcibly disrupted made the week ugly.

If you missed it, listen to Lawrence O`Donnell eloquently remind us exactly how we`ve treated the natives of our country, and what is at stake in North Dakota.

                                                                 Nicolas Sanchez

                                                                 Nicolas Sanchez

                                                                Nicolas Sanchez

                                                               Nicolas Sanchez

 Here`s a gifted artist for you, Nicolas Sanchez. This man is a virtuoso! Exquisite realism to expressionism. When artists of his caliber have such technical prowess, there is a risk of perfectionism. But his humanity leavens the work, the regard he has for his subjects shines through. Watch the video, he has an unusual take on success.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Untitled Rainforest + Sitka Invitational!

                                            Rainforest Fall oil on canvas 36x50

 I will probably use google translator to help find a different title but not now. The challenge here was keeping this fallen tree, a tree. Not so easy for me! People are always saying my trees are dancers so I worked hard to thwart any creature associations. In the dense forests along the coast, immense specimens will topple in a windstorm and soon be colonized by mosses and ferns. The hole in the canopy allows more light until the surrounding trees close in.

 The annual Sitka Invitational is coming up soon, just days before the election. This is about the best opportunity to see a whole lot of quality landscapes and nature inspired art work, ever! It`s huge!  I`ve written a lot about the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the central Oregon coast and this massive exhibition is in support of this worthy institution. They offer terrific unusual classes all summer and artist residencies in winter. I`ve had the great fortune to have painted there for a month, two different times. It sits on a flank of Cascade Head, a biologically diverse and protected rainforest and it is stunning!
 To promote the show, I will be doing a demonstration at the Dick Blick art supply downtown this Sunday [Oct. 23] 1 - 3 pm. I`ll be painting in watermedia, probably on Yupo.
On the last day of the exhibit, Nov. 6, I will speak about my work at 3pm.
Hope you can make it!

 If you haven`t seen it, let the Canadians comfort you in this bitter election season. We`re going to be OK but this sure hurts.

 And let David Hockney explain how image making is utterly human. That wonderful Brit, by the way, has spent a big chunk of his career celebrating America.

This week`s masterpiece is by Karl Klingbiel;

                                                    Lester Leaps In by Karl Klingbiel

 Isn`t that rich?! Oh my god, I could look at it the rest of my life! I love this guy!!

 Cat owners, I suspect that`s all of you who read this, are you tired of those plastic scoops breaking when you`re trying to pry up a urine soaked corner in the litter box? After buying dozens throughout my life, I finally had enough. Behold the Dura Scoop!;

$9.99! I could clean up after a lion with this beauty!

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Two Watercolors and a road trip

                                                       September Marsh watermedia on Yupo 12x9

 A little corner of Bryant Woods where I walk frequently. Looks nothing like I intended but feels like what I saw. That keeps happening and I think it`s interesting. Same with this one;

                                                            Untitled Iceland watermedia on Yupo 12x9

 I found the south Icelandic landscape to have a raw austerity yet it was lush. Every day was overcast and it often rained. Green mountains like in Kauai rose just beyond bleak windswept beaches. Being there in mid July, I probably saw the island as verdant and benign as it ever is. Watching storms roll over the mountains was a daily experience.

 My show in Coos Bay ended on Oct. 1st and we decided to retrieve it ourselves and make the trip a little holiday. I rented a van and got inside information on the good stuff in Bandon OR. I wanted to be near the ocean and Coos Bay is a port. My source delivered. We stayed in an old motel perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and the beach below was crowded with sea stacks, riddled with caves! My inner twelve year old flipped out!

 Near minus tides with the weather parting as we arrived and closing in as we left. The drive on OR highway #138 was sublime in the gentle rain.

 Guess what, I won the Lake Oswego plein air prize with my big watercolor "Iron Mountain";

                                                          watercolor on Yupo 26x40

 I had a piece of sheet insulation that was almost the exact same size as a large sheet of Yupo that could be my support. I figured if I worked fast in black and white in sunny weather, I could manage the big dimensions. Here is a process shot;

 I was with my friend Mitch and he was painting me as I painted;

                                                                 by Mitch Burrel

 Really fun plus I won some bucks and a set of Gamblin alkyd oil paints!

  Mary Alice Beard is spending her retirement savings buying my paintings. God bless her. I just sent Metolius Morning to her and she wrote a poem about the painting;

                                         Wordless, the morning sun
                                          slants through the trees,
                                          nudging the river awake.

                                          Waterlight rises.
                                          Dancing ripples push
                                          mystery into the shadows.

                                          Nothing new here.
                                          All is new here.
                                          Behold the day.
                                                                 _Mary Alice Beard 2016

 I love it! The magic in the ordinary. What I hope for in my work.

                                                         Metolius Morning oil on canvas 30x48

Creativity is a birthright and good for your health. Research is proving it too. Check this out.
Ever created in a group? There is a hum of satisfying concentration whether it`s a life drawing session, working outdoors on location,  trying something new in a class, playing music with friends or rehearsing a play. It makes you glad to be alive when you make something.

In my humble opinion, here is a perfect painting;

                                                                      Phillippe Croq

I wish I painted that!

 In this latest Donald Trump scandal of sexual predation, Armistead Maupin gets it right:

 "Here's what I've been noticing: All these panicked Republicans saying: 'As a husband and a father, I'm offended.' How about as a man, period? How about as a human being? To these assholes, women are afforded dignity only if they can be defined somehow as property. MY wife. MY daughter. It all comes back to the man in the end. Always has."

I`ll close on a positive note, kitten in a sink. My brilliant Lyndon.

I`m with her!

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