Wednesday, April 27, 2016


                                                        Shinrin-yoku oil on canvas 40x40

 Japanese for forest bathing. The idea that trees and nature can predictably refresh and restore us. It`s a nice concept and a better habit. In my experience, I need to be there awhile, an hour or so. It takes a bath, not a shower, to get really clean.

                                                                   Iris I-pad drawing

 Well I finally took my I-pad outdoors to see if its fancy app and pressure sensitive stylus would be the revolution in plein air painting I hoped for. Yes and no. It requires shade and isn`t real easy to see even then. In sunlight I think it would be impossible much like taking a digital photo in full sun. Why can`t they get this solved, it`s so annoying!
 At dusk I took a folding chair out in the backyard and sat in front of some gorgeous irises and drew. It certainly is fast, my eyes did adjust to so much light on the screen and I once again experienced true pleasure while drawing! This is rare for me, I`m not a patient person. Being able to shade and fill it large areas with color quickly is wonderful. I`m going to take it into a forest soon.

                                                          April Stream oil on canvas 30x40

 An April painting from ten years ago. This is Johnson Creek as it borders the Eastmoreland golf course. Eastmoreland and nearby Reed Canyon were an oasis to me when I lived in a treeless neighborhood of southeast Portland.

Ive been asked to teach a second workshop on Monday July 11 at the Coos Art Museum. I think there are three openings left.

                                                                   Willem de Kooning

Because de Kooning is such a hero of mine, I thought I knew his body of work. But not this one from the 80`s. This is before his paintings became much more minimal as his Alzheimer`s advanced. No surprise his landscape inspired canvases are my favorite. The period bridging the late 50`s-early 60`s is his pinnacle of bold abstract landscape painting. The Whitney museum`s 'Door to the River' is especially breathtaking! There weren`t a lot of them but almost every one is a home run!

                                                      A Tree in Naples by Willem de Kooning

Here he is in his studio;

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                                                                   by David Shrigley

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Camassia - paintings of Spring

                                                           Camassia oil on canvas 56x44

 This new painting comes from the little jewel of a preserve in West Linn OR called Camassia. It`s a Nature Conservancy property and sits on a bluff above the frenzy of Interstate 205. It`s not big but it has a lot of variety and it`s always empty. Its namesake, the beautiful blue Camas flower, is in bloom now.

 I`ve admired this magnificent oak for years. On a night not comparatively wet or windy, it lost its grip and toppled. This tragedy was cleaned up quickly by the parks department. They cut it up into perfect fireplace lengths and the healthy trunk was sliced into table size rounds. An earnest young man was assessing the situation when I first encountered the scene. I thought he was trying to figure out a way to get such incredible firewood home. The next time I was in the park I saw this;

 He made a fort! Bravo! We need more of these!

 Here are some larger versions [24x24] of a series I did ten years ago of the Eola Hills wine country near Salem;

 In the spirit of 'you only live once', we are going to spend a bunch of savings to go see Iceland up close. The idea occurred to me in Yellowstone as we were astounded by all its geothermal beauty in 2012. 
Iceland has become quite popular since then. So I asked a native, tour designer to send us to places that were remote and gorgeous. That was the expensive part, but I did not want to visit waterfalls with 20 tour buses parked along side it.
The country is one of only two places in the world where the tectonic plates are visible, rising out of the ocean. And they are pulling apart too causing lots of volcanic activity! Could that be more exciting?! Pictures of that barren countryside remind me of the Southwest with its immense sight lines. Except cold. What fun!

 Be sure to register to vote! Voting in the Oregon primary means you must register by mail by April 26!

In case any of you need to know more about me, Kelly Powers at Creative Catalyst reprinted an interview with me she did several years ago. CC makes educational painting videos and I wanted them to make one of me. They said no but Kelly said she would do an interview.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Slow Summer Water - video - Nozkowski

                                               Slow Summer Water oil on canvas 56x44

This is new but comes from some studies of Tryon Creek painted in 2011. Heat, coolness and the smell of watery green things was what I was after.

                                                              Over the Sea I-pad 2016

 My friend, the photographer Eddie Greenly, has begun a project of interviewing artists in their studios while making a video. I was his first and it`s on YouTube. I think because it seemed like an experiment, I was relaxed. After initial mortification, I was surprised how coherent I was and by the skill in Eddie`s technique. It has one blooper. The editor must have taken some images off of Google and he included two of my buddy Jo`s. She did them in a workshop I gave and then blogged about and now we are forever linked. I`ll gladly accept the credit.

 Somehow earlier in the week I got into a Thomas Nozkowski obsession. He is revered as an abstractionist of great invention and integrity. The work is so utterly original and odd I am often flummoxed.  Yet I want to keep looking. See what you think;

Interesting guy too. He studied with abstract expressionists who rigorously believed that one just begins painting. No preconceptions allowed!
Nozkowski holds to that too. I would love to be the fly on his studio wall and watch him. Here and here are a couple of terrific interviews.

The legendary singer Nina Simone is being remembered because of a new movie and a controversy regarding the casting. Ta-Nehisi Coates explains exactly why this matters in the Atlantic.
Listen to her commanding performance of "Don`t Let Me Be Misunderstood".

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Circle of Cypress

                                                   Circle of Cypress oil on canvas 40x56

 My stint of art school took place in Mendocino Calif. in the fall of 1972. The small village sits on the south side of a huge sloping headland jutting out into the ocean. A meadow covers the rest with spectacular views of the sea in three directions. It is now a protected state park.
 Near the bathrooms and picnic area was a grove of Monterey Cypress. One group of trees formed a circle with the trunks like pillars framing the scene. I loved to go there and sit at a table and watch the ocean beyond the cliffs. Lots of activity, loud and salty, but the trees made a peaceful sanctuary. Another group of these magnificent trees was planted in a double row as a windbreak for the high school football field. Walking between them was a spiritual experience! At one end I had a favorite to climb and often took a sketchbook up with me. I was like a refugee, I had escaped the horrible heat and pollution of inland south Calif. I was 18 and so ripe for a different life!
 The last time I was there was in 1986 when I drew these cypress for a future painting;

 That painting was a large watercolor I did in the early 90`s;

                                                  Circle of Cypress watermedia on paper 36x56

 Though I liked it well enough, the place never left my imagination which is why I just tried again. Closer! The trees formed a cozy little room and I think it`s the contrast of their serenity with the raging ocean outside it that I found so compelling.

 God love the internet! Because I`m easy to google, I hear from my past quite often. Usually it`s from someone who purchased a painting long ago and they want me to know they still love it. How kind an impulse is that?! A photo of the piece is often included. Usually I cringe to see what my younger self did, but not this time. Here is one from the 70`s, a creek study from the palm canyons of the Coachella Valley;

 My workshop in Coos Bay in July is full, I`m sorry if anyone was left out!

Who knows what this bird is? The photo was the best my I-phone could do. I was in the living room and it was on the fence outside. Tiny thing with a pale peach colored head and longer tail feathers than one would expect. New to my yard! In this warmer climate now, it could be from Mexico!


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