Monday, October 23, 2017

New Watermedia

                                                  Rain in the Forest watermedia on Yupo 20x26

 Although not a proper word, watermedia is the term I use for any combination of watercolors, acrylics, inks and water soluble dry mediums. In the throes of painting, anything I can reach may be of use. It is a major advantage of having two painting areas on my studio so that I don`t mix up oils and watercolors by accident.
I will apply oil paint on top of a watermedia piece, but only if there is a barrier layer of acrylic. Anyway, underneath the painting above is a weak attempt to show what an autumn rain is like here. A year later, I got much closer.

                                                     Ice Fog watermedia on Yupo 20x20

 Here is another effort to rescue a failure.
The experience of walking through the field with tiny ice particles stinging my face was so unique, I haven`t been able to abandon this painting. Even now I`m trying to talk myself into believing this is subtle and delicate when it is probably just boring. My tenacity is a positive most of the time but it can entrap me.

                                                      Dry Rivulet watercolor on Yupo 26x20

 Pure watercolor! I rejected the restrictive rules about traditional technique decades ago, yet when I can pull it off, I`m happy! I have my cake, now I`ll eat it!
I get annoyed by the acceptance of received 'wisdom', unexamined theory, and historical instructions. It`s a hair trigger response to authority. Wherever it comes from. I was not a good student as I got older.

                                                        Cobalt Forest watercolor on Yupo 12x9

 In trying out some small scale pours of liquid paint, another forest came into view in front of me. Imagine that. Formulaic painting is deadly, I may need to leave the trees for a while.

                                                                photo by Mitch Burrell

 Summer is undeniably over. The last plein air outing was miserable perched above the creek in tiny Oswego canyon. The cold air hovered at ground level and my watercolors would not dry.
We`re talking now about some indoor, winter equivalents, maybe still life or portraits.
Las LOPAS will never die!
Here is the one I was working on when the photo above was taken;

                                                  Late Summer Grove watermedia on Yupo 14x11


 He`s all grown up now.
Because of his thick coat and hairy toes, we thought he may be part Maine Coon cat, but they grow to be much bigger.
I recently ran across an article on cat breeds best suited for families. One was called a Rag Doll, which I had never heard of. They have the name because they go limp in your arms when you carry them. They are very affectionate and want to be involved in everything. The oddest thing about them is they don`t meow. When I come up from the studio, Lyndon meets me in the kitchen talking non stop. His mouth is moving but there is no sound. It`s adorable.

However, when he gets on the stairs and looks down on us with that psychotic gaze, you can see he has one thing on his mind, and one thing only...  murder.

In the latest scandal involving the president I hadn`t paid too much attention until I read a blistering defense of Myeshia Johnson and Congresswoman Wilson by the poet Lesle Honore this morning. The president tried to do the right thing in calling the widow to offer condolences. Being inexperienced in kindness, he flubbed it, then of course made it all worse since.
In the poem she addresses General Kelly after his remarks defending Trump;

Fredericka Wilson is far from empty
Do you understand the boldness it takes
to aspire to what you have never seen
to walk through life
Being told you are nothing
and still rise
From Teacher
To Principal
To Mentor
To Congresswoman

You said there was a time
when things were
When women were sacred
When have Black Women
ever been
Sacred here ?

We have only been Sacred
to each other

     by Lesle Honore

just three stanza, out of order, yet the question of when black women have ever been sacred here, in our country, points a bright penetrating light on the truth.

 The Sitka Art Invitational is only two weeks away! Mark it on your calendar!
 It is the best venue for seeing lots of excellent landscapes and nature themed art works.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matters of Scale

                                                       River Shore watermedia on Yupo 6x20

 Could you imagine this watercolor 10 feet long? Would that be interesting or too loud? The issue of how large my paintings should be has plagued me since I was young. I`ve tried hard to have a career with integrity yet this one issue has compromised my practice since early on. Practical concerns have mostly won out. Like many young people I moved more often than was desirable and the transportation and storage of big paintings was always a problem. I wanted to work large but they didn`t sell very well. The impulse to do them wasn`t pure either. Was I just clamoring for attention with their scale? Was that OK? There are so many logistical matters to think about in the life of a painter! Do they give the students any help with this in art school? Because I didn`t go, I`ve had to figure out most everything myself. In several periods of my career I just said to hell with it, I`m going to go big. Some of those 30 year old paintings are stacked fifteen feet away from where I`m sitting now writing this. The inability to find homes for the large canvases would then cause an over-correction. Nothing that isn`t comfortable to carry. Or later, nothing that won`t fit in my car. Then the pressure builds again and I have a new brood of bigguns. Now I have a bigger car too! One might think the answer is within me but it`s not! Not yet anyway. This isn`t a fatal dilemma, I`m not tortured by it. The primary thing is I`ve painted consistently for forty years.
Though my studio is large, the ceiling is low. There is a real limit to what I can get past my stairwell. And as I`ve gotten older, it`s certainly easier to manage the moderately scaled pieces. Sometimes I think I could be happy painting tiny botanical studies at a desk and at other times I want to do 20 foot long watercolor scrolls. So on it goes, round and round.
Maybe it`s mature to be practical, I greatly admire Thomas Nozkowski, and all of his stuff would fit on my back seat.

The painting above comes from a small patch of grasses and trees along the Tualatin River backed by a steep hill. It`s in a park in West Linn, close to the baseball diamond and is just spectacular to me. Somehow the light on this spot is always dramatic. The paintings below all derive from this same magical corner on the river;

                                                               Riverlight Study wm 12x9

                                                           Riverbank Study 2 wm 14x11

                                                                 Riverlight 1 oil 20x20

                                                                  Riverlight 2 oil 20x20

                                                             Riverbank Study wm 14x11

Hugh Hefner

 Allow me some words of gratitude for the life of Hugh Hefner.
I`m a feminist, I understand the arguments and controversies his life and business provoked. And I`ve always found him creepy. But he did the world a great favor in his effort to legitimize sexual desire. The Playboy 'sex friendly' attitude helped liberate a lot of compressed and suppressed feelings about sex. In doing this, I believe he helped women have more understanding and control of their choices and roles in life. He and the advice columnist Ann Landers were also among the first public figures to say the obvious; homosexual people are born and part of nature. I appreciate that.

 Now for some pure bragging. Watch my tremendously gifted cousin, Anya Cloud, in some contact improvisation here, with the great dancer Matan Levkowich. Exquisitely beautiful.

                                                                       Prince Harry

 I used to rail against the idea of monarchy. The notion of superiority by birthright was deeply offensive, undemocratic and racist! 
I hadn`t done my research. 
When I read of Queen Elizabeth`s active role in WW2, my beliefs began to shift. Now I understand the British monarchy at least, to be an example of moral courage, a model of service to the common good and boosters of the best Britain has to offer the world. Look through these pictures of Prince Harry at the Invictus Games. What a lovely humane young man! 
We used to have such a leader too.

 OK, my big Pinterest discovery is Heli Huotala, a Finn of great sensitivity to nature and of the properties of paint. I could live in one of her paintings.

                                                                  Heli Huotala

                                                                    Heli Huotala

                                                                  Heli Huotala

She is doing everything I hope to do.

                                                                High Summer-Sauvie Island

 My watercolor demo from two weeks ago on the coast turned into an oil painting. Things change!

 Last week to see my show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach OR!