Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Break in my Weather

                                                  Early Winter Tangle oil on panel 14x11

 Something shifted in me as I was painting this. After weeks of an uninspired routine in the studio, this suddenly came through me. The 'flow' phenomena is well researched now and athletes and artists seem to experience a pure form of it. The sensation is one of elation and a sure knowledge that something other than oneself is involved. There is a patient rolling excitement as it unfurls. All of the decisions are right and it is a gift in the truest sense.
 Good paintings, research and performances happen all the time without it, but as it is underway, one is sure this is as good as it gets. I`ve been so ready to paint again with spirit, I savored it and watched it and felt somewhat redeemed. It`s been a long time.
 As you might guess, I`ve been more confident. I`ve had more fun.

                                              On the Reef watercolor on Terraskin 12x9.5

                                       Mojave Madonna watercolor on Terraskin 11.75x9.25

  Terraskin is a newish paper made from minerals. It is archival yet inexpensive. In many ways it`s much like Yupo, it`s very smooth yet it has a slightly more 'organic' feel. Paint doesn`t lift as easily for corrections but it doesn`t move around with it`s own agenda like on Yupo. So the control is better. I might even prefer it except for one huge downside; it is very fragile. It can tear if you look at it wrong. Several serious watermedia pieces were destroyed simply by trying to remove the paper from the drawing board. If there is a tiny seal of paint at the edge of the painting onto the board, it can easily rip as you lift the work from the support. I do this now extremely carefully with a new razor blade at the ready to cut through any place that stuck. If it`s damp, it is even more delicate! Try it for the fun just be super careful at the end.

                                Forest Alcove watercolor and graphite on Terraskin 16x13.5

 At the end of weekly plein air excursions last summer, I was pretty much done with the idea. It had always been more of a social project than artistic. Though I sold a few, it was a real hassle hauling an aluminum lawn chair, water, supplies, drawing boards and me out into nature. Once settled I was always happy to be there, the conversations were excellent, but the experience did not positively affect my studio practice. In fact it was really disruptive. So I vowed that if I did it this year, I would have a different approach. Why not just draw? I liked this so I ordered some huge drawing paper and a lot of new pencils and water soluble graphite. Yesterday was the maiden voyage.
This is where we went;

 Busy and green but a sweet ambiance.
I sat down with the large paper on my lap and couldn`t begin to reach across it! Should have been obvious before I left but I didn`t test it. I find the plein air experience much more fun and comfortable if I don`t over think the details. It`s daunting enough. So I drew in a corner of my big piece of Terraskin.
 With the subject being so complex I mentally insisted that every stroke be enjoyable. I would NOT get bogged down. With a working drawing done on site, I then brought it into my studio for the watercolor tones. I used many different tools and brushes and found that wet q-tips made some of the best marks. I`m capable of precision but it isn`t pleasurable for me. Consequently my drawing is a loose contour style with tonal elements added for depth, texture and atmosphere. I want a richer look but not go crazy getting there.
Also the paper I took into the forest was a heavier weight Terraskin. Hopefully tougher.

                                                    High Water oil on canvas 24x24

 This larger oil was painted from a plein air study of a flooded area in the Columbia River Gorge last May. I kept the vegetation to the sides to suggest the seasonal incursion of water.

 The arts organization, Tiger Strikes Asteroid in NYC, is offering a nice opportunity for artists that work on paper. Deadline is July 31. Your stuff in the Big Apple at last! It could happen!

                                                                 Randall and Julie

 Julie Ford Oliver was in town yesterday and she came to see me! She`s from England originally, I had no idea, no one tells me anything. She is one sharp artist and believe me, I wrote stuff down as soon as she left. So many helpful suggestions for the business and lots of praise for my paintings!
We`ve been occasional correspondents for years but if I`d known how delightful she was, I would have made the pilgrimage to her studio in Las Cruces! She was exhilarating and she left with a painting that has been hanging in my bathroom for years. I just switched it out last week.
Here it is photographed it in the early morning sun a couple of weeks ago;

                                                                      Puerto Landron

    I don`t like this about me but I`m a skeptical audience for photography as an art form. I want to see something astonishing and intensely personal. I love the work of Masao Yamamato

                                                            by Masao Yamamoto

                                                                 by Masao Yamamoto

                                                              by Masao Yamamoto

 If you`ve never seen a mating dance of cranes, this Youtube is well worth watching. Imagine coming home and seeing this on your lawn. She was listening to the radio.

work for sale in my studio

Portland Open Studios 2018


BlueHwyGal said...

Your "change of weather" is marvelous - and I'm so happy for you that you're inspired (breathing in) with new vigor and pleasure! Thanks for the mini-essay on Terraskin - does it come only in rolls?

Libby Fife said...


That drawing with watercolor is wonderful! I really don't know how you sort out the tangle of what is in front of you, both mentally and physically. I like all of the other ones too for different reasons. And the High Water piece looks exactly like what it should look like-an area inundated with water. That is the sense that I get.

I have never painted outdoors before, only sketched in my sketchbook with pen and watercolor. My hat is off to those that can do it successfully and enjoy it.

I am glad that your painting experience has gotten better, improved by a "flow" moment. You certainly deserve something good like that.

Hope all else is well. It seems like it is:)

Mitch said...

What great news, your joyous flow and the satisfaction with your process! You have been persevering for so many months now, fighting so many headwinds, that no one more deserves the breakthroughs you are experiencing. Your Forest Alcove is such a sensitive response to the location, filled with the delicacy that is lost to the eye when confronting the tangle of Nature in that dark little green corner. And even in black and white, the skunk cabbage stands out as vibrant and glowing.

I'm glad your visit with Julie went so well; your blog continues to bring new friends into your life, doesn't it? Your dedication to speaking meaningful truths returns meaning to you: What comes around, goes around, they say.

Unknown said...

I love the plain air charcoal/water color. And your description of the challenges of setting up there, and the details about yupo and the new paper, especially the paint having a mind of its own on yup. I'm glad you're in the flow! That's a nice place to be, and only comes with effort and dedication. Inspiring, you are!