Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Flavors of Gratitude

                                           Rainforest March watercolor on Yupo 26x40

 When something is good as in sublime, I never expect it repeated. So when I had a second walk up Falls Creek six years after the first, I was curious what the experience would be like. I never thought I would see it again after reports of catastrophic fires in the area. Yet it had survived and on the cold, cloudy, late winter day I returned, it was still jewel like. The temperate rainforests in the Northwest are unusual. The deciduous forests are bare in winter but because of the mild temperatures and frequent rains, they are outrageous with their neon green mosses and ferns. Visually stunning and hard to believe, the trees are distorted by clumps of vegetation all along the trunks. My legs were a mess then so my 'hike' was slow and aided with a cane but so beautiful I was consciously grateful for my life. That is too rare a realization.
 Now our great national holiday celebrating gratitude is upon us. Just the concept seems at odds with our nation at the moment. If ever there was a time to let our differences be, this is it. We all love our country. Eat well and reflect on some of our many blessings. The good stuff we did not earn.

                                          November Grove watercolor on Terraskin 12x12

 After a little trip to the coast I began this as a seascape. On the beach I had watched the sun struggle to break into view. My effort to portray that cloud formation was not working but it reminded me of the autumn leaves still lingering in the forest. So I carved out some trees with a wet brush and suddenly I have this soft elegiac painting before me. I`m not sure what I think of it but there has been no urge to fix anything.

                                                                   Larry Poons

The once renowned minimalist painter, Larry Poons, is the subject of a new film on HBO called 'The Price of Everything'.  In it he claims art is not business, something I`ve believed for a long time. Success in painting happens in the studio, success as a painter, is a matter of commerce. There is a whole lot of effort from all sides to blur this distinction yet it is true. Ask Larry.

                                                           Aronua by Larry Poons

 With that in mind, why did I decide to whore my work all of the sudden?
Because of a beach towel.
One with a fabulous Ferdinand Hodler landscape of an alpine lake. I love his work and seeing it on a towel seemed like the coolest thing I`d ever seen. Fine Art America was offering this item and many other printed products. The wheels turn. I have a dozen high resolution images just sitting on their asses on my hard drive. Why not put them to work? Why not partake in a little commerce now that the paintings are long finished? This was once an anathema but change is inevitable, right?
Now I may wake up tomorrow as my former high minded self and withdraw the merchandise. But for now, if you need a Tipton mug or a forest shower curtain, you will find one here.

The 2018 Portland Open Studios has come and gone. Although there was enough income, there were not enough visitors. It`s impossible to paint while waiting. Driving south out of Portland is too much to ask unless there is a cluster of artists to visit. This year there were only two in my community so I don`t think I`ll participate again. I`m talking with some local artists about a studio tour in just Lake Oswego. Anyone know of a guide for organizing such a thing?

                                                                   by Jo Bertini

 The Australian artist Jo Bertini paints the landscapes of her country with great economy and sensitivity. She doesn`t depict what she sees, she creates an equivalent. That is modernism.
As colorful as her work is, it`s used to intensify her response to the sensory conditions in her environment. To me she achieves a sense of lonely magic with that vast arid land.

                                                                by Jo Bertini

                                                                by Jo Bertini

 Yelp is certainly helpful but there are other ways to find good places to eat. In Six Rules for Eating Out, Tyler Cowen gives us observations and strategies to finding delicious food when we are away from home. His ideas are really useful. I don`t travel a lot but this issue can vex me mightily, usually when I`m already grouchy with hunger.

                                                                 by Mitch Burrell

 Yep, that`s moi!
Mitch was painting lots of portraits from photos and I kept egging him to work from life. Finally I told him I would sit for an hour. To give him the experience. I figured it would be much different. He said it was and he certainly got my likeness. Unlike in photography, the soul remains with the sitter.

Seattle Workshop Feb 2 and 3

Prints from Fine Art America

Work for Sale in my Studio

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Big Day!

                                             Over the Sea 27 watercolor on paper 24x18

 Today is important, we will know what kind of country we really are.
Hillary Clinton is nowhere in sight to justify a return to a meaner and certainly less just America. I`m not even nervous this time. Reality never quite reassembles after being shattered. I know now much better what my responsibilities are and what I can do, either way.
I also turned 65 around 2:30 am last night. So many of my birthdays have been steeped in idealism and hope and also in crushing disappointment. Depending on the election. I feel prepared as best as I can be.
 This morning I was reminded that gratitude is where happiness can be found. I know this but it takes a willful concentration. Not like a child`s fast prayer at bedtime. If I unravel the threads and look closely, I can see my inherent advantage and also mountains of pain and trouble that never darkened my way. And the good stuff benefits by counting. If I can stay with it, the word becomes the feeling which becomes the realization of extraordinary grace. The bus missed me, my parents loved me, I`ve never been hungry, I lived when my peers died of AIDS, I can paint! ....Lucky from the get go!

                                                     Riverlight oil on canvas 40x30

This is what has darkened my way! This is a section of the Tualatin River that I`ve painted many times, on site and in my studio. On an afternoon visit in late summer, the water was almost inky, the shadows of the cliff deep and yet the luxurious grasses and bushes on the far shore were ablaze;

 Yet I can`t seem to get anything convincing. Beware the painting that is inspired and promising in the beginning! I was, maybe still am, intent on getting this right but I`m not sure of what to do next. If I use my hard earned maturity, I`ll set it aside and do something else. I`ll ignore its calls for rescue.

Thank you to those who visited my open studio last month! My work was competing with spectacular, dazzling sunlight yet you ventured down into my basement. I appreciate it.

                                                              Lyndon and Carter

 Though I think he could eviscerate him with a swipe, Lyndon continues to mentor our new family member with patience.

                                                           Fall River watercolor 10x8

This was painted exactly two years ago. Another stretch of the Tualatin River, purchased by an artist who lives very close to that spot. That was a nice validation.

Abstraction from Nature workshop
Feb. 2 and 3
Seattle Artists League

work for sale in my studio