Thursday, February 7, 2019


                                                 Winter Water watermedia on paper 22x15

 Last weekend I was in Seattle teaching a workshop in 'Abstracting from Nature'. I had the group I hoped for, all were experienced artists.
 Having recently walked along the swollen Tualatin River, I chose a rain saturated bit of river bank for my subject. A simple composition. Probably because it was on paper instead of Yupo [plastic], it was not the dynamic illustration of my technique I hoped for. I figured most of them would not be familiar with Yupo and were likely to have brought paper so I began with Arches 140 lb. cold press. Back with it in my studio, I`ve been able to finally evoke that typically bleak Northwest winter landscape.

                                                Forest Improv watercolor on Yupo 20x13

 The next day, my demo was on Yupo and I chose to paint a forest without any reference. This was the improvisational technique I find to be so fun. I`m in forests all the time and can easily visualize what they look like, so I just began. I should have chosen a less awkward size but oh well. Everyone was game to try working with Yupo and the results were quite interesting.

                                                       Marsh watermedia on paper 20x20

 Yes, this is the painting from my last post but I had really screwed it up. So as a last quick demo I showed them how I rescue something. If in fact I saved it.
The workshop was personally satisfying, I felt like I was in the trenches with the participants, all of us crawling toward beauty.

                                                                Nell Irvin Painter

 I love a story of someone who broke character and did something completely unexpected. After a long career as a historian, Nell Irvin Painter retired and then went to art school. At 64!
Reinvention is said to be uniquely possible in America. I hope so. This kind of chutzpah is thrilling. If Nell can do that, what am I capable of?
Here is a fascinating short interview with her.
Some advice for those considering later-in-life adventures;

My second piece of advice is don’t see yourself through other people’s eyes. If you’re over 28 in art school or pushing 40 in a youth-obsessed culture, what’s reflected back at you can leave you feeling discouraged or ignored. However, if you see yourself through your own eyes, or those of your best friend or a loving partner, you’re much more likely to perceive both your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and that’s a good place to start. _N. I. Painter

Here is one of her paintings;

                                                 Soul Bowling by Nell Irvin Painter

February is black history month.

 Have you ever heard a more ferocious courage? 
Muhammad Ali was not going to Vietnam.
He will always be an example of incorruptible integrity.

                                                      Exile watermedia on paper 39x28

 This is from 1989. I had it pinned above a table in my last home in Santa Fe, and my kitten Louie decided to climb it. Little claw holes  and scratches right in the middle!


Libby Fife said...

I admit to some fist pumping during this post!

First, I am glad that the demo went as you hoped. Second, I just love that Forest Improv piece. If I was your neighbor I would sneak in and steal it! (If I was in to stealing, that is.)

Lastly, I love the quote from Muhammad Ali. And I love how beautiful and happy Nell Irvin Painter looks. Plus, I like her art. Amd it's true. A person needs to see themselves through their own lens, so to speak. Otherwise you are sort of screwed from the get go.

A great and happy post!
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

A wonderful post, as always. I love the Muhammed Ali quote and your Forest Improv piece. Reinvention can be exhausting but reading your perspective makes me realize I'm in good company.

E.M. Corsa said...

I love how If I had seen that 1989 painting today, I would have known it was you. I find that remarkable. But as you might have guessed...the Marsh spoke to me. I need to learn how to do my cloud paintings outside on Yupo. I am still struggling with that. I've been doing sketches then working from those in the studio.
As always, wonderful insights. Don't ever stop writing this blog.

RH Carpenter said...

Oh, I love the paintings, Randall, and so glad you had a good time and a productive time, as well as artists who were there to soak up your wisdom :) Wish I could have been there, too! Yes, Ali. At the time everyone condemned him and called him names (I'm sure he got death threats, too). Now, everyone knows the courage it took to stand up and say those words and stand up for what he believed in. Why does it take us so long to see who is on the side of the angels?? I believe we think we need to "go along to get along" with others, whether they are in the majority or not. Fear? Insecurity in our own beliefs? How I wish we could all plant our feet firmly and say what we believe (not just what we think at the time). Thanks for sharing all of this today. And starting over at 64? You mean there is still time for this old woman??? ha ha