I’ll be part of a three person show, along with Shawn Demarest and Beth Kerschen in December at the Portland’5 Center for the Performing Arts. Shawn and Beth and I showed together in 2013 and I’m looking forward to hanging together again.
The theme of the show is “Surroundings” and I’m including work that’s come out of my experience of my exterior as well as interior surroundings. Above is a new piece for this show. I believe the opening for the show is the First Thursday in December. More details to follow.
In July, it was five years since my wife, Leslie, died from breast cancer. I wrote quite a lot about it here, at the time. I stopped writing about it after a year but, of course, the process of grief continues. It seems strange to think of all that’s happened without her presence since that time. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this process. I can’t always tell if I’m processing or indulging but I’m sometimes moved to paint something that arises out of the experience of loss and attachment.
My life is good. I’ve met a wonderful woman to share it with. I think of what I’ve lost and try to balance it with what I’ve gained.
I’ve been working on this painting for 6 months. Centennial Mills viewed from the Broadway Bridge as it was several years ago. It was a favorite site of mine in Portland that no longer exists. All that remains is the building with the water tower. The city had plans to redevelop it but they gave up and, over the last year or two, most of it has been torn down.
I’m sad to see so much of what I consider to be Portland being demolished and gentrified.
I have been baking all my own bread for a few months now but have recently become obsessed with sourdough. It took me a while to get a viable starter going but since that happened I’ve been baking two or three times a week. After a personal loss, I’ve been using the bread making as a kind of mindfulness practice. My life is quite simple and monastic now. I’ve quit FaceBook and have been enjoying the solitude of my studio and kitchen. I’m spending most of my time reading, baking and painting.
Each batch of sourdough takes a couple of days as the dough sits overnight to ferment. It’s pretty amazing when you think that all that’s in this bread is flour, water and a little salt. The leaven is from naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria that are on the flour and in the air.
I mix the flour with water and it becomes a living, moving thing. I love shaping the dough into loaves and watching it slowly fill with air.
And the result is beautiful and tasty. Below is a video clip of the loaves just out of the oven. Turn up the volume and listen to them crackle!!
After returning from Italy, I was a bit lost again, as I was the first time I went. It took me a while to figure out what to do next. I have felt a lot of loss in the second half of the year and I’ve been strongly affected by our political situation. In times like this I tend to turn inward which is kind of good for painting but not so good for relationships.
As a result of the feelings of loss, I’ve returned to a theme I didn’t feel complete with, my wife’s death four years ago. I’ve struggled with how to approach painting about it and decided to just start by doing a few paintings of the room where she died. It is also the room I spend most of my time in, aside from the studio.
The painting above, of Les’ dog, Miki was partly inspired by the idea of Places of Power, as described in Carlos Castaneda’s books. That is Miki’s power place. I don’t know if any of these paintings are finished, except for the first which sold before I had to decide.
It’s been quite a while since I last wrote anything here. Since then, I spent a very hot month and a half in Italy, one month of which was a painting residency at the Jerusalem Studio School Summer program in Civita Castellana. I attended the same program in the summer of 2014 and it was nice to see some old friends and to meet new folks. For me, that seems to be what I like most about it. The heat was oppressive though and I’ll think long and hard before spending another July in Italy.
As before, I worked mainly in watercolor. I’m not sure why except that it’s more mobile, faster and less cumbersome than oils.