My paintings are still on view at Portland’5 Centers for the Arts along with fellow artists, Shawn Demarest and Beth Kerschen. The show will be up until Feb 3. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in. The lobby, where the show is hanging is open until 5pm during the day as well as performance nights. Below are some snaps of the installation.
Portland’5 Centers for the Arts – 1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205
As I’ve been making work related to the upcoming show themed “Surroundings” I have not been able to ignore the increasing evidence of homelessness in the urban landscape of Portland and it’s started to show up in the paintings. If I divorce myself from the social and personal tragedy of it and look at it from a visual perspective, it is an undeniable ‘texture’ to our city’s landscape. I watch as camps come and go and come again. They spread out as other campers join and the detritus they generate grows as time passes with no sanitation services. It’s troubling and it’s an undeniable part of our current landscape.
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.
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’ve given up on my ‘new’ website and moved to another platform that was simpler to manage. Please check it out at http://billsharppaintings.com. There is also a link at the top of the blog page.
I recently spent a couple of weeks traveling around the Himalayan Mountain country of Bhutan and have been remembering some of the sights with gouache sketches. I’m sharing a couple here partly to see if the subscriptions still work. I hope everyone who asked to follow me will be notified.
I’m in a small medieval town in Italy. I’ve been painting mostly watercolors so far and hope to also make some oil paintings.
Life is very slow here. It’s hot and humid and all the shops close down from 1PM tip 5PM and most things are closed on Sunday and some are closed again on Thursday. The internet is slow and not always available but I was able to upload these two sketches. Ciao.
I have a show of urban landscape paintings coming up towards the end of next month at Brian Marki Fine Art in Portland, OR. I’ve been chained to the easel over the last several months painting for the show. As soon as I have all the details, I’ll post them here. I hope, if you’re in town, you’ll come by and have a look.
I’m now nine months into grieving the loss of my wife and in some ways, it’s gotten lighter. I’m generally hard on myself but I will give myself credit for working hard to try and grow from this experience. As I’ve said before, Leslie died without a second of self pity and that made it impossible for me to slip into that mud, even though it seemed likely, given my inclinations.
I’ve also written before about the courage Leslie showed in facing her death. She accepted it and walked toward it willingly and proudly, knowing she’d lived a wonderful life. She even joked on the way to death’s door. Although the experience was profound, it wasn’t heavy. We shared a lot of laughter during her last days. She showed no fear and, although we cried at our becoming separated, she approached it with dignity and grace. There was nothing sad about her death. It was magnificent and miraculous. It is her absence that causes me pain.
I’m often confused about my feelings and suffer very strong emotional waves. Sometimes it feels like I really can’t endure another wave but they keep coming. I never know when or where they’ll hit. I’ve learned to strap on my seat belt and observe my thoughts as they surge through me. Sometimes the longing to feel loved and connected to someone overwhelms me and I reach out to some unsuspecting friend with a heartfelt outpouring of gratitude and love. I worry that I sometimes overwhelm people with my urgent need for connection. Then, of course, I suffer over that.
In recent weeks, Ive felt myself start to turn away from my reverie over death and try to find something in life that I can engage myself in. I’ve felt some moments of acceptance and even feel satisfied for brief moments. As I turn back toward life, I realize that I have an opportunity to remake my life in any way I want to. Currently I feel consumed with the idea of having my life be used for something worthwhile. I’m aware that I’ve been through these periods before and they’re fragile and shatter easily. I’m doing my best to stay as grounded as I can while still believing in the possibility that I can be useful, maybe even inspiring. .
I want to share this poem by the great John O’Donahue, who my friend Eithna Joyce introduced me to.
For Grief ~ John O’Donahue
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
I went out painting with a friend last week and came across a small herd of cows lounging in the sun. They were the same type of cows that I often see in Roos Schuring’s paintings. She’s a fantastic painter in Holland. I wrote about her back in Aug 2012.
A friend and I drove out to Ranier, OR to paint at the defunct Trojan Nuclear Plant (now a park) but there was not much there we were interested in painting so we drove on into the nearby town of Ranier, which is right on the Columbia river. These 2 paintings were done from a parking lot in the town.
I went with a friend to paint at the Portland Train station – Union Station. It was supposed to rain so I proposed we meet there and paint from under the cover of the overpass across the street from the station. It worked out pretty well. It rained hard and I only got a little wet (from a drain in the overpass) This is the resulting painting.
The hunting season is over on Sauvie Island, and I headed over to paint last weekend. Unfortunately, when I was half way there, I realized I had forgotten to pack any panels to paint on. This is the second time I’ve done this. I suppose age is catching up with me. Rather than turn back, I continued on knowing that I had my watercolor paintbox and sketchbooks along.
I went to a part of the island where I haven’t painted for several years and found a nice spot along the Multnomah Channel ( a narrow side channel of the Wilamette River, and started the piece above as several sailboats and fishing boats came and went. While I waited for the colors to dry on this one, I started the one below, of the same subject.
I moved on down the road and did one more from a spot I painted a few years ago. It’s a view of the famous volcano, Mt St Helens, across the cow patures.
I was hoping for some cows but they didn’t show up until later
The weather has been especially wonderful in Oregon this spring. Although I’m tied to my home office during the work week, I’ve stolen enough time to do a few little studies outside. These two were painted from the deck of my office.
This studio painting was painted from sketches I’ve done over recent years. Montgomery Park dominates the night sky with it’s neon sign. It is a landmark that can be seen from many view points around the North West neighborhoods of Portland.
This relatively new neighborhood sprung up seemingly overnight on the South West shore of the Wilamette River in Portland. The most prominent resident is the Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital. The main hospital is on a hill overlooking the river and the two campuses are connected by a tram (not pictured here).
I’ve done some sketching from the upper campus, looking down to this one. Here is one I did in 2010, when there were fewer buildings.
I spent 12 days in Kauai with my family. It was great to get away and spend time together in beautiful Kaua’i. The cones of my eyes are now so used to bright sun and saturated colors that everything looks one color now that I’m home in the grey Pacific NW.
I slipped away to do a little bit of sketching but I really wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the sun when I wasn’t in the shade.
This was done in Hanalei, near the north end of the island. It’s a surfer beach, I forget the name of this particular one.
I never figured out the name of this mountain in Anahola on the east shore. I found a nice shady spot at the dead end of the road to do this one.
There was a large vacant spot, between resort condos, on the beach near Kapaa on the east shore. The beach was quiet and I was pretty much on my own here. If you didn’t look back to shore, it was easy to imagine being on a deserted island. This is the view in the opposite direction.
When I turned around toward the ocean, this is was the view:
Alex, if you’re reading, I tried to answer your email but my reply was returned. You may have mistyped your email address.
This old Montgomery Ward store was converted, years ago, into Montgomery Park and is now used as office space and convention center. When it was built, in 1920, it was the largest building in Portland.
This neighborhood market, at the corner of NW 23rd and Thurman, is one of the last buildings, in this neighborhood, that has not been gentrified. It was kind of a seedy area, when I first moved to Portland, about 30 years ago. Most of the street is now lined with boutiques and restaurants and in my landscaping days, I worked on some of the properties here. There’s a great breakfast place across the street called Besaws, which is in a building that goes back to 1903. The market building looks to be of the same vintage.
This is a scene at the Vigor Industrial Shipyard on Swan Island in Portland. I’ve had fun experimenting with different ways of applying paint. I used a brayer, strings soaked in paint, spatula, various knives, a whisk broom, etc. I did not use brushes very much on this piece.
I’ve been painting larger pieces on linen tacked to my wall. I leave a 4″ border around it for attaching it to stretcher bars. Once I get to this point, the border becomes distracting and I need to take it down and stretch it to really see what it looks like and to make sure the image fits the stretcher properly. I may change it after it’s stretched.
I’ve had this one on the easel for quite a while but I think I’m done with it now. What caught my eye was the interlocking shapes of the upper part of the building with the shapes caused by reflections in the lower part. It was a lot of fun to paint and I’m kind of sorry I’m done with it.