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.
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 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!!
This piece and several other of my recent paintings are now available at Prographica / KDR Gallery in Seattle. If you don’t see any of my work displayed, feel free to ask about it.
I don’t think I did one of these last year but here’s the latest update on my progression into old age.
This painting was inspired by one of the people I leaned on most heavily over the last year and a half. I didn’t start out to make a painting of an angel but it just looks like that to me.