Art, Landscape, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Portland, Portland Open Studios

Thanks to all who visited my studio

Thanks everyone who traveled out to the western frontier of the Portland Open Studios tour, over the last 2 weekends. Although I didn’t get as many visitors as I may have gotten, were I more centrally located, I got the sense that many folks who came by did so because they’d looked up my website and liked what they saw.

I also had the opportunity to meet some followers of my blog, which is always great.

A few paintings found good homes, including one of my favorite recent pieces:

‘Mooring Dolphins’ 24″ x 48″ oil on canvas

I’d have to say that the most popular work I had displayed was my sketchbooks. It’s always fun (and a little nerve wracking) to share them because they’re so personal. Here’s a panorama of the sketchbook table.

Thanks again to Portland Open Studios and all the art enthusiasts who visited.

Art, Landscape, Life, oil painting, Painting, Urban Landscape

Track Hoe

We’ve lived in our house for almost 30 years. When we moved in it was a quiet semi-rural road. Our property and the two on either side of us are large lots and have not changed much, over the years but further up the road, new developments have been built which has made the surrounding area more suburban, the road busier and that semi-rural feel has faded.

The road we live on has become more hazardous to walk on, as traffic has increased. There are no sidewalks and very little in the way of shoulder. So, the new project installing sidewalks on one side of the road is welcome, however, it is another step in the suburbanization of the neighborhood. They removed all the trees along that side and the road will feel wider and harder.

I’ve always loved this comic by Robert Crumb. I think it expresses my feelings well.

On Saturday, I set up my easel in the front yard and sketched one of the construction vehicles parked along the road.

Track Hoe   11 1/2″ x 11″ oil on linen scrap

Art, Landscape, Life, Plein Air, Portland, watercolor

July Evening at Jamison Square

Gail Vines and Don Colley

I haven’t been out sketching in a while but I joined my friends, Master Draftsman, Don Colley and Gail Vines, one of the founders of Portland’s independent art supply store, Art Media, on a beautiful July evening at Portland’s Jamison Square for a couple of hours of sketching and dinner.

7″ x 10″ ink and watercolor

Kids and dogs were splashing in the tidal pool and everyone was enjoying a perfect evening. We wandered over to Oba for dinner where we attempted to solve what’s wrong with the art today and on the walk home Gail demonstrated her tap dancing abilities.

Art, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Still Life

Make Whatever You Have To Make …

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9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

I have a book in my studio titled “Inside The Painter’s Studio” by Joe Fig. It’s a series of interviews with NY area painters in which the author asks the same set of questions about artist’s studios and work habits and includes pictures of their studios.

I came across a great quote from Ryan McGinness, the other day, in the book. In response to a question about advice for young painters just starting out, McGinness says, “I would say to not worry about being an artist or trying to make art, just kind of make whatever you have to make, and then build a life around that. I think that was one of the biggest breakthroughs for me,  just realizing … because I went through a period where I was just trying to make art and, consequently, I made things that were really imitative. There was no real model or precedent for what I liked to do but, when you realize you just have to do what you do and not worry about whether it fits the mold or a model of what art is, then you’re truly making innovative or breakthrough … or at the very least, honest work.”

I think that’s a very interesting statement and, for me, as someone who spends a lot of time inside my head, freeing.

Art, Interior, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Portland, Study

Studio Bookcase

This is one of a few pieces I’ve been working on lately.

14″ x 11″ oil on linen panel

I’m trying to paint every day. Sometimes I get stuck on a painting so I pull out another small panel and do a study to keep the brush moving. This is a sketch of a small wooden figure by Portland artist Tom Cramer.

8″ x 6″ oil on panel

This figure is from the 1980’s. Tom’s work has evolved into really intricate painted relief carvings. You can see photos of some of his work on his website but you really have to see them in person to appreciate them fully. Tom and I were featured together on a Portland Cable access TV show, called “Where’s the Art? back around 1987. At the time, Tom was known for these figurines and also for the cars and especially the Vespa scooters he painted. One of the scooters was shown on the show.

After the show, Tom and I traded pieces and that’s how I acquired this little sculpture.

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Art, Life, oil painting, Still Life

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

9″ x 12″ oil on linen

I’ve been lazy about photography, lately. I apologize for the glare and push pin shadows.

It feels a bit cliched to talk about things I’m thankful for, at this time of year but I’m going to do it anyway. I’ve written on this blog before that for the last 13 years, my wife has been living with cancer. Three years ago the cancer returned and metastasized. The fact that Les is still with me and, all things considered,  doing quite well is the single thing I’m most thankful for.  Knowing that I may lose her has drawn us very close, especially over the last 3 years and I would say that these have been our best years together.

Thanks also to those who have read and left comments on the blog this year. I’ve not been a very consistent blogger and I appreciate that you took the time to visit and leave the occasional encouraging remark.

Art, Life, oil painting, Painting, Still Life

Fighting Cancer with the Champion Juicer

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8″ x 12″ oil on panel

This juicer was, at one time, a big part of our lives. My wife, who has been battling cancer for over 10 years now, has followed the recommendations of Dr Nicholas Gonzalez, which includes the daily intake of massive amounts of freshly juiced carrots. We used to buy big bags of carrots to keep in the garage and one of my jobs was to wash bunches of carrots everyday and prepare them for the 3 daily juicing sessions. Leslie turned a beautiful shade of orange and stayed that way for many years.

As Les developed a reaction to part of the therapy, the juicing fell away. I love fresh vegetable juice but it’s a lot of work to make it three times a day.

I like the the old timey look of the machine. It was sitting out on the counter in the sun and, since Les was away for a week, I set up my pochade in the kitchen and made this painting.

Art, Life

Aloha from Kaua’i

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I’ve been absent from blogging much for a few reasons. I had a couple of portrait commissions I was working on which are mostly complete but currently I’m on vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Here I am honing my sketch journaling skills at Anini Beach between snorkeling sessions. Funny story about Anini Beach. Supposedly, it was originally named Wanini Beach but the ‘W’ fell of the sign and instead of fixing it, people just started calling it Anini Beach. I think that’s kind of a Kauai thing. It’s the most laid back and “hippified” of the islands.

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Anyone who’s been to Kauai recently knows that, since a hurricane in the early 1990s caused the release of many of the island’s domestic poultry Kauai has become overrun with feral chickens. I was aware of it but didn’t really think about the impact it might have on my ability to sleep. It’s a myth that roosters crow only in the morning. They start whenever they feel like it, often from right outside my bedroom window.

P1020026

P1020044

It seemed little weird to see chickens on the beach but believe me, they are everywhere.

Art, Figure Painting, Life, oil painting, Painting, Portraiture, Self portrait

still alive

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self-4-09-36″ x 6″ oil on canvas

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I’m still alive and another year older. Every year near my birthday I do a self portrait to document my slide into dementia. Here is this year’s.

I’ve allowed myself to become consumed with stress over losing my job, of late. I work for a huge tech company that has, despite remarkably good results in these dire economic times, continued to lay off employees. Actually in this case, they are offshoring the jobs. As they layoff employees in North America, they are hiring in Asia. I seem to be safe for now, I’m sure, in part, because my job involves training the new Asian employees. But, as anyone knows who works in the corporate, short term profit driven world, you’re never really safe and you don’t know you’re in danger until it’s too late, not that you can really do anything about it anyway. I think it may be that last part that’s most stressful. Working harder and producing better results makes no difference.

Whenever I get into this kind of mindset, I start planning how I’m going to re-invent myself this time. I’ve done it many times before, having spent many years climbing trees, digging holes, slinging hash, tending bridges, pushing paint, knocking on doors, etc. for a living. I’m sure that something will appear when I need it. It always has.

It occurs to me that stressing over something that hasn’t happened is an affliction of living in an affluent society. By comparison with most people on this planet today, my problems are non-existent. Why can’t I remember that?

Despite all my whining and gnashing of teeth, my life is very good and will likely continue to be. I’m still pissed about the “corporate, short term profit driven world” thing, though.

I’m wishing health, happiness and relative prosperity and, most of all, peace of mind to anyone who happens to read this.

Life, Painters

Andrew Wyeth 1917 – 2009

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a-wyeth

I was shocked to learn that Andrew Wyeth died this morning. I suppose I thought he would live forever and, of course he will through his work.

I grew up in Delaware not far from his Chadds Ford, PA farm. Although, as an art student in the 1970s, I thought of him as out of date and irrelevant, I’ve come to revere him as a master not only of technique but especially of composition.

My sister worked as a personal assistant to his son Jamie’s wife and has met Andrew. She described him as lovable but ornery.

He was an American National Treasure.

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Life

Goodbye 2008

My painting has been spotty lately. Personal events have taken a toll on my ability to focus.

I hate to be negative but 2008 was a terrible year for me, on a personal level. I lost both my parents. My Dad in June, on their 61st wedding anniversary and my Mom just before Christmas.

June was also when my wife began radiation treatment for a recurrence of breast cancer that we now have learned has metastasized and spread to her lung. She’s still got treatment options but, after fighting so hard for ten years to avoid it, it was really hard to hear that news.

On the brighter side of 2008, I did make a lot of progress with painting. I think my work improved a lot and I was thinking of perhaps showing some this year. It’s difficult to get there but, when I can get to the easel, I like what I’ve been doing. I think that spending more time drawing has been good for my painting as well. In 2009, perhaps I’ll spend more time developing my drawings as well as paintings.

I really enjoyed following the thoughts and progress of other painters and appreciated the continued support of folks who dropped by my blog to see what I was up to.

I’m hoping that some kind of normal will emerge that will allow me to return more attention to painting.

I am hopeful for 2009.

Art, Life, Painting, Pastel, Self portrait

Slow Progress

It doesn’t look like much progress has been made from these photos, but, since I had the walls open, I decided to update the electrical system in the house by adding and rerouting some circuits and replacing old non-grounded wires. We’re also looking into replacing our 20 year old furnace and I had to reinstall a door that was leaking. I’m almost ready to start putting things back together. I have to call for an electrical inspection next week and then I can put the insulation and walls back together. Having done almost all the work myself, while working full time, progress has been slower than I’d like but I couldn’t afford to do it otherwise.

Since I have nothing new to post, here’s a mixed media self portrait I did in 1982.

42″ x 42″ pastel and flashe on paper

Art, Landscape, Life, Plein Air, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Airport Sketches

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photo from window of airliner somewhere between TN and TX

I had to make an unexpected trip to Tennessee last week and spent a lot of time waiting in airports. These three sketches were done in the Portland, OR, Knoxville, TN and Dallas/Fort Worth airports. It’s much easier to find a comfortable place to draw what’s happening on the tarmac in the smaller airports but the larger ones are more exciting visually. Their organization is more complex and difficult to grasp.

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CLICK TO ENLARGE

The sketches are all ink and watercolor in a 5″ x 8″ handmade sketchbook. The paper is Twinrocker handmade paper that I’ve been a little disappointed in but it may be my tools and techniques that are not that compatible with the paper.

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Art, Ireland, Landscape, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting

Les and Cuca in the Connemara

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10″ x 8″ oil on canvas panel

Recently this blog was visited by an artist from Ireland who commented on some of the paintings I have in the ‘Older Paintings’ section. It turned out that he lives near where we visited and knows not only the sites I painted but our good friend who hosted us there. I started reminiscing about that trip and the beautiful landscapes we saw near Omey Island and found a photo of my wife and our friend standing on the rocks looking out at the stormy ocean.

I’ve dreamed of going back to that incredible place on a painting trip for 12 years.

Check out Cathal O Malleys beautiful Irish landscapes here.

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I’ve been listening to Solas “The Words That Remain” and reading “The Asian Journals of Thomas Merton.”

Art, Interior, Life, oil painting, Painting, Sketching

Sketch of Examination Table

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6″ x 8″ oil on canvas

Examination rooms have always been a bit intimidating. For an introvert like myself, the idea of being examined is enough to make me uneasy. The addition of more and more technological devices seems to heighten the sense of isolation and coldness that I’ve always experienced in them. As a young person I was pretty optimistic about what the results of a physical examination would be but eventually one is bound to get some bad news in one of these places. As I get older and, having had the experience of hearing something I didn’t want to hear, I find that I’m more uneasy in exam rooms.

Maybe I’ll do a real painting of this sometime.

Art, Life, Sketching

A couple of sketches

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I haven’t touched a brush for 2 weeks. The only drawing I’ve done has been in Dr’s offices as my wife has been undergoing tests to determine the extent of a recurrence of breast cancer. It’s been nine years since her original diagnosis. I’m very relieved to say that the cancer seems to be limited to the original site and has not spread to her bones or organs. We got the good news yesterday which was our 27th wedding anniversary and had a wonderful celebration last night. She will, obviously have to undergo treatment but her prognosis is very good and she has non-invasive treatment options. I was, frankly, expecting a much worse outcome.

Les and her cat.