Art, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Study, watercolor

a month in Italy


I’ve just returned from a month of painting as part of the Jerusalem Studio School Summer Program in Civita Castellana, Italy. It was very stimulating to spend so much time with people dedicated to painting, including modern masters, Israel Hershberg, Vincent Desiderio and Yael Scalia. They were very generous with their time and knowledge. Living and working among so many artists is a wonderful experience. I miss the daily immersion in painting and the camaraderie.


The month was packed with opportunities for artistic experiences. Every Thursday was a bus trip to another city with maps and lists of art treasures to visit. Sunday nights the guest artists showed slides and talked about their work. Two critiques a week led by Vince, Israel or Yael and on regular painting days, the instructors would wander the town and visit painters at work. Communal meals were served in the hotel or various other restaurants in the town and you could usually find some of our community at the Club Cafe either having a cappuccino or drinks late into the night.


Apertivos at Israel and Yael's apartment
Apertivos at Israel and Yael’s apartment

Although I went there with the intention of painting in oil, I started out wandering the town with my sketchbook and watercolors and really loved soaking in the experience that way so continued to work largely in watercolor. I did rent a studio for the last two weeks and did some oil painting there and plein air but the watercolors were the bulk of the work I produced.


Fountain in the Main Piazza from the Club Cafe
Fountain in the Main Piazza from the Club Cafe



Monte Sarrote watercolor
Monte Sarrote watercolor




Although I spent a lot of time painting, the largest impact on me, I think, will be from the time spent in conversation with the other painters and instructors. I came home with a lot to think about.

Me in the studio
Me in the studio
Animal Painting, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Plein Aire Painters, Portland, Sauvie Island

Cows at Coon Point (ala Roos Schuring)

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.

Check out her site here.

So I decided to see if I could paint these cows ala Roos Schuring.

Cows at Coon Point 9"x12" oil on linen panel
Cows at Coon Point
9″x12″ oil on linen panel


Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Urban Landscape

Plein Air in Ranier, OR

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.


"The Mary B"  9X12 oil on linen panel
“The Mary B”
9X12 oil on linen panel


"Docks in Ranier" 9x12 oil on linen panel
“Docks in Ranier”
9×12 oil on linen panel


Art, Exhibits, Figure Painting, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Urban Landscape

Under shelter at Union Station

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.

"Outside Union Station" 9" x 12" oil on linen panel
“Outside Union Station”
9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel


Art, gouache, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Sauvie Island, watercolor

more painting outside – a little farther from home


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.

"Multnomah Channel" 7 x 10 watercolor
“Multnomah Channel” 7 x 10 watercolor

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.

"Multnomah Channel sketch 5 x 8 watercolor and ink
“Multnomah Channel sketch
5 x 8 watercolor and ink

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.

Mt St Helens from Sauvie Island gouache
Mt St Helens from Sauvie Island

I was hoping for some cows but they didn’t show up until later



Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland

Painting outside


“Deck Chair”
6″ x 8″ oil on panel

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.

"Shrub" 6" x 6" oil on panel
6″ x 6″ oil on panel


Art, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, watercolor

Twelve Days in Kaua’i

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.

7" x 10" watercolor in sketchbook
7″ x 10″ watercolor in sketchbook

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.

7" x 10" watercolor
7″ x 10″ watercolor

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.

7" x 10" water color and ink
7″ x 10″ water color and ink

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:

Deserted beach in Kapaa

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Plein Air, Plein Aire Painters

Pacific NW Plein Air 2012

I love (/hate) plein air painting but consider myself a bit of a hack at it. I have lots of excuses and I wanted to use many of them over the last 5 days, as I tried to paint some good paintings in Hood River. This is the first time I’ve participated in a plein air competition and I really enjoyed painting with a group of extremely skilled plein air painters.

‘Nothing Runs Like A Deere’ 9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

This is one of my entries, painted at the beautiful Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, above Hood River. Please don’t judge the place by this painting. The views of Mt Hood and the valley and the lodge were amazing.

Click   HERE   for more photos of the paint out at Sakura Ridge.

The opening reception is this coming Friday, Sept 7th at the Columbia Gallery of Art in Hood River from 4 til 9. If you’re in the area and want to see some extraordinary plein air paintings, please stop by. The show runs through the month of September.

Art, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Urban Landscape

Abandoned Hopper


“Abandoned Hopper” 12″ x 9″ oil on linen panel

Local painter, Eduardo Fernandez,  was kind enough to share a great painting site with me recently. We spent a beautiful Oregon summer day painting this amazing urban decay. A perfect day.

I hope to get a few more paintings out of this site.

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.

Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Sauvie Island

Plein Air Landscapes


9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

I spent several hours with these cattle last Saturday.  The last time I was here the entire field was flooded and there were a couple of guys in the middle of it with waders and fishing poles.

12″ x 9″ oil on linen

I forgot to look closely but I believe this is an Oregon Ash.

Art, gouache, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Sauvie Island

Plein Air to studio

In my last post, I wrote about a plein air painting session on Sauvie Island. I started a second painting, while I was there and have been playing with it in the studio since then. I tried to push it in the direction I’ve taken other paintings, lately by indulging in a similar kind of mark making. I think I took it a bit too far, to the point where the scene was lost to the marks.

9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

So, I decided to walk it back a bit and ended up with this:

I like the composition and seem to be convinced that there’s a painting in here, somewhere but have not found it yet. I decided to leave it alone for a while but, taking up some gouache I found myself at it again.

Sometimes I have an idea of what I think a painting should look like and I have to let go of it and allow it to be what it is.

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Sauvie Island

Day two at Rentanaar Rd

My last post was of a few watercolor studies I did at Rentenaar Rd on Sauvie Island, here in Portland Or.

Sauvie has been a favorite plein air painting spot for generations of local painters and is a common meeting place for local plein air workshops. It’s so great to have this very quiet and beautiful spot so near the city.

I returned to the same place the next day and did a couple of oil studies. I parked my car under an osprey nest and was able to watch as the parents hunted and returned to feed their chick.




You can see the chick’s head peaking out of the nest in the picture above.


Here is one of the parents returning with a snack. They seemed to travel together and the other one circled my suspiciously as I took this shot.

I also saw a few bald eagles both days I was there.

Here’s one of the studies I did.

 6″ x 8″ oil on panel

Art, Landscape, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Workshop

And now for something completely different …

It’s been a long time since my last post and, in fact a long time since I touched a paint brush. I’m having my studio space expanded now and therefore have no where to paint for a few weeks but I hope to start back painting on a regular basis very soon.

In August I attended a week long workshop on Orcas Island with Jordan Wolfson and a small band of other painters. This workshop was different from others I’ve participated in. Although it was billed as a plein aire painting workshop and we did indeed paint plein aire, we didn’t focus just on capturing form and color as it appears in life. We did start out, as most workshops I’ve done, trying our best to paint what we saw but, as the week progressed, Jordan introduced exercises that encouraged us to be more interpretive of the landscape.

I didn’t really do anything close to a finished piece but several starts of an hour or two.

Most of the paintings are 8″ x 10″ and all are oil on linen panels. Click on them for a larger view.



On the third day of the workshop, we did an exercise in which we did a sort of wire frame of the scene.


Next we did a sort of combination of the first two days work by painting from observation but introducing lines and marks that searched out how the scene was constructed. I found myself thinking about painting, not just the objects in front of me but the air between me and them as well.


On the last day, Jordan encouraged us to be really expressive and experiment with any kind of mark making we could think of.



I’ve admired Jordan’s work for a long time and I was interested in working with him because of his ability to work across a spectrum of realistic to fairly abstract imagery without leaving representation completely. I’ve been trying to move myself in that direction and I enjoyed spending a week with Jordan and other serious painters who were also interested in exploring similar ideas.

This work is very different from what I’ve done in recent years and I enjoyed stepping beyond my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to getting my studio in order and seeing where this leads me.

For more pictures of the workshop and information about Jordan, check out Jordan Wolfson Workshops on Facebook.

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Urban Landscape

Return to Kelley Point Park


I returned to Kelley Point Park last week for some Plein Air painting but could not get near the vantage point I drew from before because the River is running so high. In fact, there was hardly any beach area at all.

8″ x 10″ oil on panel

The painting above was done mostly plein air at the park. Even though it’s almost July, we’ve had very few sunny days here and this was no exception. This park is a bit depressing anyway and the lack of sun had me feeling pretty low, as I painted this.

9″ x 20″ oil on mounted linen

The second and third paintings were done from studies I’ve been working from, some done on site a couple of years ago.

9″ x 15″ oil on mounted linen

I still feel like I’m struggling to decide on a direction style-wise, torn between pushing the work farther toward or away from my observations.


Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland

Abandoned Farm on Sauvie Island

Last Saturday I went back to the same place we painted in the workshop I last wrote about. There is an abandoned farm there with a bald eagle’s aerie in a big oak tree at the edge of Sturgeon Lake.

8″ x 10″ oil on panel

It was so peaceful there. I only saw two other couples the whole day as well as a doe and her 2 fawns, a coyote the eagle and a couple of cotton tails.

8″ x 10″ oil on panel

View Larger Map

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Plein Aire Painters, Portland, Workshop

Plein Air with Stephen Hayes

I received a last minute invitation, from my friend Shawn Demerest, to attend a plein air painting workshop on Sauvie Island with Portland based painter, Stephen Hayes. I was only able to attend one day but it was well worth it.

Caldera by Stephen Hayes

16″ x 120″ oil on canvas panel – Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Since I’ve started painting again, I’ve focused on learning traditional painting techniques and the workshops I’ve attended have been about painting that way. Although Stephen has spent years painting plein air, he is a contemporary painter who doesn’t limit himself to traditional techniques. In fact, he uses the landscape before him more as a jumping off point rather than trying to capture the moment or scene. (Those are my impressions of his work, not Stephen’s words, btw).

Having originally started out as a non-traditional painter,  it was freeing to see Stephen paint more experimentally. Stephen shared some interesting ways to rework areas of the painting. I especially liked how he talked about working a painting back and forth, losing it and bringing it back, pushing and pulling it toward and back from the brink of disaster.

One “rule” I hear over and over from traditional painters is to put a brush stroke down and leave it. That is a rule Stephen is not afraid to break.

I did a couple of studies, during the workshop, starting out my normal way but found it a lot more fun to play with them, not being afraid to damage them or destroy them.

8″ x 10″ oil on panel

6″ x 8″ oil on panel

Although these sketches may not look a lot different from paintings I’ve done in the past, they were a lot more fun to do.

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air

First Plein air of the year

6″ x 8″ oil on panel

I’m not really that much of a plein air painter but I did get out last weekend to one of the Lavender Farms that were hosting painters. I also ran into my old friend Elio Camacho, who happened to be teaching a workshop there. I enjoyed hearing what he’s been up to and hope to maybe catch up with him again and do a little more outdoor painting.

It’s been so rainy and cold here, in the Pacific NW, that the lavender was not quite open yet. I got 2 studies done before I had to head out.

5″ x 7″ oil on panel

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Urban Landscape

Grain Silos on the Wilamette PA


2-Grain-Silo-from-N-Page10″ x 8″ oil on canvas

This is the other painting I did on Sunday. This is from the same spot I painted the Dome painting.

This is painted from the N side of the Wilamette River looking back toward the downtown business district. The large building in the distance is Portland’s closest thing to a sky scraper at 30 floors. It’s the US Bank building, locally known as “Big Pink” for it’s copper colored reflective surface.

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Urban Landscape

North Page and Albina


6″ x 8″ oil on Raymar panel

I may be a little obsessed with this dome.

Sunday was a beautiful day and I found this great site with a panoramic view of Portland, from the “ugly ” side.  This is an iteresting part of town. Although it’s filled with freeway overpasses and concrete plants and railroad yards, there has been a bit of gentrification and there are some good restaurants and music venues in the neighborhood.

I did a couple of plein air sketches, then had nice IPA and burger at the Widmer Brewpub down the block. A satisfying day.


Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Plein Aire Painters, Portland, Workshop

From Sauvie Island Convenience Store



6″ x 8″ oil on panel

Sauvie Island is popular with bicyclists, fishermen, bird watchers, hunters and plein air painters.  The easiest place to meet up is the Cracker Barrel convenience store, which is a short distance from the bridge that is the only way on and off the island. I did this little sketch of the fields across the street from the parking lot, last Saturday while waiting to meet the group I was painting with.

Portland plein air painter Celeste Bergin showed up to meet another group of painters, which she wrote about on her blog.

A couple of things are different in this painting from the others I did during this weekend. One, I didn’t use any alizarin crimson, two, I did this by myself while waiting for my painting companions to arrive. I find that I’m able to get into a sort of meditative state of mind while painting alone that seems more conducive to what I need to enjoy the process.


Art, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Workshop

Sauvie Island


Sauvie-Island-Marsh 8″ x 10″ oil on canvas


I spent 2 cold damp days painting on Sauvie Island last weekend with Eric Jacobsen. I’ve been fussing with this since I got it home and I’m going to stop now. There are some fundamental problems with it, like the fact that I cut it in half with the stream. The point was just to get out and get some PA practice and I accomplished that.

This one was painted on day one from a covered wildlife viewing stand. It rained off and on all weekend.

Art, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Foggy Sunday Morning Sketchcrawl and Tagged



The Steel Bridge

5″ x 8″ ink and watercolor in Sketchbook

Click here to visit this site on Google Maps

I went on another solo sketchcrawl today in foggy Old Town Portland. This is the top of the Steel Bridge, (the same bridge I painted from below, a couple of posts ago).

I started the morning with breakfast at one of my favorite spots, the Bijou Cafe, where I did the sketch below.


Inside the Bijou Cafe

3 1/2″ x 10″ ink and watercolor

Click here to see this site on Google Maps

I usually get down there pretty early in the morning and sketch as the vendors setup for Saturday Market for a while then head across the river to SE Main near Water Ave for one more sketch from my truck (it’s a little cold sitting outside).


I5, the Hawthorne Bridge and KOIN Tower

5″ x 8″ ink and watercolor

Click here to visit this site on Google maps



I was tagged recently by Celeste Bergin, check out her blog at Celeste Paints. Celeste is a founder and one of the primary organizers of the Portland Plein Air & Studio Painters. Unfortunately for me, their paint outs are on weekdays when I’m working.


The rules are:

1. Link to person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules
3. List 6 or 7 unusual things about yourself or quirky but boring, unspectacular details about yourself
4. Tag 6 or 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know they’ve been tagged


The 7 unusual things I’ll list here are jobs I’ve had over the years:

1. For 2 summers, while in college, I worked as a drawbridge tender on 2 railroad bridges. It was pretty spooky leaving there at 11 PM at the end of my shift.

2. I completed the first year of a 2 year Machinist Apprenticeship.

3. I worked for several years as a cook in restaurants in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Eastern Long Island, NY

4. I apprenticed as a Handmade Papermaker with Douglass Morse Howell, who made paper for lots of famous artists.

5. I worked for oil paint manufacturer Robert Gamblin of Gamblin Artist Colors.

6. I had a landscape contracting business for 16 years.

7. I once worked for a day tuning waterfalls at a convent in the Columbia River Gorge.

OK, at Frank Gardner’s urging, I lied about one of the jobs I had. See if you can catch my lie.

I really don’t think anyone is left untagged at this point so I’ll just list 7 artist blogs that I find especially enjoyable and inspiring.

Juilan Merrow Smith

Steven Goodman

Frank Edwards

Eric Jacobsen

Donald Yatomi

Lli Wliburn

Nico Muhly (composer)

Scott Conary

OK, that’s eight, I can’t help myself. Here’re some more artists whose work I love:

Timothy Horn

Alex Kanevsky

Jennifer Balkan

Heather Horton

Marc Bohne

Kate Lehman

David Shelvino

Christine Lefuente

Connie Hayes

Art, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Glacier Concrete Tank


4″ x 8″ ink and watercolor

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do any artwork. The renovation project is nearing completion and I hope to be back at it on a regular basis within a week or two. Today I was able to do this sketch from the apartment of a friend who has a fantastic view of the Wilamette river.

I appreciate the encouragement I’ve received over the past couple of months, from comments and emails.

btw, I started another blogger blog as an experiment and have posted the occasional sketch there.