Art, gouache, Landscape, Painting, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

New bridge construction sketch

I visited the construction site of the new Portland Milwaukie bridge, which will be for light rail, cyclists and pedestrians.

9″ x 11″ watercolor with black and white ink

Here’s a link to details about the bridge

They have very cool time lapse videos of the entire construction process at this link

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Fremont Bridge studies

I’ve always been a seat of my pants kind of painter and enjoyed just starting in on a canvas without a plan and allowing the painting to become what ever it will. But, having struggled to complete two large paintings without a real plan, I’ve decided that it’s probably a good idea to do some studies before launching into a big project so that I know what I’m trying to accomplish. Maybe I’ll have a better idea of when I’m done, for one thing.

Here are a couple of studies I’m considering for a larger piece.

“Under the Fremont Bridge – sketch” 5″ x 7″ watercolor and ink



“Under the Fremont Bridge – value study” 9″ x 12″ oil on panel


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

Red Cadillac II


18″ x 24″ oil on linen panel

Another painting of this old Cadillac. This is the largest painting I’ve done in a long time. I’m working on another that is 24″ x 48″. I’m enjoying working larger. I like the gestures I need to make to paint this large but I’ve had some difficulty getting used to mixing enough paint for the 24 x 48.


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

Red Cadillac


“Red Cadillac” 9″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

I’m not sure exactly what year this is – late 60s early 70s Coupe Deville. This place needed some classin’ up and the Caddie fits the bill, don’t you think? It’s appropriately parked next to what I believe was once a gasoline pump.

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

From the Dike


8″  x 8″ oil on linen panel

This painting is actually OF Rentanaar Rd, which is just a little gravel path back to the dike and the marshy lakes and cow pastures in the interior of the island. In the winter this area is closed to everyone except bird hunters. There are black tail deer on the island. I don’t know if they’re hunted or not.

This view is from the top of the dike looking back toward the Wilamette River.


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, Portland, Study, Urban Landscape

Work in progress


8″ x 10″ oil on panel


Again this is Kelly Point Park.  There is a bridge that goes across the river bank to a barge which is tied to the dolphins I’ve been fascinated with. The study above and the one before are two sections of this same small bridge.


18″ x 26″oil on linen

The second painting is larger than I’ve worked in quite a while. I’m still worrying it. – slowly.

I’ve found myself looking at the work of Ilya Repin and William Merrit Chase, as I work on this. They both commonly included figures in their landscapes. I think, for me, the dolphins fill that role.

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.


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.


Art, gouache, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Portland, Study, Urban Landscape, watercolor

More studies


10″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

This painting above is the same one from my last post, but taken a bit further.

6″ x 6″ oil on linen panel

These others are efforts to leave the reference behind a bit and lose myself in what it is I’m drawn to in the scene. They seem a bit self conscious to me, like I’m pushing them for no good reason. Like I’m faking it. Of course, I am faking it, at this point.

6″ x 5.5″ watercolor, ink and water soluble crayon on paper

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

Kelly Point Park oil studies


5″ x 10″ oil on linen panel

10″ x 12″ oil on linen panel

I’ve always liked the sketches I did at this park back in 2009 and posted  HERE and HERE and have intended to get back here to paint more.

According Wikipedia, the site of this park, at the confluence of the Wilamette River and Columbia Slough, was named for New Englander Hall Jackson Kelley, who tried, unsuccessfully, to establish a city at the site in 1834.  The surrounding area is pretty industrial, with a Port of Portland Marine Terminal right next door.

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

Deserted Parking Lot at Night


8" x 10" Oil on Panel

This tree stands alone in a parking lot in NW Portland and looks somewhat surreal in the artificial light from surrounding signs. The old Montgomery Ward building, now Montgomery Park, behind the tree is a NW Portland landmark.

This was painted on a masonite panel prepared with Gamblin Oil ground that I sanded lightly before beginning the painting. It’s a very slippery surface to paint on and the sanding only helped a little.


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

Urban Landscapes



8″ x 14″ oil on panel

6″ x 10″ oil on canvas panel

Two new oil paintings. I’ve been posting more work on my sketching blog recently, you can see that work here.

These two paintings started out as sketches.  The top one is from a favorite sketching area of mine, North Portland near the Widmer Brewery, looking toward the Union Pacific Rail yard.

The lower painting is the view from the new OHSU campus on the South Waterfront. At the time of the sketch, Cirque du Soleil was encamped along the river for their summer show. Downtown Portland is in the background. I was interested in this scene because the bright tents of the circus stood out from the mostly grey scene.

After a mostly beautiful October, the rains have returned here in Portland so I should have a lot more opportunity to paint clouds over the coming months.


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

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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.

Portland, Sketchbook Artists, Sketching, Urban Landscape, Workshop

Urban Sketchers announce Sketching Symposium in Portland

Participants are encouraged to register early due to limited availability. To register, check PNCA’s website.


Gabriel Campanario
Urban Sketchers
Executive Director
gabicampanario at gmail dot com
or 425.686.2398

Patrick Forster
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Director of Continuing Education
pforster at pnca edu
or 503.821.7864

Art, Daily Painters, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Portland, Study, Urban Landscape

Red Industrial


6″x8″ oil on panel

This is, again, a theme I’ve visited before in my sketchbook. This one reminds me a bit of master urban landscape painter, Stephen Magsig, author of one of my favorite painting blogs – Postcards From Detroit.

Stephen has started a beautiful new blog showing his more developed urban landscapes – Stephen Magsig Urban Landscape Paintings. There are some really inspiring paintings there.


Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Portland, Urban Landscape

Orange Dumpster


Orange-Dumpster-oil6″ x 6″ oil on board

I haven’t posted anything in a while but I have been painting. I’ve been experimenting with larger paintings but I haven’t produced anything I want to share, as yet. I seem to be trying to go in two directions at once. I need to pick one.

I’d planned on getting outside to paint more this year but summer is almost over and it’s just really hard to get outside when you work a full time job. Not to imply that I’m not extremely thankful to have a full time job.  Weekends are precious and I’ve been busy with family and friends and I just haven’t had time to paint out.

This little study was an experiment on a new surface. It’s a board primed with Gamblin oil ground. The surface is hard and smooth, similar to panels I’ve made before by priming with acrylic gesso on masonite or plywood. I think it may be a little stickier though. I was thinking of taking another shot at this scene but, dumpsters? really? Am I getting too squalid in my choices of subject matter?

Here is an artist I’ve been enjoying looking at lately. Great clean clear color.

Christine LaFuente

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