Art, gouache, Landscape, Painting, Sketching, watercolor

Reverting back to my old blog

7" x 5" gouache
Bhutanese Temple     7″ x 5″ gouache

I’ve given up on my ‘new’ website and moved to another platform that was simpler to manage. Please check it out at 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.

Temple Doorways 6" x 6" gouache
Temple Doorways
6″ x 6″ gouache
Figure Painting, Life, Painting, Sketching

Trying to make some sense

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to express my current conundrum visually. Thinking is usually not the best way to get at this kind of thing but I’m afraid of making work that is trite or exploits or cheapens this and I’m especially wary of this since it’s not only my experience. Many people loved Leslie and may have feelings about how or what I express. That being said, I’ve been making some drawings and trying to find a way to start.

I’m sharing a couple of the drawings here.


6" x 7" gouache black and white ink on paper
6″ x 7″ gouache black and white ink on paper


9" x 6" gouache black and white ink on paper
9″ x 6″ gouache black and white ink on paper


As I start this, I realize I could explore this for a long time.

Art, grief and grieving, Life, Sketching

Life and drawing


It’s been three months since my wife, Leslie, died. I find that these milestones have more of an impact on me than I expect them to. It also is really hard to believe that it’s only been 3 months. My poor brain has been through so many changes it feels more like 3 years. I get a kind of panicky feeling when these things occur. Aside from these temporal milestones, it’s sometimes triggered by doing some mundane task around the house that Les either used to do or relied on me to do.  An empty feeling follows the realization that it’s just me now. I don’t mean to be dramatic. The saddest parts are always about me, not Les. I’m just trying to share what this is like.

I’m trying to find a balance between keeping myself busy but not so busy that I avoid feeling what comes up. I regret not spending more time drawing the figure so I’m trying to get myself out to Life Drawing sessions more frequently. I went to one the night before the 3 month mark, when I was starting to feel the panic coming on. It was a good thing to do, because, to draw well, I have to relax and focus at the same time, which can be a tricky thing for me to do.

My drawings are not very good and it’s clear that I need to spend time on drawing hands and feet, especially. I share them here as part of my process. I hope to attend these sessions regularly for a while.

Ballpoint and Pitt Artist Pens
Ballpoint and Pitt Artist Pens


Hipbone 2


Art, Life, Portraiture, Self portrait, Sketching, Study

Completion of Birthday Self Portrait project


Self Portrait at age 23
Self Portrait at age 23 – 1976


I’ve explained this a couple of times before on the blog. When I was in college I was given an assignment to do a self portrait and was then given information on the aging process and told to do another self portrait projecting what I thought I would look like at the age of 60. I was 23 when I did the first two drawings. I forgot about them for several years but some time in my 30’s I decided it would be interesting to do a similar self portrait every year near my birthday to see how close my vision was. I had planned on doing it every year and to use the same pose and media, etc so that the drawings could be easily compared. Discipline is not my strongest characteristic and I missed some years and got bored and did other compositions some years but I did produce an interesting collection of images over the 37 years since the original drawings.

This being the year I turned 60 is the logical completion of the project and, although I may still do self portraits on my birthday, the original project ends now. My wife’s health began to collapse this  year, not long after my birthday and it’s taken me this much time to get back to thinking about it. Frankly, it’s been difficult to produce any artwork, since her death and this seemed like a fun and simple thing to do to keep my hand in and, of course, to feed the blog.




So it appears that, at the age of 23, I had an exaggerated view of how old 60 is. Perhaps in 1976, 60 year old people did look older than they do today. They say 60 is the new 40, right?

You can find other entries in this progression in the archives of the blog. I posted them as I did them.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. The original two drawings were reproduced from old slides.

Leslie Robinson Sharp, Life, Sketching, Still Life, Urban Landscape, watercolor


It seems that some subscribers have stopped receiving email notifications when I publish a new post. This is a test to see if it gets through.

So as not to totally waste your time, if you do receive this, I’ll add a couple of sketches.

Building a New LIfe (sketch) watercolor w black and white ink
Building a New LIfe (sketch)
watercolor w black and white ink

This is a sketchbook drawing for the oil painting “Building a New LIfe From the Wreckage of my Old Life”  That’s a long title but I had to do it.

Les' Red Coat watercolor and ink
Les’ Red Coat
watercolor and ink

This is a new sketch. I’m experimenting with painting some of my wife’s possessions.

I know this sounds like I’m fishing for comments but I would love to hear back if you receive an email notification from this post. Thanks.

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

Twenty Third Ave Market


‘Twenty Third Ave Market’ 9″ x 13″ – ink, watercolor and gouache

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.

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


Figure Painting, Portraiture, Self portrait, Sketching, watercolor

Gone Sketching


5″ x 3 1/2″ watercolor in sketchbook

Since attending the First Urban Sketching Symposium, a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been spending most of my available time drawing rather than painting. I hope to get some painting done soon.

Please check out the Symposium blog and Flickr site for more about that amazing event.

You can also see some of my latest sketches at my other blog -> Sketchbook Meditations

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

Sketchbook Artists, Sketching, Still Life, watercolor


I’ve been spending more time drawing than painting lately. I’ve been re-inspired by one of the people who first turned me on to sketching, Russell Stutler. He has an amazingly wonderful site.  Something new there, since last time I visited, is his book on sketching. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in urban sketching.


I’ve been working on reducing my blood pressure without using drugs. For about a year, I was taking a drug to control my BP and it made me sick, coughing and tired all the time. When my Dr recommended I switch to another drug that would slow my heartbeat, I decided to see if making some changes in my life could eliminate the need to take BP drugs. I’ve increased my cardio exercise and tightened up my diet. The biggest change to my diet has been a drastic reduction of salt. My BP has gone from around 140/90 to around 115/65 in about 3 or 4 weeks. I don’t know if it’s related to the BP drop or perhaps the increased cardio, but my resting heart rate has also dropped several beats as well.

Thanks to the wonderful painter, Kathryn Law for the inspiration and information to do this.

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, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Centennial Mills Water Tower


5″ x 8″ ink and watercolor

Inspired by the Urban Sketchers.

This is an old Landmark on Portland’s waterfront. It’s scheduled for redevelopment and, although I’ve been told that the developers are committed to preserving it’s character,  I’m afraid of what it might become. I really love it in it’s decrepitness (is that a word?)

The covered area in the right foreground is used by the horses of the Portland Mounted police.

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.

Art, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Sketching, watercolor

Bird Rocks PA


6″ x 8″ oil on panel

Second day at the coast. I hiked down to a beach that’s only accessible, at high tide,  from a trail through an incredible rain forest  of giant twisted Sitka spruce and hemlock. It was another cloudy day and I had this stretch of beach to myself most of the time.

I find that painting in the open air makes the paint act differently than in the studio, so my project for the day was paint consistency. To get the look I want, I have to build up a substantial layer of paint to paint into. When painting PA, I’m limiting what I take with me to mainly the primary colors and I only use OSM for thinning the paint. I know some painters use the paint as it comes out of the tube with no medium whatsoever. I played with that today, trying different consistencies of paint, painting thinner paint into thicker and visa versa.

Here are a couple of warm up sketches I did in my sketchbook.


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

Airport Sketches


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.


. .


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.


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

Sketch of Examination Table


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


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.

Animal Painting, Art, gouache, Painting, Sketching, watercolor


willie ink and wtrclr

8″ x 5″ ink and watercolor

This is my daughter’s dog. She’s away at college. He looks like a puppy but he’s really getting quite old, 15 or 16. That one eye is blind and he’s mostly deaf, except at dinner time. My daughter picked him out at the pound, when he was 5 and she was about 8. His papers said that he’d been an outside dog and was not good with cats but he’s never complained about sleeping in my daughter’s bed nor chased our cat. He likes to wear one of his ears flipped back. He blew his knee out, a few years ago and needed surgery and, although he spends most of his day in slumber, he still has a little bounce in his step on his walks.

Willie - goauche
goauche and ink

I’ve been very busy with work and haven’t had time or energy to do anything but some sketching. I’ve enjoyed trying to learn a little more about goauche.

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

Corner of NW Broadway and Lovejoy

This is another quick sketch, testing out papers. This is a piece of Arches Text Wove/Velin Arches that was sent to me by a fellow Sketch Journaler, Roz Stendahl to try out.

Corner of NW Broadway and Lovejoy

watercolor ink and gouache

It wets more readily than the handmade paper put it is quite a bit less substantial and buckles a lot when wet.

I also did a little more testing with Noodler’s ink and it does seem to run on the Twinrocker paper I just bound into a sketchbook. I checked their website and they say that it should be waterproof on cellulose paper. The paper is cotton rag so should be cellulose. I’ve written them for advice.

Animal Painting, Art, equipment, Figure Painting, Sketching, watercolor

Watercolor Paper test

I splurged and bought some handmade paper from Twinrocker Paper Mill to make my next skectchbooks. Although I like to paint with watercolor, I don’t really know what I’m doing. After I made one sketchbook, I wanted to try the paper out so I did these little sketches of our dogs on some leftover scraps.

Osa on Twinrocker white cotto rag……………Wilie on Twinrocker simons green

Watercolor and ink on Twinrocker Handmade paper

I was a little disappointed that the paper seemed to resist the watercolor more than I’m used to with the Fabriano Artistico I usually use. Maybe this is the way good watercolor paper is supposed to be. I seem to remember that you’re supposed to wet the entire paper before painting on it, which I did not do. Since I work back and forth with ink and watercolor I’d rather not have to do that. If any expert watercolorists happen to see this, I’d appreciate it if you could enlighten me on this.

The other thing I wanted to test was if the ink I use would be waterproof on these papers. I use several kinds of inks including Noodler’s and Platinum Carbon in my fountain pens. For dip pens I use Calli and Dr Martin Bombay India ink. I like to be able to paint back over ink lines with watercolor. Some inks depend on a chemical reaction with the paper to become waterproof and the reaction depends on the content of the paper. The testing I did was also a bit disappointing. Most of the inks ran when I painted over them, some worse than others. My testing was not very thorough so I still have hope that I can find a method that works for me.

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

View across the broadway bridge


view across broadway bridge

6″ x 8″ ink and watercolor

I like to do little watercolors like this as birthday cards for friends. Unfortunately I put this one off til the last minute and now that it’s posted I see that the river bank is a little off kilter.

I stole this composition from a painting I saw recently of a different bridge in Portland by Lli Wilburn. Her painting is much better, btw. My rule for stealing is, always steal from someone better than myself.