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 http://billsharppaintings.com. 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
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.

IMG_3734

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

 

Civita-Old-town-from-Fort-m

 

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
Art, Landscape, Life, watercolor

Civita Castellana

.

 

 

I’m in a small medieval town in Italy. I’ve been painting mostly watercolors so far and hope to also make some oil paintings. IMG_3887

.

 

Life is very slow here. It’s hot and humid and all the shops close down from 1PM tip 5PM and most things are closed on Sunday and some are closed again on Thursday.  The internet is slow and not always available but I was able to upload these two sketches. Ciao.

IMG_3902

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art, grief and grieving, Life, Still Life, watercolor

Sketch of a blue pitcher

.

Blue Pitcher 7" x 10"  watercolor and ink
Blue Pitcher
7″ x 10″ watercolor and ink

A little sketchbook painting, while I try to figure out where to go next.

I’ve noticed that my interactions with people and the way I communicate, both in person and in writing, seem more deeply felt. I believe that, having lived through a time of urgent communication with Les, when I was frantic to leave nothing unsaid, has spoiled me for light banter.

Even though Les’ last days were so painful, I often find myself wanting to be there again. The air in the room was so full of urgency and intimacy. We often speak of the miracle of birth but death is a miracle as well. We tried our best to treat it like that. It seems so absurd, now, that we connected even more deeply just before parting forever.

.

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

Miscellaneous

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, Life, Painting, watercolor

BFF Anniversary

Yesterday, June 29, was the 34th anniversary of the day I met the best friend I’ve ever had, my wife, Leslie Robinson. We married 2 years later and drove across the country from Eastern Long Island, NY to Portland OR. Leslie was a singer/songwriter and I was a painter. She gave up her singing career when our first daughter, Emily was born, in the hospital we can see from the deck of our little house. I quit painting when Les bore our second daughter, Clair in the front bedroom of that house.

Leslie now lays dying, surrounded by that family in the living room of that house. Although my heart is breaking, I feel privileged to be able to help her complete her life and make a safe crossing to whatever is next.

Les hated posing so I don’t have a lot of paintings of her but, on our adventures, she usually wore a red coat that I loved painting.

Leslie-in-the-Snow-wtrclr-10x14

Les was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. She chose to do an alternative therapy instead of chemotherapy and radiation. After treatment, Les remained symptom free for 9 years. When the cancer recurred, she did radiation and hormone therapy, which gave her 4 more years with relatively few symptoms. She tried chemotherapy a few months ago and just couldn’t stand the side effects, so she chose to stop treatment.

We have been very fortunate to have had so much time together. Les and I knew this was coming and are as prepared as anyone can be for such a thing.

I have found solace in the book “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rimpoche, over the years and have begun reading it again. …

Men come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good. Yet when death does come to them, their wives, their children, their friends – catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries what fury what despair!…

To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of it’s strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death … We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”  ~ Michel de Montaigne, The Essayus of Michel de Montaigne

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
gouache

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

IMG_5613

.

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, Painting, Study, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Monkey Ward on a rainy night

Alex, if you’re reading, I tried to answer your email but my reply was returned. You may have mistyped your email address.

Montgomery Park in the rain - 6" x 8" watercolor and ink
Montgomery Park in the rain – 6″ x 8″ watercolor and ink

This old Montgomery Ward store was converted, years ago, into Montgomery Park and is now used as office space and convention center. When it was built, in 1920, it was the largest building in Portland.

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, Study, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Mixed Media

.

“One Dolphin” 14″ x 10″ watercolor, gouache, ink and water soluble crayon

.

I’ve been doing studies for some larger oil paintings. I always seem to work more freely with watercolor and I’d like to learn ways to incorporate some of that into the oils.

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  http://trimet.org/pm/construction/bridge.htm

They have very cool time lapse videos of the entire construction process at this link  http://trimet.org/pm/construction/bridgecams.htm#

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, 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.

Interior, oil painting, Study, watercolor

Office Chair

The work on my studio is complete and I’ve been trying to get back to where I was before.  I had a glimpse of something I wanted to work toward, while working with Jordan Wolfson in August and I’m trying to find my way back to that.

Here are some recent studies.

14″ x 18″ charcoal and watercolor

14″ x 18″ mixed media

11″ x 14″ oil on  panel

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, Ireland, Landscape, oil painting, watercolor

New Page of Paintings from Ireland

I got a new scanner that is better able to scan slides than my old one, so I spent some time scanning slides of old paintings and added a new page of work I did in the late 1990s inspired by a trip to western Ireland. There is a link to the page on the right sidebar and you can get to it by clicking on the image below.

watercolor 7″ x 10″

My wife and daughters and I all remember this trip fondly and none of us have been willing to let many of these paintings go. Most of them are hanging in our house.

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

Sketchbook Artists, Sketching, Still Life, watercolor

Salt

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.

Salt-Shaker

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

.

3-steele-bridge-from-nw-1st

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.

2-bijou-cafe-sunday-morning

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).

3-koin-tower-from-water-ave

I5, the Hawthorne Bridge and KOIN Tower

5″ x 8″ ink and watercolor

Click here to visit this site on Google maps

******************************************************

Tagged

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