I’ve been working on this painting for 6 months. Centennial Mills viewed from the Broadway Bridge as it was several years ago. It was a favorite site of mine in Portland that no longer exists. All that remains is the building with the water tower. The city had plans to redevelop it but they gave up and, over the last year or two, most of it has been torn down.
I’m sad to see so much of what I consider to be Portland being demolished and gentrified.
I haven’t been posting much lately for various reasons, one of which is that I was hoping to move my blog to a new website I’ve been trying to get going but I’ve had a difficult time finding someone to help me with it. I’m not familiar with web development. It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to get a web site up.
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.
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.
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.
Wow, rough week! Just when you think you’ve entered calm waters, out of nowhere some kind of psychic wave crashes over you.
There have been three or four watershed events, in my life, that have radically changed how the world occurs for me. The first was my first experience with LSD. The fact that everything appeared different to me, while under the effects of the drug, opened me to that there may be things beyond my perception. Leslie’s death has jarred me that way, although not as pleasantly.
I’ve made a lot of mental maneuvers to try and make sense out of what’s happened or, rather, to construct some kind of meaning. Holding that all together is more work than I realized and a seemingly insignificant event shattered it all in a second. The illusion of meaning I had so cleverly duct taped together crashed down on my head. leaving me feeling foolish and deluded.
Fortunately I have friends who impossibly manage to tolerate these manic episodes. They listen calmly and stand at a safe distance until they can get close enough to put their arms around me and say, “Deep breath.” “You’re OK.” “You’re held closely and dearly.” “I consider it a gift each time you choose to share your staggering”.
I’ve been working on a large piece that’s taking a long time so I took a break and did this still life of a papaya. My acupuncturist recommended that I eat papaya for the enzymes that I seem to be missing.
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.
This is a painting of a barge while being built at the Vigor Industries Shipyard on Swan Island, Portland, OR. I believe the barge is a double hulled oil barge in service in the Seattle area.
I could hang out here and draw for years, if they’d let me. Unfortunately the only times I’ve been there were during the Industry and Art shows, which were held in one of their hangars the last two years.
I’ve had this one on the easel for quite a while but I think I’m done with it now. What caught my eye was the interlocking shapes of the upper part of the building with the shapes caused by reflections in the lower part. It was a lot of fun to paint and I’m kind of sorry I’m done with it.
This is a view of the under side of the Fremont Bridge, looking across the Wilamette River from the west bank to the east. This is a studio painting although I’ve painted this same view plein air and posted some studies, for this painting, a couple of weeks ago.
This past weekend was the first weekend of the 2012 Portland Open Studios tour. I worked on this study of the studio corner while a slow but steady stream of folks perused my recent oil paintings and sketchbooks.
Thanks everyone who came by or checked my website. I’m looking forward to the second weekend of the tour.
I’ve been working on this painting for the last several months. I’m declaring it finished, even though I could probably go on tweaking it for another couple of months. It will be in the studio during the Portland Open Studios, over the next two weekends.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s always fun to paint heads, especially my own. These 2 studies were done a couple of days apart.
Both are oil on linen panel 8″ square
( I shaved off my beard between them. ) I’m a fan of Ann Gale’s work and I feel like the one on the right is derivative of her work. Having said that makes it ok, right?
I think worrying about being derivative is unproductive (to a point). You just have to keep painting, knowing that you’re going to make bad work and derivative work and trust that something true and honest will evolve.