Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I heard this quote a few days ago in a UK murder mystery, and I've been thinking about it ever since:
Let all bitterness, and wrath,
and anger, and clamour,
and evil-speaking,
be put away from you,
with all malice,
and become one to another
forgiving one another.

Warmest Best Wishes from my house to yours in this holiday season.

See you next year!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ardenwald Holiday Bazaar Tomorrow!

I'll be at the Ardenwald Holiday Bazaar tomorrow, Saturday, November 22nd, from 9am to 3pm. That's at Ardenwald Elementary School in Milwaukie, SE of Portland. I'll have my latest paintings from this summer and fall, two dozen glass flowers and and over a dozen hanging garden ornaments. I'll also have dozens of 5x7 greeting cards of my paintings and photo art. I don't know where I'll be in the fair, but look for glowing buckets of glass jewels!

I'll also be ready and eager to talk about both my books for sale on Amazon, "First Aid For Your Menopause Emotions," and my new animal adventure story for kids 5th grade and up and anyone who loves animal stories, "Take The Wind Up With You."

If you get there, please say "Hi" and let me know you saw this on my blog. Thanks!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Priming with texture

Firs at Hoyt Arboretum
I tried something different for a forest scene I've been wanting to paint. It's a photo of a douglas fir grove at Hoyt Arboretum, and I was looking for a new approach because I'm not very satisfied with the paintings I've been getting recently. It happened that a couple years ago I accidentally ordered a 5oz tube of red oxide acrylic, which is twice the size of a standard sized tube. I really want to use it up, so I primed a panel with it, but instead of brushing it on I used my knife, and for no reason in particular used the knife to draw the significant outline of the scene in the wet paint. I put so much paint on it that it took overnight to dry. When I started painting on it the next day I quickly realized I could use a lot less paint because of that priming, and I worked fairly quickly just blocking in some general colors, and using sweeping strokes that were vaguely suggestive of typical fir branches. I had several different colors of green already mixed from my other leaf paintings, it all went pretty quickly.

When I stopped to take a look at it, it looked more than half done. I got lucky with the highlight brush strokes on the ground, but wasn't so lucky with the ones on the tree trunks, so I had to go in today and paint over them. Clearly, there's a lot to getting those lucky strokes to happen, instead of the unlucky ones. But I'm thinking that's what I should really be working on.

I have to admit that I really liked painting on the knife texture of the primer. It reminded me a lot of the texture I get with the ink on paper paintings. I think the texture marks and what they do to the paint on top of them is as useful an element as any paint stroke. They can add energy and visual depth to a work. And they're an encouragement not to add a lot of unnecessary detail.

I like the idea of combining painting with three-dimensional effects; I don't have a problem with combining different forms and techniques of art. It's all art, after all. Like any other technique, physical texture can either support the impact of the painting, or completely overwhelm it and turn the whole thing into a bad joke. Sort of like my famous chocolate covered tortilla strips. Fortunately, most bad paintings are small enough to be safely and legally disposed of, unlike bad architecture.

On the other side of things, I finally finished the third Villa Catalana painting. I didn't do any of this on site, it was all studio work. There is at least one more image from there that I want to paint, but later.

Young Vineyard And Pond

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fun with fall leaves

Twin Leaves
A great way to spend a cloudy, wet day in early fall is to paint something you love in the brightest colors you can find. I love leaves, and now, while my garden is starting to turn fall colors, is a great time to paint them.

Turning Leaf
I used an old maple leaf from my yard to do these. The first one was in watercolor, and in the second I wanted to duplicate the same brightness and intensity with acrylics.

Lots of fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inspired by Autumn

Fall Fantasy
I was playing more with watercolors, try out my new hake brushes, and decided to use them (but not the hakes) on an inspiration I got this last weekend. I wanted to do an abstract of leaf shapes, but then as I was drawing it out I decided to make one of them more realistic. I stole its coloring from one of my O Isami leaves, so it's all pretty made up. But it does represent how excited I am to see the fall colors, especially in the local maples, and the leaves coming down in the wind. I love leaves, but I'm a sucker for the bightly colored ones. I really love them.

As long as I'm posting, I'll put up a poster for the next art fair I'll be at, in SE Portland at Ardenwald Elementary School on Nov. 22, and a couple of other things I've been working on lately.

I'm not sure if this painting of the grape arbor at Villa Catalana is finished, but I'm done working on it. It's as good as I can make it now.

Grape arbor in summer
I wanted to share my first painting with the hake brushes, not because it's any good (it isn't) but to give you an idea of what your first experiment might look like. It is possible, and fun, to use them to get something that looks like tree foliage. I think I can get better with them in time. At least I've still got the back side of this that I can use for another painting.
First try with hake brushes
I used to do watercolors before I retired, and I do like not having to throw the dry paint away. But, when you screw up something on an acrylic painting, you can always just keep painting on top of it. So they're both fun, in their own way.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Plein air in the Rhododendron Garden

The heat has abated enough for me and a friend to spend an afternoon out—in the shade, by the water—having a little plein air session in the Rhododendron Garden at Crystal Springs, a shared favorite place just to be, let alone to paint. With all that water around us, it was probably in the low 70s where we were sitting, which was lovely.

I was a little tentative about trying to paint the waterfall, because I hadn't even tried one in about 40 years. I was really happy about the backlighting we had, though, and tucked into the shrubbery with relish. I did the water later, at home, from the photos I took, and I clearly need a lot more practice with it. But it's done, and I'm back my other projects. It was really nice to paint outside again, especially in that garden. My garden's in the late summer doldrums, just one hint of yellow in the grape foliage so far, so there's not much inspiration to paint out there. It was nice to go some place new.

Monday, September 8, 2014

At last - the first paint-out painting

Tree Grove, Afternoon

I've been working on my paintings from the Villa Catalana paint-out off and on since I brought them home. I worked on two of them that day, but knew neither one of them was finished. I spent a few sessions working over this one and I feel that I can't make it any better right now, so that means I'm finished with it. At least for now. I'm still working on the second one, and I'm also working on a third one that I didn't have time to work on during the paint-out. And I still have more photos that I want to do paintings from.

Looks like we still have more warm weather coming, so I'll have more time to paint. As soon as it cools off though, I have a big list of garden work that's going to take precedence. I expect at this point I'll have a lot of painting I want to do over the winter, while it's cold and rainy (and kind of looking forward to that!)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What an INCREDIBLE paint-out day this was!

Wow. It was a fantastic day--only a bit too warm for about an hour, and then it cooled down and the sun went down very slowly, very calmly, and very beautifully. It was a double treat for me, and "treat" is really an understatement. First, because it's such a beautiful place to paint, and second because there was an array of artistic talent and skill there that I've certainly never seen before. If you EVER have a chance to go to one of these paintouts (anywhere) where there are so many artists with 20+ years of experience, I can't even imagine that you wouldn't love it. Take those two things, throw on some good wine, beautiful food, and a most excellent jazz trio—with a lady saxophone player and one guy each on guitar and standup bass—and, well, words fail me. Burl and Cindy Mostel pulled out all the stops.

I didn't talk to every artist, there were at least half a dozen I didn't get to, but I did get to these, and I really want to share them with you. In no particular order, they are:

Carrie Moore - artist and designer, in several different media, including leather purses. Close enough to call a neighbor.

Jerry Dickason - Went from oils to watercolor back to oils. I really loved his watercolors that he had there.

Susan Spears - A funny watercolor artist who also teaches, from Lake Oswego. And she does Tai Chi.

Anton Pavlenko - Has an unerring eye for color, paints bold and big, and paints in the gorge in the winter. Brrrrr!

Yer Za Vue - Awesome skill with a brush, just awesome.

Randall David Tipton - One of the best art blogs I've read to date, a great painter with a bazillion paintings of places south of Portland in all seasons.

Jude Welter - Also teaches, has some exciting new work on yupo, really is a neighbor, and just keeps getting better and better and better.

Ruth Armitage - Another neighbor, and yet another local teacher—we have it so good here—holds workshops regularly, paints big and small in several mediums, and does some of the loveliest small oils I've ever seen.

Bruce Ulrich - He does abstracts! I love his abstracts! Hooray for abstract painters! Yaaayyyy!

My meager descriptions don't do justice to any of them. They're all amazing, and really nice. It was a total blast talking to them all.

Gosh, I hope I get to do this again sometime.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Going to my first Paint-Out Party

Next Saturday, August 23rd, I'm participating in a paint out and party at Villa Catalana Cellars, aka Rare Plant Research for plant-o-philes. I think there are going to be 8-10 artists there from the greater Portland area, and we'll either be engaged in paint-flinging brush fights for the prime locations, or peacefully painting the picturesque buildings, plantings, and gorgeous views out on the grounds. There's no other place like this in this area—it's as if you've space-warped to a Mediterranean clime, just for an evening.

The party will feature a jazz trio, catered dinner items, and wines from Villa Catalana Cellars. The cover charge is $10/person and you can sign up on the Villa Catalana website all this week. Reservations are required. The weather is supposed to be sunny and warm with a light breeze from the northeast. The party starts at 5:30 and runs till 9pm. The artworks will be for sale, and you'll have plenty of time to watch the artists, find your favorite place to sip a glass of wine, and enjoy the music and some food. There's plenty of parking and the directions are on the website. If you've never been out there, I can tell you it's a FABULOUS place for sunset viewing.

If you can make it, please look for me and say hi. I've already staked out the places I hope to work from, so we'll see how lucky I get. I think that painting as the sun goes down is going to be a real treat.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Announcing a new book and a new blog

Yesterday I published my second e-book on This one is my first work of fiction. It's a story for kids of age 10 or 11 to 75 or 80. It tells about the adventures of a young Golden eagle when he gets trapped in a fierce desert thunderstorm and meets a very surprising new friend.

I've started a new blog to write about it, because I want to share its story as a book, and talk about the characters more.

If you do take a look at the book (the first chapter is available for viewing on Amazon), thank you, and I hope you enjoy it. I really enjoyed writing it, and at this point, I feel like both Tlocan and Ha-Keen—the two main characters—are family. I'd love for you to meet them.

And yep—that's my cover art. The idea came to me as a visual image after several days of intense worrying and wondering about what I should do for the cover. I would have loved to have Matisse do something for it. Oh well. I'm hoping someday to turn it into a print copy, but that's going to take a lot more paintings. It's a very visual story.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cha!Cha!Cha! show extended through August 31st

Good news! My show at the Cha!Cha!Cha! Restaurant in Milwaukie, OR—at least a portion of it—will be up until the end of August. Seven paintings are still hanging there. Two were sold and the other three are back at home or on sale on my Etsy site. The two that were sold are:

Forest Sunrise


Cascade Waterfall
I've been working on a new project—the cover for my next Kindle book release, coming soon. I'll have the first attempt done this week. I have two really different ideas and I might end up trying both of them before I decide for sure which to use.

Back to work!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mixed media paintings on display in Milwaukie, OR

Cha!Cha!Cha! Restaurant - Home of my first solo show, July 1-31, 2014

A dozen of my big mixed media paintings are spending the month of July in the Cha!Cha!Cha! restaurant in beautiful downtown Milwaukie, just a few miles south of Portland, OR. The show opened yesterday and won't come down till July 31st. Most of the paintings in the show have appeared on this blog, but a few are older ones which were done before I started this.

I'm really thrilled to have my first solo show in this wonderful Mexican restaurant. Mexican food has been one of my most favorite kinds of foods since I was kid, so I have many decades of happy memories of sharing Mexican food with family and friends. Being here feels like a big thumbs-up from the Universe to me. The owner and manager of the restaurant, Carmen Mojica, has been really great to work with and is very supportive of local art and artists. And, the food is great and very affordable—and the margaritas are, too.

So if you're in the area and just a little bit hungry for good Mexican food and lots of bright colors and friendly people, pay a visit to the Cha!Cha!Cha!, at 11008 SE Main Street in Milwaukie. It's just one block off the 99E, between Oregon City and Portland. For hours or reservations, call 503.659.2193. They also do take-out!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A memory of fall

Foggy Fall Morning
I loved this picture when I took it—a fairly foggy morning with the low sun trying to burn through, and a row of Japanese maples above sword ferns, leaves turning all possible fall colors, most of them all at once. I know the leaves don't look like maple leaves, but the color was the important thing.

Fall is my second favorite season, but it might be my favorite season for painting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Swinging the pendulum a little further

I felt so happy with the simplification in my last barn painting that I wanted to carry my boldness a little further on the next one. But, it was one of our gloomy days and I was a bit tired of painting gray skies and dark clouds, so I chose a photo recently taken in the high desert on the east side of the Cascades on a mostly sunny morning. I really wanted to stimulate myself to paint in warmer, more dramatic colors, so I started the painting with a drawing in black and burnt orange.

I was able to get the greens I wanted in the juniper needles, and the rough twisty bark of the juniper trunk was looking promising. I kept taking photos because I wanted to see later how it evolved. I kept laying in blocks of color, giving those colors the first priority, figuring I would shape them later, and hold off on detail till the end.

But on the second day, when I thought it should be close to done, the painting didn't have the same dynamics as the photograph did—it looked flat and uninteresting. When I got up on the third day, I spent some time looking closely for what I had missed in the composition. I noticed that the main difference was I had left the top part of the painting, especially the upper right quarter, too light. I added the dark area in the upper trunk, and darkened the foliage there as well, and with that the painting came back to life for me. It was only then that I realized how important that darkness was, in that part of the design, to the visual impact of the painting.

Juniper, Oregon High Desert
The whole time I was working on this painting I kept thinking of the line from "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"—"Everything will be all right in the end; if everything is not all right, it is not yet the end." I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to make this painting live up to my high expectations of it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Here come the barns

I'm finally getting to all the barn photos I've taken since last fall. I decided to just try quick workups on paper of as many of them as I can get done, just for practice. As usual, I'm mostly trying to be loose and not get hung up on detail, but just have fun. Many of the photos were taken in pretty soggy weather—and one even when it was snowing—so I've made adjustments in a few. But what the heck, I'm not doing a documentary, I'm just painting. A few of them did have blue buildings, though, which was fun.

I started with the one I thought was hardest, and it went down surprisingly easily. I was expecting the tree to give me more trouble, but it didn't.

This red barn was probably the crappiest photo I had, but parts of it are okay. I think that the longer I look at this one, the more things I'll see that I should have done differently. For instance, the sharp line around the rectangle of plants on the right of the tree trunk that really attracts too much attention because it's so sharp. Also the lopsided look of the front tree that really was that way, but just looks awkward in the painting.

The third one came out really simple.

In fact, when I stopped, I thought, this is too simple—I've gone too far to the simplistic side, and I really need to push the pendulum back a bit. But then I thought, no, I need to just try and stay here a little while, and get used to working more simplistically, until I really get the feel of it. It's hard to give up putting in too much detail—I want to make sure I'm cured.

I'm thinking that we naturally notice and remember the small details and the sharp lines just because those are the things that attract our attention, and giving them most of our attention keeps us from seeing the overall composition and how the bigger shapes and forms of things relate to each other.

In painting, focus on forms or details or both becomes part of the painter's style, and paintings that are all detail or all simplicity can both be successful with viewers. But whatever the style, it all has to work together within a painting; it has to be coherent at some level that the viewer can both grasp and enjoy.

For myself, I love the precise mathematical detail of physical nature, but I don't like it in paintings. I love details in photographs, and I want photographs to show me those details. In paintings, I want shapes and forms that relate to each other, layers of complex colors, and rich textures that evoke the impression of details that aren't really there. I agree that the mind creates details in an image it understands, when they're not actually in the image. I'm especially interested in paintings that evoke a feeling or emotional response, and details in paintings just don't do that for me, even though details in real life fill me with awe, respect and love for the cosmos.

I've still got another dozen or so old barns and houses. More to come!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Group show at In Bocca al Lupo Gallery, Milwaukie, OR

Fern Lake

Last night was the opening of the "Pollen Count" group show in beautiful downtown Milwaukie at the In Bocca al Lupo Gallery of Roxanne Clingman. I was there last night with three of the other artists, Dianne Jean Erickson, Bridget Benton, and my gardening & art buddy, Marilyn Woods. Roxanne shared one of her mixed media paintings, a beautiful large sunflower with brilliant colors, rich and splendid. All the artists were really fun to meet and talk to, and their works both include encaustic, and they're really strong compositions and very worthy paintings. Bridget's painting explored the macro-micro juxtaposition with luminous colors, and Dianne's struck me as a higher-level abstraction, an ethereal essay on Nature, that on reflection makes me feel as if I were standing outside in a garden. Marilyn's new acrylic florals combine strong abstract elements with very delicate flowers that remind me of Odilon Redon's floral pastels. He has been a favorite painter of mine for several decades.

The First Eden

Roxanne generously included two of my mixed media works, The First Eden and Fern Lake. This is my first time in a gallery in a few years and it was really fun. In Bocca al Lupo ("In the wolf's mouth") is a bright but intimate gallery in the south part of Milwaukie, which is a walkable small town halfway between Portland and Oregon City right on the 99E, and there are plenty of restaurants and tea and coffee shops nearby to make it a lunch or suppertime destination. The gallery hours are limited, Thursdays and Fridays 1-5pm, and during Sunday Markets, 9:30am to 2pm.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Clackamas River Spring Afternoon

In mid-April I was riding with a friend on a partly cloudy but dry-ish spring afternoon and we came up to the Carver bridge over the Clackamas River from the Carver side, and some sunlight hit these trees and lit up their tender new leaves. My friend is really great at pulling off the road for quick photographs, and she found a place—amazingly, because it's a pretty messy road and no shoulder in most places—and I jumped out of the car and ran about 10 feet to take pictures. Another passenger said, "Is she sick?" but my friend explained.

I again used a like-new quarter-inch flat brush to get the bare branches at the top. I have a really hard time getting thin lines in acrylic with a small round; the flat is so much easier.

On to the next one!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Flowering Fruit Trees

Driveway and Cherry Tree
We get this wonderful side benefit of fruit trees—besides the delicious fruit in the summer and fall, we get the flowers in late April and early May. And this pie cherry tree on a friend's driveway was shining with flowers on this overcast late April day. I was over there on a drizzly day and tried taking a photo through my car window, but raindrops got in the way. I was back a few days later when it wasn't raining and got my photo before the flowers faded.

I finally have time to paint again—my glass work is done for a while. I have a backlog of work I want to do from last fall till just lately, so I'll be working a lot this year. And as I look out at my garden, which looks much more grown than last year, I'm eager to get out there and do more plein air painting!

It's going to be a busy year!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Light as expansion

Light As Expansion
Still pretty busy, but I did manage to finish up the fifth in my series of the 22 Dimensions of Light—it's the fifth dimension!—Light As Expansion. Expansion, the opposite of contraction, the energy to grow larger, to increase, to be in that phase of creation where the focus is on adding, extending, becoming more of what you already are.

The weather is warming up, and I'm starting to really look forward to getting out into my garden to paint again, but first I have to get out into my garden to work—and there's plenty to do right now. Fortunately we're looking at a week of dry weather with nice temperatures, so maybe the next time it gets warm, I can drag the painting stuff out and start playing again. Meanwhile, I've amassed a huge backlog of great photos of local scenery, so when I'm done with my current projects and can start painting again, I've got plenty of material to work with.

Anyway, back to work. Thanks for looking!

Monday, March 24, 2014

30 Glass Flowers

30 Glass Flowers
It's been a busy two months for my glass kiln—I've done a lot of firings, and a lot of pretty flowers have come out. Also been making new bell hangers and a few new mobiles.

Blue-green mobile

Red mobile

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A spot of color

Real Cool Blue
I wanted to share this photo a friend of mine just sent me. She got a fused glass hanging ornament a couple years ago and said she was really enjoying having that spot of color in her back yard this winter, especially after this snowfall.

I know exactly what she means because except for my early hellebores, some primroses I just bought, and my witchazels, my glass pieces are the only color in my garden right now. I'm loving all the rain we're getting—that's one of the reasons I moved to the Northwest—especially since the trees really need it, but my garden does look pretty dreary.

I'm cutting a lot of glass for ornaments this week, and as soon as the weather calms down a little, I'll start firing pieces (we've had a lot of little power outages with all the wind). I'm getting a body of work together for this year's Spring Garden Fair, the first weekend in May, at the County Fairgrounds in Canby. It will just be glass art for the garden, no paintings. I just drove down to Bullseye this morning to get more glass. It's time-consuming cutting it, so it's a good way to spend cold, windy, winter days, and plus, having a pile of brilliant iridescent color in front of me is always a treat. I'm such a color junkie.


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Elmore Leonard approach to painting

Late Afternoon Light, Mid-December

Last year I got a truly essential book for any fiction writer: Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing. Today while I was trying to finish this painting, this book came into my head and stayed there for quite a while. The wording of the rules doesn't really fit painting, but the point of them certainly does: Get rid of anything and everything that comes between the painting and the viewer.

In other words, anything the viewer notices, instead of seeing the whole painting, detracts from the viewer's experience of the painting.

One of Leonard's statements in the book, although it's not one of the rules, sums up his approach: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." I kept thinking about how much I'm trying to get better with my brush, to learn to make beautiful brushstrokes. I reworded the rule to fit: If it looks like painting, repaint it. It should look like the subject, or the reason you chose to paint this subject—not like painting.

Another one of his rules kept recurring to me: "Keep your exclamation marks under control." I figure a detail is just like an exclamation point; it begs for the viewer's attention. I want just enough detail to suck the viewer into the scene as if it were his own memory, his own imagination creating the colors and shapes of the image. You need something sharp and clear for the viewer's eye to lock onto, but it doesn't need to be much.

I was very tempted to paint more detail in the tall firs behind the deciduous trees in the front, but then I remembered, they're not the subject; the subject is the brilliant sunset light of early winter reflecting off the branches of the trees in front. I was out with a friend visiting local wineries the week before Christmas, and we were driving home just as the sun was ready to set. The light came through a gap in the clouds and lit up a bank of deciduous trees and their thousands of tiny branches, all bare now. I yelled "Kodak! Kodak!" and she quickly pulled to the side of the road and I jumped out with my camera. The light lasted for a few more minutes and I couldn't believe our luck.

Of course if you are a master of brushstrokes, like Joan Mitchell or Emily Carr, or a master of detail like Salvador Dali or Norman Rockwell, these rules don't apply. Sadly, I'm not a master of anything, but happily, I know that already.