Friday, April 21, 2017

Plein Air Spring

                                                              watercolor on yupo 12x9


 Who knows when we`d see the sun again? Every able bodied person went outside today if only for a moment. Sidewalks and parks got some use again. Knowing the forecast days ago, I arranged to paint outdoors with my pal Mitch.
We set up at Steven`s Meadow and took in the views. This lovely city park is just a vast field of grass open to the sky. We sat at the edge in the shadows and began painting the hedgerow in the distance. As popular as plein air painting has become, for me it is always awkward. It aways seems like a bad idea until I get enough paint on the surface of my paper. But the conversation is stimulating and without much conscious intent, something begins to form.
It was an afternoon well spent.


                                                           watermedia on paper 22x15


 This is from the mid-nineties soon after moving here. It was another sparkling April day in Washington Park.


 In the winter of 2015, once a month I did a demonstration painting in my studio on a Saturday morning. Anyone could come. I think I did six of them and then it began to feel like a complete ego trip. The master and his acolytes. However, I met some very nice people. Some of them went out of their way to help me in my recent ordeal. So I`m going to do it again on Saturday May 20, at 10am. If you think you`d like to come, please let me know. It seems 10 is about the most that can fit around my table and see. It`s a standing room situation and the floor is concrete. Not especially comfortable but the questions and conversation are always interesting. Lots of parking nearby and in my driveway.

5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR 97035


 The Wonder Street Blog has a handy description of the major brands of oil paints being made. Give it a look if you`re considering oils. They sure are easier than watercolors but you need good ventilation.



                                                         mounting Yupo


I haven`t tried this technique of mounting Yupo yet but I`m going to. I`ve succeeded with small dimensions using a different method but failed spectacularly when I tried it with larger pieces. Air bubbles are the problem. An unglazed unframed watercolor that is 'stable' is a holy grail of the medium. Framing is expensive and laborious. Imagine finishing your masterpiece and just hanging it on the wall! [I would recommend a spray coat of UV protection acrylic varnish first however].
Here`s the dilemma with me; if I go to the trouble of mounting a fresh unpainted sheet of yupo, it then becomes too 'precious' to paint on. I think I`d choke up. But if I took a good completed painting and mounted it and it developed bubbles, I`d be really upset.
Is it just me or are most painters this neurotic?




                                           A beautiful painting by Bernd Haussmann.


                                                           photographer unknown

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Watermedia and regained mobility!

                                                      Red Landscape wm on paper 9x12


 This was truly a doodle. I found a failed figure drawing, turned it on its side and made her a landscape. Just a goof and sure enough without the pressure to be 'good', something interesting took hold. True red, ink black and cerulean blue, together, are an emotional combination of strength and delicacy.


                                                       Streamside Spring wm on Yupo 14x11


 This had only slightly more intention to it. Since returning to my studio, I`m mostly puttering trying to be being patient with my limited stamina.
Because Cascade Head is protected, the streams that flow off it are pristine and lush. By late Spring the vegetation is wild and vigorous. It`s a party and everyone is drunk on sunshine.



                                                          Endless Winter wm on Yupo 10x8


 A representation of the season which will not depart in the NW. Only last Friday did we have a 'once in every 100 years windstorm'. There was also one last Oct.
This is our weather now, completely unpredictable. The Republican Party owns the country since the election and they don`t believe the atmosphere is heating up. Ignoring it is good for profits.
I wouldn`t say this to a young person but I`m losing confidence in my species. It`s becoming clear human beings could lose their purchase upon the earth. We are stupid enough, just think who the most powerful man in the world is.


 As per my Californian birthright, I am driving again!
Even though I love to walk, I do not feel whole and viable without my wheels.
When I was 15 and a half on May 6 exactly, I got my 6 month learning permit. On my birthday November 6 it would expire. If I failed my driving test that day, I would have to start over. Of course I passed! Then promptly got 3 tickets within the first few months. No matter, I was a teenager in Southern California, I took my place on the freeway.
While my legs have been distressed, John has been driving as well as doing Everything else. It has been difficult being so dependent. So when I hobbled into the grocery store with my cane, alone last week, I was triumphant!


                                                              by Howard Hodgkin


 The legendary British painter Howard Hodgkin died last month. By all accounts he was cranky with a conflicted relationship with painting. His passionate paintings often took years to complete but seem executed in minutes. It is a paradox in painting that an appearance of freshness and spontaneity can be so laborious to achieve.
Here is an excellent video of the artist.


It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

Mary Oliver, from an essay in Vox Populi, 'The Artist`s Task'





Monday, April 3, 2017

Hanging Glacier

                                                   Hanging Glacier watercolor on yupo 12x9


 As I ease back into painting, I don`t have an agenda like I usually do. I`ve cancelled everything because my legs are not reliable yet. So floating images from the past are fair game for painting until I`m hiking again and finding new subjects.
 I was in Alaska 17 years ago and saw this glacier high up the mountain where it had seemingly stopped moving. With a southern exposure it was melting fast and throwing off a beautiful waterfall. Later I was in a boat on a lake beneath it, and there were mini-icebergs everywhere. We were told when glaciers calve into fresh water the chunks of ice are called 'growlers'.
 Definitely memorable which is why I`m still painting it.
 I coated the Yupo with a tinted acrylic matte medium first to give the surface just a bit of texture. Something for the watercolor to hold onto and easier to control. Now thats it`s finished I`ll seal it with a spray UV protection acrylic varnish.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Delayed Pollination

                                         Delayed Pollination watermedia on Terraskin 9.5x13.5


 When I came into the studio yesterday for the first time since January, I knew I wanted to paint something yellow, with small, short marks. I was thinking hieroglyphics in orderly rows.
Well nothing is tidy in my world so soon enough the characters started to move. A random dance, like the flight of bees. Something entomological  was going on.
Even though I`ve been indoors for weeks and love the rains of winter, something deep within me was craving light and warmth. To everything there is a season.
It`s been a long difficult winter in the Northwest and people seem tense. For the good of the community, I`m praying for some sunshine.
And hoping beyond hope that I really am on the mend this time. No more surprises!



                                                     Night Pollinators watermedia on paper 8x8


 This drawing from a couple of years ago has the same bumbling, drifting intention.



                                                          watermdeia on paper 12x9


 Another yellow painting, this one from the late 90`s. The work I was doing then attempted to fuse some representational imagery with an abstract sense of space. There were few successes unfortunately.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Five Winter Poplars-update

                                                                       I pad drawing


As much as I love the technology, Procreate and other drawing software is nowhere near the sensual experience of real painting. It lacks the spontaneity and therefore the joy. Yet I`m glad I`ve had something to keep my visual mind active. I`ve learned how extremely complex painting is and how supple and responsive hand-eye coordination can be. I haven`t thought about my own art too much through all of this. Being completely unable to attend to it, it`s been healthier to read about other artists and cultures.
After appointments today with my doctors, I`m getting an idea of what the endgame will be. They are encouraged by the tests and especially by the fact that for being so ill, I`m not sick. In fact personally, the greatest challenge has been psychological. It has felt like a mortal threat at times. Though I remind myself frequently that this is not chemotherapy, not kidney dialysis, that I still do have functioning legs, my rational thinking has been of little use. At least during the setbacks, and there have been a few of those. Disability and dependence have been the terrors, not death.
When I was a young fit runner, I used to joke about having such a strong heart. That in my old age my joints would have long been incapacitated but that I`d be trapped in a wheelchair unable to die. This infection got me much closer to that than I ever want to be. Yet I suspect if truly faced with such a reality, I would want to continue.  
Last November 8, Illinois elected a woman veteran to the US Senate who lost both her legs in the Iraq war. Tammy Duckworth remains and is whole enough to contribute to the civic life of our country. She is not her body. I am not my body.
So I`m sure I`m learning tons of wise stuff, but I don`t ask me what. Vulnerability is scary. A lot of uncomfortable questions about being worthy or good enough arise rather than the simple gratitude kindness deserves. 
There has been an abundance of that, let me tell you. To a person, everyone at Kaiser has been exceptionally encouraging and empathetic. New friends have offered their help open heartedly and older pals have been with me throughout this thing. John and my family have been unshakable. I appreciate every loving comment. Because you took the time to say it. If I`m learning anything, it`s how to be nicer.
Hope to be back in the studio in two weeks, driving in three.
Spring in Oregon will coincide with my returning health, it will be beautiful.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hopeful Color

                                                          November 7 2016 watercolor on Yupo 10x8


 This was the last thing I painted before my surgery in January. It comes from a walk I took the day before the election. The Tualatin River was ablaze with color and I was confident we were about to elect our first female president.

 My other knee is infected and tomorrow I have surgery to clean this one up too. The idea is to make the joint accessible to the antibiotics and protect the prosthesis from infection. That is a serious matter.
 Definitely a setback but I`m managing to be philosophical. Shit happens, its that simple. I have minimal pain and don`t feel sick.
 I will paint again sooner than later, I feel sure.
 Thanks to those that have helped me with this, and to those who wish me well, I appreciate it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reset

                                                       Christmas Snow oil on panel 12x12


 This painting is 2008 I think.
My knee was infected and I now have the project of my life so far. I will be giving myself infusions of IV antibiotics every eight hours through a Pic line in my arm for six weeks.
But at least I`m out of the hospital.
I will pretty much be home for awhile. There is an 'immobilizer' on my left leg to keep it straight but when that comes off in two weeks things will get easier.
I`m kind of weak at the moment but visitors are welcome!