Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matters of Scale

                                                       River Shore watermedia on Yupo 6x20

 Could you imagine this watercolor 10 feet long? Would that be interesting or too loud? The issue of how large my paintings should be has plagued me since I was young. I`ve tried hard to have a career with integrity yet this one issue has compromised my practice since early on. Practical concerns have mostly won out. Like many young people I moved more often than was desirable and the transportation and storage of big paintings was always a problem. I wanted to work large but they didn`t sell very well. The impulse to do them wasn`t pure either. Was I just clamoring for attention with their scale? Was that OK? There are so many logistical matters to think about in the life of a painter! Do they give the students any help with this in art school? Because I didn`t go, I`ve had to figure out most everything myself. In several periods of my career I just said to hell with it, I`m going to go big. Some of those 30 year old paintings are stacked fifteen feet away from where I`m sitting now writing this. The inability to find homes for the large canvases would then cause an over-correction. Nothing that isn`t comfortable to carry. Or later, nothing that won`t fit in my car. Then the pressure builds again and I have a new brood of bigguns. Now I have a bigger car too! One might think the answer is within me but it`s not! Not yet anyway. This isn`t a fatal dilemma, I`m not tortured by it. The primary thing is I`ve painted consistently for forty years.
Though my studio is large, the ceiling is low. There is a real limit to what I can get past my stairwell. And as I`ve gotten older, it`s certainly easier to manage the moderately scaled pieces. Sometimes I think I could be happy painting tiny botanical studies at a desk and at other times I want to do 20 foot long watercolor scrolls. So on it goes, round and round.
Maybe it`s mature to be practical, I greatly admire Thomas Nozkowski, and all of his stuff would fit on my back seat.

The painting above comes from a small patch of grasses and trees along the Tualatin River backed by a steep hill. It`s in a park in West Linn, close to the baseball diamond and is just spectacular to me. Somehow the light on this spot is always dramatic. The paintings below all derive from this same magical corner on the river;

                                                               Riverlight Study wm 12x9

                                                           Riverbank Study 2 wm 14x11

                                                                 Riverlight 1 oil 20x20

                                                                  Riverlight 2 oil 20x20

                                                             Riverbank Study wm 14x11

Hugh Hefner

 Allow me some words of gratitude for the life of Hugh Hefner.
I`m a feminist, I understand the arguments and controversies his life and business provoked. And I`ve always found him creepy. But he did the world a great favor in his effort to legitimize sexual desire. The Playboy 'sex friendly' attitude helped liberate a lot of compressed and suppressed feelings about sex. In doing this, I believe he helped women have more understanding and control of their choices and roles in life. He and the advice columnist Ann Landers were also among the first public figures to say the obvious; homosexuals people are born and part of nature. I appreciate that.

 Now for some pure bragging. Watch my tremendously gifted cousin, Anya Cloud, in some contact improvisation here, with the great dancer Matan Levkowich. Exquisitely beautiful.

                                                                       Prince Harry

 I used to rail against the idea of monarchy. The notion of superiority by birthright was deeply offensive, undemocratic and racist! 
I hadn`t done my research. 
When I read of Queen Elizabeth`s active role in WW2, my beliefs began to shift. Now I understand the British monarchy at least, to be an example of moral courage, a model of service to the common good and boosters of the best Britain has to offer the world. Look through these pictures of Prince Harry at the Invictus Games. What a lovely humane young man! 
We used to have such a leader too.

 OK, my big Pinterest discovery is Heli Huotala, a Finn of great sensitivity to nature and of the properties of paint. I could live in one of her paintings.

                                                                  Heli Huotala

                                                                    Heli Huotala

                                                                  Heli Huotala

She is doing everything I hope to do.

                                                                High Summer-Sauvie Island

 My watercolor demo from two weeks ago on the coast turned into an oil painting. Things change!

 Last week to see my show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach OR!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Travlin Randy

                                     High Summer/Sauvie Island watercolor on Yupo 20x20

 I`ve been to East, I`ve been to the West.
John and I finally made our trip to the Painted Hills, a unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I have wanted to see this marvel for many of the 25 years I`ve been here. Maybe having come from New Mexico, I had had enough of an arid geology. I was more than ready now and they were worth waiting for. Eastern Oregon is remote, expansive, extremely beautiful and mostly unsung. We stayed at the Painted Hills Vacation Rentals which was an Oasis hanging on the side of a canyon above the town of Mitchell.

 There are three cottages one of them quite large. They hosted 42 astronomers during the total eclipse of the sun last month and it was quite a party. The complex itself is a work of art. Bright cheerful colors everywhere in the jungle of trees and flowers.

Mitchell itself looks like an old west mining town whose glory has passed. But rebuilding is in process and the town has three restaurants!

 The last smoke from Oregon`s terrible forest fires still hung in the air when we saw the Hills. Still awesome but subdued in the haze. We knew that rain was coming and the next day we woke to dazzling weather.

The Sheep Rock Unit 40 miles away was our next destination. The colors and formations were impressive and even the dried grasses and weeds had a pristine beauty. Pinkish grass against turquoise cliffs was a color combo I had never seen before. The sweet John Day River was a bonus.
Such an utter opposite to the rainforests where I live and only 4 hours from Portland!
Yes I painted;

                                                             watercolor on Yupo 12x9

                                                              watercolor on paper 8x8

                                                               watermedia on Yupo 8x8

 I went to the coast next to do a demonstration at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach where my show is in process;

Nice low key event, and I wasn`t nervous at all this time. The painting at the top of the post is the demo and it was created from a 20 year old drawing.
We stayed in an old three bedroom house near the estuary and very close to downtown for only $100 a night! [Seasense-503 781 8886]

 The next morning we spent at Hug Point. It was low tide and the caves were accessible.

 Two great weekends in Oregon. Didn`t break the bank and they left me feeling lucky.

Friday, September 15, 2017

MMIW2 abd White Bird Show-Cannon Beach

                                                 My Marsh in Winter 2 oil on canvas 18x36

 My current exhibition at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach Oregon can be previewed here.
 It only took 25 years but I`m soon to see for myself the splendid Painted Hills and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The weather is predicted to be partly raining which should highlight the colors beautifully.
 Here is an aerial view of the hills;

This is going to be fun! I`m taking my paints.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Summer on Location

                                                 Across the River 1 watercolor on Yupo 14x11

 The Clackamas River to be precise. My plein air group met at its confluence with the Willamette River on a lovely, sunny morning. Every single time we`re out in the field, it feels like it would be quite enough to just sit there in the breeze.
Our true mission soon becomes clear and we bring out the gear. Every painter will say, time can get suspended while working. It`s just as true outdoors. I always feel like I witnessed summer. On its terms. Slowly, like when we were kids.

                                                    Across the River 2 watermedia on Yupo 14x11

 The next week we painted on the shore of the Tualatin River. There was a swirling vortex of algae or some other water vegetation that never moved on downstream. It was mesmerizing watching the spiral turn. The water was a deep, clean color and the grasses and trees across the water were thriving. Another beautiful experience, just sitting there with my watercolors.

                                                    Out to the Meadow watermedia on Yupo 14x11

 This I did from memory in my studio. It was easy to picture as I walk along this edge of Bryant Woods all the time. The oaks that border the meadow have such intricate branches framing the view. In late summer the grasses are golden and the mosses are dormant until the rains return and revive the landscape.
Like most of my stuff on Yupo, this began as a watercolor but I eventually had to finish it with acrylic. The speckles came from spraying water on the paint to re-emulsify the paint. Rather than blend them in, I left them because they seemed to add to the ornate quality of the trees.

 As most of you know, this has been our reality in the Pacific Northwest for weeks now. The flames haven`t been visible from Portland but the smoke has been heavy and sometimes choking. I`ve heard the the fire is so hot, trees are exploding.
 The Columbia River Gorge is where we go to recreate and restore our psyches. The immense beauty was always a reminder to our better selves of proper priorities and often a remedy for personal griefs.
With the southeast US inundated with flooding from the hurricanes and Mexico recovering from the largest earthquake in a hundred years, North American is on the ropes.

Included in my show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach;

                                                     Autumn Slough oil on canvas 50x40

                                                         November Morning oil on panel 26x24

                                                   Wet Snow on the Marsh oil on panel 26x24

                                                                 Randall circa 1958