Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Post

8 x 10

I tried to keep the shapes big, the values clear, and not fuss too much with detail in this painting of the refuge. I think that I have spent too much attention to the extreme ends of light and dark values and not enough with the midtones.

Every painting is an opportunity to learn something new. Next time around I will focus more on the midtones and see what happens.

Since it is Halloween after all, here's an interesting scientific discussion about what makes our spines tingle when we are frightened! BOO!

Friday, October 30, 2009

On my honor, I will paint only what I love

8 x 10

Only paint what you love. That will be my new motto. I've tried to paint what others want. What my family wants. What my friends want. What the gallery owners want. The result: bad paintings and a frustrated artist.

But, when I paint what I love, the chances are much better for a good outcome. I feel excited and curious about exploring my subject. The light intrigues. The colors sing. I feel right. Intense and focused and present.

Here, again at the wildlife refuge, hearing the sandhill cranes trilling, the geese gossiping, and the mallards chuckling because they always get the joke. Yes, here I am happy. I love this place.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This morning, as I got ready for my morning meeting of the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters, I packed a few extra supplies. You can see them in the lower photograph. Drawing board. Box with various papers. Box with drawing implements. Long black haired wig. Witch's hat. I had an idea, a surprise for my group.

I am grateful to all of the good sports in our group. I suggested that we could take turns modeling and drawing one another as witches. All in good Halloween fun. We laughed a lot. I practiced looking wicked, but only managed to look mischievous. Sigh. You can see many of the results in the top photo. Click on the image to see an enlarged view.

Speaking of witches, that reminds me of the iconic Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West from "The Wizard of Oz." Any other fans out there?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October Sky

As the morning passed, the sun strengthened and broke through the fog. The air was still wet and the surfaces of every blade of grass and leaf glistened in the sporadic sun breaks.

The golden trees lit the scene like torches.

(Click images to enlarge.)

10 x 12
under painting

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Foggy Refuge

This morning it was cool and damp. The fog clung to the hills like wet towels. My favorite wildlife refuge was covered in gray and the sound of the train going past was muffled by the moisture.

While talking art with a dear watercolor artist friend today, I promised that I would show the under painting of this piece. Missing the gum arabic, the pigments in dispersion I use function just like watercolor without filling the tooth of my sanded paper surface. I paint vertically with a large round brush and let the drips happen as they will. I really love that part of the painting process!

Here and there in the finished painting, the under painting peeks through, getting a word in edgewise.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Days End

18 x 24
pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I've spent a lot of time this month in cemeteries. I like them! I like their quiet dignity. I like the history I can deduce from the stones. I like the feeling of life and death in a cemetery. Here are a few of my views on what I saw at the Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland and at the Lewisville Cemetery in Battle Ground Washington.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Days End

9 x 12

A sweet remembrance of the warmth of the sun on the watery day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A gray day and a red boat

Yale Sail
12 x 16

A grayish day and the brightest thing around was the red sailboat on Yale Lake. The sun was hidden behind a veil of clouds, sometimes bright, sometimes dim, but always diffused. Challenging conditions to paint.

The more I paint, though, the more I think that all conditions are challenging to paint. That's the joy and the problem of painting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soft Light

18 x 24

Started on site at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, then finished today in the studio. I felt like I had a chance to pay close attention to the effect of backlit trees and watery reflections. Not sure that I captured all of the nuances of the scene, but some of the soft feeling is there and I'm happy with that.

After I finished, I wondered if I wasn't thinking of Wolf Kahn just a bit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wildlife Refuge Wetlands

8 x 10

The Sandhill Cranes are at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge now!

Despite the cool wind and clouds, I drove there in a convertible so that I could hear, see, feel the sacredness of that place!

I heard the cranes before I saw them (click here to listen), but at a certain moment it seemed that it was time to fly off to a progressive dinner on Sauvie Island. Do people still do progressive dinners?

The painting turned out a little darker than I first envisioned, but the cloud cover added to the darkness (and coolness) of the day.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, any day spent painting is a good day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The meaning that you attach to a subject all depends on your past experiences with it.

To me, an especially meaningful subject.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Painting from a 5-value sketch

I was curious to see if I could paint from one of the five-value sketches I worked on last month. Here's my first attempt. I stayed close to the values that I set out in the sketch and was pleased with results.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Westmoreland Park plein air

18 x 24

under painting

It was a beautiful fall day today at Westmoreland Park in Southeast Portland. I painted en plein air with a friend and we were drawn to the trees along the waterway. The play of light and shadow and the expressive twists of the trunk and branches drew us to them like magnets to paper clips.

Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too windy. Not too many people. Beautiful light. A good friend. And a day to paint outdoors.

I think I was channeling van Gogh today. All of that rich color and texture seemed to call for that kind of response from me.

Life is good!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Orcas Island Fog

Orcas Island Fog
18 x 24

Under painting

Practice, practice, practice.

You can see how the under painting provides a structure for the pastels on top.

I might re-title this to "Cat Feet" but only those who read Carl Sandburg will understand the reference. What do you think?

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

--- Carl Sandburg, "Fog" 1916

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Textures of Wetlands

Tidal Wetlands
8 x 10 on Wallis Sanded Paper

I feel awkward as I try to figure out how to use my all-new pastels with Guerra pigment underpaintings. My old pastels were familiar, like a favorite sweater. I knew exactly what I could put under to make it look a certain way, and what would look good over it, too. You know what I mean.

But these new pastels are like new clothes. Stiff and unfamiliar still. Time will help. Time and lots of practice.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bishop Creek Cellars

Back row: Eileen Nelson, Celeste Bergin, me, Kitty Wallis
Front row: Marge Rood, Carrie Holst, Mary Luzinski

Paintings by Celeste Bergin, Mary Luzinski, me

It was a beautiful night at Bishop Creek Cellars in Newberg, Oregon. The guitar played softly while groups of people came in to look at the art, meet the artists, and sample the delicious wine. You can see part of the artist group that comprises "Eight+" in the top photo.

Thanks to friends and family who came to the reception. You encourage us more than you know.

The show will hang for the month of October, so if you missed the reception, you can still see the work and taste the wine. You'll enjoy the drive, the town, the wine, and the art.