Thursday, August 29, 2013

plein air in the Columbia River Gorge

Here's my pastel plein air set up at the Vista House in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. 

Early in the day it was not too busy at this popular view point and overlook. To stand in the landscape, open to all it has to reveal, is a heady experience. More observation leads to more understanding and that leads to more personal response to the landscape.

To the East, Vista House View, 10 x 10, pastel on paper

As the morning heated up, more people came. In cars and on bikes. In motorhomes and in trucks. Many people took photographs of me painting. Many people wanted to talk to me. As you would suspect, it spoiled my concentration.

Distracted Abstraction, to the East, 8 x 8, pastel on paper

Instead of getting frustrated by that, I decided to just paint an abstraction of the place, plus my feelings about being so distracted by all of the people. 

Vista House, built 1918

If you are interested in seeing more of the Columbia River Gorge area, I recommend the book Wild Beauty: Photography of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867 - 1957.

More about the Vista House here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Courtney, charcoal, 28 x 26
I've known and loved her since she was a little girl. As soon as she started to play the flute, I started to accompany her. She sat as one of my first models when she was just 14.

 Now she is a beautiful young woman, taking on the world in her own way.

Her kindness exceeds her beauty.

And right now she is very ill.

I think about her every day.

And I wish her every good thing. Health. Peace. Restoration.

Soon, when she is well again, we will do the happy dance together. 
In the meantime, blessings to her.

Joan Baez. "Forever Young."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

summer reading

monotype, 8 x 8

I collected many new art books after taking Joseph Mann's painting the figure workshop earlier this month. Now my reading is all about Matisse, Cezanne, Post-Impressionists, Picasso, Leland Bell, and others. 

Here's a portion of my summer reading list. Maybe you will see something that piques your interest!

The Killers "Read My Mind."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

workshop with Joseph Mann

I spent two weeks in an intensive workshop with Joseph Mann, Portland artist and popular teacher at Portland Community College. I never go into a workshop expecting that I will paint a masterpiece, and I did not paint one this time, but I did paint differently and boldly and I learned many things that will work their way into my work in the days and years ahead.

The first week, we painted the figure in the interior. The space, a warehouse in Northwest Portland, was perfect! We all had enough room to spread out and the models had a protected space for their poses.

In the photo at the top of this post, you see how I am trying to fit the elements together like a puzzle where the figure is one piece among many. My head got the concept right away, my hands and eyes had trouble getting it on to the canvas. Line. Value. Color. Shape. Pattern. Shake well ...

Figure drawing is different from figure painting. We had a chance to do both. Since I have drawn figures longer than I have painted figures, I feel much more ease with drawing. The ease I feel translates to fluidity. With time, I hope to create that same energy in my paintings. Practice. Practice. Practice. I get it.

The second week of the workshop was all about painting the figure in the landscape. Take all of the distraction and overwhelming information of plein air painting and add figures into the mix. Easy to find chaos. In the painting above, I used a device from Japanese woodblock prints and put giant leaves in the foreground to give a sense of peering through the screen of foliage to the figures.

Under the shade of leafy trees at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, we were cool in the nearly 90 degree weather. Line. Value. Color. Shape. Pattern. Bugs. Passersby. Lawnmowers. Shake well ...

Speaking of "shake", here's KC and the Sunshine Band singing "Shake, Shake, Shake."