Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm trying.

I'm always keepin' it real in the studio, even to the extent of posing a frosty brew on my slick table. I'm slowly refining my support making technique. Viva cheap trigger-clamps from Harbor Freight!

It's always nice to speed up the craft part to get to the art. Yes, arts and crafts!

Look forward to our new show coming up at Gallery 114 in February, where you'll barely recognize some of this work ...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

show prep

the gang gathered tonight to get ready for our exhibition that opens friday night. the warehouse we are in is a wonderful building in the nw industrial area of portland. close enough to be convenient (just a couple blocks west of montgomery park) but far enough to be outside of the northwest congestion.

no art hanging would be complete without a few beers. kurt gets serious about the alignment of kate's paintings.

kurt, kirsten, and steff collaborate on the exact positioning of steff's small photograph.

kurt gives the go-ahead to kate and steff.

it has turned out to be a very handsome show, in a terrific setting. i can't wait to see the tree lit up and the steam trains running on friday night. last year an estimated 500 people attended the event, and we may top that this year. it should be a lot of fun.
the details of the show are:
5:30-8:00 friday night, december 3rd, at the Staver Locomotive warehouse at 2537 nw 29th. there will be live music, small scale steam trains running all over the warehouse, a raffle, and our art.

Monday, November 8, 2010

back in the studio

funny how i forget everything i was going to write as soon as i sit down to the computer.

so i'm getting ready for the next show with my five fellow organ players and storytellers, which is december 3-4-5, by the way, and i have moved back into my studio as of last week. i am thrilled to have a space where i can paint some large canvases again. painting plein air is a blast, but it's tough to do these big ones out there, and of course the fall weather is less than ideal.

today was great. i stretched then touched up a big painting (56" x 48") that i started last week, and worked on a new one as well (54 x 45).

i like how the paintings go through a metamorphosis. first the unstretched painting which tends to look a little rough. then, after determining the edges of the image and stretching it, it looks very different to me. more complete. then adding a frame at the end really does change the appearance one more time. it takes this messy sprawling thing and says "it's right there". it goes from here, to there, and that's it.

painting while the canvas is unstretched gives me some freedom to expand or contract the image while it's under way. i also like to show some of the peripheral marks (drips, splatters, or thin underpainting) along the edges, in the final presentation, as a sort of peek behind the curtain. those marks are an intimate look at the raw material and the process.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

cold stressin'

I suppose bloggers should be people who like to talk about themselves. I'm not that way. Tried to post some real thoughts the other night, but blogger wouldn't let me log in. So instead of stepping over to my secret stash of passwords, I gave up. Too much to do these days, so I must sit when I can ...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm lame to make you click more, but instead of posting a link, I'll ask you to google Justin Bieber 800% Slower, and listen to the MP3. It's on Soundcloud. Though over 30 minutes long, you'll be glad for no matter how much you hear, it's pretty cool.

I think I've finally made it to the Bridge just now.

Anyway, me and the missus have been working hard on the basement, of which a portion is dedicated to my art. Though we won't be 'finishing' it any time soon, we are making it the type of functional we need, and I'm thrilled.

I've started two new pieces in anticipation for 2 upcoming OPST shows, and will be kicking down a pair to the PoBoy Art Scorpio Show in November, about which I will inform you ASAP.

Just take it day-by-day, and be the best person you can be each day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

productivity and momentum

after a period of slumber, i have had two of the most productive weeks of the year. two weeks ago today, stuck without my painting kit, i bought a canvas and a tube of white and a tube of black from my pals at utrecht and went out to sauvie island. ever since i read about dekooning using black and white house paints (because he was broke) i have wanted to try that in a plein air environment. it was as i had expected; tough to express the greens, reds, ochres, and blues with just two
tones. impossible to describe cool and warm. it was all about composition and texture. a fun exercise and something i will do again. i learned from the experience. had to do more with less, which is something i strive to do anyway (and usually end up pulling every tube out of the carrier).

all the while i am also playing with painting on my iphone. it has become my new coffee shop past time.

say what you will about this, i know many painters poo poo it, but i think it's every bit as informative as sketching. i have already converted two of these small sketches into paintings,
one of which isn't half bad. pictured here is a view out the window of the coffee shop in oceanside.

last week i read about an artist using walnut stain, and that sparked an idea to use various shades of wood stain on a plein air piece. i bought three colors, a golden oak, deep red cherry, and dark ebony. i worked on three small (24 x 24) panels last week, and four more panels today. all were done out on sauvie island.

like the black and white piece, i find it good to limit my material choices. again, i have no way of defining warm and cool (only warm and warmer), and everything is in a tone of red or yellow. the first week i introduced some white chalk to provide some additional contrast. this week i brought the spray paint with me, which was fun.

the spray paint and the stain really don't play well together, but that's part of the fun. of the four today, i think there are two with potential. i'm still figuring out what to do with this medium, and really these are just experiments in how the materials react. i have done some drawing (either with a fine brush or a "stain pen" (from home depot, used to fill scratches in furniture) and some big abstract washes. in all the material is more workable than i first thought. i figured i would have big ambiguous puddles of red and black, but really it's not unlike painting with watercolor.
for some reason i keep thinking the "puddles of abstraction" will be the more exciting pictures, but so far each trip has included those as well as a couple of more traditional representative experiments which have been the more interesting pieces.

Monday, September 27, 2010

i don't have a problem...

someone said "art is what sells, everything else is a storage problem".

admitting you have a problem is the first step toward healing.

me? i don't have a problem.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

palette as painting

maybe it's just a reflection of the quality of my last couple of paintings, but i actually like this canvas that i used as a palette more than the painting it was used for. it has a fresh and modern look, whereas the painting had a stuffy, overworked appearance.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back home

Hey blogger pals,
I am back from 2 weeks in beautiful Oregon, a much needed rest, time to look. I thought a lot about space and how to find it in life. I have been visualizing a daily calendar where the the block of time for painting is the biggest block, well, at least bigger than it has been.

Here are some things I saw while I was away....

I have been reading Resistance and Persistence by Sean Sculley. He says "I was always looking at the horizon line, at the way the end of the sea touches the beginnings of the sky, the way the sky presses down on to the sea, the way that line is painted...I think of land, sea, sky and they make a massive connection. I try to paint this...coming together of land and sea, sky and land. Stacked in horizon lines endlessly beginning and ending, the way the blocks of the world hug each other and brush up against each other, their weight, their air, their colour and the soft uncertain space between them."

When I was young and I drew pictures, there was always a gap between the land and the sky. The sky was at the top of the page and the land at the bottom. I wonder now, what was that mysterious space in between?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

first exhibition

the organ players unleash themselves on portland!

thanks to the generous folks at Cascade Aids Project, who have dedicated their comfortable and welcoming PIVOT space (formerly Mens Wellness Center) to our group, we have hung our first exhibition since our inception.

i love seeing our work together, and seeing threads of commonality in the pieces. it doesn't matter that some of us play organs and some tell stories, or that some work figuratively, or representationally, or abstract - there is something about the pieces that relate. at the core, we all love marks. gestural marks. and simplification and reduction.

i also like showing pieces in a space that resembles a real human space, like a living room. we were going to put labels on the wall next to the pieces, and it just looked ridiculous; completely destroyed the experience of just being with the art.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Some day, some day.

I wonder how many other abstract painters consistently have a 'dump' painting going on. A painting that doesn't work, and you keep trying to save it, and ultimately just start trying whatever-the-hell, truly whacked out ideas, just to see if something sticks. Ultimately, the painting looks truly horrible, but maybe an interesting direction comes from it.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Getting new work ready for Thursday August 5th reminds me of the Inertia Twins who follow me around at such times. As the date nears parallel paths of slacking and activity race onward, finding me sweating with the effort of not doing anything up until a couple of nights before when I then have to do everything all at once.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

jerry, the colonel, and me

i went out to sauvie island to paint on monday, with my pal jerry. we pulled the colonel up onto this grassy knoll, one of my favorite spots, and i worked on a couple of canvases, one large and one medium sized, while jerry continued his study of watercolor, which he is trying to master before a coming vacation in which he wants to paint with the most travel friendly of media. the morning was gray, and even drizzled a bit on the way out, but after lunch the sun broke through and the skies were blue.

this was my second large scale canvas in the past couple of weeks, and while i don't think this one was as successful as the last, still, it is so much more appropriate for me to work in this scale. at least it is much more fun.

after a couple of hours of painting we ran into our friends jane and catherine, who had been painting up the road a bit under a grove of giant oak trees. small world; but then, it's not so strange to come across a fellow plein air painter on sauvie island in the summer. it is, after all, about the most beautiful place on earth.

that's jerry there, manning his water color station. we were on opposite sides of the colonel, jerry facing east overlooking a pond, sweeping fields, and a small clump of evergreens. i was looking west over an inlet the name of which i am too lazy to look up, on oak island. at lunch we sat and watched osprey dive for fish in jerry's pond. we drank beers and shared our thoughts about art and life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

nature is my studio

over the last several months i have focused my attention on drawing and a very few very small paintings, due to a change in my environment. ordinarily i prefer to paint pretty large format pictures, three to four feet in any one direction. yesterday i had a few hours free and hauled my gear to the backyard and laid a large piece of canvas on the ground and went to town. this is about three feet by four feet; not huge, but it felt so after the little eight inch pieces i've been painting lately.

it felt good to use my whole body to paint again; to walk around a canvas, to reach far across it to the other side with a long dripping brush in my hand, to kick some dirt on it, to have ants walk across it, to squeeze liberal amounts of paint onto it from the tube and then smash the paint around to mix it with the other colors. it is a process that simply can not be replicated on a small scale.
i wasn't sure what this first, large painting would look like after my self imposed hiatus. my drawing, and even my small paintings employ much more structure and representational marks than my typical large scale paintings do, and i thought that maybe this would influence what came out, but it didn't. it's not uncommon for me to start with one thing in mind and finish with something completely different. the process takes over and one mark influences the next. this painting is evidence of that.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

inside looking out

i am at the beach, sitting by the fire with four of my friends. it is raining & i am reading a book, "color", a history of the palette. and taking photos through window glass and drink glass, and daydreaming of about blood beetles and lapis stones.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Save The Date!

Organ Players and Storytellers will be exhibiting at the Cascade Aids Project's Men's Wellness Center in August. (OK, don't save the date yet, since I'm too lazy to look up what date First Thursday falls on in August.)

You should come! I plan on debuting no less than three new pieces of work. Or will I? Will the battle between my rehabilitating-the-basement project (wherein lies my art 'studio') and actually finishing some artwork claim me as a victim?

Is this:

More important than crafting a painting. Yes and no. One thing's for sure, getting down to the nitty gritty in the basement has given me a new level of intimacy with my house. Terrifying intimacy.

Nothing says terror better than an unidentified pod in the basement.

Monday, May 17, 2010

back in the saddle

the last two mondays have offered a couple of hours where i could get away and paint. it has been ages since i have painted, and while it felt good - from the preparation of packing up my gear and loading up the van with paints and canvas to the actual process of making a picture - it also felt awkward. like seeing your summer friends after a year at school. i felt like the canvas and i were strangers. my lines were timid, and my colors amateurish. i think i may have forgotten how to paint, as i had feared.

i have been thinking about painting for months and months, and envisioning this day when i would get back on the horse and how triumphant the occassion would be. how great the paintings would be after months of fasting. my brain, scrubbed clean of the cobwebs that had developed over time, would be fresh and lucid for the creation of new canvases that would encompass all of the theories i have about the new modern painting. that is what i thought, but actually like an injured athlete fresh out of a cast, my first steps have been painful and slow. i am barely walking, much less running and jumping over hurdles. i feel like i am making mistakes and paintings that i made several years ago. my brain has gone to mush, even after all of the introspection.

i can only hope that these are simply the first unsure steps on newly mended legs. i heard an interview the other day of a business leader who said "if you want GOOD ideas, you need a LOT of ideas". i think right now i need a lot of paintings.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

forward thinking

i painted this as the spring colors were just pushing forward, and before the maples outside my studio had come out, and now, today, every window is framed in green.

Friday, April 30, 2010

From The Colonel

The Colonel is the name of my vw van (long story). Any way, the Colonel is also my studio away from studio. I often sneak away in it, park next to a park, and sketch. It provides a nice sanctuary from the crazy world, and the windows create automatic compositions for me. The sketching process forces me to focus my consciousness and helps calm my mind. It's a process that's more about the process than the output.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We Want Content!

Promoting my work is the 'grind it out' part of the art business - something I can hardly think of doing. Like I want to post something on Facebook, and I'm like, "but that will mean I have to FIND A PHOTO and then EDIT IT in Photoshop. Oh No, 5 minutes of work (hopefully). Maybe I should just be better organized. It's always been my dream to spend a few evenings shifting around and retitling digital files!

I am now slowly working on the basement studio/playroom/laundryroom/wrappingstation/storagearea, so maybe I'll post pictures of that sometime soon. Yeah, right!

Friday, April 16, 2010

on the road

just getting back to home and all that THAT entails after 30 plus days on the road, living out of a suitcase and jumbled bags of stuff strew everywhere.
joshua tree and ojai, these are the places i want to revisit. california has its problems---rich and poor stand out in stark relief in cities like santa barbara, where there are beaches you have to pay to get onto. 10 dollars to stick your feet in the sand and who does that hurt? not the rich guys next door who own their own piece of the coast.
colors are banging around vying for attention, accumulated and not recorded.
i have to get back to the studio.
how are you all?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

News and Notes

Yeah, whatever. The worst thing about blogging is coming up with titles for entries.

Working has been sporadic lately. Those two weeks of the flu didn't help. I've been getting confused again between the work and commerce. Having no income will do that to you.

I'm happy to be donating a piece to the CAP art auction again this year. Lately this auction has been my only venue for showing. Hope to begin changing that with my compatriots here playing organs and telling stories.

Also, finally have some affordable art up for sale at (Some new stuff, some old stuff.) I'd love it if you stopped by to take a look!

Dahlke Art

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What the world gives us

About this time every year I head to Art Media and buy myself a tube of cadmium green light. I think, this is a new color for me. I bet no one is using cadmium green light these days. What an unusual color choice. At some point I wake up and look around and see the whole world is cadmium green light. It's exploding overnight, everywhere. And better then what's in my tube.

It's the amazing gift of a visual life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

i forgot to forget

Eight days ago we moved the last of our belongings out of our house, which now sits with no plaster on the walls and only dust and rubble on the floors. Missing windows allow the cool morning breeze to blow through and the sound of traffic to interfere with our conversation. Everything has moved to my former studio, which is a disconnected basement of the remodel project above, a storage unit, or the dark windowless crawl space below the studio. It’s the crawl space where all of my art supplies lay. Only a couple of sketchpads and Ticonderoga Number Two’s made it to the new dwelling. When spring brings fairer weather the great outdoors will become my painting studio.

It’s strange not painting. I guess the change of medium is good for me, but drawing just doesn’t give the satisfaction I get from splashing paint around. I’m such a messy painter. Making lines just isn’t the same. What if I forget how to paint? I remember after graduating from art school thinking that. If I didn’t keep painting constantly, maybe I would forget. I felt like the ability to paint was tenuous, and just barely remembered between sessions, as though the time between painting was like a battery slowing losing its charge. If that time went too long the battery would drain completely and I’d be left without the ability to start up again. I remember telling this to another artist and he said he thought it would be good to forget how to paint. His comment befuddled me, and I assumed that he was just so much more experienced than me that what he really meant was that he knew he wouldn’t completely forget, that by “forgetting” he really just meant that he thought it would be good to shed his skin a bit and try something new. He knew that his ability was on a strong foundation and not in danger of disappearing completely.

It has been a month since I last painted. My fears of forgetting how from several years ago are no longer there, but I do miss it. When I do begin to paint again, when the materials are brought out of their dark storage and dusted off, I will face another change. I have no space to store any new paintings. The storage units are stuffed full. The walls are covered. I will have to paint small and maybe on paper to minimize the impact on space. Maybe I’ll paint disposable paintings. I don’t know. I need the magic disappearing ink so that each day the paper will be white again. Whatever I do it will be different and challenging. No more huge canvases with broad gestures. I will have to miniaturize the experience. Gulliver with a paint brush. What will that be like? What will I remember and what will be new?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


One of those nights where I don't know if anything I did worked, but I'm sure some of it was a detriment, and plenty was sh*t. Still, it was fun. My stomach-bug induced hops-aversion is gone, which helps. LCD Soundsystem, Stereolab and good reggae on the iPod. Then I got to the last horrible painting. I guess I'm painting a daisy. Oh well.

I'll post some pics someday maybe.
Recently, I only seem to work either really small or too big (too big for my budget, paint ain't cheap). This painting is 5 x 7. I have never outgrown a fascination for the depth you can create on a tiny 2 dimensional plane. I am the tortoise and not the hare, making variations on this over and over. This is how the estuary at Gearhardt felt this winter, but it's really a tiny bit of paper. Amazing. To me. My needs are simple.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sick Time

Still working on not letting the world come to a grinding halt when my kid is sick. Now that the wife is sick too, it's more tricky.
It occurs to me that I have seven days to finish my piece to submit to the CAP Art Auction (and six other pieces +/- for other calls). Yep, creating work specifically to donate to an auction - but it's always a good time, and whenever I put my art out there, I want to put my best foot forward.

But I suppose there's vomit to clean up somewhere ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interesting dynamic (wait, that sounds boring)

Since I've actually been working a bit I've noticed some things. I guess it's good to actually look at how you work and think about it. Lord knows I'm on some form of auto-pilot most of the time, considering the number of times I've noticed I'm driving the wrong direction out of habit for going somewhere else.

* I'll always go with an intriguing tangent, even if it derails what I intended to do with a painting.
* That's why I feel like I don't stick with things long enough - half the time I'll start a body of work, and change the direction a few times while working on it.
* To this end, it seems like ideas I want to explore get dropped and forgotten frequently.

Anyway, I have a new piece with a figure/ ground relationship, that's something I haven't exactly done in a few years. Yipee!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't get too

Guess I'm thinking about pushing things or getting into refinement. Even though I'm kind of stuck on a medium, I've changed things every series of work. I feel like I abandon stuff before I actually get good at it, but that's ...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Just Checking In

I guess we've all been playing our organs rather than telling any stories (rim-shot). Oh yes, and the holiday season blew on through.

But ... the Monday after New Year's Day, I've been down in the basement cradling up two new panels to answer a pair of calls for art. Due at the end of the month, so I have to get cracking. An ill-guarded secret in the world of 'artists' is that many of us work much better under pressure. That is, if we have a show coming up or some other need to produce work, it's a real good motivator, otherwise, many of us might just think about working a lot, and bitch about finding the time.

And then there's Dave Trowbridge, but he's kind of an exception.