Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We got our scanner working again and found this drawing hanging around the studio. I have been working in charcoal again. Mostly abstract, but sometimes it is so sweet to just sit and draw something.

Looking forward to seeing you all and feeling thankful to have you all and to be a part of this creative process. Cheers!

Friday, November 22, 2013

done procrastinating

well, ok.  so i worked on a couple of frames this morning.  i donate a painting to work every christmas for an auction they do to raise money for charity, so that painting needed a frame.  then i have the CAP auction deadline, so that one needs a frame too.  then i did the laundry.  then i fiddled with the car to try to fix my wobbly steering.  i made a list of things to do today and checked off the things i had already done.  i talked to a friend on the phone for 18 minutes. 

i did all kinds of stuff to avoid this:

this is a painting from last friday.  i started it two weeks ago, but today i was faced with this... thing.  ugh.  where to go?...  it's big, too.  don't know if you can tell from this photo.  it's about five feet tall.  i don't know, but that just makes it all the more intimidating.

so, procrastination be damned.  nothing to it but to do it, right?  i mean, i am a PAINTER dammit.

so here are the marks i made today.  i had to move past that "central hub" motif i had going on.  it was choking the painting and choking me.  i think it's a better painting today than before, but only time will tell me what to do next. for now i'll just let it ferment a while.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Put some work up this weekend with my dear friend Paul Wrench. Just a few pieces, but nice to have some work out in public. Had some piano music to boot!

It does make a difference to get work out of the studio and to have others respond. Thanks Steff for looking at a piece I was stuck on, you're observations are always insightful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


another phone sketch, while sitting in the car with the cats while Karin shopped. I do love the accessibility of this medium. whatever gets you making marks, right?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hello Friends! I am trying not to let the other parts of my life push out the visual part. I have been in the studio again, but this time of year I find the rich colors and world outside competes with my studio time.

I miss all of you and am going to insist we find a gathering before the year ends, and a show in 2014. I am going to return to posting once per week! Dave, thanks fro keeping us alive!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

little drawing

trying to draw every day on the smartphone. is good exercise. challenged to make "my" marks with something other than paint.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

late summer

just checking in. summer is winding down and i am back in the studio. the best few weeks in years. just enjoying the act of painting and not worrying about the outcome.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

a man and his monkey

This is the story of a man and a monkey.

There was a man who had a monkey whom he kept in a cage, mostly.  No one ever knew the man had the monkey.  The monkey was quiet and happy most of the time, and didn’t mind being in the cage at all.

The man was an artist.

One day the man prepared his studio to begin a new painting.  He laid out his paints and brushes and pinned some loose canvas on the wall, as was his custom.  Then he un-caged the monkey and set him amongst the painting materials.  The monkey took right to it.  He had a grand time splashing and smearing paint all over the canvas.  He made quite a mess.  After an hour or so the monkey seemed to lose interest, and so the man cleaned him up and returned him to his cage.

Several days later, after the paint had dried, the man took the canvas off the wall and measured it and built a stretcher for it.  After stretching the canvas the man built a nice frame for it as well.  The man signed the painting.  Then he filled his pipe with tobacco and sat and had a nice long smoke.

Friday, July 26, 2013

i'm not here

further studies in not studying.  spontaneous, rapid-fire, meat-fisted.  organized chaos.  cat herding.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

the paintings in my head

Like the painters who haunt my studio and tap my shoulder while I’m working, there are generally one or two paintings in my head as well.  They come in, unsolicited, as I start to assess solutions to the problems I'm facing.  They are the solutions other artists have found.  They are “moves” that I have subconsciously stored away, knowing that I would need to steal them one day.
As soon as I started my latest commission to paint a scene of a lake and distant mountain, I saw it like a stage set, with the lake itself being the stage and the mountain as the backdrop.  On either side were “curtains” of trees, boathouse, and dock, and in front was an iris garden / orchestra pit.   

I have no doubt that Michael Brophy’s tree & curtain paintings influenced that thought. 

 Tree Curtain, Michael Brophy
 New Future of Oregon Forests, Michael Brophy

Two other paintings that are influencing my latest project are The Grid and Orchestra by Raoul Dufy.  I think he always saw the world as a stage.

The Grid, Raoul Dufy

Orchestra, Raoul Dufy

Sometimes these memories intrude on and overtake the work, and sometimes they more appropriately just inform it. 

Friday, June 7, 2013


started work on a commission today.  still very early in the process, but so far i'm sticking to my early sketches in which i conceived a composition like a stage and curtains.

not completely happy with my choice of orange under-painting, however i think it will be good once i cover more of it and allow only traces to peek through.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

it has been too long and many thursdays have come and gone.
my excuse: the sun, the studio and renewal of sorts.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Sometimes you think you're doing something exciting and new, only to realize that what you've painted looks like a shower curtain.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Matter doesn't matter

I read in a brand management book that a company (andtherefore I hypothesized a painter) should answer these three questions: What do you do?  Why doyou do it? And Why does it matter?

I figured that was a good exercise for constructing anartist statement.

I struggle with parts two and three exponentially.

Even part one can be tricky. I mean, I make pictures.  I make pictures of nature.  I paint. They all seem at once glib and limiting, however true.

After fueling my creativity and stewing over these ideasearly this afternoon, I thought to myself, well, do I really NEED to answer these? I mean, who cares?  Why don’t Ijust paint (part one) and have fun (part two) and leave part three to thecritics and historians and collectors. Hell, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I worry too much about the “matter” part.

Further back in my mind is an email exchange that I had sometime ago with a nice rep from Gamblin.  Ihad painted some pieces on plywood and was asking about their future stabilityand whether my work would eventually fall prey to various and sundrydeteriorative effects, and whether Gamblin had products that would waylay thatrot.  He said, in essence:  “don’t worry about it.  You are an artist, and you should CREATE –let the future generations of archivists and conservationists worry about howto preserve the thing that you made using the materials that you felt compelledto use to express your intent.” 

And so today I painted this. My God, what a thing.  It is allspray paint and wet goopy acrylic and poured and splashed and smooshed and …man it was fun!  Can I just say thiswithout sounding like a dork?: for a moment I WAS NATURE.  I know Pollock said that first, but it justfelt like for an hour or so, I don’t even know how long, I really WASnature.  I mean, I think I know what hemeant!  I was mixing up a giant petridish of goo like at the moment of creation or the big bang or whatever.  And you know what?  I have no idea what this thing will look likein ten years, or a hundred years.  Will thepaints freak out together and begin to fester and bubble and fall off?  I don’t really give a shit.  Maybe it will just become better if they doanyway!  Did God know that the ivy wasgoing to climb up my fir trees and kill them? Is that OK?

So anyway, there you go. I painted today in a high state of engagement with the materials and thesubject.  I felt like I boxed ten roundseven though it might have only been an hour. I’m not sure I breathed the entire time.

Earlier this morning I painted portraits for a commission,and as terrific an experience as that was, and it was (I may write moreabout that experience later), I needed to feel pine sap course through my veinsand lay down in the grass and look up at clouds and feel the earth spin and bea kid for a little while.

Friday, April 19, 2013

a friend asked me to paint a commemorative portrait of his son.  after i asked him if he was OK with my loose & fast style, and warned him that it would not be a photo-like painting, he said "loose and colorful, just like TC".  i like that.

it has been a long time since i painted the figure or a portrait, and even then i have done very little.  i am spending some time now with charcoal just getting to know TC's face, and familiarizing my hands with these kinds of marks again.

i find myself talking a lot to TC along the way.  mostly apologizing for the drawings.  "you are way more handsome than this, pal, i know.  sorry.  be patient."  i haven't done the drawing yet that captures his unique qualities.  his face is very distinct, and full of personality.  i'm a little too stiff yet to get a lively drawing, but it will come with time.

this is good.  i have no shows to worry about.  no deadlines.  this will take some time, but it's a worthy project and will be good for me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


we drove home through Maupin today and had fog, sleet, ice pellets, and the most wonderful clouds. i took so many photos from the window as we were moving through the weather and this one captured the mood & it looks like a painting---by Kate!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

painted painting

sometimes you paint the painting, and sometimes the painting paints itself. 

John Cage talked about working long enough to expel (the presence of) everyone from your studio, even yourself in the end.  the way i work is congruous with this.  i leave myself open to spontaneity, which creates an environment in which something magical might happen.  of course that lack of structure may just as often leave you with a mess.

Cage also talked about separating the process of analysis from creation.  i am conscious of that, having experienced the negative effects of performing both simultaneously.  i may be overly conscious of it in fact, often minimizing the analysis part.  today; this painting, i think, was the result of the right amount of everything.  i did paint long enough to vacate.  i moved past the point where the marks were precious and got to where i was free to work the whole painting without fear or hesitation.  i got De Kooning out of here.  i worked, then analyzed, then worked some more.  not too much of either, but the necessary amount.

will i love this painting on monday?  i might.  it's craploads better than what is underneath it.  (this is painted over the last painting i posted, below)

now it's time to let it ferment for the weekend.  see it on monday with new, critical eyes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

what the?

what a funny little painting i made today.  at least i think so.  i doubt it will have a long shelf life. a weekend away from it will be good. 

i resisted the temptation to mop the paint all over to gray it out - hoping there might be something there to work with next week.  or maybe i'll fall in love with it next time i see it.  too close to it now, and still too fresh.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A couple of mondays passed by

I keep trying to live my visual life and the other, boring life seems to intrude.

We got to Seattle this weekend to see one, perfect, beautiful, Sean Scully painting. Now I remember why I want to paint and I am sitting in the studio looking at this

It needs more history, I think I will sand down the blue some more and even out the bottom color. Hmmm.

We will see where it goes...

It was sunny in Seattle and for the first time we saw the James Turrell piece in the sunshine, spectacular it filled me with hope.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


having lots of emotional crud going on in my life right now.

who woulda thunk it?

but as they say, we must suffer for our art.

or perhaps we make art because we suffer

yeah, that's it

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


M...m...m.m.m.m.mad mad mad

So now you know I'm going crazy, but tuned in to what the middle-aged kids are listening to these days. There can be no better combination of attributes for a Portlander. But I digress.

Went down into the studio for a little art making, with two things to work on.

I should hang curtains so I'm not always jumpy thinking my upstairs neighbors are going to leap in and start doing laundry. I should get rid of the pile of what looks like burnt debris by the water heater.

But it's more funner to paint, so I did that instead.

It was one big burst or strokes and arcs and pigment and lead.

Way more 'automatic' than usual, by which I mean the work took over and asked to be worked fast.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

here i am, it's thursday

another turn of the wheel, and here i am, it's thursday again!
i can hardly wait to get home and back to the studio. i have colors, and images waiting to be unleashed. the jungle greens, the ocean blues, the hits of red and orange. 
we visited pearl harbor yesterday and i wasn't that interested in going, but had a huge visceral response when i was there. history and sadness permeate the site. war and friendship and loss.
i have loved getting your messages and having kurt signing in. kate, kirsten, dave, kurt, we will get together soon to look at work.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

gray matter

i made gray paint yesterday.  through repeated steps of paint / scrape, paint / scrape, i ended up with a yogurt container of gray paint and one gray painting.

in retrospect i think i know what went wrong. 

when i was younger, my brother always used to say "you gotta want it".  playing sports: you gotta want it!  bridge jumping: you gotta want iiiiitttt!  skipping stones: you gotta want it!  it was an adolescent phase of glomming onto a phrase for a period, but for some reason that one stuck with me. 

for painting i would add "you gotta SEE it".

typically i see something before i start putting paint on canvas.  i visualize the completed painting, even though what i end up with is almost never the same thing; still, i start out with a formed idea of what it's going to look like.  i often move my hands over the canvas before beginning to paint, as i think about what the various parts will look like (up here some thin pink, down here a thick patch of dark green and black, etc).  it's not a conscious thing, but more like stretching before a run, it just seems natural.

for whatever reason i didn't to that yesterday.  i just lept into the painting brushes a-blazing.  i had no idea what i wanted it to look like.  (if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there...)  so i ended up painting one bad painting after another.  in fact they just kept getting worse.  i got into such a state that i felt as though i had forgotten how to paint at all.

i don't mind making bad paintings.  i understand that is part of the process.  i think what bothered me about yesterday's session though, was that the bad paintings weren't borne of challenging myself, or of experimentation.  they were borne of poor work habits.

at least i got some good gray paint out of it...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

dark heron

oahu is busy, in parts, vast jungle in others, and i am on image overload.  this bird was just a few feet away from me, unafraid of the weary tourist. he takes advantage of the fish in the manmade ponds.

Monday, March 4, 2013

He thrusts his fists against the posts but still insists he sees the ghosts

Since I changed my life almost completely around I sort of stopped making art. I threw a few small pieces of work at the da Vinci Arts School's winter craft fair last December, but no-one bit. I didn't really do my part to promote, or even stay there at the show, trying to lure people into my clutches. I suck at self-promotion, and in fact I didn't really care about this fair, since I'd been working through an as-yet-to-be-completed divorce. There are worse things, I guess.

I also discovered the Mandelbulb, which has rocked my creative world and changed how I view art forever.

I'll tell you about that some other time.

So now I'm in a new, downscale pad at the foot of the fabulous Alberta Arts District. Two good places to drink one block from me.

Easy now.

Also, 16 Thai restaurants.

I finally set up my new studio today, and it's not too shabby - with an emphasis on 'too shabby,' but I'll make it work.

Today I threw some mud down on a 36" x 24" panel. It was about 1/8th mud in the bottom of an otherwise empty bucket, smelly and full of puddles of condensation. Mixed into a loose slurry, the stuff went down pretty easy.

I worked the texture more than I have recently, worried that what I did will somehow unduly influence what comes next. Or maybe that's a good thing?

I also built a small panel for a group show submission, and took an old painting down from the wall upstairs, adding a few lines and lots of pink.

What can I say? I like what I like.


Friday, March 1, 2013

oh boy

i remember when i was studying painting with Joseph Mann several years ago, and he was describing his own painting process.  he was mimicking himself in his studio, getting ready to start a painting.  as he stood before the easel in mock-preparation he said "oh boy, here they come again", referring to the figures that inhabit his paintings.

i took it to mean that he had little control of the fact that they were going to show up.  that somehow it was his job to paint them and they were coming from the brush whether he liked it or not. the figures needed to be painted and they found Joseph as their Creator to bring them to life.

i think that is true for many of us.  we start to paint and eventually we lose control and the painting takes over.  here it comes again.  oh boy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

the marks of humans

 Sunday we went to see the civil war drawings at the Cooley Gallery at Reed. Maybe its the Lincoln movie, maybe its my own thinking about drawing and the mark of a human hand. It was breathtaking.

The drawings are mostly very small, they give you a magnifying glass to look a the detail, which I think adds to the intimacy. There was no photography in the cvil war, just these young men drawing what they saw, the pages are worn and folded. Did drawings have more power when they were the only means to record events? I look a them from my rather formalist vantage point and see beautiful marks, negative spaces, light. But I am also aware that they are a memento of time, that actual humans made these actual marks.

Here are a couple of little sketches from the studio.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

chinese landscape

two of my overpainted works. the top image is over a chinese landscape and the bottom one, i just can't remember the underpainting. what is interesting to me is that, i think, the top one is much more interesting undocumented and the bottom one less so, but the camera illuminates with a different eye.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homing Instinct

A post-it note on my computer is scribbled with the words

I have writing deadlines this week, and I have one piece to write that embodies all these themes. It occurs to me I should paint this.

Have also been thinking about homing instincts. Even snails, it turns out, have a homing instinct trigger in their teency brains. Magnetic fields and star navigation for birds, a map of window lights from town to town and bread crumbs lining the way for the rest of us.

Here's to a week ahead of window sill paintings.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good work if you can get it

Friday is my painting day, but sometimes it's more about the art business than actually painting.  Today was one of those days.  Thankfully the interruption today was to install a painting which I sold to a collector in Salem, which required some tricky installation that I wanted to tend to myself.  The painting is on a full sheet of 1/2' plywood, cut in half for mobility.  I used a cleat system to support the weight, which is not something I would expect anyone else to install.  So the first half of my day was spent traveling to Salem and installing this big ol' painting.  I love to see them find good homes like this, and this was a wonderful setting for sure.

After the install I met up with some old friends for lunch, and then visited three more of my paintings that one friend has in his house, that I had never seen in place. 

Today was about seeing the result of all that work that takes place alone, in my studio.  It was nice to see them out there in the world, enjoying a life in the daylight instead of stacked on shelves in my studio.  Very refreshing and reassuring that what I'm doing matters.

This is the plywood piece in Salem.  Sauvie 22.  (another painting of mine, East Village, on the left)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

propped up

i have a small painting propped up on a shelf and it is a departure from the over-paintings that i have done in the past. i don't seem to remember how i did the ones that came before. but it is a chinese landscape underneath, and the shape of the mountains is somewhat of a fascination for me right now.
after last week's post, i actually, propped up in bed, have been reading the text of "empty and full" that i admitted last week to just toying with, and in my flu induced fog, have been understanding it, but don't ask me anything about it because it has already spilled through my filtering mind, and like the two sisters with red hair, will show up in a painting in some form or another.

Running Away

I started running more seriously about a year ago. Actually managed to eek out a half marathon last fall 
and training for another this spring. I like to run because I see the world. And sometimes I get lucky and see my blogger pals-(Kirsten, smiling, in bright blue to match the beautiful day).

I also see funny things that I know I can't paint, but imbed themselves and influence how the visual world appears. I was running the other evening, before it was really dark, and encountered two young, curly haired, red-headed children. A boy and a girl, maybe 4 and 6. One was careening around on a small tricycle. They yelled to me from across the street to come quick and see. The girl got off her tricycle and they both pointed vigorously at something in the grass. Calmly looking up at me was an enormous  old tortoise. 

I don't how this image will end up in a painting, maybe  the color of their beautiful hair will make its way in, or the texture of the tortoise's back in the grass, or the light in the sky just at dusk.

 Sometimes I just stop and take a picture to remember the beautiful light and the muted colors of winter

Friday, February 8, 2013


worked on last week's mess.  it was a good ground to start painting on, as i had hoped.  kind of an ethereal foggy background.  made some marks but after looking at it for a while i wasn't happy and smooshed it all out again.

i was going to stop for the day, chalking it up as another "lesson", but then i decided to power through it.  started coloring big patches in.  still conversing with nature.  trying so hard to boil it down.  glad i did.  it was a good session.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

wow, really, is it thursday already?

this image says it all. a flurry of marks,  darting and flying.
this connection to you all feels so right & adds a new rhythm to my days but i just couldn't believe that it was thursday already and time to post.
"painting, (says francois cheng in "empty and full") which is thought in action,
thus became one of the highest expressions of chinese spirituality."
thought in action...... hmmm. do you agree?
i pick up this book a lot and read a little, and i have done this for years and years, and yet i have never really read the whole. i think that mostly i just love the title. and also the names of the dynasties--the t'ang, the five dynasties, the sung, the yuan, the ming, the ch'ing.