It has really been too long since I’ve posted… but, over the holidays I did spend some good time in my studio going back to one of my old and favorite painting styles.
I occasionally feel the pull to go back to my roots of pure watercolor paintings after having spent the last few years exploring my mixture of oils and metallic watercolors. Fueled by this pull and the interest in submitting some work to the upcoming Western Federation of Watercolor Societies annual exhibit in Boise this year, I painted two watercolor abstracts in my “Elementals” style in December.
I rediscovered how a very steady hand is required for painting my Elementals! And how this is mainly achieved through lots of practice and patience, both of which I’ve been a bit out of while painting my oil abstracts. I consider my oil abstracts much more “gestural mark-making” while my Elementals are a more exacting and technical painting process.
I painted two Elementals to submit to the Western Fed exhibit, one (above) in a more representational style of autumn trees and the second (below) in a more true abstract style. I submitted both, so we’ll see what response they get!
Well, since my last post, I’ve been fully outfitted, made all of my preparations… and have actually GONE ON MY ARCTIC EXPEDITION!
Most folks are more interested in the actual trip and what I experienced while in the arctic circle than all of my preparations anyway. So in a multi-part series of posts, I’ll be sharing my most favorite images and observations of my travels in and around Svalbard (Norway) and the Arctic Circle.
I did have some fun trying to pack up all of my cold-weather gear and art supplies, but finally got everything down to a manageable size and packed up!
After a day and a half of travel, I arrived in Longyearbyen, Svalbard which is about 78 degrees (north) and 800 miles from the North Pole. I would spend the next 2 weeks aboard the tall ship Antigua, sailing the arctic circle around Svalbard, soaking in the frozen landscape and painting my abstracts.
Here’s a snapshot of the first glacier we visited… and, after a nice hike, that I actually got to touch!
And here’s me looking (and feeling) pretty darn cold (it was in the teens and 20’s most of the time throughout the Expedition).
Finally, here’s a snapshot of the tall ship Antigua that I spent 2 weeks on, along with 27 other artists, 4 guides and 7 crew!
Once in awhile I complete a painting that is especially meaningful to me. I just finished such a painting, “Pooled on the Horizon”, and thought I’d share its story with you.
One scene in our natural world that inspires my paintings is the horizon line between sky and ocean. I’ve spent many hours watching the horizon line as presented by the Oregon coast over the last 30 years. It is always a seemingly simple line, but is also full of the infinite complexities of the sky and ocean that extend far beyond my tiny vantage point.
One of my Pacific Rains Series, “Pooled on the Horizon” is my capture of a moment in this simple-yet-complex oceanscape. A moment when the sky is raining down silver rivulets and “pooling” upon piles of clouds resting heavily on the horizon line. And the sea? All quiet, calm and clear below but with the evermore movement of the waves and tide in and out. It’s a gray day for sure, but the colors are infinite. Lots of dark and bright metallic silvers in the sky and deep indigo and frothy whites in the sea. Studying this painting now in my Portland studio transports me instantly to this scene on the Oregon coast.
As I worked on this painting, I referenced some of the countless photos I have taken of the Pacific coast over the years. Each photo puts me at that vantage point where I can soak up the horizon and everything above and below. Now completed, I love this depiction – what do you think?
This year has been a struggle for me as I live my artist’s life with ongoing depression and rising anxiety. Some might say I’m just another “tortured” artist, but it has taken me 20+ years to become accustomed to what “normal” feels like for me. And how I feel has changed alot this year for me.
So, as I work to get back to my own normal, one of my trusty therapies is my painting process. And besides trees, the sea and sky is one of my most favorite subjects. Painting the expansive sea and the ever-changing sky along with a nice, crisp horizon line holding them together almost always calms my nerves.
See what you think (and feel) with my latest sea and sky painting below. It’s titled No. 6 but is the only larger sea and sky painting to date that I’ve completely finished and mounted on panel. Click the painting or the link below to view it on my website.
One of my all-time, most favorite paintings I’ve made is “Purple Day”. Finished back in 2005 and sold right here in Portland at the Art in the Pearl festival, I miss this painting every time I think of it.
As an artist, I have many of my own paintings that I rotate on my own walls at home and a few – maybe five – that I consider in my “permanent” collection… “Purple Day” would have been a fine addition to that collection!
Have you ever seen rain streaming dramatically down a window like it does in the movies? In those fat, silvery rivulets? I could sit in my comfy studio armchair and watch rain rivulets all day here in Portland.
Instead, I started a new series of oil and metallic watercolors called Pacific northwest rains. Water – especially rain – makes me feel cool, calm and balanced. Do you feel the rain in these abstractions, like the new one below?
I feel like a caterpillar.
After 12 years of my artist career, I’ve kicked off 2016 by examining everything I do:
Why do I paint?
What do I hope to share with you, through my art?
How do my inspirations guide what I put on paper?
Why do I love painting trees?
As I “metamorphosis” on these questions and more, I will share my discoveries with you this year. Right now, I can share a bit about those trees I love to paint so much.
As I travel my life’s path, I create idyllic places for me to “hide” — to keep me safe, and to belong — and all of these places always have trees. Trees that shelter, that protect, and that cool. Evergreens and aspens from the mountains of my native Colorado, and towering hardwoods in the forests of southern Belgium. Trees that have trunks with those crisp lines that I love.
How could I not paint these trees, in those idyllic places?
I’m continuing my quest to master mixing oil and watercolors successfully and just might have a new series emerging: winter aspens. Or winter birch. I’m a bit torn since I love the aspen trees of my native Colorado in winter, but also love the birch found in the Pacific Northwest where I’ve spent many months painting in the winter over the last decade (and now live).
Here are two of my most recent winter trees – layers of oil paint (I use oil sticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars), followed by layers of watercolor paint (some traditional paints along with my own mix of metallic pigment powders). At just the right time, I scrape the tree shapes out with an old favorite tool: pieces of cut up credit cards.
I’m loving these early results… what do you think?
I’m finally calling my experimentation from the last month or so a success! I’ve experimented with various methods of making oil paint and watercolor mix and love my results. I mix layers of oil paint (using oilsticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars) and metallic and traditional watercolors, working on paper and then I’ve mounted the paper onto cradled panel. More about my techniques another day…
Well, it’s a New Year and I now have my latest triptych photographed with each panel right side up (the middle panel was upside down on the first try). Notice the slight skewed angle in the two rightmost shapes… certainly now seems like a gross minimalization of my skewed life as an artist.
My Rose Colored Panes, 2007, watercolor on paper mounted on canvas panels (triptych), overall 44 x 48″.