Paintings from the Oregon Outback

Tide Pool


Tide Pool

A re-emerging theme in my work is water, in part because it is ever changing, yet there is power, energy, and peace in its movement. With each surge something new holds possibility.  With each withdrawal there is reflection.  And the cycle begins again.

Like life. Like art.

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Tea Brewer and Ginger Jar


Tea Brewer and Ginger Gar, 16 x 20, oil

While wandering through a local antique store, I happened to notice this brass Tea Brewer sitting in a back corner.  The winter light flooding through the window behind the display was further hampered by the layer of dust on the glass - but sitting next to the brewer was the lovely little ginger jar.  The soft lighting and the two different surfaces suggested the beginning idea for the painting Tea Brewer and Ginger Jar.

The next painting challenge was to see if I could create a visual space where the warm colors of the cloth and the brass brewer would stay in the background, while the cooler light that grows in intensity on the ginger jar would remain in the foreground.  My concept was light, lost, soft and warm in the background, flowing out, increasing in intensity on the ginger jar, then moving back to the cloth and back wall.  It is a story of how this magical property of light can take us from our comfortable existence and reveal a moment of beauty, or a fleeting glimpse of God’s gift, and then softly let us go. 

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Roses included in the first annual Artists Guild Exhibition,Scottsdale


Roses

Just a quick post here - the painting Roses will be included in an exciting new exhibition by The Artists Guild, hosted at Scottsdale Artists School.  The winners will exhibit along side some of the top artists alive today at the Legacy Gallery. 

I will also be attending the Artist Guild Week workshop at the end or January 2014, and excited to be studying with David A. Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Rose Frantzen, Jacqueline Kamin and Gregg Kreutz, all Artist Guild Instructors and all in one place. 

I hope to get a chance to see some of my many friends in Scottsdale that week!

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Red Twigs, Drying


Red Twigs, Drying

Red twigs, drying

     -- winter shed

waits for spring

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Mourning Dove


Mourning Dove, 18 x 18, oil on linen

Mourning Dove is one of those paintings that I create because I needed to express something beyond words.  Last year, we had attracted several pairs of mourning doves into our yard, along with the usual finches and jays.  I so enjoyed watching these beautiful birds feed on the seeds discarded by their smaller friends...I loved awakening to the lovely repetitive calls they made early in the morning. 

Mourning Doves form strong monogamous pairs, and unfortunately one morning we discovered that one bird had flown into the glass window - despite the bird protection we had applied -  and died of its injuries.   The mate continued to return to the feeding area day after day.  We thought that with the passing of a season that the lonely bird would find a new mate, but again this year, the single bird returned.  There were several pair that would feed...and the single bird, returning all season.

I needed to honor the memory, of the gathering dusk, of the single bird who would feed in the gravel beneath the feeders.  There was something both heart breaking and yet empowering in the return of this single bird, an unbreakable bond between all creatures.  This may not be a marketable painting.  I don't really care.  If painting is not about expressing emotional experiences that cannot be fully explained in words, then it is merely reproduction...which can be done far more efficiently and unemotionally with a camera.

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Still Life with Plums


Still Life with Plums

This painting is about the energy in the volume of space between the viewer and the large urn, the way the light fills and energizes this area.  It is also about color, and some of my favorite subjects - the plums we can actually eat, and the little plums left behind on my flowering plum tree with the lovely autumn leaves.  While I love the real plums from the farmer's market, the robins can clean the little plums from the entire tree in a single day, so we are all happy. 

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Roses


Roses

Roses grew out of what I discovered visually in the painting Jade Vase (previous blog post).  When I painted Jade Vase, I was excited about the color harmony that developed and felt - like many artists do when they achieve a goal - happy with the results. 

But in the process of analyzing what I had produced, I felt something conceptually fall into place, as if I could now fully see what I have been playing around the edges of trying to understand...it was both a terrifying and exhilarating realization.  I could see the way that Jade Vase only hinted at the subject, that there was so much more I could say, and say it in a more sophisticated manner (isn't it always the case when we suddenly see visually a concept we have been struggling to understand intellectually...we call it painting more sophisticatedly...)

I knew I needed to work immediately to try to implement what I thought I could now understand.  Just to see if I was right.  It felt like a terrible risk, but the result is Roses, and, as a painting, more fully develops the ideas of color harmony, scale, and the role of light flowing through the subject.

I hope you enjoy it. 

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Forest Meadow, Fall Rainy Day


I was finally able to get back up into the mountains to take reference photos and paint studies, but the rain put an end to my plans.  Instead we enjoyed a wonderful French onion soup at the Elk Lake Lodge and watched the rain come down in sheets.  Sail boats were tied at the dock and empty red Adirondack chairs sat mournfully facing out toward the view...on the way home we stopped and walked along the Deschutes River.  It wasn't raining nearly as hard but still unable to paint.  The edge of the bank was already turning to mud as the water spread out into the grass and the footpaths worn down by fishermen. 

I wanted to capture the atmosphere though, of the rain, the intermittent sunlight,  and the open meadows surrounded by the mixed fir and pine forest.  This is the first painting from that inspiration.  I love the way the rain softens everything, and while you are out there, listening to the quiet, feeling the moisture, there is a sense of peace, that all is right with the world in that particular moment, and that we are where we belong.

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Jade Vase


Jade Vase, oil, 14 x 18 on mounted linen

When setting up this still life my attention had been drawn to the patterns in the materials.  That would have been a visually busy yet interestingly complex painting. 

But one afternoon I entered the studiio and saw the setup without the lights, only a cool blue enveloping light  reflecting from high overhead, coming through the space between the blind and the window.  I knew immediately that was the effect I needed to capture. Doing so was an even greater challenge than duplicating the patterns.

Jade Vase became a poetic painting.  In the soft twilight light the edges grew soft and there seemed to be light spilling down and spreading out.  Whenever I felt lost, I would turn out the lights and paint in the same twilight conditions of a darkened  studio.  This could only be done for short periods each day before the light grew too dark to see.  Then each evening and morning I would look and study what I was creating in other lighting conditions.  The process was both exciting and intimidating and the color shifts went through several changes until in one moment of hurriedly applied jade the painting came together.  Poetic Magic.  

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Juniper Accepted into OPA Salon Show of Traditional Oils


This is the first annual OPA Salon show featuring small works, to be held at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Michigan.  June 26 through August 31, 2013.  I hope those of you in that area will get the chance to visit what will be a fantastic show, and I am honored that this little painting will be included. 

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