Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Woman in Black

"Woman in Black", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
Fascinated by portraiture, I continue to try to re-think my process. In the end, they are all experiments and the question always is, when to simply go on to the next one. I've always found that at a certain point, everything in the painting is dependent on everything else and to change one small thing is often a major undertaking, even if that one small thing stands out as something that needs to be "fixed."

Woman In Black

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

White Dress

"White Dress", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board

I recently read a blog from another artist who said that value is more important than color and something in me wants to take exception to that. But I also would not contend the opposite. Value and color are like the senses of seeing and hearing, both aspects of the bigger whole. With color there are warms and cools, not dependent on value. And it would be interesting to know if the brain registers color differently than value. And what about other aspects of painting, such as brushwork, which could be related to value (the "rule" says keep darks thin), but is really something different--a matter of physical intention and emotion. In fact, I've never been able to think of one aspect of painting as being more important than another aspect, but maybe I am missing something, and so I am open to your thoughts--readers of my blog!


Thursday, December 15, 2016


"Meg", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board

I am fascinated by the human face but continually question--how to make it a fascinating painting. Sometimes, as in this portrait, I use a bigger brush, #10 flat, to keep from being caught up in detail.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cape Disappointment

"Cape Disappointment", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

It is cold and wet outside and our environmental issue is on hold until January, so at last I have been painting every day in my studio. But I haven't gotten back in the habit of posting! And posting brings its own angst--when I haven't painted for awhile, in some ways I feel like I am at the beginning again. So all my paintings these days are practice and experiment--but I guess they always were, anyway.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lopez Island Cliff - NFS

"Lopez Island Cliff", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

After working on our neighborhood issue related to the proposed industrial geoduck operation in Zangle Cove for so many hours the last three months, I finally went through my photos on a rainy day in my studio, got out my paints and brushes and did what actually makes me feel good--paint! It was Alison Engle, a family member who lives on San Juan Island, who wondered if it was Watmough Bay. The San Juan's are magical islands in the northern part of Puget Sound and yes, our Plein Air Washington group was painting there maybe in 2012.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Mt. Hood Cooper Spur

"Mt. Hood Cooper Spur", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
On the first day of the Pacific Northwest Painting Competition in Hood River, it was extremely windy on the Columbia River. So many painters headed up to the hills on the Cooper Spur Road toward Mt. Hood. Years ago I climbed Mt. Hood--I've probably mentioned that before. All the volcanoes of the Cascade Range hold a special place in my heart and my memory.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Columbia Walls

"Columbia Walls", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
This was painted at Mayer State Park along the Columbia Gorge. Sometimes there is nothing but color and so that is what the painting is about. There is a fine line between "painting the scene" and "painting the painting." I'm too old to focus on "painting the scene" and in fact it irritates me when I find myself doing it. There is some other thing that I want to do and it has to do with the paint itself or energy or not seeing quite straight.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Dalles

"The Dalles", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board

This was one of the spots I painted during the Pacific Northwest Plein Air Paintout last week. Along the river, between the The Dalles bridge and the dam, there is an area called Lone Pine, set aside for several of the local tribes for their fishing rights. They had several platform like fishing structures along the walls of the canyon just above the water and a younger man was checking them, though the old Grandfather who came told me there were not many salmon because of the low water level. Strangely, what interested me most visually was the dam itself, that long bright almost white building in the morning sun next to the turquoise of the water, with the pale hills behind.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pacific Northwest Plein Air

Here I am at the Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts at the end of the Pacific Northwest Plein Air competition last week along the Columbia River Gorge. The first day was so windy we went south up the road toward Mt. Hood, one of the famous volcanos in the Cascade range and a mountain I climbed over 40 years ago, full pack to the summit, camping out on the ice in 80 degree weather at 11,250 feet elevation! Every time I view Mt. Hood that memory comes back to me!

The Columbia River is so iconic to Washington and Oregon, but I admit I've never painted along the Gorge before and I enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite view of the river was up near Rowena Crest, the blue of the water contrasting with the gold of the land. From Portland, as you travel east along the river through the Cascade Mountains, the land turns from green to gold!

The most intriguing painting location I found was just east of the bridge at The Dalles looking up river at the dam, the water an even more intense deep blue turquoise. That location was a Native American community with fishing platforms. One elderly gentleman told me the water was too low for good fishing, maybe due to the end of the summer season.

On the other hand, Patrick saw a fish jump out of the water just below the dam that was the size of a shark and a local told us it was a sturgeon.

The Columbia River is a busy place, with barges going both directions as well as freight trains, some incredibly long, on both sides of the river, and a major highway on the south side. The basic beauty of the river, the walls of the gorge and the golden hills will outlast all of us.

Thank you to Patti Mcnutt for taking this photo.

Congratulations to the winners of the competition and thank you to the Hood River plein air group for hosting the paint-out!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Toward Moab

"Toward Moab", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board

I've been working on our environmental issue night and day and I haven't posted many paintings, though there are still quite a few from the spring and summer painting trips. We have appealed the industrial geoduck farm in Zangle Cove and that is a big legal effort. I'm learning things I never wanted to learn! Our beloved geoducks in the sub-tidal areas of Puget Sound are not only being illegally harvested and smuggled out of the country for top dollar, for the last 10 years we have been dealing with industrial farmed geoducks on our tidelands.

Who would have thought our lovely Puget Sound geoducks (means "dig deep" and pronounced "gooey-duck) would gain such a reputation! I love to go down on the Zangle Cove tideland with bare feet, sinking a foot into the mud and make my way out to the water on a minus 2 tide. The native geoducks just squirt up a storm or hang out (literally) in the mud.

For a true story about all the smuggling cons in the 80's and 90's in Puget Sound, read "Shell Games", by Craig Welsh. And go to our website to get an idea of what we are up against. I have great admiration now for all the people who have been fighting for the environment all these years.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Lake Chelan Stormy Day

"Lake Chelan Stormy Day", 9 x 9 In, Oil on Museum Board

There is is a mystic about Stehekin--a place so familiar to anyone who has grown up in the Pacific Northwest and yet so far away. No roads lead to Stehekin. There are only a couple of small ferries and for some, a helicopter, to go up a lake that is 53 miles long and goes into the heart of the North Cascades. A trail comes over from Cascade Pass from the west side of the mountains. There are many places I don't particularly remember in my life. But Stehekin is always there.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gray Day Stehekin

"Gray Day Stehekin", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
It was a gray day on Lake Chelan, but the North Cascades up the valley were still visible. I've hiked up to Cascade Pass from the west side and in my younger years climbed some of the peaks--El Dorado, Sahale, Magic. But I've always wanted to hike up from the Stehekin side--the east side of the mountains.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

High Bridge Downstream

"High Bridge Downstream", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
On this rainy day at High Bridge, several miles up the gravel road from Stehekin at the boundary of the North Cascades National Park, I painted first from one side of the bridge over the Stehekin River and then the other. Its hard to resist a rushing mountain stream.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

High Bridge Upstream

"High Bridge Upstream", 10 x 8 In, Oil on Museum Board

The second day at Stehekin we took the old school bus to High Bridge, the last stop and the boundary of the North Cascades National Park. It was a rainy day but then, the Northwest has many rainy days, especially in May. The Stehekin River was a rushing torrent because of all the rain and snow in the mountains this last winter.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

South from Stehekin

"South from Stehekin", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

I journeyed with a group of Plein Air Washington friends to a famous and remote area near the North Cascades National Park--the town of Stehekin at the northern end of Lake Chelan. The four hour boat from Chelan arrives in Stehekin around noon, so we had plenty of time to get out our painting gear and head down the road along the lake from the Stehekin Lodge to paint. This was the second painting, looking south.

Lake Chelan is 50 miles long and is the third deepest lake in the United States according to Wikipedia. But the thing about Stekekin is that there are no roads or highways to the village. You can get in by the boat from Chelan or by hydro-plane. Looking across the lake at the mossy rock cliffs and up the valley to the snow-capped peaks, there is no doubt about it--you are in the interior of the Cascade wilderness

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Canyonlands Sky

"Canyonlands Sky", 10 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

The colors of Utah are so different from the colors of Western Washington. Driving home this evening about 9 pm after sundown, the snow on Mt. Rainier a warm shadow, the clouds a brilliant pink orange, the Nisqually Delta a green from some other lifetime, I thought to myself what a beautiful place to live. It is all part of one system--the Nisqually flowing into Puget Sound originates on the glacier at some 14,000 feet, not so very far away as the crow flies.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Road to Needles

"Road to Needles", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

This is another of my paintings from our trip to Utah in April. Painting is not a straight path to mastery and perfection--much of the journey is exploring the wilderness, both literally and metaphorically. These painting done in Utah, in retrospect, were a bit rough hewn, like the land I was painting.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Canyonlands Shafer Trail

"Canyonlands Shafer Trail", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board.
We drove down a very steep switchback road into the canyon and I painted out in the wash, between rain bursts. The storm above Utah lasted the entire week we were there, swirling around with sun on minute and rain the next.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Gray Day Capitol Reef

"Gray Day Capitol Reef", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
Why am I so taken with Capitol Reef? Bryce and Zion get all the glory, but Capitol Reef, especially the back side, is a place with mystery and color. Every place has feel. The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile-long warp in the earth's crust, the fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal rock layers.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Capitol Reef Dome

"Capitol Reef Dome", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board

According to the National Park website, ( Capitol Reef got its name this way:

"Early settlers noted that the white domes of Navajo Sandstone resemble the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Prospectors visiting the area (many with nautical backgrounds) referred to the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long ridge in the earth's crust, as a reef, since it was a formidable barrier to transportation."

This painting is of one of the "domes" the first day I was there on the eastern side of the park. It was, like every other day that week, raining in between breaks in the clouds, a windy and dramatic day--lost my umbrella at one point.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Capitol Reef Stormy Day

"Capitol Reef Stormy Day", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
I expected to go to Utah and find cloudless skies. Instead a storm swirled around Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks the entire week! No drizzle, like the Northwest, but black clouds followed by cerulean skies. On this first painting, the wind was fierce and my umbrella snapped in half, but oh well--minutes later the sun was shining. But you can tell--it was a fast painting!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nisqually Marsh

"Nisqually Marsh", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is the third of the paintings I did at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge in March. In this peaceful expanse of tidal marsh, a tributary stream of a great glacier fed river from the ice of Mt. Rainier, not so many miles away, meets the the tidelands of Puget Sound. There is a beautiful variety in this river's journey.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Nisqually Barns

"Nisqually Barns", 10 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
The Nisqually barns are a memorable aspect of the Nisqually landscape. They are the remnants of the Brown dairy farm from 1904. Now it is one of the most popular spots for people to take a walk along the Sound in the Olympia area.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nisqually Sky

"Nisqually Sky", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
Our plein air group always makes Nisqually the first of our paint-outs for the year. This is the Nisqually Delta, where the river, originating from the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier, flows into the estuary of Puget Sound. It is a beautiful flat marshy area with foot paths, meandering streams and raised walkways. The sky is big and the delta the home of innumerable species of birds and wildlife.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Portrait Study #30

"Portrait Study #30, 14 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

This is the last portrait--for now! Thank you, all my subscribers, for travelling on this road with me!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Portrait Study #29

Portrait Study #29, 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
Only one more portrait to post after this--then I'm out in the sun and the wind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Portrait Study #28

"Portrait Study #28", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
I'm almost to the end of my portrait studies for the winter. Time to get out my camera for next year.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Portrait Study #27

"Portrait Study #27", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
I promise I am almost to the end of my portrait studies--a few more postings and then I'm off to the landscape--my goodness--the sun is shining here--after weeks of rain. I probably won't understand what I've learned until I'm off in the distance.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Portrait Study #26

"Portrait Study #26", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
With every study, there is an attempt to try something different, and it may not always be obvious. There are so many variables, and maybe, at some point, more abstraction will become the main variable. But until then, this one is about warms and cools.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Portrait Study #25

"Portrait Study #25", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board

Ah--yet another portrait. There was an amazing sight the other day out my back window that I wish I had moved quickly enough to capture in a photo. It was nearing dusk when we saw one of our Bald Eagles swimming across the Cove, probably with a catch in its talons too heavy to lift out of the water. Eagles do not float on the water, but they are powerful swimmers. It swam a good 300-400 feet in less than 10 minutes. We saw this once before years ago when we first moved here. Our Eagle pair was on the beach yesterday--brilliant white heads against the dark gray sand.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Portrait Study #24

"Portrait Study #24", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is another portrait I did a couple of weeks ago. It was a complete second try on a painting that I didn't like. The first one had been "fixed" to death. Strange how lifeless a painting can become with second thoughts. Sometimes even glaring errors have more feeling. I try to go with the idea that what I put down is it--to say it in the beginning--to question the voice that says, "you can fix it later."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Portrait Study #23

"Portrait Study #23", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
Long ago, someone asked one of my instructors at his workshop if he kept paintings he really liked (or something along those lines). He said he liked them for about half an hour--then he saw all the problems. It's sort of like buying in on a market high.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Portrait Study #22

"Portrait Study #22", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board

I generally spend not more that 1.5 to 2 hours on a portrait study. By the next morning, some of the paint is dry and I like working wet-in-wet, so at the end of the day, I have to call it finished. Sometimes in the morning it's wet enough to completely scrape and start over and I have done that more than once! Other times I try to "fix" whatever is bothering me about the painting. But that is often what takes the life out of it--a tiny fix can change the entire painting, for better or for worse.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Portrait Study #21

"Portrait Study #21", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
The other day, rather than painting, I found myself cleaning up my studio, taking old tubes of paint to the recyling bin and putting frames and canvases in the closet, throwing out stuff and find a place for all those little things that have no home. I actually had this on my To Do list, but its one of those things that is easy to put off--until its impossible to paint with a clear mind unless its done. I still have a ways to go. One of the things I found as I was rearranging my bookcase, was an old songbook by Judy Collins, and because the sun is shining after weeks of rain, I've been singing in my mind all morning the Scottish song, The Wild Mountain Thyme--"For the summertime is coming..."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Portrait Study #20

"Portrait Study #20", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
Doing a series of paintings is a good strategy, because it allows for experimentation along with the vagaries of the day. "Vagaries" is a good word for it, thought I only knew what it meant in a vague sort of way until I looked it up in the thesaurus: Vagary: an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone's behavior. Now doesn't that speak to the truth of the painter's way?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Portrait Study #19

"Portrait Study #19", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
I've been doing mostly portraits of models with dark hair. It was strange how light colored hair changed so much in the approach to the portrait.

Portrait Study #18

"Portrait Study #18", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
This portrait was was a study in the use of a slightly different palette--more ochres and yellows than pinks and reds for flesh tones.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Portrait Study #17

"Portrait Study #17", 14 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
I would like to thank everyone for bearing with me on this portrait journey. I think maybe after 100 or 200 of these, I might figure a little more what I want to be doing with them. But spring is coming and outdoor painting is in the wind. Still, I have a few more to go.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Portrait Study #16

"Portrait Study #16", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
There are so many factors that go into a portrait and this one is maybe best described as being about expression. A tiny touch of paint on the corner of the mouth or the eyelid can change the entire expression of a portrait. It makes me think about everything we see in another's face and the instant understanding, often unconscious, of the meaning of these small nuances.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Portrait Study #16

"Portrait Study #16", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
Sometimes I go through old photos for models to paint from. I don't usually try to create a likeness--its more a study of color, value and structure.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Portrait Study #14

"Portrait Study #14", 16 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This was my 2nd study done at the Plein Air Washington Paint-In in February. The model had a wonderful purple wig. The best thing about a model is that she takes breaks--forcing me to step back. When I am painting in my studio, I forget to do this at times, until I have to have lunch. And then when I go back in the studio, there it is, a totally different painting than the one I remember from before when I was standing for an hour two feet away from it and intensely focused on the painting and my palette.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Portrait Study #13

"Portrait Study #13", 14 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board

I'm calling these portraits "studies" to give myself psychological space to experiment. My raison d'etre for doing this series is to push myself beyond my habits. That is a lesson in itself which requires awareness in the moment of how I'm standing in front of my easel, how I am holding my brush, which brush I am using, which direction the stroke, keeping my values separated on my palette, continuing to use enough paint! I find that in the beginning one person is holding the brush and at the end of the painting it is almost as though another painter takes control. At what point does this change? This is fascinating.

Thank you all for viewing my artwork!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Portrait Study #12

"Portrait Study #12", 16 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board

This portrait was done during the Plein Air Washington February "paint-in" in Edmonds. We had a wonderfully experienced model who takes things into her own hands--she brought the purple wig, which made for a very enjoyable color study.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bessie and Moo - SOLD

My Facebook friend, Brian Simons, posted a wonderful painting of two calves a few days ago, and I remembered my painting of Bessie and Moo from a farm in Coupeville in 2009. Cows are sort of a relief after so many portraits!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Portrait Study #11

"Portrait Study #11", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Boar
I didn't get much painting done yesterday--my kitty got stuck between two upward branches of a fruit tree, and I mean really wedged in there. We though we would have to saw off half the tree to get her out, but in the end I was able to lift her, somewhat forcefully upward and it was obviously painful. She could barely walk and I took her to the vet fearful of a spinal injury. But maybe her leg was just numb because she's OK now. And no, Zinny, your cat door will remain closed for the rest of the week! Does anyone else have a cat who feels compelled to cover up food that's left in the dish with the laundry?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Portrait Study #10

"Portrait Study #10", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board

Some of you may wonder why I paint on museum board for my smaller works. Its a habit that I learned from the late William F. Reese, my first plein air instructor, many years ago. I love museum board--it is archival, lightweight, inexpensive and when prepared the way I prepare it, has a wonderful surface. I purchase Risings 4 ply, 32 x 40 inch museum board from Daniel Smith, 25 sheets at a time. I usually prepare 10 sheets at at time. With my mat board cutter, I can cut the sheet to any size that I want.

You can go to this link for complete instructions on how to prepare museum board for oil painting.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Portrait Study #9

"Portrait Study #9", 14 x 11 In, Oil on Museum Board
This study I scraped at least twice and re-painted. It is such a relief sometimes to scrape! There is also sometimes a fine line in the mind regarding whether or not a painting works. Years ago I wrote a blog entitled The Not So Perfect Painting, and I still think often of the experience that I was writing about in that blog.