Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trillium Lake, Mount Hood and ducks.

Trillium Lake, located beneath Mount Hood, is pretty as a picture. The mother mallard and her ducklings swam by just in time to get into the photo. It was a warm, bright summer day and we took about an hour to stroll around the lake.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Bowl of Eggs", 2006.

RH Carpenter wrote yesterday on her blog, "Watercolors and Words", about keeping a visual reflection notebook of your work.  Perhaps, like many painters, I use a digital camera and the computer to record my work.  Over the years--my version of a visual reflection notebook--has come in handy on those days when, oh, I just need to see work you're proud of, enjoyed painting or a spark to begin your day at the easel.
This painting, done in 2006, features a theme I didn't realize how much I enjoy working with.  My visual reflection notebook contains a variety of paintings with eggs as the star of the show.  It must be the colors or shape, but if I'm ever stumped for subject matter, the notebook clearly shows I like them enough to paint over and over.

Monday, September 27, 2010

India Festival

These two photos were taken at Portland's India Festival.  The event took place at Pioneer Courthouse Square, also know as "Portland's Living Room".  Lots of wonderful culinary delights from India, traditional dancers in colorful dress and thousands of Portlanders. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Self-Portrait", 2010, Take-Two.

This is my Harry Kent inspired self-portrait started a few days ago.  Harry, if you're out there, do you see any trace of "expressiveness"?  Working alone in the studio, I fear the old gremlins may subtly be taking control of my brushes.  I would appreciate any help in the way of comments, but be gentle.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Misha and Me", 1999.

Misha was our Italian cat.  She followed us as we strolled down the lane in Cerreto one day and thanks to a generous neighbor with lots of cats, adopted us soon thereafter.  We had great luck turning her into a domestic cat and she came back to the U.S. with us in the spring of 1996, pregnant, to boot.

This painting was based on a photograph Michele took of Misha on the window ledge and me engrossed in an art book.  It's far from perfect, but at the time I was very happy with it and I guess that holds true today.  It's hanging in our home.  Misha grew sick and was put down a little more than a year after we moved to Portland.  She was a great cat and we miss her.

Janet and Gianfranco Zanoni, 1998.

We met Janet when we came back to the States from Italy in 1996. Our home was in the small town of Madisonville, Tennessee, about an hour south of Knoxville. One day Michele and I were having dinner in a restaurant in nearby Tellico Plains and Janet happened to be our waitress. We had noticed artwork on the walls and asked her if she knew anything about a very nice landscape painting that caught our eye.
Janet said it was one of hers! What were odds of that?!! I regained my composure and inquired as to how one went about showing their work there. Before long, I had some paintings hanging there, as well as, my very first sale. We continued to visit Janet, her son, Alex, and her parents and we became good friends.
Gianfranco came into the picture about a year later. Seems he was hopelessly in love with Janet from afar when she and her first husband lived in Italy. The years passed and Janet was divorced and living with her son in Tennessee. Gianfranco was finally able to properly court her and they were married in Tennessee, December of 1998. Gianfranco asked me to be his best man at their wedding, as he had no one from Italy to stand up with him. I was honored to do so and we've been great friends ever since, despite the great distance that separates us.

Several years ago they moved to the Czech Republic for Gianfranco's business. Janet now teaches English, gardens and continues to paint. Their home was flooded during the heavy rains this summer, but all was not lost and they are working hard to clean up and return things to normal. Janet has her own website;

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gracie takes a nap, 2004.

I apologize for the extreme "cuteness", but couldn't help myself. 

Gracie, 2004.

Well art lovers, you've been loyal, true and patient, so now it's time for a reward;  A photo or two of our cat!  We found Gracie, or should I say, she chose us, at the Southwest Washington Humane Society, located just across the Columbia River from Portland.  It was love at first sight for us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Claudia and Emanuela Stefanelli, Nov. 2008, Pitigliano, Italy.

Due to overwhelming interest, here at last, are the two Stefanelli daughters;  Claudia. left, and Emanuela, right.  Time really does fly as it seems like only yesterday they were young girls!  Emanuela is a professional sommelier and Claudia is a school teacher.  Beautiful, talented and successful young Italian women.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Important Stuff.

It's really important to outfit one's studio with the important stuff.  This shows some of what's hugely important to my being comfortable in any studio.  The photo is also to show our Italian family and friends that I'm remaining true to my favorite wines-Italian.
During our last visit to Italy in 2008, Emanuela Stefanelli, eldest daughter of Anna and Mario, and a professional sommelier told me the Conte Placido wine I enjoy is a label of Banfi, a large producer of exported wine.  She worked for Banfi for a time, too.

Latest New Studio, September, 2010.

A few weeks ago, we did a financial analysis and decided we could afford yet another in a long string of studio spaces outside our home.  This one is small at only about 200-square feet, is priced right, has north light, is only eleven blocks from home and I like the building and leasing agent, Mr. Kelly Rea.  As they say in Italia, "Lo prendo!"
With the new space, it must be time to, once again, morph my approach to painting.  Inspired by Mr. Harry Kent, expressive application of paint is the new watchword.  We'll have to wait and see how that works out!

"Self-Portrait", 2007.

This painting turned out to be somewhat prophetic.  It was painted in a former studio which I abandoned shortly after its completion.  Perhaps in the old subconscious, I knew I was gone and this composition expressed it.  I had the proverbial neighbors from hell in that building and was never really comfortable there.  I guess it should have been titled, "Moving On".

Portland Sunrise, November 2, 2009.

I recently purchased a book on J.M.W. Turner. Having always greatly admired his paintings, I often think about trying to muster-up the courage to try painting some of the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets we're lucky enough to see from our home. This is one of the many examples. Maybe it's time to give it a try.

"Buddha", 2005.

What a story.  I did this painting in 2005 and it was juried into the Portland Art Museum Rental and Sales Gallery that year.  In 2006, it sold.  The owner decided in 2009 to sell it.
Buddha was delivered to a consignment shop, but didn't sell, so the patron decided to take the painting back home.  Just before Buddha was removed from the shop, a customer had seen it and wanted it, but decided to first discuss it with her husband.
With his agreement secured, she returned to the consignment shop to buy the painting.  To her dismay, Buddha was gone.  The shop clerk told her it hadn't sold, rather it was simply taken back by the owner.
The woman took a chance and asked if she could have the phone number of the owner.  She got the number and with renewed hope she might still get the painting, made the call.   The purchase was agreed to and completed.  Now, the story of Buddha gets interesting...
In May of this year, Michele and I took our soon-to-be former landlords to lunch as a thank-you and farewell.  We rented their condo in the Portland Plaza for two years, but were moving to another condo within the building.  They were the most wonderful landlords you could ever have, so we were eager to thank them, as well as, say goodbye.
During lunch, our landlady, who knows I paint, mentioned their recent purchase.  "It was the most serene Buddha", she said, and began to tell us how they had acquired it.
As her story unfolded, I began to sense that the painting was, in fact, the Buddha I'd painted years ago.  When she finished, I described my Buddha and asked her about the former owner.  Her description was spot-on with the original buyer.  We sat there, amazed, stunned and very pleased about how it all turned out.  We all returned to our home and I showed them the photo posted here, of me standing beside the Buddha.  They love the painting, it's in a "good home" and the connection between us is stronger than ever.   
Is life amazing, or what!

"Grapes and Wine", 2007

This small still life was the result of my effort to get the Maestro, Mr. William Matheny, painting again.  I suggested that we each make several paintings of the same subject matter to compare our respective approaches.  He bit and we each did a "wine and grapes" and a few others.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Harry, this one's for you! Self-Portrait, 2010.

Harry Kent, that Renaissance Man from Tasmania, that expressive king of the hill and my latest inspiration, has driven me to this.  It sure ain't pretty, but I wasn't going for that.  You see, Harry has shown me possibilities.  For many of the years I've been painting, being more expressive has been the windmill I joust with.  Unfortunately, my curious desire to have folks "like" my work usually trumps any and all attempts to, "Unleash the Kraken".  Whoops!  Wrong movie.  I guess it should have been, "Inner Child".
Anyway, since seeing Harry's paintings, I shall try, yet again, to paint with freedom, unencumbered by what must surely be a childhood psychological curse.  Harry, I'm quite certain, knows all about such things from his former career.  Perhaps he'll not only be a source of inspiration, but cure me as well.  Now that, my friends, is one hell of a muse!
It took a lot of courage to post this painting and it will take even more to keep from destroying it.  Gotta keep trying, that's all.  Just gotta keep trying.

Mr. Solomon Cohan, Nov. 2007.

We knew Solomon when we lived at 735 St. Clair. Our introduction was almost disastrous as I nearly ran into him while climbing the stairs to our 17th-floor apartment after a workout. It just so happens that Sol also climbed the stairs for exercise. Such a close call was an excellent opportunity to introduce ourselves, as well as, catch our breath!
This kind and gentle soul is so shy and humble that it was nearly impossible to get him to even sit for a few photographs. And what an interesting story; He is Jewish and he was born in Iran. He still occasionally works as a translator.
I did another, more conventional portrait of him, too, but it's evident in this one that I was being a bit more bold. This version remains with me.

Michele, oil sketch, circa 2004.

This oil sketch of my wife, Michele, was done sometime between 2004-2005.  I was experimenting with thin paint and using the ground color for her skin tones.  Probably, with complementary color schemes, too.

A spectacular western sky, spring, 2010.

This photo was taken in the spring of this year. In a word--"WOW!

More Photos of Waterfront Park.

Portland's Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park is one of Portland's true gems.  Running along the west side of the Willamette River from the newly-developed South Waterfront, north to the Pearl District, it features broad walking and biking paths, memorials, restaurants, shops and green spaces.  It's only five blocks from our building and is a regular feature in my every-other-day three-mile jog. 
President Obama spoke here as a candidate before over seventy-five thousand people.  On Labor Day each year, the Oregon Symphony presents a free end-of-summer concert here, too.  The Portland Rose Festival, Blues Festival, Brewers Festival and many other celebrations take place here.  We are so lucky to live here.

Portland Plaza and Ira Keller Memorial Fountain.

The Portland Plaza building was constructed in the late 1970's and its unique three-lobed design made it an instant icon in Portland. We've been lucky enough to live here since 2008, though we rent, not own our home. Located on an entire city block in downtown Portland, it's within a block or two of bus, trolley and light rail stops. The window wall in each living room gives residents spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas.
The Ira Keller Memorial Fountain located on the next block east, attracts many thousands of tourists, visitors and locals and is a favorite spot for wedding photos, video shoots and lunch. This wonderfully convenient location in such an amazing city makes it easy to stay home!

Portland Japanese Garden, Fall, 2007.

I thought since the arrival of autumn is upon us, I'd share a photo taken at the Portland Japanese Garden in the fall of 2007. The garden is one of our favorite places to visit, any time of the year. David Lobenberg could spend the rest of his life painting here! C'mon up, David, if you can stand "comfortable" temperatures!

Mount Hood Erupts!

Just kidding!!  A couple of days ago, I snapped this image of Mt. Hood from our living room.  It had a very interesting cloud blowing by the 11,239-foot (3,425.9-meters) summit, which looked amazingly like this long quiet volcano had awakened.  The shot was taken with a Canon Power Shot SD-1000, my favorite small digital camera, using lots of its zoom capability.  Mt. Hood is approximately 40-miles east of Portland and is Oregon's tallest mountain.  Geologists tell us its last eruptive period took place between 170-220-years ago, with a "minor" eruptive event a dozen or so years prior to the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805.

Mr. Gordon Wagner, 2010.

I've been working on Gordon's portrait since July and today he will see it.  Three previous attempts have been destroyed, but I hope he will be pleased enough with this effort to call it finished. 
Of course, corrections and adjustments could be made, ad infinitum, yet I believe it captures the Gordon I know.  If he does requests changes, I'll post the outcome. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Blue Rain", Self-Portrait in Blue by Harry Kent of Tasmania.

Today I discovered Mr. Harry Kent.  I most strongly recommend you visit both his blogs, which I have links to below.  He is a bold, fearless and incredibly creative artist, perhaps the best educated, most inquisitive and finest writer I have had the privilege to stumble upon in my woefully underwhelming life to date.
If you seek inspiration, need an example to emulate, are afraid to change your life or just enjoy reading the words of a man who is capable of completing sentences, even paragraphs, without using the word, "absolutely" or the phrase, "it's like, you know...", then visit--no--rush to his blogs. 
I am pleased to introduce him to you here.  I have posted one example which illustrates his unique talent.  My hope is that you visit his painting blog, find this painting and read his words.  He is a huge "giver", freely sharing his ideas and techniques with the world.  I have already been enormously inspired by his work, words and approach to life and I hope you will be, too.

Mario making bruschetta, Nov./2008, Pitigliano, Italy

Mario Stefanelli prepares bruschetta in his home fireplace, Pitigliano, Italy, November, 2008. Mario is married to Anna Giannelli, father of Emanuela and Claudia and the brother of Italo. He and Anna were our translators, cultural advisors, psychologists and saviors when we lived in Italy. We probably wouldn't have survived without their constant help and counsel.
During our short visit in November of 2008, they invited us to their home for a typically fantastic dinner with a twist. Their daughters, Emanuela and Claudia, along with Emanuela's fiance, Nicola Vizzarri, prepared the meal. Emanuela is a professional sommelier and Nicola is a professional chef with a catering business and cooking classes.
Needless to say, the dinner was superb, including Mario's bruschetta, which was drizzled with new olive oil from the farm of Nicola's father. Yum-m-m!

Michele and Angelo, centro storico, Pitigliano, Italy.

Angelo Bindi, Michele's second cousin, drove to Pitigliano from Prato just to see us when we visited in November, 2008. We were strolling in the old part of the town and in this shot you can see some of the fascinating "nooks and crannies".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"A Most Beautiful Rose", 2006.

I really liked this painting, but it never sold and sadly, it's gone.  The source was a snapshot I took during one of many visits to Portland's famous Rose Garden.  If you ever visit Portland, the Rose Garden, located in Washington Park, is most highly recommended.

Making Vino, Autumn 1995, Cerreto, Italy.

As the Oregon grape harvest is nearly upon us, what better time to post a photo of Sig. Mario Pietretti working the torchio (tor-kee-oh) or grape press, for his father, Adelmo.  Michele and I participated in all phases of the wine production when we lived in Cerreto, located about seven kilometers outside Pitigliano.
Cerreto was a neighborhood composed of several farm families homes, encircled by their various fields, vineyards and olive groves.  Nearly every family had sheep, chickens, rabbits, vegetable garden, a vineyard, meadows (for the sheep), fields of grain and olive trees.
When the residents determined it was time for the grape harvest, they all pitched-in to help one another.  We joined in, too, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The cooperation and happiness exhibited by everyone will forever be one of our many cherished memories of life in Italy.  Of course, each family truly believed that their wine was best!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"A Gentleman of India", 2010.

The jury at the Portland Art Museum Rental/Sales Gallery rejected this painting, saying they didn't believe there was a market for it.  Further, one or more of the jurors didn't like his eyes.  I'm okay with their decision because I'm quite pleased with the painting and it will hang in our home until someone "begs" me to sell it to them.  Gotta keep a sense of humor in the art business!  My thanks to Jeremy Hodes for allowing me to use his image of this gentleman from Punjab, India.  If you get a chance, take a look at Jeremy's photos from Australia and all over Asia.  He and his wife, Fon, take wonderful photos as they travel.  Here's a link to his Tofu photography blog

Friday, September 10, 2010

GW, September 15, 2010, work continues...

Quite a change from the previous posts of GW.  This is more of the type of look he wanted;  Lots of darks.  This is also the only one of four attempts remaining in existence.  I'm beginning to be pleased with it, though it needs more work.  As usual, the camera software hardens many of the soft edges.  In addition, the background values are more subtle in reality than they appear in this image.  Oh, well...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Detail, "My Old Flight Boots" IV, 2003.

Texture, anyone?  It's still difficult for me to believe that this finished work began as what you see in the previous post.  What fun painting is!

"My Old Flight Boots" IV, the beginning.

Kinda scary, but this is how the painting began, back in September, 2002. The canvas had a ton of other failed paintings on it when I began, "My Old Flight Boots", IV. If you like texture in a painting, this one is for you. The next image is a detail showing the right boot with clear evidence of the ridges, lumps and bumps of previous work. I've read, and the Maestro has tried to teach me that doing preliminary thumbnail sketches can go a long way in eliminating all the trial-and-error, but where's the fun in that? I readily admit to being motivated, excited and enthralled by the unknown in painting. That anticipation makes me jump out of bed every morning. I just can't wait to get to the easel.